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Maxtor Fusion Personal Web Server (500GB) review: Maxtor Fusion Personal Web Server (500GB)

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Our favorite feature of this drive is the share feature. Sharing files is simple: click on the single or multiple files or folders you want to share, click on the Share icon, and type the person's e-mail address into the empty field. An e-mail will be sent to that person, telling them that you are sharing files. This e-mail contains a link straight back to your Fusion box (this is where the dynamic DNS and port forwarding come into play). Although the individual has access to your drive, they can only see the files and folders you've invited them to see. So Grandma can peruse the pretty scenic vistas, while your college buddies can see what happened at that infamous party. (But these links are forwardable, so make sure your friends aren't mad at you!) If you'd like to share with a group, simply set up a group under the Share task and name it. Then you can choose among different groups when sharing files.

The final option is to make particular files and folders public. When you designate files as such, they are viewable by anyone who navigates to your public URL--created when you set up the dynamic DNS account and host name. (The host name is generally esoteric enough that strangers are unlikely to just stumble across your public site.) Both the individual/group share and the public site allow users to download files you've made available and to view them in slide-show format. If you're a member of a public group such as MySpace or eBay, you can use Fabrik's micro-link feature to generate a link for up to five files, whether images, sound files, or videos. Simply copy and paste the HTML snippet to your page to display photos or to stream music or video. As you're pointing back to your drive and not going through the process of uploading files, you save a good deal of time.

Through the device's two USB ports you can connect two additional USB hard drives. They can be used to access files or to back up files on the Fusion device. Only an administrator can back up the Fusion; the target USB drives must be formatted with FAT32 or VFAT file systems. (the Fusion can read rives formatted with NTSF, but it can't write to them.)

Given the premium you're paying for the Fabrik program, this drive isn't intended for simple data dumping--but you can definitely use it to do so. Over a local area network, the Fusion performed reading and writing tasks quickly. It took 9 minutes, 34 seconds to write our 5GB test folder. The drive read back the same folder in a short 10 minutes, 39 seconds.

One feature we'd like to see in future versions of this drive is a built-in photo editing utility, even if it provided only basic features such as red-eye reduction, face brightening, or cropping. Since you can access the drive directly on your network, it's not too difficult to tweak photos with a photo editor, but having basic tasks built in would make the sharing process even easier.

Maxtor supports the Fusion drive with a one-year, limited warranty. Toll-free phone support is available on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. MST. Maxtor's Web site also offers a knowledge base, guides and software updates, and an online form to email updates.

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