Iomega ix4-200d: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Recently I have added to my home lab NAS Iomega ix4-200d – with 4×2 TB hard drives. Here are some of my thoughts about the product.

Iomega makes consumer disk based products but since April 2010 is part of EMC. They are now claiming to deliver enterprise storage solutions to small and medium businesses. The Iomega’s biggest unit – 12 disk ix12-300r is rack mountable, with dual hot-swappable power supplies but with the same OS as my Iomega ix4 – EMC Lifeline Linux. I have read many blogs saying that Iomega is very good fit for VMware home labs. It is even on VMware hardware compatibility list.

So what are my thoughts?

The good

  • it is very small, neat and quiet unit with four 2 TB hard drives, if RAID5 is used you get around 5.5 TB of capacity
  • it is very simple to setup and use via web based GUI
  • it has many features: RAID 0/1/5, CIFS, NFS, iSCSI, FTP, TFTP, rsync and CIFS replication, Active Directory integration, Quotas, Printer server, USB ports for external drives, Bluetooth dongle or UPS communication, scheduled backups, power management, torrent client, …
  • dual ethernet ports, jumbo frames
  • as mentioned it is on VMware HCL
  • in this white paper EMC recommends the use of Iomega for Remote Office Branch Office (ROBO) deployments with centralized backup repository to Celerra

The Bad

  • it uses software RAID (linux mdadm), slow 5.9K rpm Seagate 2TB drives, ARM9 (ARM926EJ-S) CPU with 512 MB RAM, therefore the disk performance is not very good
  • the web based GUI is sometimes too simple and limiting
  • although it has many features, most of them are implemented on very basic level
  • the dual network ports do not support VLANs, using each port for different network segment is possible, but the separation of services is not done very well. For example you cannot limit the management interface to only one network.
  • only NFS is VMware certified, iSCSI is not. You cannot limit iSCSI to one network segment and separate LAN from SAN.

The Ugly

  • Very basic documentation
  • My hopes were that because of the Active Directory integration it could be used as replacement of Windows File server. Well, this is not the case. You can create shares with AD access control list only at the root level and only via the GUI. You cannot create subfolders with different access rights neither from Windows nor from the GUI. This makes it unusable for business deployment.

The result

I think the unit is perfect for home use. It has enough capacity to be used for home media – movies, music and photos, for backups and for some light VMware home lab usage. However for small businesses I would recommend to use it only for backups. I was expecting Iomega to have Celerra like features and am little bit dissapointed but that is probably too much to ask in this price range.

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4 thoughts on “Iomega ix4-200d: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

  1. geithelliot

    The size is small and simple when compared to what I had thought would be as I saw it on the website. The setting up of it was quite easy and quick. Application support is very good in this. DLNA support gives me a much more advantage to stream movies from my PS3 and DLNA compatible TV. HCL compatible.

    Scheduling backup is pretty quick here and copying files takes place in an acceptable speed. Can upload photos and files using Bluetooth dongle is possible. LED screen gives the information about the status. It has manageable capacity by setting the maximum limits to the folders.

    Overall, thumbs up from me for our day to day home storage or small business storage.

    Reply
  2. Smiley

    I just wanted to put in my two cents as I do work for a small business and thought the ix4-200r was a blessing in disguise to handle our ever growing need for data storage, but cheaper price making it a good fit for our company. However; the Active Directory limitation is a major hurdle. Due to being unable to set Windows NTFS permissions at the sub level, I have resorted to just letting my Mac users use the ix4-200r. This has limitations as well as though they all have read/write permissions, they cannot safe directly to a folder a fellow Mac user created, if they modify a file another Mac user created, they must first save to their Desktop before returning it to the ix4-200r.

    This unit was definitely designed for the home user, but promoted to small business which is in poor taste and definitely not a good investment.

    Reply
  3. Sunny Lowe

    We have used it at our networking firm with different levels of luck. It does great NFS, and with that can connect to ESXi very well. With Jumbo Frames turned on, and bonded NICS, it is 2-4 times faster (just with a sense of it, not with actual testing) than it was. Without these, we had a terrible time waiting on servers all the time. Now, no more waiting.

    Reply
  4. Gilles Moreau

    My company bought an ix4-200d as a temporary back-up solution. The thing indicate a defective HDD right out of the box. Iomega has no phone lines for support so you must do it by mail they allow themselves a 24h delay for ebery response and if you don’t respond to their messages in 48h the ticket is considered solved and closed.
    The only solution they provided is “have you tried upgrading the OS?” (even when answered “yes i did it didn’t solve the problem and even if it did the hdd would stil be defective only the alert would dissapear”) for the whole week until they closed my ticket because i didn’t respond to the same message sent a friday evening. I gave up, took the loss and banned them from my supplier list.

    PS: they still spam my professionnal email with advertisement

    Reply

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