Iomega StorCenter Pro 250d review

Price when reviewed

Whereas the majority of desktop NAS vendors have settled on a Linux kernel, Iomega’s higher-end appliances come fully equipped with Windows Storage Server 2003 R2. There are pros and cons with this approach, as you get far more features than most equivalent Linux boxes offer, but at a high price.

Iomega StorCenter Pro 250d review

With the 250d, Iomega has taken the older NAS 200d chassis (web ID: 71666), upped the specification and added a HighPoint RocketRAID PCI adapter to provide hardware RAID and hot-swap capabilities. The review system came with three 500GB Hitachi SATA 3Gb/sec drives configured as a 14GB mirror for the OS, with the remaining space set up as a 1TB RAID5 array.

You can connect a monitor and USB keyboard and mouse for local management access, or manage it using RDP directly or via a browser and ActiveX control. An MMC snap-in is provided, which offers access to most of the storage-related features. It’s clear from the moment you first open the interface that it’s more feature rich that most Linux appliances. A wizard runs through the basic setup, and then you can create shares and hand out access privileges. Local users and groups are created in the same manner as with Windows Server 2003, but tight integration with Active Directory means you can easily use domain authentication instead.

Wizards abound, making share creation a cakewalk as you choose a target directory, provide a share name and determine access restrictions. Applying storage quotas is just as easy, as templates are provided and you can decide if they’re hard or soft – where the former blocks access and the latter just reports on breaches. Thresholds can also be applied, and warning messages will be sent advising that users are getting close to their limits.

The price includes the Windows print server services, with a five-device licence that’s configured separately in the Print Management interface. File screening determines what’s allowed on the appliance, and you can block a wide range of file types. Storage reports help to keep track of usage and provide details on duplicate files, quota usage and file ownership. Considering the price, we’d have expected better than the HighPoint RocketRAID controller due to the distinct lack of array-management tools. Nevertheless, real-world performance is good, as copying a 690MB video clip to and from the appliance returned high read and write rates of 36MB/sec and 19MB/sec.

Iomega does well in the backup stakes, as there’s a SCSI port at the rear for attaching external tape drives, and the package includes EMC’s Retrospect Express with a five-client licence. You also get a single server version of CA’s ARCserve Backup 11.5 (web ID: 78869) plus CA’s eTrust Anti-Virus.

The 250d is undeniably pricey. However, if you can afford it, you’ll find this NAS appliance and its Windows Storage Server OS offer a wealth of storage features highly suited to business use.

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