Toss up: network attached storage drives

Toss up: network attached storage drives

A network-attached storage (NAS) drive is the perfect device for storing copies of your family photos and other precious files.

If you're catering for just a single computer, you'll find plenty of standard external drives that connect to one computer via USB, Firewire or Thunderbolt. But if you've got a home full of computers and other gadgets, then an NAS drive might be more practical.

Close call ... Western Digital's 3TB My Book Live, left, and Seagate's 3TB GoFlex Home.

Close call ... Western Digital's 3TB My Book Live, left, and Seagate's 3TB GoFlex Home.

Rather than using USB, a NAS connects into your home network using an Ethernet cable, plugging straight into the back of your broadband modem or router. Now any device connected to your home network via Ethernet or wi-fi can access the storage on the NAS. This new drive provides a great place to store back-up copies of your precious files. (It's still important to keep ''off-site'' copies of photos, either at someone else's house or online, just in case fire or flood claims your computers and your NAS.)

A central NAS can also be the perfect spot to keep your music and video library if you want to share it with devices around your home. Both the Western Digital and Seagate drives can act as a Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) server, sharing your multimedia library with a range of DLNA players including media players, set-top boxes, personal video recorders and games consoles. You'll also find DLNA player software for computers, tablets and smartphones.

Both drives also let you access your files via the internet when you're away from home, either from a computer or a hand-held gadget. The Western Digital adds integration with cloud storage services Dropbox and SkyDrive, making it easy to back up files online and share them with friends.


The verdict

Little separates them but Western Digital's cloud storage integration gets it over the line, making it easy to back up your files to the cloud.

Western Digital 3TB My Book Live

Seagate 3TB GoFlex Home

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