Iomega 2TB Power Pro review
There may be plenty of low-cost, high capacity NAS appliances to choose from. But in the quest for value, performance is always a casualty: most desktop boxes struggle to deliver more than 20-25MB/sec transfer rates.
However, if you feel the need for speed with your workstation backup, data expansion and archiving operations, DAS (direct attached storage) is the only way to go and Iomega’s slinky Power Pro appliance claims read rates of up to 70MB/sec.
The Power Pro is very well built and its hot-swappable drive carriers are reassuringly sturdy. LEDs show each drive’s status and activity and the chassis is endowed with a large, backlit LCD operator panel. The display can be scrolled through to show information such as details of the drives installed, environmental values and array status.
The system comes complete with four 500GB Seagate Barracuda SATA hard disks preconfigured as a single RAID5 array, but you can use the selector switch at the rear of the chassis to change to a four drive stripe, a mirrored dual-drive stripe or a triple-disk RAID5 array with hot-standby. The drive carriers can be locked in place, although the plastic hex keys used to achieve this are on the flimsy side.
Physical installation doesn’t get any easier: you just plug the appliance in using either its USB or FireWire ports and that’s all there is to it.
We connected the review system via USB to a Boston Supermicro dual 3GHz Xeon 5160 system running Windows Vista and it was identified instantly, appearing as an unformatted drive with nearly 1.4TB of raw capacity. If you want to format the drive via Windows you only have the option to use NTFS but Iomega bundles a utility that will format a partition as FAT32.
Our real-world performance tests saw the Power Pro returning a mixed bag of results over USB. Copying a 1.2GB disk image file between the test system and appliance saw read and write speeds of 45MB/sec and 32MB/sec, but copies of a 4GB mixture of files saw read and write speeds drop to 35MB/sec and 22MB/sec respectively.
Clearly, if you want to get the best out of the Power Pro you really need to connect using FireWire 800. The appliance has two of these ports and the second can function in passthrough mode, allowing other FireWire devices to be used by the host system.
Data protection is looked after by Iomega’s inclusion of a single-user copy of EMC’s excellent Retrospect Express backup software. Note that this doesn’t support tape drives and is designed to work primarily with hard disks; it’s also the workstation version so won’t run on Windows Server systems.
Wizards make light work of creating backup and restore tasks, however, and after a full backup has been taken, Retrospect only secures newly created or modified files so subsequent runs are much quicker.
As a workstation DAS appliance the Power Pro works well, making it a good candidate for swiftly expanding local storage capacity and providing a large backup and archiving repository. To get the best performance you’ll need a FireWire 800 connection, and general features are minimal, but Iomega is offering twice as much capacity as similarly priced NAS appliances.