Technically, however, you can do all of these without using the software. For example, you can get to the server's Web interface by pointing a browser to its IP address, and you can browse for the server's share folder using Windows Explorer and map the share folders manually. On a Mac computer, the server automatically appears in Finder.
The MediaShare Mini's Web interface is responsive when accessed from a local computer. Over the Internet, where the server can be accessed at Verbatim's Web site, the interface's performance depends on the connection. Like the MediaShare's interface, however, it seems oversimplified to the point where it's actually harder to figure out. For example, if you want to turn on media streaming for a share folder, you have to log in to the Web interface, pick "Media Library," then click on a little arrow in the icon of each folder. Now you will be greeted with different commands you can carry out for that folder. This is a rather unusual way to work with a folder, and an inexperienced user might not be able to figure it out. Other aspects of the server's settings are similarly unintuitive.
The MediaShare Mini's way of sharing data is similar to way the Windows operating system handles user profiles. An admin user can add, change, and remove users, and, out of the box, the server allows only five user accounts, a very limited number compared with other NAS servers. For more user accounts, you will need to opt for the premium MediaShare service.
The premium service, which is the main feature of the NAS server, is unfortunately not free but costs $19.99 per year after a one-month free trial. Apart from increasing the number of user accounts to unlimited, the premium service supports accessing and sharing the data stored on the server over the Internet. Depending on the type of data, you can view it as a photo album or play back audio and video files. You can also use the service to integrate social Web sites, such Facebook and Flickr, with the digital content of the NAS server.
The Verbatim MediaShare Mini can handle external hard drives formatted in both FAT32 and NTFS. We tried it with many external hard drives and found out that it won't support drives that are larger than 2.19GB, such as the 3TB Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Desk. Once plugged in, a supported hard drive's content will be immediately shared with all users.
All in all, we found that the Verbatim MediaShare Mini is a fun way to play around with your digital media stored on an external hard drive. For serious data sharing, however, you might want to get a full-featured NAS server, especially considering the device's throughput performance.
Judging from its size, we didn't expect the MediaShare Mini to blow us away with its performance. And it didn't.
In our write test, the Verbatim scored 57.9Mbps, comparable with the 57.1Mbps scored by the Linksys E4200 router. The MediaShare did better with the read test, registering 197.6Mbps, which is the fastest when compared with routers that have a network storage function. However, this was still slower than the the similarly configured Iomega iConnect.
With this level of performance, expect the MediaShare Mini to do OK with light media streaming. If you want to share lots of data, again, consider a full-size NAS server.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Service and support
Verbatim backs the MediaShare Mini with a three-year warranty. The company's technical phone support is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET. At the company's Web site, you'll find downloads of the setup guide, manual, and more.