Akitio Cloud Hybrid: Convenient NAS and USB Storage in One

It's nice to be versatile, and the $105 Akitio Cloud Hybrid is just that. You can use this single-bay drive box either for network-attached storage (NAS) via the unit's ethernet jack, or for direct-attached storage (DAS) on a PC or Mac via the box's USB 3.0 port.

You can also access the Cloud Hybrid across the Web by using FTP, WebDav, or using either the device's ID or the MAC address listed on the bottom of the drive. Alternatively, you can use the iOS app.

The Cloud Hybrid is a basic black box. You remove three screws from the bottom of the unit to access the drive bay and install your hard drive. On the front you'll find power, status, and connection status lights, as well as four lights that tell you the approximate percentage of the unit's total storage space that's filled. There are no ports for connecting external devices, so you can't dedicate an attached drive for backup, expanding capacity, hosting printers, or the like.

The Cloud Hybrid offers a decent array of software features. In addition to the aforementioned access protocols, you get local iTunes serving and BitTorrent downloads, plus the usual admin functions for defining users and creating shared folders. The interface is a tad clunky, but it's easy enough to figure out after a few minutes at the Akitio Cloud Hybrid Wiki; the included setup sheet is a tad terse, however. Though network access could be a bit easier to configure, Akitio provides software utilities for finding the box for both Windows and OS X.

A few usage notes: You'll need to power down the Cloud Hybrid before switching interfaces. And you may need to plug the unit in twice the first time you attach it via USB--once for the driver to install, and a second time for the drive to show up. Also, be aware that all of the data on the drive will be visible when you attach the unit to a PC via USB, no matter what access rules you define for the unit as a NAS box. That's a security issue common to all dual-purpose NAS/DAS devices.

If you're looking for flexible single-bay storage that's equally at home attached to a PC or via ethernet, the Akitio Cloud Hybrid is an affordable, competent choice.