Iomega's Ix2-200 NAS shows that you don't need to run Microsoft's Windows Home Server to take care of everything a home, or even a small business, needs for its network storage. It's just surprising that it's this cheap.
1TB for $270, 2TB for $370 and 4TB for $700
It does a lot, and it does it pretty well, for not a lot of cash.
Here's a list of the exciting bits on the Ix2-200's feature list:
• Automated backup and restore: Full Time Machine support for Macs as well as Retrospect, a different backup scheme, for PCs and Macs.
• Automated copy jobs, which can automatically and incrementally copy (either with Windows file sharing or rsync) files off of network shares and dump it onto its own storage, or the other way around. Perfect for backing up other network shares for double data security
• DLNA, iTunes Servers
• Quiet running
• SMB features like email notifications, event logs, iSCSI, automated video surveillance (provided you have a compatible camera) and USB printer support
• A load of networking support, like Apple File Sharing, Bluetooth, FTP, NFS, Rsync, SNMP and standard Windows File Sharing (CIFS)
• Torrent downloading
• Remote access
Instead of building a Windows Home Server, like so many others have done, Iomega decided to build their own system from their own technology, and came out pretty feature-rich because of it.
The setup process is slightly finicky—you install the Iomega Solutions CD and wait while it searches your network for the server. This can actually take a few hours (we thought the Mac version was malfunctioning until it completed its setup and discovery process), but once you're up, you're up.
You control the server with a web interface, which works with a local app to provide integration into your file system. It's pretty simple to use, and there aren't too many tabs or options to confuse users with.
Time Machine works as well as if you were just shoving in a USB hard drive, and there's little difference compared to running your backups over the network as if it were a Time Capsule. Iomega tells us that they've learned from HP's first Windows Home Servers, the ones who weren't able to run a complete Time Machine restore in the event of a total drive failure, so Mac users shouldn't need to worry.
Retrospect, another backup software, can also configure backup plans on a schedule and automatically execute them without any input from you. Just choose which drives and folders you want to back up—it even backs up your network folders—and pick your schedule. If you don't have a Windows Home Server on your network to handle your Windows backups, this is a pretty good substitute. And of course you can use Retrospect to restore your backups to your machine, in case of data failure.
Automated copy jobs is another feature that's especially sweet for me, since I have a lot of network storage and I always worry about what would happen if one fails. This way, the Ix2-200 can maintain up-to-date copies of whatever's sitting on other network drives, and act as the schoolmarm for all your data.
Some of the other features are pretty much evaluated on a yes/no basis in terms of whether or not they work. The fan is very quiet even when transferring a mass load of files—although the hard drive is not, so that's kind of moot—but is virtually silent otherwise. RAID1 works, and comes set up by default. The DLNA and iTunes streaming works in their respective clients, and Xbox 360/PS3 has no problem streaming files off of the server.
BitTorrent download works, but the server gets confused if you give it a URL to download a .torrent file from, so to play it safe you should just go ahead and download the .torrent yourself and feed that instead. Download speeds are decent, and you can configure what the maximum upload/download speeds are so as to not saturate your internet connection. You should also change your default port as well, since ISPS throttle that 6881 port hard.
All the networking stuff works as expected, as do the email notifications and event logs. The rest of the higher end stuff, like video surveillance integration and iSCSI we didn't test, so we can't say if there are any issues with them or not. It's more than likely that they do work, but we don't know if there are any quirks you should watch out for.
Iomega's aiming this at both the prosumer and the SMB market, which means that for most people, it's going to have a lot of features that they don't need. But that doesn't matter! The Ix2-200 is so packed with stuff that it should satisfy the needs of just about any user who's hurting for a network storage solution. And at a starting price of only $270 for the 1TB version, it's a cheaper alternative than Windows Home Servers, and can do just about all the same things. Plus with its user-replaceable drives and three USB ports, you can easily upgrade the storage yourself and expand your storage after the fact. [Iomega]
Great backup options including Time Machine and Retrospect
Small, quiet and fast
Fairly cheap for what you get
Setup process isn't as easy as it could be