The Iomega StorCenter ix2-200 is a major upgrade to the StorCenter ix2. The new server is a lot faster, has more features, and offers even more storage than the previous model. It also comes with a longer three-year warranty.
Nonetheless, the new StorCenter ix2-200 is far from perfect. Its advanced features don't work as one might expect and its Web interface, though intuitive, could be more responsive, especially when you use it with a Windows computer. The server also runs rather hot and the hard drives are not hot-swappable. It takes a little work with a screwdriver to replace them, too.
If you are looking for a decent storage and backup center, the Iomega StorCenter ix2-200 will make a decent investment, especially considering it costs only $700 with 4TB of storage included (the server also comes in 1TB and 2TB versions that cost around $270 and $320, respectively). If you want more advanced features, however, we'd recommend the Synology DS209+ (for business) or the HP MediaSmart EX495 (for home).
Design and setup
Like the previous model, the Iomega StorCenter ix2-200 is compact as a NAS server with two internal hard drives can get; it's barely larger than two 3.5-inch hard drives put together. The server comes with two drive bays, populated with two SATA hard drives. On the bottom of the server are four screws that keep the drive in place; once these screws are removed, you can easily pull the drives out from its back-access bays. We found the drive bays a little too close to each other, making the server run rather hot. Nonetheless it remains quiet, even when the tiny fan is working hard. Out of the box the NAS' hard drives are set up in a RAID 1 configuration, but you can also quickly change that to RAID 0 to maximize the amount of data storage at the expense of data safety.
On the front of the server you'll find a USB port and a copy button. This is a nifty quick copy feature found in NAS servers: you plug an external storage device into this port, such a thumb drive, and press the button. The contents of the device are then copied to the server's internal storage. Also, there are two more USB ports on the back of the server. These ports can host both external storage devices and USB printers.
Setting up the StorCenter ix2 is painless. Once connected to the network, we followed the included CD and after a few clicks and a few minutes, everything was done, including two network drives being mapped to the NAS' default share folders: Public and Backup.
The setup process involves the installation of the Iomega StorCenter software, which helps add new USB devices connected to the NAS server, shows the Share Folders, and launches the Web-based interface, which allows you to further customize other settings. Other than using the Iomega StorCenter, you can also access the ix2 using Windows Explorer the way you would access another computer in a local network. Mac computers will automatically see the new NAS server on its Finder.
The Web interface, which can be launched from any network computer, is intuitive and easy to use; however, we found it rather sluggish at times, especially when using with Windows. Still, it's organized and we think that most users will be able to figure things out by themselves.
For backing up your computer to the NAS server, the StorCenter ix2-200 comes with EMC Retrospect Express HD backup software. The software, though easy to use, takes a long time to load and uses a lot of system resources. However, it does a good job of making the backing up process transparent to the users and allows for good flexibility: you can back up only predetermined important files, entire computers, or any folders of your choosing.
The StorCenter ix2-200's remote access feature uses the TZO Dynamic DNS service that gives you the first year free and charges $10 for each subsequent year. This is a big upgrade, as the previous model of the NAS doesn't offer any remote access solutions.
If your router supports UPnP (which most new routers do), the setup process 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. Then, from any computer in the world that's connected to the Internet, you can use a browser to access to the NAS, as if you were on a computer in the same local network.