Chances are you'll need to get to data from outside the office at some point, and while the 5Big Network 2 lets you accomplish this, it's remote access capabilities aren't as sophisticated as, say, the Iomega's Personal Cloud feature available on its comparable NAS products.
The 5Big Network 2's Web-based File Browser lets you browse and manage folders, upload and download files, etc. over either HTTP or (secure) HTTPS. File Browser also displays photo thumbnails and streams MP3 files, but it doesn't stream video files. (It does, however, stream to a local network via UPnP AV/DLNA.)
Figure 2: The LaCie's 5big Network 2 view from around back.
(Click for larger image).
As browser-based interfaces go, LaCie's is well laid out and responsive. Still, this method of remote file access seems somewhat crude in comparison Iomega's Personal Cloud, which lets remote computers map shared folders as drive letters for convenient and consistent access irrespective of whether they're connecting from the local network or the Internet.
While the 5Big Network 2's approach to remote access isn't nearly as slick as Iomega's, it does have the advantage of being self-sufficient. Unlike Personal Cloud, it doesn't depend on a matchmaking service to facilitate a connection between remote computers and the server over the Internet.
If you want to connect to a 5big Network 2 on a network without a consistent IP address, you'll still need to set up a dynamic DNS service -- the unit works with four different DNS providers, but you have to set up the service yourself in advance. A future software update will let you set up a LaCie-hosted dynamic DNS right from the device, as well as add some unspecified improvements to remote access.
The 5big Network 2 offers an additional drive bay and 1 TB of storage for an MSRP only fifty bucks higher than an Iomega StorCenter ix4-200d. If you're mainly concerned with local access to your data and want the most storage and bays for your money, LaCie's 5big Network 2 will not disappoint you.
Price: $799, (5TB) $1049, (10TB), or $1399 (15 TB)
Pros: Excellent administrative interface; non-destructive RAID migration when adding new drives
Cons: No USB 3.0 ports; browser-based remote access
Joseph Moran is a veteran technology writer and co-author of Getting StartED with Windows 7, from Friends of ED.
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