The Iomega StorCenter ix2 is the latest compact network storage solution designed for consumers who need a stand-alone storage drive that can be shared by multiple computers over an internet or network connection. This compact file sharing solution allows friends, family, and coworkers to access the same files even if they work on different computers.
In particular, the ability to share images between several computers on a single home or office network makes network storage devices like the ix2 a popular choice for backing up or working on your shots.
Build and Design
The Iomega StorCenter ix2 is remarkably compact for a network attached storage (NAS) enclosure that contains two 3.5 inch desktop hard drives:
The enclosure is all black and has a very simple design with the Iomega logo on both sides. The top, bottom and sides are made of solid metal and the front and rear of the dual hard drive enclosure have vents to keep the drives from overheating. The design isn't particularly attractive, but we're talking about a NAS here. Who cares how it looks? You're going to connect this thing to your network and then stick it behind your router or in your closet.
The back of the enclosure has a dual USB slot, power button, DC plug and a LAN plug along with the cooling fan vent. There is also a security lock slot on the enclosure to deter theft is located on the bottom along with the S/N, MAC address, series code, etc.
The construction of the Iomega StorCenter ix2 does make it difficult for accessing the drives inside the enclosure; in fact you would need to remove multiple screws and disassemble the internal framework of the enclosure in order to access the drives, making it less than ideal for do-it-yourself repairs.
One of the main features of the Iomega StorCenter ix2 is that it's remarkably simple to setup and use. I honestly lack the words to describe just how easy it is to setup this device. The software engineers at Iomega deserve a great deal of praise for creating one of the easiest software installation and setup applications we've seen for a NAS enclosure in our office. Simply insert the included software CD, type your desired user name and security password, click a couple of on-screen buttons to confirm the installation and you're ready to start using your new StorCenter ix2! Network attached storage doesn't get any easier than this.
The StorCenter ix2's main configurations are all accessed through the supplied software or via a web browser by simply typing in the IP address. Through web access, users can view all the shared content, add users/groups, and manage RAID settings, network settings, disk backup, etc. from anywhere on either a Mac or PC computer.
The Iomega StorCenter ix2 also has USB connectivity for setting up a print server or adding information directly from other devices, but like most consumer NAS enclosures the built-in USB ports only support USB 2.0 Full Speed (12Mbs).
For those who might be concerned about security, the included encryption from RSA helps secure your data inside the StorCenter ix2 and protect the NAS from malicious attacks during installs and product updates.
Another feature worth mentioning is the low power consumption on the Iomega StorCenter ix2 for users who want access 24/7; the average consumption of this Energy Star qualified system is 12-15W while idle.
Performance and Benchmarks
The Iomega StorCenter ix2 drives are each 500GB separately but the RAID 1 mirroring - which backs up your data to both hard drives, meaning you won't lose vital files or photos if one drive fails - gives the user a combined total space of a single 500GB drive.
The Iomega StorCenter ix2 is rated at a theoretical maximum of 1000Mb (megabits) transfer rate on a 1Gb network, which equates to 125MB (megabytes) per second.
Atto is one of the standard synthetic benchmarks we use to test the performance of a storage drive. Below you can see the average read and write times for the StorCenter ix2 over a standard 100Mb network connection.
In short, the main thing these benchmarks indicate is that the Iomega StorCenter ix2 has more than enough horsepower to push a typical 100Mb network connection (12.5MB) to its limit. Using a 1Gb network switch will allow you to gain even better data transfer speeds. As it stands, this NAS provides transfer speeds similar to a cheap generic USB flash drive connected directly to your computer's USB port.
Of course, if you're using a NAS you didn't buy it for the fastest transfer rates (an eSATA external enclosure is better in terms of raw speed). People buy NAS enclosures so that they can store huge amounts of data in one secure location and access it from any computer with an internet connection. If you're a photographer working on the road or just an avid traveler who takes a lot of pictures, you'll be particularly interested in the ix2's ability to store your image catalog in a single location and provide remote access to it from wherever you happen to be.
Heat and Noise
The Iomega StorCenter ix2 runs a bit louder than some of the other NAS enclosures we've tested. The cooling fan is extremely silent, but both the storage drives inside the enclosure produce a substantial amount of noise when reading and writing files. The twin Seagate 7200.11 hard drives inside the enclosure aren't known for being particularly loud, so we suspect the noisy "clicks" are the result of the all-metal enclosure and lack of cushioning or sound dampning. Temperatures inside the enclosure remained above 110 degrees Fahrenheit which is still a little hot but isn't as bad as many other NAS enclosures we've tested. Bottom line, long-term stability of the storage drives probably won't be something you need to wory about.
After everything is said and done, the Iomega StorCenter ix2 is an excellent network storage solution for consumers and small businesses. The amazingly simple software installation and setup combined with the amount of storage and reasonable transfer speeds make the Iomega StorCenter ix2 one of the best stand-alone network storage solutions we've tested.
Like almost any networked attached storage enclosure, the Iomega StorCenter ix2 doesn't offer the same speed as an eSATA drive connected directly to your computer. Likewise, the ix2 suffers from some degree of security vulnerability unless the network is well secured. In other words, if you just plug this drive into your unsecured wireless router at home and don't use a password on the StorCenter ix2 itself then just about anyone in range of your router could have access to your files. Nevertheless, these minor issues are common to all NAS enclosures.
Overall, the Iomega StorCenter ix2 offers a remarkably easy-to-use stand-alone network drive and gives you lower power consumtion than a full desktop running as a networked drive. If having a storage location for your images or other files that can be easily accessed by all machines on your network sounds appealing to you, the StorCenter ix2's combination of features and ease of use make it worthy of serious consideration.
Pricing and Availability
The Iomega StorCenter ix2 ($299.99 for 1TB, $479.99 for 2TB) is available for purchase on the Iomega website or at many retail and online stores.