Western Digital Essential Netcenter Network Hard Drive review: Western Digital Essential Netcenter Network Hard Drive

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CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars Good
  • Overall: 6.8
  • Setup and ease of use: 7.0
  • Features: 6.0
  • Performance: 7.0
  • Service and support: 7.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Lots of space; easy setup; USB ports to attach printers and additional storage.

The Bad Only 10/100 Ethernet; no direct connection via USB.

The Bottom Line The NetCenter NAS drive is a solid SOHO shared storage drive at a fair price, making it a good choice for the average user.

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Western Digital Essential NetCenter network hard drive

If you're looking to add shared storage to your home or small-office network, there's no easier way to do it than with Western Digital's Essential NetCenter networked hard drive. Currently available in 120GB, 250GB, and 320GB capacities, the NetCenter suits a variety of storage needs. Installation and administration is a breeze. Those unfamiliar with configuring network storage can rely on the bundled EasyLink software to automatically map the NetCenter to a Windows drive letter and access the drive's HTML configuration and management utility. More-advanced users can simply type the drive's IP address (usually assigned by your router with DHCP and found in your router's own HTML management utility) into their browser to administrate and map it using Windows' Map Network Drive from the Tools menu in My Network. Anyone concerned about data security should look into a RAID array, such as the Buffalo TeraStation or the LaCie Biggest F800. At first glance, the terabyte RAID arrays are obviously more expensive, but in a gigabyte-per-dollar breakdown, they're actually comparable to the NetCenter.

The Western Digital Essential NetCenter looks much like Western Digital's other external drives, with grooved, bluish-gray side panels and a silver band around the edges. The only button is the small power/standby button on the front of the unit. The back houses a 10/100 Ethernet port, as well as two USB 2.0 ports for attaching printers or expanding the NetCenter with more USB storage. That actually brings us to our only real gripe concerning the NetCenter: it lacks Gigabit Ethernet, which is starting to appear in home routers and allows for faster data transfer. We'd also like to see direct USB access, though the competition also lacks this feature--largely because Windows machines and Macs wouldn't natively understand the network file systems employed. Look for improved bridge chips that will allow this feature in the next generation of consumer NAS boxes to hit the market.

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Where to Buy

Western Digital Essential NetCenter (120GB)

Part Number: WDXE1600JBN Released: Jun. 1, 2005

MSRP: $219.99

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Jun. 1, 2005
  • Connector Type RJ-45
    4 pin USB Type A
  • Data Link Protocol Fast Ethernet
  • Type standard
  • Compatibility PC