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For about $130 for the 500GB version (or $230 for the 1TB version), the Iomega Home Media Network Drive is a sound buy for any home user. Iomega NAS servers are known to be easy to use, and the Home Media Network Drive is the company's easiest so far. Getting it up is a simple task, as is customizing the more advanced settings. Its good performance and support for USB hard drives and printers round out its merits. If you're looking for more advanced features, check out the Editors' Choice winning Synology DS107+ or the Western Digital My Book World Edition.
Setup and ease of use
Barely larger than a 3.5-inch hard drive, the Iomega Home Media Network Drive is about as compact as a single-volume NAS server can get. The device comes in both a 500GB and a 1TB version. Choose carefully though, the device is not designed to let you to replace the hard drive later if you want to increase its capacity.
The drive includes a Gigabit Ethernet port and one USB 2.0 port, located on the back. The USB port can be used to host a printer or an external hard drive. Also located on the back is a very small fan that, unfortunately, produces a high-pitched sound when spinning. However, it only spins when the drive gets hot, which is only when during heavy loads.
Setting up the drive was as simple as installing the included Home Network Media Storage and EMC Retrospect HD Back Up applications. In our tests, the installation took about 3 minutes. Once finished, the NAS server's share folders are mapped automatically to your computer and are ready to be used.
The Home Media Network Drive comes with five default share folders including photo, backup, music, movies, and public. By default, these folders are set to be publicly accessible by anyone; however, you can use the Home Network Media Storage application to launch the Web interface of the NAS server to further customize the security settings.
Enabling certain features was simple and easy. Turning on the iTunes server or DLNA media server features involved only a single click of the appropriate button on the user interface. This lets iTunes-enabled and DLNA-enabled clients automatically see and play the share media from the NAS server.
Overall, the Iomega Home Media Network Drive is the most easy-to-use NAS server we've yet tested. Getting it up and running was a simple process, and most people with basic computer knowledge should have the same experience.
The Iomega Home Media Network Drive lacks many advanced features you'd expect to find in a NAS server. Common, but missing, features include: FTP, HTTP servers, download station, support for an IP camera, and remote over-the-Internet access. Also curiously missing, is support for Bluetooth devices, which was included in another iOmega product, the Iomega StorCenter ix2.
The Home Media Network Drive has a very interesting way to limit users' access to the share folder. Each share folder includes a switch, with the choices of "Everyone" and "Secure." The former allows everyone to access it freely. With "Secure" you'll see a list of user accounts pulled from your computer, each with a check box next to it. Checking its box allows the account access to the folder. This is a much simper way compared with other devices where you have to create user accounts and apply settings to each account separately, making the whole process confusing for home users.
The USB 2.0 port of the NAS server lets you extend the storage capacity by connecting an external hard drive. Unlike the Iomega StorCenter ix2 that supports drives formatted using either FAT32 or NTFS file system, the Home Media Network Drive only supports those formatted using FAT32. This is disappointing as it's not easy to format a hard drive larger than 32GB using FAT32 and most external hard drives are much larger than 32GB. To make matters worse, the Iomega doesn't include a formatting tool for external hard drives.
Sharing an external drive is as simple as plugging it in. Once connected, a share folder will be created for the drive and you can access it as well as configure access privileges for it the way you would with any other share folders.
The included and EMC Retrospect HD Back UP application works well too. It allows for backing up the entire computer or just select folders. You can make copies of files that can be viewed and retrieved using Windows Explorer, or create restore points that can be used to recover the entire computer to previous working states.
The Home Media Network Drive performed very well in our throughput tests. It is one of the fastest single-volume NAS servers we've tested.
The device registered 105.6Mbps for the write test and 192.8Mbps for the read test. We test NAS servers' throughput by timing how long it takes them to finish writing/reading a certain amount of data. The scores, therefore, are a sustained data rate, with all performance overheads taken into account.
In comparison, the Home Media Network Drive was just a tad slower than the Western Digital My Book World Edition, which scored 120.1Mbps and 206Mbps for the write and read tests, respectively.
Service and support
Iomega backs the Home Media Network Drive with only a one-year warranty. This is short for a storage device, especially one you can't service yourself. However, you can purchase an Extended Silver Warranty package that extends coverage for another year. The device also comes with three years of complimentary toll-free phone support, available Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. PT. Iomega offers online chat support via its Web site as well as support through e-mail. The site has a user forum, FAQs, how-to videos, downloadable manuals, drivers, and software.