Linksys on Tuesday shipped a new device that connects external USB hard drives to a router or switch, then lets users share that storage over a wireless or wired network.
Dubbed the Linksys Network Storage Link, the $99 gizmo plugs into a wireless or wired router or switch through its 10/100 Ethernet port, then connects to external hard drives via a pair of USB ports. The drives must support USB 1.1 or 2.0.
Once the drives are connected to Network Storage Link and the router or switch, all users on the network can access data from the disks. USB-based flash drives and memory sticks can also be plugged into the Link, and their storage capacity accessed via the network.
The device features disk utilities, including tools for formatting new drives, scanning them for disk errors, backing up data -- in scheduled full, incremental, or synchronized fashion -- and alerting users via e-mail when the attached drives are nearly full or experience a read or write error.
Linksys, which is a division of network hardware maker Cisco, is pitching the Network Storage Link to small business and home users, particularly the latter, where wireless networks are increasingly popular. "[They're] always looking for ways to add more gigabytes of storage to their networks," said Steve Troyer, Linksys' director of product marketing, in a statement. "With the Link, users can add additional storage quickly, [and] everyone on the network can have access to the external hard drive."