If you have more than one PC sharing an internet connection, whether in the home or the office, Freecom's FSG-3 Storage Gateway WLAN could be very useful. It's almost like having an IT department in a box.

In addition to a 7,200rpm hard drive, the FSG-3 includes a 54Mbps (megabits per second) wireless broadband router, three 10/100Mbps ethernet ports, a built-in firewall and a VPN (virtual private network).

These are all standard features you'd expect from any good wireless router, but where this device comes into its own is in the host of additional functions it offers for sharing and protecting data, on your local network and over the web.

The integral media server is ideal for sharing your music and video collections around the house, while the mail server allows you to host multiple accounts locally. It will let you share storage space and printers with any number of PCs on your network, automatically back up data and even host a website.

Because all of these functions are incorporated within the storage gateway, there’s no need to leave a PC on to access shared files or printers. You can turn off the internal cooling fan to keep the unit silent in a home environment, or turn it up for maximum reliability in the office.

Configuration is via a rather well-designed browser-based interface that's very easy to use. It also warns you if any changes are likely to pose a security risk. The storage gateway can be expanded by plugging in additional USB or eS-ata hard drives, all managed via the same interface.

The gateway's software can be modified to add any features you like – although we can't think of many. Perhaps the only thing missing is faster networking in the form of gigabit ethernet or 802.11n wireless.

Freecom FSG-3 Storage Gateway WLAN: Specs

  • Available in capacities from 160GB to 500GB (price given is for 160GB version)
  • Intel XSCale ARM9 CPU 266MHz
  • internal Linux operating system
  • 4MB flash RAM
  • 64MB SDRAM
  • 7,200rpm hard drive
  • 1x WAN
  • 3x 10/100 LAN (autosensing)
  • firewall
  • multichannel VPN server (pass-through)
  • 802.11g WLAN (54Mbps)
  • 4x USB 2.0 ports
  • 1x eS-ATA port
  • Acronis True Image 8.0
  • two-year warranty
  • 140x175x44mm
  • 0.95kg
  • Available in capacities from 160GB to 500GB (price given is for 160GB version)
  • Intel XSCale ARM9 CPU 266MHz
  • internal Linux operating system
  • 4MB flash RAM
  • 64MB SDRAM
  • 7,200rpm hard drive
  • 1x WAN
  • 3x 10/100 LAN (autosensing)
  • firewall
  • multichannel VPN server (pass-through)
  • 802.11g WLAN (54Mbps)
  • 4x USB 2.0 ports
  • 1x eS-ATA port
  • Acronis True Image 8.0
  • two-year warranty
  • 140x175x44mm
  • 0.95kg

OUR VERDICT

The Freecom FSG-3 Storage Gateway WLAN is a very nice piece of kit. It does just about everything you could want, is easily expandable and looks pretty good. Best of all, the firm has clearly paid great attention to detail thoughout, combining a huge feature set with excellent usability, design and build quality.

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