• Price: 91 . 100 . 130

  • Company: Buffalo Technology

  • Pros: Fast USB 2.0 data transfer speeds; can share data on the network.

  • Cons: Largely pointless combination of functions; network function poorly implemented; limited Mac support.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 5 out of 10 We rate this 5 out of 10

This drive is reviewed as part of our group test of desktop storage devices.

The DriveStation 2Share is an oddity. It’s a single-drive desktop device with a USB 2.0 port that also has an ethernet port to allow sharing of your files on your network. You press a button on its front to switch inputs.

It’s an intriguing idea – a desktop backup drive that you can keep your files on like any other, but which you can let colleagues access quickly if they need to. But unfortunately, we had some difficulty coming up with a set of circumstances where this would be useful, considering the device’s significant -- and at times almost crippling -- flaws.

First, you have to use the button to change between USB and ethernet connection. It’s much easier for Windows users to share the drive as a USB device using their computer’s ethernet port. Mac users don’t get a look in as the device’s network setup software is Windows-only. Also, if you reformat it to HFS+, as we did for our tests -- the network port stops working. The same is true if you reformat the FAT 32 drive to Windows’ NTFS file system to allow you to store files larger than 2GB.

The device might just about make sense if you used the DriveStation 2Share predominantly as a shared archive of your work, but which you back up to using USB. However, as Buffalo’s device has a slow 10/100 ethernet port, you’d be better off using a device without a USB port but with gigabit ethernet -- such as Buffalo’s own LinkStation Pro.

For Windows users, Buffalo ships the DriveStation 2Share with Memeo’s AutoBackup and Secure LockWare software and the Turbo USB utility. This apparently speeds up USB 2.0 connection on a Windows PC, but we tested it on our Dell workstation and didn’t see any improvement.

On the plus side, we found this device to be faster than the other single-drive device -- Seagate’s FreeAgent XTreme -- when connected over USB 2.0, though it has no other connections.

Memeo’s AutoBackup is simple and surprisingly fully featured – it’s not just for backing up to Buffalo’s drive, as it can also back up to iPods and other network drives – while Secure LockWare offers data encryption.