With more and more people opting for laptops nowadays, it is of ever increasing importance to have a flexible way of storing files without the hassles of being tethered to a desktop external hard drive. Yes, we all know that laptops can now accommodate quite large hard drives, but what about backing up, or storing files in a central location so other users can access them. This is where Network Attached Storage (NAS) comes into play. I had some experience to this medium of storage before, and came away a little disappointed, so when Iomega sent me their lastest Storcenter device I was a little concerned over what I may find.
Opening the box gave me my first (positive) surprise. The unit felt really robust and looked very professional too. In an understated gunmetal colour, this robust little box housed 1TB, yes one terrabyte of storage. On the back of the unit is a kensington lock port for securing this baby to a desk, the all important Gigabit ethernet port, and two USB ports. The USB ports can be used for adding more storage by way of external USB drives, or connecting a printer for sharing over the network. There is a tiny power button (and I mean TINY), so I connected the unit into my gigabit ethernet switch and fired it up.
Other NAS devices I have tested have been pretty noisy, but I am happy to say that the Storcenter is pretty darn quiet. Just the slight whisper of the hard drives spinning and a very quiet fan is all that you can hear. Back at the computer end it is just a matter of popping in the supplied CD and installing the 'Discovery Software'. I was doing this test with both a MacBook Pro and a Mac Mini running the latest version of Leopard (10.5.1) and both systems found the drive first time. This allows you to mount a public share folder, or to carry out extra configuration, such as adding users and extra folders to the drive. Everything worked flawlessly, and once you have 'discovered' the drive, you can then access and connect to it via the Finder.
There is a lot more you can do to the Storcenter in the configuration options, such as scheduling backups to another share, or to a connected USB drive, and once set up the device can be left to perform the task unattended. I tried this with a 250GB external USB drive and it performed admirably. The drive also supports JBOD, RAID 1 and RAID 0, which gives great flexibility in how you can put it to good use. The important part of any drive is performance, so copying across a series of 4GB files, I found that it was achieving just under 6MB/second, peaking at around 8MB/s. Changing the connection over to a 100Mbs ethernet switch did not effect performance a great deal, giving an average of 4.2MB/s. This is more than acceptable in my opinion, not groundbreaking, but it is very easy to work with these speeds.
Where the Storcenter wins is on two counts. The stunning rock solid build quality, and the price. It starts at 320GB for under £100, 500GB starting at £120, right up to the model reviewed here which is only £269. There is also a wireless version, but with most users having wireless routers, you could just plug into a spare ethernet port (like I did) and negate the need to spend any more money. For those that don't have this option, the 1TB Wireless Version costs just under £400. Back to the 1TB version reviewed, for £269 you get a stonking piece of kit, it comes highly recommended.