Iomega Home Media Network Hard Drive (1. TB) Review. You might call them the great unwashed NAS- es: Network attached storage (NAS) drives have been mainstream for some time now, and as more models trickle into the market, they’re becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish from one another. A new entry needs to be more than just a glorified, Ethernet- enabled external hard drive to set itself apart, and Iomega’s hook, in its Home Media Network Hard Drive, is ease of use. This drive has the hardware traits of most NAS units and employs software from storage giant EMC, which recently acquired Iomega.
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The result is a NAS drive that’s about as easy as shareable storage and streaming across a home network can get. The Home Media Network Drive comes in 5. GB ($1. 59. 9. 9) and 1- terabyte ($2.
We tested the 1. TB.) The drive has the basic physical attributes typical of its class. The rear panel has a single Gigabit Ethernet port (1. Mbps/1. 00. Mbps/1,0. Mbps), for connecting to your router, and a single USB port. The USB port lets you attach a regular, non- NAS external hard drive (or USB key- chain drive) to share the contents of the attached drive across your network, the second drive acting like supplemental storage for the NAS.
Alternately, you can use the port to share a USB- interface printer, eliminating the need for a separate print server. That’s a nice bonus if your router doesn’t incorporate a print- server function. A second USB port would have been handy, though, for taking advantage of both functions simultaneously.) Finally, you'll find an AC power port; the requisite wall wart is oblong and oriented awkwardly for plugging in next to other adapters. The onboard USB 2.
We were impressed by the exterior build quality. The body of the unit is an attractive dark brushed metal, with a plastic mesh front face. Digging inside the shell, we learned that Iomega sourced the drive for the model we tested from Seagate; it’s a 7,2. Barracuda 7. 20. 0. Two LED- lit strips reside on the drive’s top surface at the back edge; a bright white one indicates power- on status and drive activity, and the other lights up certain colors when the device is nearing or reaches full capacity.
Since a NAS is typically always on, you may find the power- on LED a distraction if the drive is situated in a living room or bedroom, so Iomega provides a sliding dimmer control for both LEDs in its main software interface, Iomega Home Storage Manager. Two LEDs are situated on the rear edge.
They indicate when the drive is nearly or completely full (left) and power- on/drive activity (right). We installed the Home Media Network Hard Drive on our home LAN, which comprises a wireless 8. Buffalo router and a mix of six wired and wireless desktops and laptops, running a mishmosh of Windows XP Home Edition, Vista Ultimate and Home Premium, and the Windows 7 beta.
Setup was easy: We attached the drive to one of our router’s free Ethernet ports using the included cable, then, following the quick- start sheet, attached the power cable and powered the unit on. We also plugged a Samsung ML- 2. USB port. Then we ran the install CD on a desktop that was direct- wired into the router. The NAS quickly found an IP address without intervention and was immediately accessible via Windows Explorer on the wired- in Windows XP PC. Activating network discovery on a pair of Wi- Fi- connected PCs (a desktop running Vista Home and a laptop running Windows 7), the Iomega drive showed up as a network drive—no software install required. Install the Home Storage Manager software, and the NAS drive's folders show up as end- of- alphabet drive letters. If you install the Iomega Home Storage Manager software on the bundled disc, the drive presents itself in that PC’s Windows Explorer as a series of five end- of- alphabet drive letters (V: to Z: ), representing virtual drives for movies, music, photos, and backups, plus a general network share folder.
On other PCs, these virtual drives just show up as conventional folders within the Iomega drive.) The virtual drives aren’t assigned a fixed capacity, however; all draw upon the main 5. GB or 1. TB capacity as needed. Within Iomega Home Storage Manager, you can add or remove folders, as well as limit access to individual folders to only certain users (or, conversely, allow folders you designate to be accessible by all network users). There, you can also toggle whether each folder should act as an i. Tunes and/or Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) server.
The latter option enables you to stream media in that folder to a DLNA- compliant device (for example, a Sony Play. Station 3, a Microsoft Xbox 3.
TV) for playback or viewing in your home theater. We weren’t able to test the DLNA feature, but the drive acquitted itself well, streaming MP3 files and AVI video across an 8. You can designate the default (or your custom) folders as i. Tunes or DLNA servers from one handy screen. The Home Storage Manager software, broken into three tabs, is otherwise straightforward.
Its Folders tab governs the previously mentioned options; the Home tab summarizes drive capacity and keeps logs of activity; and the System tab allows for restoring default settings, toggling IP- address configuration between manual and automatic, and designating date/time, drive password, and drive name. Overall, the software is streamlined and free of networking jargon.
It’s also nice that this main control panel for the NAS is accessible via Windows’ Programs menu, instead of requiring you to plug an IP address into a Web browser (though you can do that, too)—less intimidating for networking novices. Backup functionality comes via EMC’s Retrospect Express HD 2. Home Media Network Hard Drive, as well as designate time and day of the week for auto- backups. You’ll need to install the software on each PC on your network that you want to back up to the drive. You also get the option of saving a series of daily backups (which you can revert to in the same way you would a restore point) or only the latest backup. Retrospect Express HD uses a wizard- style process to walk you through setting up your backup routine.
The options are fairly limited, but they’ll suffice for basic home use. Retrospect Express lets you designate the day and time of automatic backups as part of its wizard- based setup routine. Of course, theft of the NAS or catastrophic damage to your equipment will wipe out your data regardless of backups.
With that in mind, Iomega includes an account to EMC’s Mozy. Home online- backup service, which supplies 2. GB of offsite storage for free. You can upgrade to an unlimited- capacity account for $4. The Mozy. Home configuration process is handily incorporated into the Retrospect Express HD setup wizard. Configuring your free Mozy.
Home online- backup account is part of the Retrospect Express wizard, as well. On our file- transfer tests, which involve reading and writing a 1.
GB folder of mixed large and small media files, the Iomega drive dialed in scores that were about average among NAS drives we’ve reviewed over the past year. It took 2. 5 minutes and 4. PC wired into our router) to the NAS, equating to roughly 6. MB per second, and spent 2. NAS, or about 7. 7. MB per second. We also tested the drive’s print- serving functionality.
The printer operated fine, with no additional configuration, from a wired Windows XP PC and a wirelessly connnected Vista PC with no further configuration. The printer’s drivers had previously been installed on these systems.) The printer showed up as “Printer 1,” and all we had to do was adjust the default printer in our commonly used apps.
A second Vista PC, which was connected wirelessly, refused to print, however. It detected the printer, identified it correctly, and claimed to print test pages, but nothing actually happened. We uninstalled and reinstalled the printer’s driver file and ultimately got it to work after manually locating a printer INF file. Overall, the Home Media Network Hard Drive is a capable NAS for beginners and intermediate- level users. EMC acquired Iomega last year, and in products like this one, the benefits that the storage giant brought to the development of this product are clear. Managing network storage, even on a tiny home network, can be tricky, but here it’s made snap- simple.