Iomega NAS 100d
Everyone who uses computers to stockpile movies, digital photos, or music knows that hard drives fill up fast. The Iomega NAS 100d (NAS stands for network-attached storage) offers those folks lots of storage that they can access via Ethernet and 802.11b/g wireless networks. Its Wi-Fi capabilities mean the NAS 100d can serve as a WAP (wireless access point) too. Unfortunately, the device lacks support for the all-important WPA encryption included with most WAPs. It also omits the FTP-server functionality found in other NAS devices such as the Linksys EFG120 and our Editors' Choice winner, the Buffalo LinkStation.
Compared to tower-style rivals such as the Buffalo LinkStation and the Linksys EFG120, the Iomega NAS 100d is shorter and boxier, which should prevent it from tumbling over. Setting it up is a cut-and-dried process: plug one end of the AC-adapter cord into the back of the device, put the other end into the wall, and press the power button. To use the device on a wired network, string the Ethernet cable between the NAS 100d and your system. To make it a WAP, screw in the adjustable antenna, which bends and rotates so that you can position it for optimal coverage. Unfortunately, the placement of the antenna connector on the bottom rear of the unit is a clear design flaw that is almost certain to hamper the access point's range in most setups. Two USB 2.0 ports sit on the back panel to the right of the antenna, letting you piggyback another external hard drive or printer. Three handy blue, green, and orange status lights on the front alert you to when the NAS 100d is starting, running, active, or full.
Configuration of the NAS 100d isn't as easy as the physical setup, especially for those new to networking, since the included guide doesn't spell out every step in the process. One step, for example, tells users whose computers lack DHCP servers to change the computer's IP address, without providing instructions for how to do that. Once you have the device talking to your computer, you can use the browser-based configuration tool to monitor and adjust settings such as shared folders, SMTP-server notification, drive format, SSID, and 64- or 128-bit WEP encryption. What's missing is support for WPA, the highest level of wireless security currently available. And because the NAS 100d doesn't include FTP-server functionality, you can't easily use the device to access your stored files from remote locations.
We tested the Iomega NAS 100d on a small Ethernet network with multiple PCs. On our first pass, we turned up what appears to be a compatibility problem with the Netgear MR814, firmware version 4.09. After nearly two hours on the phone with a friendly support technician, we discovered that we were unable to establish a wireless connection between the Netgear router and the NAS 100d. Iomega says it intends to release a patch soon. Subsequent tests with a Linksys WRT54GS router were successful, but the NAS 100d lacks Wi-Fi certification, so its interoperability with Wi-Fi gear could be spotty.
As expected, accessing files on the NAS 100d is almost as fast as accessing the same files on a local hard drive. You may experience delays if several people simultaneously attempt access. Also, connecting to the unit via its wireless access point is slower than accessing it through an Ethernet connection, especially if you're on the fringe of the NAS 100d's range. In general, a Fast Ethernet network is a better place for a NAS unit than a comparatively slow wireless hookup, which limits the usefulness of the NAS 100d's integrated access point in most networking scenarios.
The NAS 100d ships with a CD that includes the user manual and Iomega's helpful Automatic Backup software, which automatically creates extra copies of your files and then saves them in your predetermined destination. The server's warranty lasts for an acceptable two years and includes toll-free, 24/7 telephone support. You can avoid phone wait times by engaging in a live chat with a tech-support rep via the company's support Web site. The site also offers the standard knowledge base and a handful of informative networking tutorials, but no product-specific troubleshooting information.