Iomega StorCenter review

£218
Price when reviewed

Similarly priced to the Buffalo, Iomega’s new StorCenter has some interesting features. Instead of a single 500GB hard disk, it has two 250GB disks. In the user interface, you can configure the pair as a RAID0, 1 or JBOD (just a bunch of disks).

The default setting saves data to alternate drives, offering the full 500GB capacity. The second – mirroring -reduces capacity to 250GB, but provides better data security should one disk fail. Disks aren’t user-replaceable, though. JBOD lets clients see a single 500GB disk, but simply fills one disk up before filling the second up – without the performance benefit of RAID0.

The dual disks explain why the StorCenter is more squat than other models on test. The design is minimalist, though, with only two unmarked LEDs on the front, a power button awkwardly on the rear, along with two USB ports and a Gigabit Ethernet socket.

But the USB ports cater for more devices than most, including printers and hard disks. If you connect a digital camera, photos will be automatically copied into the DigtalPhotos folder in the root of the drive. While USB card readers are supported, files aren’t automatically transferred.

You can’t create groups of users, but it’s simple to set up user accounts and assign permissions for reading and/or writing to the shared folders. By default, this so-called Secure Access is disabled, giving everyone full access to the whole capacity. Usefully for business users, quotas can be applied.

Iomega bundles a discovery tool to locate StorCenters on the network, but we found it was unreliable and only detected the unit after five attempts. But many will appreciate the inclusion of Automatic Backup, which can be installed on any number of clients.

It’s good to see an FTP server and, for home users, an integrated UPnP media server. This allows you to share any movies, photos and music on the drive. You can choose to restrict the media server to a single folder if you prefer.

Despite the Gigabit Ethernet interface, performance was underwhelming. We saw 7MB/sec when writing and 7.7MB/sec when reading. The other problem is that the StorCenter is noisier than others, partly because there’s a front-mounted fan that registered 41dBA when idle. And, the seek noise is easily noticeable.

Ultimately, these two shortfalls mean we can’t recommend the Iomega. For £11 less, the Maxtor lacks an FTP server and user quotas, but is far quieter and faster.

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