Like pretty much everyone out there, whether they be super-geeks, newbies, or average computer users, I have tons of data. I personally have over 100 gigabytes of music and podcasts, dozens of gigabytes of documents and other stuff, hundreds of gigabytes of videos... and that isn't even counting the hundreds and hundreds of high quality digital photos I have stored.
Of course, it's important to keep all of this data backed up, and a lot of folks out there use external hard drives to protect those precious bits and bytes. More advanced users prefer NAS type solutions, like the NETGEAR ReadyNAS Duo. The catch is that like most NAS products, the ReadyNAS Duo has lots of features the "average" user won't want, more complicated setup procedures, and so on.
The NETGEAR Stora is designed for those folks who really don't want to mess with any advanced settings, those who don't need a built in web server or BitTorrent client, those who might not be interested in fine tuning CIFS and AFP file access settings; users who are interested in simply saving and sharing their digital media are perfect for the Stora. The Stora performs admirably at this, but don't get the idea that Stora is "lacking" on advanced features; the reality is exactly the opposite, it just packages it in a more friendly manner.
Unboxing the NETGEAR Stora
Enough drivel, I'm sure you want to get your paws on this thing. The box is typical NETGEAR fare, nothing to see here, move along... there's a nice sharp pic of the unit with full feature details for you to check out.
The Stora is well packed and secure in its cardboard cage.
Once you unearth the unit, check to make sure you have the following:
- Power cord
- Software disk and quick start guide
- Ethernet cable
- The Stora (duh, of course!)
Setting up the Stora and installing the included software is easy, if a bit more time consuming than expected - I'd put aside about 10-15 minutes to get it rolling. First, put it in a nice location and make sure not to set anything under it or on top of it.
You have to keep it ventilated... the sticker on the front says so :)
Then, connect power, and run the Ethernet connection from the back of the Stora to your router.
You might not want to play with those tabs on the back yet; those eject the drives - you might loosen the connection. I played with them, though. That's just how I roll. (The drives are easy to slide back in. Just lift off the front cover.)
You're all set to install the software now - but make sure to turn off your firewall first, as this can might muck up the install. Slip in the CD (Windows) and get crackin'. You'll want to go through the standard setup procedure, in which you'll set up an administrator user name and password and initialize the Stora for external use (you set up a special URL.) Once everything is complete, it may prompt you to update the software if there is a newer version; if this happens, make sure to go ahead and upgrade. I would recommend you reboot your system after everything is totally complete.
(Note: most routers out there support uPnP, which is something the Stora needs to have enabled to function properly. If your router doesn't support uPnP, you can consult the Stora user manual for manual setup directions.)
Features of the Stora
So, what can this puppy do? The short answer is: a whole bunch. The focus of the Stora is saving and sharing your media easily across your home network and with friends over the Internet. Here's a quick overview of Stora's main capabilities:
- Automate backup with Vista Backup or Mac Time Machine
- Additional folder backup software included
- Polished, simple user interface
- Sharing with friends over the Internet made easy, while keeping private data private, through easy-to-manage albums
- Share with Facebook
- Photo slideshows
- NAS-like data mirroring with second hard drive installed
- Additional premium content, such as mobile access and more
- Streaming to uPnP and DLNA media devices, such as XBOX 360, NETGEAR Digital Entertainer, and more
- Printer sharing over USB
- Easy iTunes sharing
Let's take a look at a few of these features in more detail.