Add an external USB device and the appliance will automatically make its contents available as a network share. It’s also listed in the web interface home page where you can safely disable it before removal. For printer sharing you can either add one manually or use the discovery utility to do it for you. Using an Epson Photo 950 USB printer we found the latter worked first time but although we could still use the printer’s cleaning utilities, the ink monitoring features were unavailable. The appliance is also designed to work with UPnP digital media adapters. It maintains a database of media files and defaults to sharing all these files, although the source folder can be changed if required. Personally, we would have found it useful if it offered an iTunes server feature as well.
With the appliance installed on a Gigabit Ethernet network we saw it return a reasonable real world performance. Copying a 690MB video file from a Supermicro Pentium D 3.2GHz PC returned a write rate of 7.7MB/sec whilst copying it back again saw this rise to an average 8MB/sec read rate. FTP operations are even better and to test this we used the Windows FTP command line utility. Get and Put commands saw the appliance give read and write speeds of 9.8MB/sec and 8.8MB/sec respectively.
For workstation backup Iomega has dropped its Backup Pro software and replaced it with a single user copy of EMC’s Retrospect Express software. There’s plenty of wizard-driven assistance on tap making backup and restoration tasks a breeze. You need to create a schedule to run backups regularly but once the first one has completed all subsequent jobs will only copy new and changed files. We tested by backing up a 5.3GB mixture of data to the appliance where it was completed in 22 minutes averaging 4MB/sec.
As a basic NAS appliance the StorCenter does the job nicely and looks good value as well. It is short of features but it’s compact and quiet, turns in a reasonable performance and comes with a useful backup software bundle.