In the last year Iogear has come up with an avalanche of innovative products. The latest is the Broadband Office Storage Server, or BOSS. The boffins at Iogear had the brilliant idea of combining a broadband router and a hard drive, with a firewall thrown in. The collection fits together perfectly, and is something that many are going to find really handy.
Before telling you what it does, I should point out what it doesn’t do. It doesn’t have a broadband modem built in; you need to have an Ethernet broadband connection ready (the X-Modem reviewed last month, for example). Also, it doesn’t have wireless connectivity – though it could if you have an AirPort or equivalent 802.11 Base Station.
The connections are a single WAN Ethernet connection and four LAN Ethernet ports, though if that isn’t enough you need only add a cheap Ethernet switch. With your Ethernet connection to the outside world administered by the BOSS, you can safely surf without hindrance. Although most Internet-borne worries are bothersome only to Windows PCs, it would still be reckless to connect to the Internet without a firewall.
The BOSS uses network address translation to keep the baddies out, which gives computers connected to the BOSS fake IP addresses using DHCP. If this information is too much for you, don’t panic – the installation is simple, and you’ll never have to think about it again. If you’re comfortable with IP techieness, there’s plenty more you can do with the BOSS, including proxy DNS, Dynamic DNS, VPN and packet filtering.
The storage is a single drive with either 120GB or 200GB capacity. It can be formatted to support CIFS (Common Internet File System) for Windows compatibility or AFP (AppleTalk Filing Protocol). For designers it could be a shared file of images or fonts; in the home it might be a good place to leave MP3s or photo albums.
What makes online storage so appealing is it’s like having a server without having an extra computer. If a computer is shut down when you want to acess a file, it’s a hassle to boot it up. This is often a problem for laptop users. But if files are kept on the always-on storage volume, everybody can access them.
Network-attached storage is usually fairly expensive – at least it costs more than regular storage. The BOSS is reasonably priced for this kind of storage, and it has the additional broadband-router features, so it’s definitely a good deal. It would be an even better deal if it included a couple of extra things, such as an ADSL modem and WiFi. Hopefully the Iogear boffins will come up with that one day, but this is a great product already.