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I generally dislike using Windows drag-and-drop file transfers to evaluate product performance because it's such a black box with large overhead that produces widely varying results. But I didn't really have much choice given the nature of the product.

My test client was a 2.4GHz Pentium 4, running WinXP Home with 512MB RAM and Realtek RTL8139 10/100 PCI Ethernet. The NetDisk was connected to my LAN's 10/100 switch operating in full duplex mode.

I used a folders each containing the same 54.4MB of assorted gif and jpg files and used a stopwatch to time the transfers from the time I dropped the file until the file transfer progress bar disappeared. No other applications were running on the client. Each test was run three times and I deleted the transferred folder and emptied the Trash after each run. Table 1 shows the averaged results from my test runs.

Transfer Time
Transfer Rate
NDAS mode - Client to NetDisk
NDAS mode - NetDisk to Client
USB 2.0 mode - Client to NetDisk
USB 2.0 mode - NetDisk to Client
Table 1: File Transfer Test results

Although the numbers seem to give a slight performance edge to the USB 2.0 mode, I think they're within the range of variation of the drag-and-drop measurement technique. Basically, you can choose Ethernet or USB2.0 connection without worrying about slowing your transfer speed.

Closing Thoughts

Judging from the glowing reviews the NetDisk has received on other sites, I might be considered a party-pooper, but I wasn't that impressed with the NetDisk. When considered as a USB 2.0 drive, the NetDisk can cost you as much as $50 more than a plain USB 2.0 80GB drive, and it's certainly less portable than some of its bretheren. As a network device, its one-writer-at-a-time limitation and inability to control who grabs write privileges make it useful only in very limited networked scenarios.

If you think of the NetDisk as an external USB 2.0 drive that can also connect to your computer via Ethernet and don't mind paying a premium, you'll probably be happy with your purchase. But if you're looking for a NAS box at a bargain price, you won't find it in this product.

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