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Here, there, everywhere: 3 personal cloud storage systems

Brian Nadel | May 29, 2013
When you use a public Cloud storage service, you essentially give up control of the data so here's an alternative.

Start to finish, it took me about 10 minutes to get the D-Link online and ready to receive data. Five minutes of that were dedicated to formatting the drive; I used an off-the-shelf 1TB Seagate Barracuda drive, which yielded 915GB of available space.

Once the ShareCenter is set up, you can map the drive, using static or automatic IP addressing. I connected the ShareCenter to my network directly with the router and via a LAN switch; there were no problems.

You access your files from either local or remote computers by using the company's mydlink.com website. After entering your password, you are presented with a list of files with details like file type, size and date; however, unlike WD's My Book Live, there are no thumbnail previews. Click to download or upload a file.

I noticed that any other devices I had on the mydlink account showed up as well in the interface if they were registered using the same account name and password — a real convenience.

Sharing files or folders is little involved. You'll need to create a new public share folder on the drive and set up a special log-in name and password for the recipient. It's a bit awkward and takes a couple of minutes to complete but works well.

If you're using an iOS or Android device, you can use D-Link's mydlink Access-NAS app. (The company doesn't have apps for BlackBerrys or Windows Phones.) The app supports Office, PDF, MP4 and MP3 files, among others; it shows a list that includes file names, when they were saved and their size. Click on the file name for a preview; you can double-click to enlarge it to full screen. At any time you can download an item or view a slideshow of several images.

Performance

I was able to transfer my test 243 files (430MB of data) over an Ethernet connection at the rate of 6.8MBps, midway between the faster CloudBox and the lagging My Book Live.

The system's Crystal DiskMark score was the lowest of the three, however, by a small margin. It was able to read at 10.1MBps while writing at 11.5MBps.

Its ability to grab and show files was extraordinarily fast, due to caching of files when it first gets access to the drive's contents. Using an iPad Mini and the mydlink Access-NAS app, the storage system delivered a 3.2MB image in 8.7 seconds, five times faster than either of the others.

Bottom line
At a list of $200 (about $150 retail), the D-Link ShareCenter is more expensive than the other devices here, especially considering it doesn't actually include a hard drive. The pay-off, however, is the flexibility of being able to use up to two drives and getting the bonus of RAID protection and good performance. If these features are important to you, then the ShareCenter is the one to get.

 

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