Adding USB devices has some limitations purely because the two ports are so close to each other. We connected a Buffalo FireStix Flash Disk to the top port and found that there was barely enough room below to connect a standard USB plug for our test printer. However, once the printer had been connected it was recognised immediately and the Discovery utility made light work of connecting to it over the network by providing a simple wizard for this process. What you gain in printer sharing you lose in monitoring facilities as our Epson Stylus Photo 950 no longer showed its ink level status screen.
Iomega’s Automatic Backup Pro is the most useful of the bundled utilities as it provides a complete backup system that can be customized to suit. Just select the drives, folders and files you want secured, select the network drive as a destination and decide how often you want a backup to run. The utility runs permanently in the background and also provides a real-time backup facility as you can request that any of the selected files be copied to the appliance whenever a change is detected. Even better is the fact that you can store any number of revisions allowing you to go back and restore earlier versions if you wish.
Whatever you do don’t buy this appliance purely for its FolderShare features. This third party service is designed to allow you to share files and folders and synchronise them with other users over the Internet but at the time of review Microsoft had just acquired FolderShare, the service was in the process of being discontinued and as you can see from the accompanying screenshot Iomega hasn’t yet come up with another alternative.
Iomega measured up very well to the competition in the performance stakes over Fast Ethernet with our test copy of a single 690MB video file from a workstation to the appliance taking only 102 seconds for an average write speed of 6.8MB/sec – around twenty seconds faster that the Maxtor and WD appliances. Move over to Gigabit Ethernet and the appliance really stretches its legs with the same copy taking a mere 69 seconds.
The StorCenter Network Hard Drive comes up short on features when compared with similarly priced products from Freecom, Maxtor and WD. Network performance is very good and the bundled Automatic Backup Pro software will prove handy but user access controls are minimal and the FolderShare feature is now redundant.