The ioSafe 214 is the latest two bay ‘disaster proof’ NAS, and a successor to the ioSafe N2. ioSafe focuses on rugged data storage products and – though well established in the US – the nine year-old California company is only now bringing its NAS boxes to Europe.
What should give ioSafe a leg up with this is its partnership with Synology. Currently our favourite NAS maker, Synology has an exclusive agreement with ioSafe to provide them with its chipsets and excellent DSM (DiskStation Manager) software. All of which suggests if ioSafe can get the hardware right, the rest should fall into place.
The first thing that will strike you about the ioSafe 214 is its size. Despite being a two bay NAS, the 214 is larger than most four-bay NAS boxes at 292 x 230 x 150mm. And at a whopping 12.7kg (unpopulated) it is about 4 times the weight. By contrast the two-bay Synology DS214, which the 214 is based on, weighs 1.3Kg.
Of course this bulk is down the 214’s determination to protect your data. Consequently the entire body is metal and access to the drives comes only by removing a 40mm thick fire-insulated metal front panel, followed by a 10mm thick waterproof metal inner casing. Access to both requires the provided allen key and ioSafe separately sells a floor mount (pictured below), which adds further protection and the ability to padlock it.
All this leads to some impressive claims. ioSafe boasts the 214 can protect data from heat of up to 1550 Fahrenheit (845 degrees Celsius) for 30 minutes and submersion in up to 10 feet of salt water for 72 hours. But it is worth noting that these figures correspond to protection of your data. Much like a car with crumple zones, the NAS itself is sacrificed to protect the drives inside, though this is clearly the crucial part for anyone considering this type of NAS.
While ioSafe’s selling point is its tough-as-nails design, the company has done smart business in partnering with NAS specialist Synology. This means that the 214 has brains to match its brawn with support for the hot swappable, expandable Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR) as well as Basic, JBOD, RAID 0 and RAID 1.
In addition the Synology connection means the 214 is compatible with the company's wealth of Android and iOS apps for remote file access and media streaming as well as the latest DSM firmware updates. Impressively the 214 is even compatible with Synology DiskStation Manager, which has only just launched. Android handset makers would do well to take notes.
From a hardware perspective the ioSafe 214 is also well served. Being based on the Synology DS214, it comes with the same Marvell Armada XP dual core 1.06GHz CPU, 512MB DDR3 RAM and supports 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch drives up to 4TB (with 6TB compatibility on the way). There are two rear USB 2.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet and a USB 2.0 front mounted port and quick copy button for fast saving content from external drives.
As with other Synology NAS, the front port has not been upgraded to USB 3.0 - a small grumble. Slightly more surprising is the single Gigabit Ethernet port. For a device so concerned with safety it seems odd there would not be a backup port as standard like the Synology DS414.