Add Wireless Network Storage

Question: I'd like to add shared storage to my home network, for photos and music files. Is there any way to do this wirelessly?

Answer: While there are a few products that combine Wi-Fi and network storage, for best performance, we recommend simply connecting a networkable storage drive directly to your Wi-Fi router. Networked drives perform many useful functions, such as acting as backup repositories, and storing files that you want to share among all computers, like photos, music, and videos. While you can easily exchange files between machines with Windows Networking or Mac File Sharing, storage devices that connect directly to your network eliminate the need to dedicate an expensive, always-on computer to this mundane task. Three excellent choices are Buffalo's LinkStation and TeraStation lines (depending on how much space you need), and Maxtor's Shared Storage Plus drive. The Maxtor has both PC and Mac support.

Another great choice is Linksys' inexpensive Network Storage Link, a device that connects standard USB 2.0 hard drives, such as Maxtor's popular OneTouch drives, to any wireless router. If you have a spare drive sitting around, this is a great way to put it to use. The Network Storage Link can even make files accessible from the Internet via any Web browser, a boon for business travelers who don't want to leave their desktops on 24/7 and possibly open to hacking.

Don't expect desktop drive performance from networked devices accessed over Wi-Fi, since file transfer rates will be limited by 802.11g network speeds. But for sharing files and even streaming media playback, they work just fine. Another big feature of network storage is for backup of your PC drives. Both the Buffalo and Maxtor units come with convenient automatic backup software that you can schedule in off hours.