With the phenomenal growth of data and a better awareness of the need to back it up, there is always a market for a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device. Last I really knew of Iomega was back in the ZIP drive days where they ruled the home storage world. But with EMC bringing their enterprise level experience to the SOHO arena, can it revive this company's fortunes with the Iomega StorCenter ix2 NAS? Thanks to the good people at Iomega, DigitalReviews gets up close and personal with a 2 Tb edition of the ix2.
For a NAS enclosure housing two 3.5" (desktop size) hard drives, the Iomega StorCenter ix2 is actually quite remarkable with its compact size. The device has a simple matt black design with an embossed Iomega logo on both sides. The front and rear of the enclosure have vents for temperature control and there is a good level of metal involved in the unit's quality construction. The unit feels quite heavy and solid for its size.
From an aethestics point of view, the Iomega StorCenter ix2 is not going to win any design awards for its looks. That said and done, a NAS is unlikely to be the centerpiece of your lounge room or a general topic of conversation for most parts. Ironically I think the EMC SANs, which are usually locked away in data centers have a much more appealing fascia.
One of the key features of the Iomega StorCenter series is the ease of installation - so easy that it is claimed that the ix2 can be configured in four mouse clicks. Naturally, DigitalReviews puts this claim to the test. Once the Iomega StorCenter Manager software is installed from the Solutions CD, it is truly a 4 mouse click process to have the StorCenter network connected and ready for use. This is major kudos for Iomega on delivering exactly what is promised.
The four mouse clicks collects the following information:
* Administrator password
* Storage device name
* Notification email address
* Time zone
Once these steps were completed, the ix2 is on the network ready to be accessed by a PC, Mac or Linux machine. Administration can be performed via the client installed from the previous step, which in reality launches a web browser from where you can manage all features of the NAS.
By default, the Iomega StorCenter ix2 is shipped in a RAID 1 configuration (disk mirroring) with a total capacity of 1 Tb in this particular model. Iomega also recommends a DHCP enabled network although it is also possible to hardcode the IP address of the ix2.
Given the remarkably easy setup process, it was no surprise that the rest of managing the ix2 was also a breeze. I set up a shared folder with access controls via the management interface and within a minute I was transferring files to and from the StorCenter.
Without doing any formal tests the Iomega StorCenter ix2 appears to perform reasonably well with the throttling cause by my wireless network. The data transfer rates definitely improved when performed over a wired network. Whilst data transfer speed is important, a NAS device is primarily a target for large amounts of data storage in a secure centralised location rather than constant high speed transfer between machines.
The EMC Retrospect Express HD is the backup software that accompanies the Iomega StorCenter ix2. The same philosophy as the rest of this product has been implemented here as it is easy to setup an automated backup schedule based on your needs, whether it is a full computer system backup; specific files, folders and drives; or files by type.
The two USB ports can support either additional disk space or printers. For the former it will not be made as part of the RAID group and does not enjoy the same level of hardware redundancy. On the security front, there is an optional encryption based on RSA technology which secures files as they are transferred.
* Length: 200 mm (7.87 in)
* Width: 79 mm (3.12 in)
* Height: 122 mm (4.81 in)
* Weight: 2.1 kg (4.57 lbs)
* Network type: 10/100/1000 Mbps
* USB 2.0 host ports: 2
* RAID level: 0 - JBOD, 1 - Mirroring
* Hard drives: 2 x SATA II
* Print server: Support for 2 USB printers
* Media server: Support for DLNA / uPNP compliant devices (including iTunes, game consoles, security camera and digital picture frames)
Much as I like the ease of configuring the device, there are a number of areas which I would like to see improvements in. Firstly there is no ability to manage disk space quota. Secondly with the way the enclosure is designed it is difficult to access drives within the enclosure. The Bluetooth support is a nice to have but having to add a supported dongle to enable it is Iomega being a tease.
The Iomega StorCenter ix2 is a great little NAS in the right environment. The ease of installation is definitely in favour for the SOHO market where technical expertise may not be immediately available. The lack of ability to quickly access the hard disks themselves would be of concern to a technical person worried about drive failures and being able to replace them. There are definite areas for improvement but for the price point and capability these are worth overlooking for the right environment.
The Iomega StorCenter ix2 is available in two size, USD$299.99 for the 1TB or USD$479.99 for the 2TB.