Storage maestro Iomega has traditionally focused on the higher end of the NAS (network attached storage) market leaving the home and very small business network arena to vendors such as Maxtor, Western Digital and Freecom. However, the unimaginatively named StorCenter Network Hard Drive signals a shift in focus to these very users with a family comprising just two slim-line desktop boxes offering 250GB and 300GB capacities. Its larger appliances have always impressed not just with their sleek design but also with an extensive range of features combined with ease of use and in this review we see whether the company can measure up to the established names at the entry-level of the NAS market.
The 250GB appliance on review is encased in a sturdy plastic chassis that looks and feels well built although it can’t match the sleek, brushed aluminium case of Maxtor’s Shared Storage Drive. However, it’s much smaller and despite tipping the scales at 1.2kgs is eminently more portable should you need to move around different locations. The smaller case means cooling is a concern but Iomega has fitted a small internal fan in the side panel. This only powers up when required but can be a little intrusive whilst running. Network support is tops as the appliance comes with a triple speed auto-sensing port allowing it to support Gigabit Ethernet for maximum file sharing performance. You also get a pair of USB ports for adding external storage devices for network sharing and they also support USB printers as well.
Installation kicks off nicely as the bundled Iomega Discovery utility searches the network for StorCenter appliances and configures them ready for use by assigning a drive letter to the device’s default share. The appliance only functions as a DHCP client and will need to be installed on a network with a resident DHCP server – something most ADSL routers provide as standard. General configuration is carried out from the appliance’s web interface and on first contact it’s clear Iomega only offers a basic set of features. The home page open with a status rundown on the internal drive and connected USB devices and for the latter you can stop them for safe removal.
Access controls are provided so you can create username and password combinations and usefully apply quotas to them to limit the amount of space they can use. The appliance is also designed to work with UPnP digital media adapters allowing multimedia files to be shown on a TV. The appliance maintains a database of media files and defaults to sharing all these files although the source folder can be changed if required.