Top positive review
7 people found this helpful
Excellent Network based Storage Solution
on March 4, 2011
I have 4 external portable harddisks from different manufacturers (Lacie, Seagate and WD) with size varying from 500GB - 1.5TB. Also I have a home network consisting of 3 computers (a Mac OS X based MBP, a windows XP based laptop and Ubuntu based Desktop). Besides I have a few VMs in my MBP running inside VMWare Fusion. I was looking at a network based solution to access these hard disks in a centralized fashion. And then I came across this product in Amazon. Initially I was a little apprehensive because of some of the negative feedbacks it had generated. But I went ahead anyway to give it a try thinking I could return it back in case I am not satisfied. Boy, was I glad I purchased this product! It is one of the best in its category.
Amazon did an amazing job in delivering it way before the expected date. I unboxed my iConnect and plugged it in my router via ethernet port. I didn't go for the wireless connectivity (because 1. it will be slow as compared to ethernet connection 2. wireless connection being unreliable sometimes may corrupt the hard disk if you are in the middle of a data transfer) I also installed the associated software and did a basic default configuration. Then I attached all my 4 hard disks to iConnect. The entire setup took around 30 mins. After I was satisfied with my basic setup, I played around with some advanced configuration like security and remote access over internet.
1. All the 4 harddisks were immediately accessible over the network.They appeared as network drives in my windows network. You might have to play around a little to ensure that they are part of the same work group by going into the iConnect management console and selecting settings->Network services->Windows File Sharing(CIFS)->Workgroup Name. MBP was also able to mount them as volumes after I enabled settings->Network services->AFP Settings. My Ubuntu box was able to identify the volumes as a windows based file system
2. My MBP was able to recognize it as a valid Time Machine based backup option after I enabled settings->backup restore->Time Machine. The first time backup was terribly slow. It took 24 hrs to copy 330GB of data over the network which is reasonable as my MBP was connected to the network wirelessly. However, subsequent incremental backups wererelatively faster (15 GB in an hour)
3. The iConnect acts as a DLNA Server and was instantly recognized by my DLNA capable TV. However, it was not able to recognize all types of movies I threw at it as the number of codecs it supports is limited.
4. You can enable security at disk level (not at folder level) and assign users with different levels of permissions (read, read-write etc)
5. You can access your hard disks over internet with an optional remote access facility(A free subscription from TZO for first year. After first year, you have to pay). You have to enable remote access in the management console. However, since I already have a dedicated domain, I simply configured my wireless router to listen to a non-standard incoming port and redirect the traffic to the management console of iConnect. I did NOT have to enable the remote settings feature in iConnect management console for this to work. If you don't have access to a dedicated domain and don't want to subscribe to TZO, you still can access your hard disks over internet via the IP address assigned to your router. In my experience, even if you have a dynamic IP based internet connection from your internet provider (most of the home internet connections are not static IP based), the IP address rarely changes.
6. I seem to come back to the Shared Storage facility within the management console everytime I access my setup over internet. It gives a unified view of all the harddisks with following features: drill-down capability to access a file/folder, basic file management facility like delete/view etc, safely remove a harddisk from the system, modify access to the harddisks, search across all the harddisks for a specific file
7. There is a cool hardware status feature in the Dashboard tab of management console which shows the temperature of the CPU as well as the NIC besides indicating whether the device is in safe temperature range. One good thing is most of the time I have seen the device in this range. It is barely warm.
8. You can setup a email notification service. In case of any issue, the device sends an email to the configured email id with the details. I actually saw a message once from the device when it encountered some network problem. At that time, I thought it was really cool.
1. The management console sometimes (very rarely in my experience) is not accessible presumably when there is some CPU, I/O intensive operation.
2. The iConnect driver always throws a notification during application start-up saying a new driver update is available. However, clicking on that notification to update the driver, does not take me anywhere.
3. The iConnect driver for linux threw some fatal error during its installation and led me to believe its not supported. However, the drives became available as mounts only after I restarted the system.
4. In case your hard disk contains multiple partitions, the iConnect only detects the first partition. I faced a similar problem for one of the hard disks and had to merge all my partitions
5. In the web based management console, you can only work upload one file at a time. You cant select multiple files and upload them. But you can certainly delete multiple files/folders.
Not Tested Features:
There seems to be a wealth of other features which I have not tested yet.
1. Schedule Copy jobs
2. Schedule Torrent jobs
3. The Picture Transfer Protocol allows pictures to be loaded to the Iomega iConnect by plugging a compatible camera into a USB port.
4. iConnect supports Print Server functionality and enables a USB based printer to serve as a network printer. Since I dont have a printer at home, I could not test this functionality.
Overall, I am pretty happy with my purchase. The only bad part is: I saw the price getting reduced from 70$ to 60$ just after couple of days of my purchase. Its not a big deal though.