The IOGEAR 2-Port USB 2.0 Multi-Function Print & Storage (MFPS) Server is a USB server appliance with two built-in USB ports. It allows devices such as USB printers, scanners and portable storage devices to be accessed through the network.
- Network Interface: 10/100 Mbps RJ45
- USB Connection: USB 2.0, USB 1.1
- Management: Web, bundled Windows utility
- Dimensions: 4" x 1" x 2.875", 0.13 lbs
- USB: 2x USB ports (Expands to 5 devices via external USB hub)
- Supported Protocols: SMB/CIFS, LPR/LPD, IPP, Raw TCP/JetDirect, FTP, UPnP
- Price: $169.95
- More Info: IOGEAR MFPS Server Home Page
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Who's it for?
The IOGEAR MFPS Server is perfect for small offices or growing branch offices where there is a need to effectively share USB-only printers, scanners or storage devices. In such scenarios, it is typically not cost efficient to purchase network-enabled versions of such devices.
What problem does it solve?
Rather than trashing existing equipment to buy new network-enabled printers and storage servers as the office expands, it is a simple matter to plug in the MFPS and install the bundled Windows device driver on the requisite workstations. Once done, these devices can now be effectively shared with no additional configuration required; existing applications continue to recognize the hardware as if they were directly connected.
- Transparent support - An intuitive control panel allows the user to enable the virtual connection to the specified device on IOGEAR MFPS Server. No additional configuration is required after that - printer drivers and applications think that the devices are directly connected.
- JetDirect supported - The MFPS supports HP's proprietary JetDirect protocol to work with printer drivers and utilities from Hewlett Packard.
- Works as a file server - The ability to use the MFPS Server as a cheap file server for Microsoft networks (SMB/CIFS) is a huge plus in the multi-user environments that this product was designed to serve. As the appliance itself has no memory, files are uploaded to a connected flash drive or portable drive. User-level network security is configurable, though there is are inherent limitations (See "What's wrong?")
- Works as a FTP server - The IOGEAR MFPS sports a built in FTP server, which is useful for remote file transfers with some port forwarding or tunneling.
- One user at a time - Despite its ability to connect USB devices to the network, the IOGEAR MFPS Server is really a single-use device. What I mean is that only one user is able to use each connected device at a time. This can prove to be troublesome for busier branch offices with more users - it might be better off to scratch the existing non-networked equipment for network enabled versions in such scenarios.
- Limited user accounts - Unlike a true FTP server or file server, the MFPS only supports the creation of up to 10 user accounts.
- Security - All devices connected to the MFPS are essentially exposed to the entire network. Other than the default authentication for file sharing, there is no measure for additional authentication as to who can print or scan.
- High price - I don't typically factor in the price under the cons, but at $169.95, the MFPS is expensive given the affordability of networked printers nowadays.
- No support encryption - The MFPS is a basic device that does not support SSL for the Web interface. Neither is encryption supported for FTP.
- Belkin Network USB Hub
- Keyspan 2.0 Device Server
- UBox USB-to-Ethernet Print/Device Servers
- Silex 10/100 USB High speed device server
Bottom line for business
This is a very niche device that suffers from a number of drawbacks, such as the absence of user authentication for device sharing, and a complete lack of encryption for data transfers. Then again, these are issues that might not matter as much in the small office or branch office that it is geared towards.
In terms of actual usability and function in allowing USB-only printers and storage devices to be accessed over the network, the IOGEAR MFPS does the job well and reliably. As such, it is suited for business use, but only in certain circumstances.
Have you encountered or used IOGEAR 2-Port USB 2.0 Multi-Function Print and Storage Server? If so, what do you think? Rate your experience and compare the results to what other TechRepublic members think. Give your own personal review in the TechRepublic Community Forums or let us know if you think we left anything out in our review.
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Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.