Iomega UltraMax Pro 1.5TB review

£269
Price when reviewed

Iomega’s latest DAS appliance takes a two-pronged approach, offering eSATA/USB or eSATA/FireWire versions. On review we have the former, which targets Windows users looking for low-cost, high-speed external storage mainly for workstation backup duties.

The UltraMax Pro is clearly designed with the Mac brigade in mind. The sleek aluminium chassis comes with a pair of 750GB SATA hard disks in carriers, released and removed by twisting one of the front knobs. The eSATA and USB ports are below the drives, next to a block of three DIP switches for setting the RAID configuration. For RAID, choices extend to a dual drive stripe or a mirror, or you can go for simple JBODs or a single spanned volume.

Once you’ve set the DIP switches in the correct position, you need to power up the unit and use a paper clip to press the mode button alongside, or else the new setting won’t take effect. Two LEDs on the front panel show power status, installed drives and activity.

Physical installation is simplicity itself: you just plug in the appliance using either its USB or eSATA ports – don’t try using both simultaneously. For testing we used a Boston Supermicro dual 3GHz Xeon 5160 system running Windows Vista, equipped with four USB2 ports and a Silicon Image eSATA RAID controller. In both cases, the appliance appeared as a preformatted FAT32 drive with nearly 1.4TB of raw capacity. If you want to format the drive via Windows, the only option is NTFS, but an included utility will format a partition as FAT32.

Our real world tests on a striped volume saw the lowest speeds delivered over USB. Copying a 690MB video clip between the appliance and workstation returned read and write speeds of 23.8 and 21MB/sec respectively. With it connected to the eSATA port, both speeds climbed to 50MB/sec. It’s on a par with the more costly EditBOX from Planet Audio (web ID: 189282), which returned read and write speeds of 28 and 22MB/sec over a USB link and 52 and 43MB/sec using an eSATA connection to the same test system.

Backup is high on Iomega’s agenda, as it includes a single-user copy of EMC’s Retrospect Express. This doesn’t support tape drives and is the workstation version, so won’t run on Windows Server systems.

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Wizards make light work of creating backup and restore tasks, and after an initial full backup Retrospect only secures newly created or modified files, which improves speed significantly. Backup over eSATA was slower: a 5.6GB mix of test data backed up over eSATA returned averages of only 13.5MB/sec.

The UltraMax Pro looks a good choice for increasing workstation storage capacity and providing decent data backup and restoration facilities. You get plenty of capacity for the price, but to get the best performance you must use the eSATA port.

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