The Iomega Storcenter, on paper, is just the kind of device that’d make a smashing addition to a home network. Packed with two 500GB hard drives that can be utilised in a RAID array, it’s a network attached storage device that also offers the likes of UPnP media server support. Furthermore, with a USB and Ethernet port, there’s some flexibility over connectivity too.
Yet there are two considerable issues that really do hurt the potential of the device. Firstly, it’s noisy, certainly in comparison to other NAS devices we’ve tested. The drives are packed into a compact, smart looking box, and as a result there can’t be much room inside to implement a cooling solution. However, the constant noisy whirr is quite distracting, and while this isn’t a problem if it’s going to be tucked away out of hearing range, you wouldn’t want it near a machine that you use regularly. Comparable units from the likes of Maxtor, for instance, have not given us this problem.
Less easy to overcome is the in-built software. In an ideal world, a NAS drive – particularly one aimed at the home – should allow you to set it up and leave it be. Here, however, the device insists that you use the supplied software to find the drive on a network, and through that you can map a network drive letter to it. Only problem is you’re asked for a password and username that the supplied documentation doesn’t provide.
It took some fishing around of the Iomega support forums (where, oddly, customers are left to fend for answers themselves with little input from Iomega itself) to find out what they were, and this is totally unacceptable. Bizarrely, once a drive is mapped, you have to log back onto it every time you switch your client machine back on. There’s no option we could find to switch this ‘feature’ off, and it proved quite a hindrance.
Furthermore, we found the UPnP functionality to be sluggish in its implementation, and any hope of dropping files on the StorCenter and letting it do the work were quickly dashed. And to ice the cake, the device reset to factory defaults whenever we restarted it. Crazy.
The hardware itself was perfectly competent, if hardly ratcheting up mammoth data transfer rates. And, in comparison with other such devices, the price for the amount of storage you get is fair and hard to quibble with. The inclusion of EMC’s Retrospect backup software is welcome, too.
But the clunky and restrictive system software inside dealt the Iomega StorCenter quite a blow, and it denies you the option to really make the most of that 1TB of storage space. It’s a nice piece of hardware, with Gigabit Ethernet support too, but let down by the software sitting inside the box.
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