Iomega NAS 200d network-attached storage drives
Small to medium-size businesses in search of an easy-to-use solution for storing and backing up files on their network files should take a close look at Iomega's NAS 200d. The NAS 200d comes in a number of configurations that include storage capacities ranging from 320GB to 750GB, USB print server capability, and one variation equipped with Iomega's proprietary Rev drive. You can configure the Iomega NAS 200d's hard drives in one of several RAID setups, and the unit runs Windows Storage Server 2003. The Iomega NAS 200d is an appealing choice if you have some sort of IS department or a high geek-factor employee to install and maintain it. Home or SOHO users will be better off with a product that's cheaper per gigabyte and easier to install and use, such as the Buffalo TeraStation or Iomega's own wireless NAS 100d series.
The Iomega NAS 200d drive closely resembles its simpler and cheaper sibling, the NAS 100d, minus the antenna. The boxy unit will take up a good bit of floor or desk space, and at over 17 pounds, it's not a product you'll likely be moving around much. Our only complaint about the physical design of the black and silver 200d is the location of the Gigabit Ethernet jack on the back of the machine. It's difficult to get your finger on the cable connector release because of a fan bay jutting out directly overhead. The 200d has two front-mounted USB ports and two in back, which you can use to attach external storage drives or printers.
Setting up the Iomega NAS 200d proved somewhat problematic, largely due to Iomega's weak documentation and packaging (we played with the 320GB version with Rev drive). The oddly folded multilingual Quick Install sheet tells you little more than "insert the Solutions CD"--advice we heeded after the 200d's blue power LED failed to light and the four green status LEDs blinked quickly in an unpromising fashion. The HTML manual showed us that there was a voltage switch (hidden behind a completely unrelated sticker) which we discovered was set for 225 volts.
Administering the Iomega NAS 200d was far easier than setting it up. The 200d runs on Windows Storage Server 2003, so NAS boxes with GUI-enabled operating systems, such as Windows Server 2003 AE, can easily be configured or backed up locally as well as across a network. In this case, you can attach a monitor to the 200d's VGA port, and a keyboard, mouse, and/or backup drive to its USB 2.0 ports. Stiffer hardware requirements are the trade-off for the 200d's easier and more versatile configuration and administration compared to less robust NAS boxes, such as the Buffalo TeraStation running a minimal version of Linux that provides only network access. The Iomega NAS 200d uses a 2GHz Celeron and 8GB to 16GB of disk space, while the TeraStation gets away with only a 226MHz PowerPC chip and a measly 150MB of disk space. You may also make changes using XP's Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) or a browser. The HTML app relies on XP's Disk Management for the RAID setup, so RDC is probably the most convenient if you're used to Windows, but both work well.
The 200d has other IS-friendly features such as quick-change, cold-swappable (system power must be off, unlike with hot-swappable drives that may be replaced with the system on) drives, and Computer Associate's eTrust antivirus software and BrightStor ARCServe software for backing up the server. Iomega also includes its own Automatic Backup client that performs background file-level backups, helping users to back up their PCs to the 200d.
Two of our Iomega NAS 200d's (the 320GB with Rev drive) three quick-change modular drive bays hold 160GB hard drives which can be configured in a 304GB RAID 0 striped array or a 152GB RAID 1 mirrored array (no RAID 0+1). The 200d units with larger capacities (480GB and 750GB) can be configured in RAID 0, RAID 1, and RAID 5 arrays. The third bay on the unit we inspected is home to the box's most unusual feature--a 35GB removable cartridge . The Rev makes it a snap to back up the 200d, though as with any backup device other than a high-end tape or optical carousel, or perhaps Exabyte's 80/160GB VXA-2 tape drive, you'll have to regularly swap out media.
Once things were up and humming, the Iomega 200d performed admirably. The 200d supports gigabit connections, but we did our tests with a 10/100 router for easy comparison with previous results. The 200d was nearly twice as fast as the Buffalo TeraStation in most tests, averaging around 7MBps while reading and writing a 400MB mixed folder of files and over 9MBps transferring a 1.9GB image file. Not unexpectedly, the 200d was a bit faster in RAID 0 striped mode.
Iomega supports the NAS 200d series of drives with a three-year warranty. Toll-free phone support is free from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET for the duration of the warranty (after-hours and weekend phone support costs $50 per incident). E-mail and live chat support are both free, and the company's Web site is replete with helpful resources, such as FAQs, how-to videos, and downloadable software and drivers.