Late last year Seagate acquired storage company Mirra and, with the release of the Mirra Sync and Share Personal Server, the fruits of this purchase are finally beginning to ripen.
The device is essentially a network attached storage (NAS) solution for home users. It hooks directly into your home network via an Ethernet port, and therefore can act as a data storage hub for the machines dotted around your home. For example, if you've got multimedia files such as music and movies that you'd like all of the machines on your network to have access to, this drive enables you to painlessly share them.
One of the coolest aspects of NAS devices is that they're not reliant on any one machine being switched on in order for them to be accessible, as is the case with a regular external USB drive. Since they're hooked directly into a router, they're seen as an independent client on the network.
Yet not only are you able to share data over a local network, you're also able to access all content from anywhere over the Internet. This is done through your Web browser, and user accounts can be created with varying access levels should you wish to share certain files or folders with others.
Once you're done sharing, you'll also want to take advantage of the drive's syncing abilities. "Digital libraries" on each machine can be synchronised with the Mirra drive, so whenever new files are added, they're automatically downloaded to the networked drive for all users to access.
The device can communicate with both Windows and Mac machines, which can't be said for many external storage solutions. This will certainly come in handy for mixed Windows and Mac households.
It comes in two flavours -- 320GB and 500GB -- so it's fairly spacious and will allow you to store a plethora of multimedia files in addition to external backups of all of the machines on your network.
Local pricing is yet to be released; however, in the US the 320GB flavour will sell for US$499, while the 500GB version is priced at US$599. It's not cheap by a long shot, and will certainly put the drive out of reach for all but those that genuinely need a networked storage solution.
Being a networked device as opposed to a USB or Firewire solution, you're unable to take advantage of this product unless you're currently operating a home network through a router.
The Seagate Mirra Sync and Share Personal Server is a highly attractive external storage solution for home and small business users who need to share data across multiple machines.
The device is available from June 2006 and comes with a one year parts and labour warranty.