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Review: Seagate GoFlex Home – Fantastic Shared Storage System for Mac & iOS

Review: Seagate GoFlex Home – Fantastic Shared Storage System for Mac & iOS

From solid state to corporate storage to home media servers, Seagate offers solutions for all situations and has done so shipping  over 1 billion drives.  In addition to producing quality hardware, the company prides itself on delivering proprietary software for all of its products.  Continuing a full-service tradition for home networked solutions, the GoFlex Home Network Storage System is an all-in-one option for the tech savvy.

Design

The GoFlex Home is designed to work with Seagate’s GoFlex line of external desktop hard drives. The  drive docks into the top of the networked cradle, which hosts a power/reset button, CAT5 ethernet port and USB.  Two front indicator LEDs help to easily keep tabs on network activity and power supply.  It is important to note that the cradle is not WiFi compatible – it must be directly hardwired to a router.

Internal design is also important, as the file structure is Mac/PC compatible out-of-the-box and the whole GoFlex line offers the same convenient easy to use format.

Network

The GoFlex Home is designed solely as a network solution, and setup was fairly straight forward.  The included 5 step quick start guide had me up and running in roughly 10 minutes.  As the drive is hardwired to your home router, it is accessible on up to 3 PCs or Macs (additional licenses may be purchased), game consoles, Seagate’s own GoFlex TV HD, and on iOS using a companion app.

Function

The drive is easily added as mounted storage for OS X.  This is different from a standard USB hard drive because the GoFlex Home is always conveniently available via the network connection.  Once mounted, interacting with the network drive is exactly the same as working with attached USB storage devices.

Internally, the folder structure has three main folder systems.  Home Public is a folder than all users can access, making it the perfect location for family media libraries or other shared content, Home Personal is for individual user access only, and Home Backup (Time Machine compatible) is intended to be utilized for, well, backups!  The functionality of these default folders is predetermined, but similar folder functionality can be controlled via the SeagateShare.com Dashboard.

The SeagateShare Dashboard (the desktop client is only Windows compatible) is the interface for storage management and sharing stored content.  By creating “Share” folders in the Dashboard, the user can then invite others to view the content utilizing a built-in sharing system.  If necessary, a limited time frame can be used to deny access after a certain period of time.  In addition to managing shared folders and invitations, the Dashboard also manages access to and from connected network media devices such as gaming consoles.

The hardware also has a few tricks of its own.  If having an up to 3TB GoFlex Home drive proves to be inadequate, the USB port will accommodate an additional hard drive. The USB port can also be used to attach a printer, automatically transforming it into a shared network printer. If that isn’t enough, a premium service is offered on a monthly payment plan that links with services like Tivo, Facebook, Flickr, and more.

GoFlex Access App for iOS

The GoFlex Access app (free, iTunes Link) allows Dropbox-like access to the hard drive from anywhere in the world, assuming internet connectivity.  If you have a large amount of video or music, you could free up space on your iPhone and access your content over the air with GoFlex Access.  The app boasts a built-in media player, and it is even AirPlay compatible!

In addition to music and videos, the app will present photos individually or cycle through in a slideshow-like manner.  While you’re at it, you might just want to take a picture and store it in your GoFlex Picture folder.  The GoFlex Access app uses the built in iOS camera to directly upload photos and videos to your networked drive.

Similar functionality is possible using networked gaming consoles.  Once the GoFlex Home was up and running, my PS3 had no trouble automatically connecting.  The complete file structure was viewable from the PS3, and pictures, music, and movies were all accessible.

 

Conclusion [rating: 4/5]

It is frustrating that the desktop Dashboard client is not OS X compatible, and there is no option to email a direct link to share content, which is a pesky oversight (and one feature where Drobox has the edge).  Also, when receiving a photo album on the shared end of the Dashboard, the experience is less than intuitive. Overall, though, the benefits of the system outweigh the oversights.

The GoFlex Home Network Storage System (1TB $159.99, 2TB $189.99, 3TB $239.99) is  must-have full-function storage solution.  Combining the ability to store and consume content, the GoFlex Home is a well-rounded, practical, and useful addition to the connected home.  Playing, viewing, and using files from the drive on an iOS device makes the GoFlex Home a complete solution for the user-on-the-go.

Pros

  • Easy set up and installation.  Quick Start Guide was easily understandable
  • Accesible from any internet connected device (including the PS3)
  • Networked Time Machine access is great for keeping current backups
  • GoFlex Access app is simple and adds to the experience
  • USB allows additional storage or network printer sharing

Cons

  • Desktop client is not OS X compatible
  • Only 5 computer licenses are included (more can be purchased from Seagate)
  • Sharing folders and individual files is only possible from the Dashboard
  • Mouse cursor kept disappearing on the .com Dashboard

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