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Iomega StorCenter ix2-200 NAS Review

Author

Wombler
Administrator & Reviewer
Article posted 31 Oct 10 22:06

The StorCenter Manager Software Part 2 - Key and Additional Features

 

The StorCenter Manager Software

Key Features

The ‘Settings’ tab provides access to a wide range of features as shown below.

So let’s find out what is on offer.

Function

Description

Allows users to manage the EMC Retrospect Express HD backup software and manage ‘copy jobs’.

From here you can manage backups and view details of all scheduled backups for all computers connected to the NAS unit.

The full manual for EMC Retrospect Express HD is available here.

You can also schedule ‘copy jobs’ which will copy files to and from any NAS device (or any device attached to it) either at a chosen time, or when the ‘QwikTransfer’ button is pressed on the front of the unit.

I can see this as being is a particularly useful feature for those that want maximum data security as it provides a very convenient mechanism for backing up mission critical data to another NAS unit.

Allows you to automatically or manually configure date and time settings.

The Automatic configuration options allow you to use either a default Internet Time Server or select an alternative one of your choice.

Allows you to specify the name of your device on your local network and also a more descriptive name used when accessing the unit remotely via the Internet.

A range of functions for managing the installed hard drives including settings for:-

·         Setting the RAID array type (choose between RAID 1 or JBOD)

·         Enabling/disabling periodic data protection consistency checks

·         Turning Disk Write Caching on/off

·         And a utility for either quickly or securely erasing drives.

Quite a useful one this. It allows you to specify an email address and if there’s a problem or other important occurrence the device will send you an email describing exactly what you need to know.

Full settings are available for mail server and login details if the remote server requires this.

Not terribly surprisingly this provides a log of all events including logins, power ups & power downs and a whole host of other events (even creation of users etc).

Selecting ‘Download’ generates a copy of the log in csv format but even more cleverly than that it displays a link which when clicked opens the usual download file dialogue box. You can then choose as usual to either save or automatically open the list in the program of your choice (Microsoft Excel in my case).

This screen displays a list of externally connected storage devices and also provides access the ‘safely remove hardware’ option when disconnecting the device.

The Iomega StorCenter ix2-200 has connections for up to three USB storage devices.

Allows you to group users together in named groups.

You can then set folder access permissions for entire groups in one go which is useful if you have a large number of users connected to the device.

You can also view a full list of users and any current groups.

Internet Small Computer System Interface (iSCSI) allows SCSI commands allows to be carried over networks.

On the Iomega StorCenter ix2-200 this allows you to work with networked storage devices over Ethernet connections, as if they were physically connected to the unit.

iSCSI drives are particularly suitable for business users that require transmission of large amounts of data over a network.

Displays a list of the languages supported by the Iomega StorCenter ix2-200.

Currently there are twelve different language selections to choose from.

There are different sections in here:-

  • Media Server
  • Picture Transfer
  • Video Surveillance

Media Server

From here you can enable wireless playback of videos, music and pictures from all UPnP AV (Universal Plug and Play Audio Visual) network media players such as Windows Media Player®, Apple iTunes®, Xbox 360® or PS3® etc. Software for handling all this is built into the NAS unit so there’s no need to install any additional media sharing software.

Having selected a media sharing folder, the unit then scans this folder for playable content which includes video, audio and photographs.

Playable content is then visible via any suitable device connected to the network and was instantly visible on my Xbox 360.

Obviously the options available depend on the device being used for playback but on the Xbox 360 all I had to do was browse to the appropriate file then hit play.

I had no difficulties streaming 1080p video and didn’t experience any glitches, pauses, artefacts or other issues.

Picture Transfer

Allows you to automatically transfer pictures to the NAS unit when a compatible digital camera is connected to one of the USB ports.

The files are transferred directly to the NAS Unit using Picture Transfer Protocol (PTP) and according to Iomega the StorCenter ix2-200 is compatible with all cameras that support PTP.

The settings here are again very simple to understand and to activate this feature all the user has to do is enable the ‘picture transfer’ checkbox then specify a default destination folder for the photos.

Another checkbox also lets you choose whether or not you want the files automatically removed from the camera.

Plug in the digital camera and the photos are automatically transferred to the NAS unit and (if you’ve selected automatically remove photos checkbox) the copied photos are removed from the camera. All of which is carried out without the need for anything other than the NAS unit to be turned on.

I found this quite a useful tool and I would imagine even moderately dedicated photographers would find this even more so.

All in all this function works effortlessly and is a useful if not vital extra.

Video Surveillance

I haven’t got a suitable camera to test this with so these comments are my own summary of the information available both in the supplied documentation and online.

Multiple IP video cameras can be connected to the NAS unit where they can be individually named, used and managed for video surveillance purposes.

Different recording schedules can be set up for each camera or alternatively you can use the manual start and stop icons to record when required.

Recordings are automatically saved in nested folders under a user specified destination folder, then camera name, then date.

Limits can be placed on the amount of drive space used, either by number of days, or number of gigabytes to be used. Once this limit is reached the unit automatically deletes and sequentially replaces the oldest recordings as required.

You can also view a live feed from each camera in here.

Allows manual configuration of network settings for Windows, Macintosh and Linux networks. Although it’s not mentioned here the device supports mixed networks (Windows, Mac OS, and Linux/UNIX systems).

Jumbo frame support (which increases transfer rates for large files) is also supported. All your network hardware must be correctly configured for jumbo frames prior to enabling this option though so I’d advise checking compatibility thoroughly beforehand if you’re planning to use this.

