The security feature also allows for another important feature of the iConnect: remote access. The device uses the TZO Dynamic DNS service for its remote over-the-Internet access. You'll get the first year for free, but you'll have to pay $10 for each subsequent year.
If your router supports UPnP (which most new routers do), the setup process for the remote connection is entirely transparent to you, via a few mouse clicks. Otherwise, you'll need to manually forward the port number 443 to the IP address of the server. At the end of the setup process you will be given a URL that links to the iConnect from any computer that's connected to the Internet. You then can access the server as though you were on a computer in the same local network.
Though the remote access feature gives excellent management capability to the NAS, it's limited when it comes to accessing data. The iConnect doesn't allow you to upload and download multiple files or folders at a time. Other NAS servers also allow you to play back digital content such as photos, music, or video, via the Internet; the iConnect can only play back photos in the form of slideshows.
The iConnect's self download feature is limited to supporting only BitTorrent. This means you can't use it to download large files from other services such as RapidShare or from any Web site or FTP site.
Other than that, we found regular features of the NAS working well. It supports Windows file sharing, Apple file sharing, and you can also upgrade its firmware easily. The server is also capable of streaming media by supporting a variety of media serving standards including UPnP, DLNA, and iTunes. All you can do is to turn this feature on or off. When on, the server will automatically look for digital content from all of the connected USB external hard drives and make it available to media streaming devices. You have no further control over this, such as what type of files to be shared, from what folder, how often the server looks for newly added content, etc.
Unlike other NAS servers from Iomega, such as the StorCenter ix2-200, the iConnect's productivity software doesn't come bundled in the package. Instead, Iomega provides just the link where users can download the software, which includes a few backup and security applications, such as one-year subscriptions to TrendMicro Internet Security, EMC Restrospect, and Iomega QuickProtect. To download the software, users are required to go to Iomega's Web site , type in the device's serial number, and their e-mail address.
We found this process to be a hassle and intimidating for novice home users, especially those who are not comfortable with installing software. This sort of defeats the iConnect's ease of use, which is the device's main appeal. It would be much more helpful if the software were included on the setup CD that contains the Iomega Storage Manager.
When compared with NAS servers from a few years ago, and routers that have built-in support for network storage, the Iomega iConnect Wireless Data Station is fast. However, it's way slower than most new full-size NAS servers we've reviewed recently.
We tested the Iomega via its Gigabit connection with a few USB external hard drives, including the currently fastest USB external hard drive, the Seagate BlackArmor PS 110 USB 3.0 and its scores were 84.7Mbps for the Write test and 217.5Mbps for the Read test. For comparison, the LaCie NetworkSpace 2, one of the slowest new NAS servers got 146Mbps and 280.6Mbps for the Read and Write tests, respectively. Other NAS high-end NAS servers, such as the Synology DS710+, are even significantly faster than that. It's worth noting, however, at these speeds, the iConnect will still work well in situations where no heavy file sharing is required.
When we switched to use the NAS with its wireless connection, the server, as expected, scored much lower with only 29.9Mbps for the Write speed and 27.9Mbps for the Read speed. It's obvious that you should only use its Gigabit connection if you want to use the device as a real network storage server.
Overall, despite the relatively low scores, we found that the iConnect NAS server worked well for the niche it is in. Considering the price, we were happy with its performance.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Service and support
The Iomega iConnect Wireless Data Station is backed with a three-year warranty, which is much longer than most NAS servers on the market. Toll-free phone support is available Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET. You can also chat online with tech support via omega's site or fill out an e-mail form. Iomega's site has a user forum, FAQs, how-to videos, and downloadable manuals, firmware, and software.