Saturday, 30 August 2008

                  Iomega StorCenter Pro 150d

(Review) - NAS devices for timely backing up your data are a must-have for individuals and businesses alike. They save a lot of time, automate the painful task of backing up files manually and are life saviors when one of the hard drives crash in your system. When that happens, there's no better feeling knowing that your collection of home videos, family photos and music files are safe and sound, tucked away in a backup home server. That's what Iomega's StorCenter Pro 150d is. It's essentially a home server that connects to the client PC and backs up data without much user input.

The device is a 22lbs. unit that's designed to be ignored for the most part with a bundle of hard drives connected to silently backup your data. The predominately black box with silver front gives a slight glimpse into the inside, but it mainly keeps the drives nice and secure in the unit. The drives are hotswappable and only require a couple of steps to unlatch from the main unit. Before we further delve into that, however, it's critical to note that unlike USB 2.0 backup solutions, NAS devices are mini systems in their own. For instance, the Iomega StorCenter Pro 150d is equipped with a 400MHz microprocessor, 128MB of RAM, 4x SATA II drives (250GB each) and 4x USB 2.0 ports for connecting external drives (2x front, 2x back).

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Since the device does come with EMC's Retrospect Express Backup and Disaster Recovery Client Software (with 5x licenses), the hardware and software combination is robust. Unfortunately, though, using Retrospect may be a little cumbersome for novices. The application will automatically backup your data once the initial setup is complete, but getting it to work initially may require some experience dealing with NAS units and the application in general. Then there's the administrator panel to monitor the device and its operations. While they worked well, they didn't update the status in real-time. For instance, when we switched one of the drives, we had to restart the application in order to notice the change. It's all right, we suppose. While we are willing to let that slide by, it's important to note that if you try to work with the device while it's backing up, you will be bombarded with a slew of error options. It could've been better if Iomega locked the drive (with the option to unlock it at the user's discretion) during the backing up process, instead of throwing one error after another at the user. It will overwhelm a lot of novices who will monumentally benefit from having a NAS unit in their arsenal.

As we mentioned, the drives are hotswappable, meaning you can remove a drive while the unit is working without turning it off. Once you replace one of the drives, it will take about 45 minutes for the device to load all the information on the new drive. Out of the box, the StorCenter 150d is RAID 5-ready, although you do have the option to remove RAID altogether (not recommended) and use it as cluster of drives for a full 1TB of storage (also available in 2TB). Naturally, that will improve the overall read/write performance somewhat, but you will put yourself at a tremendous amount of risk. Also, if you end up using a RAID array to mirror the drives, the amount of data you can store will drop from 1TB to 750GB.

In our performance tests, the unit clocked 6.4MBps during retrieval and 6.6MBps during the writing process. It's comparable to other units in similar price range, which is great considering the device's hotswappable capability. We must also mention that external storage options are limited to FAT and FAT32 only. And also unlike similar options, the Iomega StorCenter Pro 150d is compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux (select distros). For the price of $699, it's one of the most affordable NAS devices to have hit the market, and with the aforementioned capability and reasonable performance, it's worth it to put it on your recommended list.

Click here to get the latest prices on Iomega StorCenter Pro 150d!

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