Data Backup: Iomega StorCenter ix4-200d

If you want to get serious about backing up your data, and small businesses should, Iomega’s new StorCenter ix4-200d, a four-drive network attached storage (NAS) server, is certainly a serious piece of backup equipment.

The ix4-200d comes with big business features — backup software from storage giant EMC (Iomega’s parent company), RAID configuration, Gigabit Ethernet, remote access, iSCSI support, etc. — but Iomega designed the desktop storage server for small offices with 50 or fewer employees. It also supports PC, Mac or Linux systems.

The ix4-200d comes with either 2, 4 or 8 terabytes (TB) of storage, and it sells for $700, $900 and $1,900, respectively. (We tested the 4TB model.) Should a drive fail, you can replace the installed drives with standard SATA drives of any capacity from any maker.

Iomega StorCenter ix4-200d NAS server
The Iomega StorCenter ix4-200d NAS server.
(Click for larger image)

Reliable RAID

While even 2 TB is probably more than most small businesses will ever need, given the rate at which data volume keeps growing at many companies, you never know.

To put it in perspective, one terabyte equals 1,000 gigabytes (GB). Few PCs ship with drives larger than 500GB – and few small business employees ever store anything close to that amount of business-related data.

The ix4-200d comes with the drives configured for RAID, which reduces effective capacity while ensuring more reliable storage. Essentially you use about half of the total capacity to store your data while the other half acts as a backup of your data.

Configured in the default RAID 5, the 4TB model provides 2.7TB of data storage capacity.   

Beefed-up Features

StorCenter ix4-200d substantially improves on Iomega’s previous four-drive NAS. It’s smaller, quieter, comes with a more powerful processor (1.2GHz  instead of 400MHz ) and more memory (512MB versus 256MB).

The all-new monochrome LCD on the front panel provides status information and makes it easier to use the product’s one-touch QuickProtect features.

The ix4-200d measures only 7.7 x 7.9 x 6.6 inches, which means it can sit on even a narrow office shelf. The fact that it runs as quietly as it does is particularly welcome since NAS products can be very noisy indeed.

Retrospect Software

The storage server also includes software that provides several different kinds of backups. Retrospect Express HD, made by EMC, looks after most backup chores, and you can install it on as many workstations as you want.

With Retrospect, you can back up everything or choose selected folders and file types. It will backup only new and changed data and maintain a history of different versions of a file.

The software can also backup open files, including Microsoft Office Outlook database files. This is an important capability not available with all backup programs. It means that unattended scheduled backups will run completely even if you leave important files open.

The Retrospect Express user interface (version 2.5) is a significant improvement over earlier versions we’ve used. It’s simpler and more intuitive.

We made the mistake of testing it on a machine running Microsoft Windows 7. While the software performed basic functions correctly, it was somewhat unstable. EMC promises a fully Win7-compatible version by end of October. 

The new Iomega Copy Jobs software lets you do low-level machine-to-machine copies of an entire device — including iSCSI, the very high-speed network data transfer protocol — but only if you have a network and other devices that support it iSCSI.

For example, you could use Copy Jobs to create an off-site copy of your business data by regularly copying an ix4-200d in one location to another at a remote site over a wide area network.

Another convenient way to move data from one drive to another:  if you plug a USB drive into the port on the front of the device, a message appears on the LCD asking if you want to copy all its data to the NAS. Pushing one of the soft buttons beside the LCD launches a copy job.

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