Small Business Storage Review: Iomega StorCenter ix2

Iomega’s new StorCenter ix2 (not to be confused with the older but similarly named and priced ix2-200 Cloud Edition) is a network-attached storage (NAS) server designed to share and protect small business data. However, it can also perform double duty as the foundation of a video surveillance system, thanks to built-in video monitoring and management software plus support for a host of third-party networked cameras.

Running a small business involves keeping track of a lot of stuff — sales, inventory and payroll, for example — but when a company needs to monitor the physical as well as the fiscal, a good video surveillance system is essential.

NAS Hardware Basics

The ix2 is a compact, two-bay device that’s available in four versions — 2, 4 and 6 TB models are priced at $370, $470 and $670 respectively, and for people who prefer to bring their own storage, a diskless model sells for $200. (Compatible hard drives consist of a trio of 7,200 RPM Seagate Granada SATA drives in 1, 2 and 3 TB capacities, as well as a corresponding line of 5,400 RPM Hitachi CoolSpin drives.)

As a two-drive unit, the ix2 can be configured for speed (RAID 0), redundancy (RAID 1, the default setting), or JBOD (Just a Bunch of Disks) if you want to realize the full capacity of each drive. The ix2 doesn’t support hot-swapping, so you must turn off the unit before replacing a defective drive.

The ix2 sports a Gigabit Ethernet port for its network connection, as well as a lone USB 2.0 port that can host removable storage, a shared printer, an uninterruptible power supply or a Bluetooth dongle. However, the USB port’s located on the back of the ix2, which isn’t particularly convenient when you want to plug in a Flash drive.  

Iomega ix2 NAS

Figure 1: The Iomega ix2 is available in 2, 4 or 6 TB models, or without any included storage.

We tested the diskless ix2 model, though Iomega shipped a pair of 2 TB Seagate drives along with the unit. Installing the drives was quick and painless — the ix2’s front panel pops off with minimal effort, and we easily slid each drive into its bay after attaching an included handle/harness (no tools required). On the down side, there’s no way to secure the drives within their bays or to lock the front panel to prevent drive access.

Upon powering up the ix2, we noticed that it produces minimal noise and heat while in operation. 

NAS Configuration and Features

Within a minute of turning on the ix2, we pointed a browser to and were immediately accessed the ix2’s administrative control panel. The ix2 (along with other products in the StorCenter family) sport a “LifeLine” configuration interface that’s attractive, well-organized, and responsive — definitely among the best on a NAS device these days. We particularly like the “Search Features” box; if you’re not sure which of the more than three dozen configuration categories a particular setting lies within, a quick type into the search box will tell you. (We used it to discover that Active Directory settings were hiding within the “Device Identification” category.) 

From the LifeLine UI you can easily perform run-of-the-mill administrative chores (things such as managing shared folders, storage quotas, user accounts and group memberships) as well as enable and configure the ix2’s wealth of other storage features, which include UPnP/DLNA/iTunes media streaming, a BitTorrent Server, backup to myriad cloud-based services (Amazon S3, Atmos, Mozy) and even modules that can automate uploads of media Facebook, Flickr and YouTube (which may come in handy for businesses that do a lot of posting to such services for corporate social networking).

The ix2 also supports Iomega’s Personal Cloud feature, a fee-free service that we’ve seen and appreciated on previous StorCenter devices. Personal Cloud allows you to remotely access the contents of an ix2 (via a Windows, Mac or Linux computer, or iOS- or Android-based smartphone or tablet) through the use of a special client utility/app without having to host the data on a third-party server.

Personal Cloud can also be used to back up the contents of the ix2 to another compatible Iomega NAS device located offsite.  (See this Iomega review for more details on Personal Cloud.)

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