If you have a suitable Bluetooth adapter connected to one of the units USB ports then files can be transferred via Bluetooth to a specified directory.

FTP access to the NAS unit and SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) which provides information about the state of the device to various management tools, can also be enabled/disabled here.

This section looks after the various power saving and UPS settings.

You can select from seven different power down times for the installed drives ranging from ’5 minutes’ to ‘never’. Spin up times are very quick with the unit responding within two seconds of an access attempt. For the majority of users this will be relatively unobtrusive so the fastest time (which is the best for power saving purposes) will probably suit most.

The brightness of the lights is also user selectable between ‘low’, ‘medium’ & ‘high’. Apart from the power saving aspect of this I’d imagine this could also be useful when watching movies in a darkened environment.

The Iomega ix2-200 acts as a print server effectively converting a USB printer to a networked printer.

This section contains a table showing all the printers connected (up to a maximum of three) name, model, status and the number of documents waiting to be printed to each printer.

I tested this in Windows 7 with two different printers and as soon as a printer is connected it appears in the table.

Adding a connected printer to another machine is very simple and here’s all I had to do.

  • Connect the printer to the Iomega ix2-200.
  • Install the appropriate drivers on the client machine.
  • Browse to the root directory of the device using Windows Explorer (by entering the StorCenter IP address in the address bar) and double click the icon for the printer you wish to install.
  • Enter ‘Yes’ in the ‘Connect to printer’ dialogue.
  • Choose the correct driver in the ‘driver selection screen’ and you should be up and running.

I found this feature to be functional, seamless and very easy to use. My own printers are already networked so I don’t personally have a need for this but I can see it being very useful for other users and it functioned flawlessly with a number of different document types, including the photos and graphics tested.

Quite a simple feature that allows you to specify a limit on the size of any folder.

With some thought this feature could also be used to indirectly set user quotas, by placing size limits on the folder(s) they have access to.

Allows remote access to the Iomega StorCenter ix2-200 via a web address that you’ll need to create. A free 12 month subscription with TZO‘s Dynamic DNS service is included or alternatively you can register your own domain if you prefer.

Once logged on remotely through the webpage, access levels are determined by your user restrictions.

Certain features are not available when you connect remotely so you can’t perform backup and restore operations, connect folders to the remote computer or connect/print to a printer attached to the Iomega StorCenter device.

A fairly basic search feature based on filenames or keywords within a file. It allows you to locate files (that you have permission access) stored anywhere on the Iomega StorCenter ix2-200.

My own personal preference is to browse the NAS unit from Windows Explorer, as I would with any other drive, but this is still a usable feature and may appeal to certain users.

Enables or disables the ‘security setting’.

Enabled, which I’d regard as the recommended setting, is required to allow the creation of an administrative user who can then create users, groups, set access permissions and all other permissions.

Disabled, allows anyone connected to the network full access to all files and settings.

Enables or disables BitTorrent downloads and allows you to specify a port number and maximum download/upload speeds (to avoid oversaturation of your connection).

When enabled torrents can simply be added from the ‘Manage torrent downloads’ option on the homepage by browsing to and selecting a ‘.torrent’ file.

This is another very useful feature as files are independently downloaded by the Iomega StorCenter ix2-200 without the need for a PC or any other device to be powered up.

Downloaded content is saved by default to a ‘download’ subfolder in the ‘public’ folder but you can also specify a folder of your choice.

Updates the firmware of the Iomega StorCenter ix2-200 from a file downloaded from Iomega’s website.

The firmware update is first copied to the NAS unit via an option on this page then browsed to from another option (also on this page) when installing the firmware.

The unit I received shipped with ‘Current Device Software Version: 2.1.25.229′.

 

Additional Slideshow Functionality

Iomega have also built a slideshow function into the NAS unit which uses either a Cooliris or Adobe Flash plugin.

Personally I hadn’t come across the Cooliris software before but it’s widely used in a range of media devices including mobile phones, mp3 players etc.

Rather unusually though this slideshow feature is only available when you access the unit via a web browser (either remotely or locally) and not directly through the StorCenter Manager software.

To access this feature locally you need to key in ‘https://storage/’ into your browser (or the IP address if you’ve changed it from the default) which, after you’ve logged in, brings up the same StorCenter Manager interface except this time you can now drill down through the folders and an additional ‘start slideshow’ link is now available.

I’m not sure why Iomega have chosen to disable this option in the main StorCenter Manager interface as this seems somewhat confusing and inconsistent.

As soon as you know that this is the case though it’s not really a problem, but I still can’t see any logical reason why they haven’t included the slideshow functionality in the StorCenter Manager as well.

It’s a very minor quibble though.

Interface wise Cooliris is very clean, functional and easily usable.

In my opinion it’s particularly attractive looking software and it’s positively dripping with eye-candy. So I’d recommend using the Cooliris option as it certainly seems to be a worthwhile addition to the software.

Power Saving Features

The Iomega ix2-200′s power saving features include automatic hard drive spin-down and an Energy Star® certified power supply.

Seagate’s "super low power" drives, the ability to control drive spin down times, and the options to adjust the brightness of the lights on the front of the unit, add up to mean that this device has very lean requirements.

The official figures for this are 19 Watts maximum power use (when both drives are being accessed) down to a miserly 5 Watts with the drives spun down.

This is a particularly power efficient device.

 

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