Network drives need to get smart

For past few weeks I have been playing around with Mirra 2.0, which was released only recently, and for some odd reason has been overlooked by more gadget gurus. I have been impressed so far by what I have seen. The user interface has improved quite a bit, and so have the sharing abilities of the software. It does not crash as often. It has added little but much needed features, such as backing up Microsoft Outlook files when the program was running. In fact it can now sync with multiple computers on the local network without as much as a whisper. I think what has impressed me most is the ability to share and upload files from the web. Which Mirra can now be my one stop digital photo sharing device, and that alone should be a reason to upgrade to this offering.

Mirra 2.0 also introduces MirraSync, an automated way to synchronize files among shared folders on linked PCs within local networks. Here’s how it works: If one person makes changes to a file in a synched folder on a network, the changes will be backed up to the Mirra, and from there, the Mirra will update the file on all computers that have access to the shared folder. (Backups and previous versions will be saved to the Mirra.) [ Morningstar]

Mirra has clearly made progress, but I still think there is a need for some intelligence in these networked drives. Using a dumb drive for backing up data in office is great, but for home environment these drives need to do more. For instance, if the Mirra is going to be the one-stop for digital storage, I want it to do more. Not only it should be able to store and share digital photos, I want it to be able to store and stream my music collection, my videos etc.

Mirra’s nearest rival, Ximeta, is working on similar products, though I am not sure when those drives are going to hit the market. Ximeta says that it is on its way to developing products that will give the consumers ability to share their digital photos, MP3’s and digital movies among numerous devices in the home, *without* having to keep a PC turned on. I guess if you hear the deals the company signed with Sigma Design, digital media processor maker, and Syabas Technology, a middleware software maker for broadband set-top boxes, you know where they are headed. Using NDAS, the company’s patented storage technology, consumers will be able store their digital content on a centralized unit (that’s attached to the network) and access it through any NDAS-compatible multimedia player, PC, laptop or networked device. Ximeta has one problem which Mirra has licked. The user interface and how it interacts with the PC. I still find it problematic, and annoying, though I am using the older Netdisk. Hopefully when the new drives come out, these issues will be addressed.