NAS, Network Drives and Wireless Routers, Compared
If you’re looking for centralized local/remote file access or backup, you might also consider traditional Network-Attached Storage (NAS) servers or network drives. NAS servers are typically small enclosures that house one or several hard drives.
NAS can also be simple adapters that you connect external USB drives to, similar to Plug Computers.
Network drives, however, usually come with a built-in drive and may also have USB ports for plugging in additional drives.
NAS and network drives typically provide the same basic file and printing sharing features as Plug Computers, however not all provide access via the Internet. Like Plug Computers, their specific functionalities can vary depending upon the vendor’s software.
You can find some comparable NAS devices for as low as $50 or network drives for $115+ with up to 1 TB of storage. Plug Computers, with no internal storage, are typically are priced at $99. If you don’t already have an external drive or you don’t like the particular features of a Plug Computer, you might want to go with a traditional network drive that has Internet functionality, such as the Iomega 34763 1 TB Network Hard Drive.
Another alternative to using Plug Computers are wireless routers with a USB port and NAS functionality. You can just plug your external drives directly into your router, and no extra hardware is needed. However, some require you to install a third-party software utility to access the drives from Windows. Additionally, only basic NAS and Internet sharing features are usually provided.
If you already have a router with a USB port, you might consider using it instead of purchasing a Plug Computer. If you are thinking about upgrading your router, you can find some with USB ports for as low as $70. Here are a couple routers you could consider:
· TRENDnet 300Mbps Wireless N Gigabit Router (TEW-634GRU)
· D-Link Xtreme N Gigabit Router (DIR-655)
· NETGEAR Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router (WNDR3800)
· Belkin Wireless Dual-Band N+ Router (N600 DB)