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Iomega UltraMax Pro Desktop Hard Drive Reviewed

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Introduction

Iomega UltraMax Pro Desktop Hard Drive

At a Glance
Product Iomega UltraMax Pro Desktop Hard Drive (33744)
Summary High-performance dual-drive DAS with RAID 0, 1 support and USB 2.0 and eSATA connection
Pros • Easy to install
• > 100 MB/s RAID 0, eSATA writes
Cons • Noisy
• Unhelpful front panel indicators
• Relatively high power consumption
• No monitor utility
• No RAID rebuild progress indicator

We generally have stuck to reviewing NASes when it comes to storage, in keeping with SmallNetBuilder's networking focus. But since there are not many sites reviewing attached storage and because it plays an important part in NAS storage expansion and backup, we are going to take a shot at adding it to SmallNetBuilder's coverage. First up is Iomega's UltraMax Pro Desktop Hard Drive (UMP).

The UMP is a dual-drive SATA-based NAS that attaches via USB 2.0 and eSATA or USB 2.0 and FireWire 400 / 800, depending on the model you choose. It comes in 1.5 and 2 TB capacities. But it appears that the 1.5 TB eSATA version is being phased out. Note that the USB / eSATA connection is either / or—you can't use both simultaneously.

Bill Meade actually wrote our first DAS (Direct-Attached Storage) review of the Norco DS-500 around two years ago. As I re-read it and compared it to the UMP, I was struck by the difference in ease-of-use between the two products. For example, some of Bill's review focused on his struggle to get the Norco's bundled PCI-X SATA adapter installed and running.

In contrast, the UMP will require no software installation for most users, as long as it is installed on a system that supports SATA drives. Even if your system doesn't have an external eSATA connector, you'll still be ok. All you need is an unused internal SATA port and the addition of an eSATA PCI bracket. You can also use a SATA to eSATA cable if you want to skip the bracket. Of course, if you choose the USB / FireWire 400/800 version, forget what I just said.

Figure 1 shows the rear of the USB / eSATA version that I requested for review.

Rear panel

Figure 1: Rear panel

Selection of individual drive, JBOD, RAID 0 and RAID 1 modes is done by setting three miniature switches and then pressing a recessed switch for about three seconds. The mode change took under 10 seconds, even for RAID 1. But I had to judge mode change completion mostly by listening for the hard drives to quiet down because the front panel indicators weren't very helpful. As Figure 2 notes, the bright white power light makes it difficult to see at least one of the disk activity indicators.

Indicator explanation
Click to enlarge image

Figure 2: Indicator explanation

But it would also be helpful if Figure 2 provided an indication of each indicator's location and function, since the two indicator groups are not the same and there are no markings on the front panel to help. I understand that Iomega was going for a clean and elegant look for the UMP. But when form interferes with function, that's just poor design.

The UMP draws a surprisingly high 28W and there doesn't appear to be any idle drive spin down or other power saving mode. It is surprisingly noisy too, despite its lack of a fan. But the noise from the drives alone make the UMP noisier than some of the quad-drive NASes that I have used it with to test NAS backup performance.




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