Once we were in the drive-configuration tool, there were a number of settings we could change. You can arrange the four drives into a number of RAID arrays, which can help increase write speeds or provide safeguards for your data: RAID 0 (striping); RAID 5 (striping with parity; this reduces the drive's capacity by 25 percent); and RAID 0+1 (mirroring striped disks; this will reduce capacity by half). For comparison, the Buffalo TeraStation Home Server doesn't offer RAID 0 or RAID 0+1 modes. You can also manage user permissions, shared folder settings, and disk management.
If you like, you can configure the drive to operate wirelessly as a client or an access point. The configuration utility walks you through all the necessary steps, including identifying a network (or naming one, if using the Iomega drive as an 802.11g access point), choosing a static or dynamic network mode, and entering a security key (the drive supports WEP and WPA-PSK wireless security). Most people won't find the wireless capability necessary; you can simply hard wire the NAS to your router for access over the network, but the wireless capability doesn't add much to the final cost of the drive, so no harm there.
The drive has other features as well, including backup via Iomega's proprietary Iomega Automatic Backup Pro (IAB Pro) software, a built-in print server, and a media server that will work with a UPnP media adapter. With IAB Pro, you can set up scheduled backups of the PCs on your network, ranging from incremental backups of selected folders and files to full system backups, which you can use to restore a PC in case of data disaster. (Incidentally, through the configuration utility, you can also set backups for the StorCenter NAS drive itself, either to USB-attached hard drives or to another NAS drive on your network.) Unfortunately, the IAB Pro software works with Windows 2000 and XP machines only. The media server capability lets you use the StorCenter Wireless as a central repository for your high-definition video, music, and photos. You'll need a third-party UPnP media adapter, such as the D-Link MediaLounge, for your TV to interpret the signal.
Performance-wise, the Iomega StorCenter Wireless NAS is the fastest such drive we've tested, though we have to qualify that finding. On the CNET Labs' test bench, over an Ethernet connection, the Iomega wrote our 5GB test folder of mixed file types in a hair over 19 minutes. It read back the same folder in 17 minutes, 32 seconds. While the Iomega's write performance was faster than that of the Buffalo TeraStation Home Server, it's worth noting that we tested both drives at their default setting, which for the Buffalo drive was RAID 5 and for the Iomega drive was RAID 0. The RAID 5 setting normally slows down write speeds a bit, so if you configure the Iomega drive in a RAID 5 array, expect to see slower performance.
Iomega backs the StorCenter Wireless NAS drive with a one-year warranty. Toll-free phone support (while it's under warranty) is available Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET. If you opt for Iomega's additional service plan, you can access tech support 24/7. You can also conduct an online chat with tech support via Iomega's site or fill out an e-mail form. Iomega's site has a user forum, FAQs, how-to videos, and downloadable manuals, drivers, and software.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
|5GB read test||5GB write test|
**Tested in RAID 5 mode