LaCie Ethernet Disk
At a Glance
LaCie's Ethernet Disk is a heavy, rack-mounted NAS device designed for small to medium-size offices. Though it's available in capacities of up to 800GB (our test model had 160GB), and its design is suited more to a server room than a home office, this device was not difficult to use.
As befits an office-oriented drive, the LaCie exhibited very good performance in our speed tests, ranking at the top in its ability to write large files. It scored fourth overall among the ten drives we tested.
The Ethernet Disk is expandable, with one FireWire and two USB 1.1 ports. USB 1.1 isn't a fast enough bus to keep up with large volumes of data, and is therefore less efficient than FireWire for most data-transfer purposes. As a result, FireWire is the better option for connecting another drive for backup or extra storage.
For setup, LaCie's Network Configurator tool was easy to use; however, the PDF documentation--while clear and well written--was outdated, failing to cover about a year's worth of major revisions to the configuration software and listing features incorrectly. For example, the manual referenced a print server that is no longer a feature of the Ethernet Disk.
Another area where the manual proved out-of-date was the section on permission configuration for the four types of shared folders: Windows, AppleShare, HTTP, and FTP. The documentation stated that you can set permissions only for Windows folders, and that other types of folders would be unprotected, when in fact you can now set permissions for all four folder types.
The HTTP and FTP folder types allow you to share data over the Web with remote users. You can upload and download files to both folder types, although HTTP is more suitable for read-only data.
An easy-to-use wizard walks you through creating public shared folders, but you'll need to enter the browser-based utility's Advanced mode to create password-protected shared folders.
One missing weapon in the LaCie's arsenal is client backup software. Since you can map shared folders to a drive letter, however, the Ethernet Disk is compatible with your choice of standard backup software.
This large-capacity, easy-to-use drive is expandable and fairly fast. We had only small quibbles with it.