It’s been a while since I wrote anything worthy on here, and looking at my desk got me thinking about the few new bits of hardware that I have been using a lot recently that was money well spent.

Synology Cube Station CS407 4-Bay Sata Gigabit Network

I have had the Synology Cube Station now for about 3 months. I have had a few problems with dodgy hard disks, which to be fair have not been caused by the CS407. This NAS is incredible, quick and has a plethora of extras thrown in for good measures;

IP Camera Video Recording (I.P. Surveillance if you are into that sort of thing), Photo Station, File Station, Website hosting, iTunes Server, BT (Bit Torrent) download etc, AD support, MAC compatible, SSH, Telnet, FTP etc). It has an awesome interface and it’s very easy to use. Best of all it supports 4 Sata/SataII disks, and large capacity. I currently have 2TB’s in the way of 4x500GB at my disposal. Did I mention it’s silent as well? It’s also future proof as there are regular firmware updates from Synology’s online site. For an excellent review on this beast of a NAS, look at Benchmark Reviews, who review it in all it’s glory.

Magic Bridge II

Through the years I have collected hard drives of all sizes & types (IDE, SATA/SATA2) from the various PC’s I’ve owned, rather than throw them away. You never know what people can find on a hard drive, even when you think you have formatted it. You see it on TV all the time, these crooks use software to get back sensitive information.

So I have mine all in a box, just gathering dust, until last weekend that is, when I discovered this neat little gadget calledMagic Bridge II. It allows one to connect an IDE or SATA/II or eSATA drive or both together (SATA on one end and IDE on the other end) to a USB interface. It is brilliant and fast, since it’s USB2.0 connection (or 1.1 if you have the older type). To start, just slide a disk(s) onto the connector and hit the power button. There is also a backup button, which you can press and it backs up the contents of the disk to your HD. The Magic Bridge comes with all the power connectors, cables etc that one would need. It’s small and light as well. Backing up software to old or spare drives couldn’t be easier. It’s even better than an enclosure, since this supports everything. I paid £33 for it at Maplin.
Note: The only problem I have come across is that it doesn’t recognise drives with multiple partitions. In Computer Management it shows the disk as unknown and “format the partition” is the only option. Formatting the disk into one partition does the trick, but if this was an old disk with stuff on it, then Magic Bridge II is not the solution to reading the disk.

Belkin High Speed USB 2.0 7 Port Hub

Having an iMac has some serious disadvantages, especially if one has lots of USB devices. I have loads (Camera, Phone, Universal Remote, Magic Bridge, Key, speakers, webcam, keyboard, external drive etc), and the iMac is sadly lacking in the USB 2.0 department with only 3 USB ports. So to compliment the lack of USB I bought a Belkin 7 port USB 2.0 hub. It’s got two vertical ports which is great for quick inserts or pullouts, and 5 ports at the back for those devices that are always in use. For £17 from PC World it was money well spent. The hub is weighted as well, and has a cable management clip. Very useful.