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The LaCie Network Space 2 is a simple single-volume NAS server. It's one of a few that can also work as an external hard drive. The biggest appeal of the device is the fact that it, like many other products from LaCie, looks good. It's also easy to set up and use. The NAS server performed OK in our tests and doesn't have much to offer in terms of features. If you're looking for a simple network storage device, at around $180, the LaCie Network Space 2 will get the job done. However, those who want more features, such as remote access over the Internet, should also check out the similarly priced Western Digital My Book World Edition.
The Network Space 2 takes the shape of a super-sleek-looking black brick. On its front is a type-A female USB port to host a USB external storage device or a printer. This isn't an ideal or convenient position for this port, especially if you're looking to hook up something to it permanently.
Also on the front is the device's very trendy bottom-facing blue light. This light indicates the power status of the device as well as the activities of the hard drive. Solid blue means the device is powered on and ready, and flashing blue means the hard drive is working. The coolest thing about this light is the fact that it shines blue light downward like a car's headlight. This makes the shape of the light beam change according to how high the device is from the surface.
On the back you'll find a type-B female USB port. This port is used to connect the Network Space 2 directly to a computer to use it as an external hard drive. There's also a Gigabit Ethernet port next to it, used to connect the device to a network and then used as a NAS server. You can use the Network Space 2 as either an external USB drive or a NAS server. Not both.
The device has four rubber feet to keep it grounded on any surface, which also creates an open area underneath to keep it ventilated. You can't replace this hard drive, either; the LaCie Network Space 2 is designed in such a way that you can't replace it without breaking its cover. At the time of this review, LaCie doesn't offer the LaCie Network Space 2 in other capacities. A year ago, you could possibly get by with just 1TB, however, now this is rather limited.
The LaCie Network Space 2's setup process was fast and easy. The device includes the LaCie Network Assistant software that helps identify the NAS on the network and maps the network drives, so you can use them as connected hard drives. The LaCie Network Space 2 also has a Web interface, which allows access to the server's few other features.
The LaCie Network Space 2 has interesting storage management. There are two default share folders, called MyShare and OpenShare. The OpenShare folder can be accessed by anybody and is intended to be the only place to host shared data, and the MyShare folder is private and can only be accessed by the default Admin account.
You can't make any more public share folders. As you create more user accounts on the server, each account gets it own share folder, similar to the MyShare, named after the account's name. This private share folder then can only be accessed by the owner of that particular account.
When you connect a USB external hard drive to the server's front USB port, the NAS will automatically create a new public share for the device's storage. There's no way to limit access to this share. The server supports external hard drives formatted using either NTFS or FAT32, both read and write.
Overall, though this way of managing shares is limited, it's much simpler than that of many other advanced NAS servers and works well for home users.
The LaCie Network Space 2 offers a limited Download feature where the server can download files on its own from the Internet. It can't download from sites that require authentication, however. The server also has support for iTunes and UPnP media streaming servers. You can turn this feature on or off without being able to further customize from which folder the digital content will be shared, how often newly added content will be included in the share list, etc.
The NAS server's most impressive feature is its ability to support Apple's Time Machine. You can assign this feature to the OpenShare share folder or to each user account. After that, any Mac running OS X 10.5 or later in the network will be able to hook its Time Machine back up feature to the storage on the NAS servers.
For PC users, the LaCie Network Space 2 comes with Lacie Backup Genie, which is a wizard-driven and comprehensive backup application. The software allows you to back up just predefined important data from any folder you choose. It also allows for scheduled automatic backups and quick data recovery.
Even with support for Apple's Time Machine (which many other NAS servers lack), the LaCie Network Space 2 is probably the NAS server with the fewest features we've seen in the last two years.
We were not disappointed or impressed by the LaCie Network Space 2's performance. In our testing, the NAS server seems to be on average among single-volume NAS servers. The LaCie Network Space 2 scored 146.8Mbps in our Write test, faster than the 120.1Mbps of the My Book World Edition but much slower than 341.8Mbps of the HP MediaSmart Server LX195. In our Read test, the NAS server did much better with 280.6Mbps, compared with 206.6 of the My Book World Edition. Still, this was in no way close to the 393.7Mbps of the LX195.
The LaCie Network Space 2's Web interface was also sluggish at times. During operation, the NAS server got a little warm during heavy operation. It did, however, remain quiet.
Service and support
LaCie backs the LaCie Network Space 2 with a two-year warranty, which is longer than what many other NAS servers offer. The warranty covers both parts and labor. Telephone support is offered Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PST. At LaCie's Web site, you can download software that accompanies the device. There you'll also find its GPL source code, and you can access documentation, a knowledge base, FAQs, and other ways to contact Lacie.