Our out-of-the-box experience with the ix4-2009 was generally good despite the noted problems with Retrospect under Windows 7.
The physical installation is simple: you plug the device into an Ethernet port on the network router or hub using the supplied Ethernet cable, and then plug in power.
The final stage of the software installation, during which the PC restarts the software on the device, involved messages appearing and disappearing from the PC screen too quickly to read, with insistent beeping at each step. This was disconcerting, but it culminated with a message saying the device was properly installed.
The entire procedure took 20 minutes and went without a hitch.
It took only a few minutes more to set up and schedule a backup using the very intuitive Retrospect wizard that walks you step-by-step through the process of selecting the type of backup and the folders and file types you want backed up.
The software reported a minor error on the first run an error related to network availability, though, not a failure of the software. It ran flawlessly on subsequent scheduled runs.
The StorCenter ix4-200ds more powerful processor may, as the company says, speed raw throughput when compared to earlier products, but in our testing it was only marginally faster than a two-year-old NAS drive from Buffalo Technology.
With both products and a PC attached to the router through wired Gigabit Ethernet connections, we copied the same 3.56GB chunk of data from the PC to each of the drives. Over a few test runs, the difference in time taken was less than four percent.
This might make a difference on very large initial backup or copy jobs, but on routine differential backups where youre typically backing up relatively small amounts of new or changed data, its insignificant.
Remote access lets authorized individuals access the device from any Internet-connected, browser-equipped computer. If youre visiting a customer on the other side of the country or world and need a file you forgot to bring on your laptop, you can go online and download it.
The Remote Access capability requires a Dynamic DNS service, which keeps track of changes to a devices 12-digit numeric IP address and provides an alias Web address www.etc. that always redirects to the device.
Iomega includes a 12-month subscription to Dynamic DNS service from Tzolkin Corp. (TZO). When it expires, you have to pay to maintain it.
We had a minor but irritating difficulty setting up this feature. Messages from the software did not make clear that we had to manually configure our network router. (The software can automatically configure some routers, but not ours apparently.)
Result: the software said Remote Access was working, but the drive wasnt accessible. After reading Iomega Help files, and configuring the router using information provided not a difficult task, but one that may intimidate non-technical small business people Remote Access worked fine.
If youre running a home office or very small business, the Iomega StorCenter ix4-200d NAS Server may be overkill. But if youre a small business with five to 50 employees and youre getting serious about backup read: willing to sink some money into it this product provides just about everything you need.
Gerry Blackwell is a freelance technology writer based in London, Canada. Read his blog at http://afterbyte.blogspot.com/.
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