The TopTenREVIEWS Gold Award winning Iomega StorCenter ix2-200 is a formidable contender in the market for network attached storage (NAS). The Iomega has four features found lacking in its nearest competitor, the Seagate BlackArmor NAS 110: support for Linux machines, support for Time Machine backups, three USB 2.0 ports instead of two and RAID (redundant array of independent disks) technology. In addition to the 1TB version in our review, Iomega markets 2 and 4TB models. The Iomega StorCenter ix2-200 works as shared network storage, or it can connect directly to a single computer. To support networked configurations, Iomega’s network attached storage has built-in USB printer sharing. And with three included USB 2.0 ports, up to three networked printers can be attached.
The Iomega StorCenter ix2-200 is network storage that cuts no corners and makes no compromises in pursuit of its role. Iomega’s decision to use two 500GB drives in a RAID is of great significance to networked hard drive users. Iomega ships the network attached storage configured for RAID 1 with automatic rebuild, which means that it writes identical data to each of the two disk drives. When a drive fails, the user can swap in a new one and the system will automatically rebuild the RAID. So the heart of the Iomega StorCenter ix2-200 consists of two mirrored disks that guarantee fault tolerance at the hardware level. The redundant hard drives in the network attached storage can receive backups from PCs, Macs and Linux machines on the local area network. The network storage, which automatically stores two local copies of each file, can then be replicated to another Iomega StorCenter ix2-200 or another computer on the network or backed up to an external USB drive or backed up to MozyHome Online Backup.
Any file that has the luxury of maintaining copies of itself on a networked computer that is backed up to a networked hard drive (that saves the file on two separate physical drives and then backs itself up to yet another location) is likely to survive. The Iomega StorCenter ix2-200 includes backup software that schedules backups and confirms backup completions. This network attached storage hard drive also serves as a Time Machine target to support Macintosh backups.
Although it ships with the disks in a mirrored RAID 1 configuration, it is possible to disable RAID and run the disks as JBOD (“just a bunch of disks” or “just a bunch of drives” or the cleverly recursive “JBOD’s a bunch of disks”). JBOD is the inverse of RAID 1. In RAID 1, the operating system sees the two drives as a single 500GB image and doesn’t even know that it is writing the same data to two mirrored locations. With JBOD, otherwise known as spanning, the two disks appear to the operating system as a single 1TB drive. If the user wants to use the two disks to mirror data, then the user must sacrifice storage capacity in order to achieve fault tolerance. If the user wants to maximize the available storage, then JBOD will simply use the two drives as if they were a single disk with a 1TB capacity.
Another feature that comes with this network attached storage product promotes convenient data security: a free one-year subscription to Trend Micro Internet Security, which is a firewall that protects against phishing and spyware. We analyzed Trend Micro Internet Security, tested it, and discovered that it does a pretty good job against malware and it protects against unauthorized attempts to alter registries and operating system settings. It also has an option to seek out and destroy Trojans and worms before they can take root. Trend Micro’s parental controls can block websites by category and control the times when internet is available. Inclusion of a starter subscription to Trend Micro Internet Security is one more way that Iomega infuses its network attached storage product with useful features and endears itself to buyers.
In terms of securing access to the network attached storage, Iomega does not require the creation of an administrator with associated name and password. The default is that any user can access and configure the product. However, if the owner so wishes, security settings are available to establish an administrator and to encrypt browser communication sessions with the device. Furthermore, it is possible to create public versus secure folders.
With foundations in security, fault tolerance and data preservation, the Iomega is a network attached storage product with a built-in media server that shares content with networked computers and devices. Because of support for advanced media features, users can view pictures and video and listen to music from compatible networked devices. It can operate as an iTunes server to stream audio to PCs and Macs that have iTunes installed. Iomega’s networked hard drive is compatible with UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) devices and certified for DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) products. It supports torrent downloads and Bluetooth uploads. Inclusion of the Picture Transfer Protocol allows the uploading of pictures directly from camera to network storage without having to upload via computer. This network attached storage also provides remote access via personal web address from anywhere for $9.95 per year (after the first 12 months, which are free). If, at any stage, the user wishes to return the network storage to its default factory setting, it is accomplished by holding the reset button on the back panel for 15 seconds.
If there are any UPnP-compatible video surveillance cameras on the network, Iomega’s networked hard drive will display them on the Video Surveillance page. The page displays recordings and camera information and allows users to manage the camera’s settings including automatic scheduling and manually starting and stopping recordings. Direct access to the camera’s native software is also supported. The product supports up to five surveillance cameras for recording or viewing security video.
Iomega’s warranty is for three years. During the warranty period, technical support by telephone and online chat is free.
The Iomega StorCenter ix2-200 is easily the best network attached storage in our review lineup. The user can choose to configure the two 500GB disk drives to mirror data and if one of the drives fails, the product is designed to allow the user to swap out a new drive without having to send the unit to the vendor. If the user does not want to give up half of the total available storage, then a spanning configuration permits the operating system to write unique content to the 1TB of total available space. Whether the device is configured for RAID 1 or JBOD, the system’s ability to back itself up in a variety of ways, ensures data persistence.
The inclusion of every possible multimedia software standard enables a robust multimedia server. And a generous supply of USB 2.0 ports means that a networked printer, an uninterruptable power supply and another storage device can all be simultaneously connected to the network attached storage. The Iomega sets the NAS standard for home and small professional office networks.
The StorCenter ix2-200 supports RAID (redundant array of independent disks).
The worst that can be said is that the generous technical support policy is no longer free after three years.
The Iomega StorCenter ix2-200 is the best networked attached storage that we’ve examined.