Review: Iomega’s StorCenter Network Drive Is Great For Backups and Bittorrent

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You can never be rich enough or thin enough, and you can never have enough storage.

I’ve been playing with Iomega’s brand new StorCenter ix2-200, a 4TB network-attached storage/home server that totally kicks NAS!

Not only is it a nice big target for Time Machine backups, it’s also an iTunes server and a Bittorrent machine. It plays nice with the Mac, and is dead easy to set up and use.

Full review after the jump.

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Rating: ★★★★☆


Company: Iomega
Model: StorCenter ix2-200
List Price: 1TB=$270; 2TB=$370; 4TB=$700
Compatible: All Macs. Also supports Windows, Linux, network TVs, Apple TV, game consoles and Bluetooth-equipped smartphones.
Buy Now: The StorCenter ix2-200 will be available shortly.

Aimed at small business and home users, Iomega’s StorCenter ix2-200 offers cheap network storage AND a media server. It’s a killer combo: you get a big roomy drive for Time Machine and a no-setup server for storing gobs of music and movies. Your media is accessible by any Mac or PC on your home network — as well as the Apple TV and the kids’ Xbox. Your files are also accessible over the internet.

Best yet, it’s a torrent machine, able to download and store torrents in the background. You just double-click on the torrent jobs you want downloading, and the ix2-200 does the rest. It’s fast and doesn’t clog your internet connection like a lot of Mac clients. Plus you don’t have to leave your machine on while you wait for the torrents to finish downloading. There’s also a built-in video player so you can watch downloaded torrents through the ix2’s browser interface. It plays video encoded in popular formats like .avi and divx, so no need to download VLC or Perian.

The ix2-200 is available in 1TB to 4TB capacities. Starting at $270 for the 1TB model, it costs $370 for the 2TB version and $700 for the 4TB version (two 2TB drives are still pretty expensive). That might sound pricey, but a comparable Hewlett Packard MediaSmart Home Server also costs $700 but offers only 1.5TB of storage. Yeah, the HP offers more performance, but it’s probably overkill in a typical home setting. According to Iomega, the ix2-200 can serve five simultaneous HD video streams at the same time, and support about 20 users at the same time.

It serves up media not just to Macs, Windows and Linux PCs, but UPnP devices like networked TVs and game consoles, including the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It’s preconfigured to share through iTunes and automatically shows up in iTunes as a shared device.

Setup was a breeze. I plugged it into the wall and home/office router, then ran the setup utility on my Mac. A few clicks later, and there it was in the Finder as a shared drive. Open Time Machine, and it’s available for backups. Dead easy. Another NAS appliance I’m reviewing wasn’t nearly as easy to set up.

The ix2-200 is configured through a browser interface, which is very intuitive (also unlike the other NAS appliance). Easy to add users, shared folders, set storage quotas and setup an FTP server.

The only problem I’ve had is with the browser interface, which is a little glitchy. Sometimes it jumps to a “configure network settings” screen, which disappears if you hit the Home link. It’s annoying, but not a deal breaker.

It’s got a gigabit connection and two drive bays. Drives are user replaceable, and it’s easy to add extra storage — just plug external drives into the three USB ports (one in front; two in the back).

Iomega says the ix2-200 is pretty green. It uses new green drives and automatically spins them down when not in use.

It also supports Bluetooth for backup and storage for smartphones, but alas not the iPhone until Apple adds for support for Bluetooth file sharing. It will work with jailbroken iPhones though. Requires a separate Bluetooth adapter (price TBD).

There’s a front panel “quick transfer” button for automatically copying files to and from USB thumb drives, flash memory cards and external USB drives. It can also initiate pre-set network copy jobs, which is useful for things like offsite backups.

There’s a bunch of other features for business users I’ll likely never use — like iSCSI for fast data transfers and support for up to five networked security cams.

But that’s all good. The iX2-200 is a great, full-featured package that’s not just a dumb hard drive but a capable addition to any home or office network. Recommended.

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  • Blurbos

    I just got one, noisy and slow over wifi transfers but works great on xbox360 and apple tv2 jail broken with xbmc running, now the family can watch the 500gb of films and tv I have been ripping for the past 2 years, the DVDs can be boxed away in storage. Shame it doesn’t have a meta tag system to index the film and tv library with info and artwork.

  • Chemdrydevon

    How do you configure the Quick Transfer button to copy files from the Storcenter to a usb drive? I can only seem to copy things from a usb stick onto the Storcenter

  • JB Boston

    How do you configure this to work with apple tv2?  

About the author

Leander KahneyLeander Kahney is the editor and publisher of Cult of Mac. He is the NYT bestselling author of Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Products; Inside Steve’s Brain; Cult of Mac; and Cult of iPod. Leander has written for Wired, MacWeek, Scientific American, and The Guardian in London. Follow Leander on Twitter @lkahney and Facebook.

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