NAS Review: Iomega StorCenter ix4-200d Cloud Edition - Page 2

By Joseph Moran
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NAS and Data Security

It’s important to note that when you issue an invitation to join your cloud, you’re not actually inviting an individual, but rather, his or her computer/device. (Incidentally, Iomega says that a Personal Cloud can have up to 250 members.) Once the Storage Manager software’s been downloaded and installed, it provides that computer with access to the ix4-200d’s array of default array of shared folders, including Backups, Documents, Movies, Music, Pictures and more.

Iomega’s Personal Cloud doesn’t provide any inherent way to define access permissions; a device is either a member of the cloud or it’s not. So, to control access to specific folders by specific people, you must set up user accounts and configure folder access rights by enabling security on the ix4-200d itself.

Iomega Storage manager; NAS, small business storage
The Iomega Storage Manager interface.
(Click for larger image)

After you do this, the Storage Manager prompts for a login password and then automatically provides access to any folders the user has rights to.  For the most streamlined access, ix4-200d account names and passwords should be set to match those on the user’s system, as this eliminates the need to log into the cloud separately. If a person doesn’t have an account on the ix4-200d the first time he or she accesses the cloud, Storage Manager helpfully offers to create the account, which can be a bit of a time saver.

What’s particularly nice about Storage Manager is how it provides access to the ix4-200d’s shared folders. There’s no proprietary or klugey browser-based interface that requires you navigate and access files in an unfamiliar way (e.g. checking boxes to select files and downloading files before you can open them).

Instead, folders are automatically mapped to drive letters in Windows Explorer (or accessible through Finder on a Mac, for example) so you can interact with them as if they were a local drives, or at least a local network.

We’re somewhat less enthused about the fact that, in Windows at least, there’s no way to specify which of the ix4-200d’s folders Storage Manager will map -- they’re all mapped all the time, which can make for lots of unnecessary drives for some people.

Moreover,  you can’t control what drive letter a shared folder will use on a given system, so the Pictures folder might be drive R: on your desktop but drive U: on your laptop depending on what other devices on your system (e.g. hard drives or DVDs) are using drive letters. This may also require users to refer to folders by name rather than by drive letter, since the latter may not be consistent from person to person.   

Personal Cloud Storage Performance

It’s important to keep in mind that when you're accessing the ix4-200d from a distance, the performance won’t be nearly as sprightly as it is when the unit’s sitting in the same building as you. How fast you can access your cloud’s data will ultimately depend on the speed of the Internet connection between you and the ix4-200d.

That said, we tried accessing the ix4-200d’s cloud via a laptop from a number of remote locations, and it was responsive enough that there were only very infrequent reminders that we were accessing our data from afar. (For best results, Iomega recommends a 500 Kb/sec upstream connection and between 2.5 and 6 Mb/sec downstream depending on the type of data you’re working with.)

Bottom Line

If you want a way to keep your small business data in-house but still be able to access it from places like your home, an airport, or coffee shop as easily as you do from your desk, the Iomega StorCenter ix4-200d Cloud Edition is worth a serious look.

  • Price:$799, $1,099, $1,599 (for 4, 8, or 12 TB, respectively)
  • Pros:Easy access to data from remote locations via Personal Cloud; no monthly subscription fees
  • Cons: No eSATA or USB 3.0 ports for external storage; Storage Manager software lacks customization options

Joseph Moran is a veteran technology writer and co-author of Getting StartED with Windows 7, from Friends of ED.

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This article was originally published on May 12, 2011
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