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Storage

Introduction

Updated: 30 March 2011 - Misc corrections

Iomega Home Media Network Hard Drive - Cloud Edition

At a Glance
Product Iomega Home Media Network Hard Drive - Cloud Edition (34766) [Visit website]
Summary Single-drive NAS with USB print, media, iTunes servers and ability to form private cloud networks.
Pros • Client software for Windows, Mac and Linux
• Multiple backup options
• Built-in DLNA /iTunes server
• Supports Time Machine backups
• No subscription ($) for cloud features
Cons •Setup lacks needed setup wizard
•Software not signed and no Windows Logo Support
•Cloud features require router ports to be opened

Manufacturers of consumer-oriented NASes face a very competitive landscape. Virtually all consumer NASes have rich feature sets that include a DLNA/iTunes server and remote web access. Other products layer on the ability to publish and host your own slide shows or include other advanced features such as a LAMP server. Considering that many of these NASes include the hard disk at prices that carry only a slight premium compared to an external desktop drive, they represent a very good value.

In marketing terms, to cut through the competitive clutter, you need a “USP” – unique selling proposition. Iomega’s new Home Media Network Hard drive, Cloud Edition (hereafter referred to as HMNHD-CE, for obvious reasons) has upped the ante for NAS manufacturers with the addition of, as the name implies, a Personal Cloud feature.

With a revamped Iomega storage manager that includes a VPN client that automatically connections to cloud software on the NAS, even a novice can set up his or her own private securely-connected network of HMNHD-CE's. This "personal cloud" enables you to securely connect and access networked resources in multiple locations using the Internet. With the HMNHD-CE, there is no additional hardware to purchase, no ongoing subscription to pay and you manage your own “Personal Cloud”.

The HMNHD-CE has a somewhat rounded case, so unless you plan to lay the device on the long flat edge, you’ll need to use the included plastic stand. Figure 1 shows both the front and rear panels on the HMNHD-CE.

HMNHD-CE front and rear panels

Figure 1: HMNHD-CE front and rear panels

Both the front and rear panels have holes for flow-through ventilation.  Though the device doesn’t have a fan, you can hear the drive spin up/down when it enters/exits the power saving mode.

The front panel (left above) consists of indicator lights (1) for QuikTransfer, Drive Activity, System Status and Power; a QuikTransfer button (2) to initiate either copy jobs or file transfers; and a USB port (3) for storage expansion or printer sharing. The rear panel (right above) has a security slot (1); power button (2); reset button (3); a USB port (4); a Gigabit Ethernet port (5) and a power connector (6).

On The Inside

Fortunately, Iomega decided to beef up the internal components as compared to the earlier model of the Home Media Network Hard Drive. While Iomega stuck with PLX / Oxford, they traded up from the OXE810SE in the original, to a 600 MHz dual-core NAS 7820 in the HMNHD-CE. RAM size has also been raised from 64 to 256 MB.

The beefed up components resulted in quite a boost to performance, almost three times as fast as the original. Note there is no flash memory - the OS sits on the hard drive on its own EXT3-formatted partition. The data partition is formatted XFS. The evaluation unit used a Seagate Barracuda LP 2 TB (ST32000542AS). Iomega also has a 1 TB version of the HMNHD-CE (model 34763).

The HMNHD-CE is not designed to be user serviceable. And we couldn't get the case open without risk of breaking it for our usual inside photos. So if the drive fails within three years (or only one year if you don't register the product within 90 days of purchase), you'll be returning it to Iomega for replacement or buying another NAS.

How It Works

PogoPlug devices like the Pogoplug Pro and Axentra-based products like the Seagate GoFlex Home provide primary access to their cloud resources via web-based interfaces. They also don't require that you open ports on your router or mess with dynamic DNS clients.

Iomega has taken a different approach in creating its Personal Cloud technology. The HMNHD-CE is a full-fledged NAS in its own right and doesn't require installation of any client software. Any device on a LAN that supports SMB/CIFS, can access its shares.

Iomega's personal cloud is actually a private VPN established between the HMNHD-CE and client software that must installed on a device (computer) to enable access to shares sitting on the HMNHD-CE.

When you install and run the client software, it creates a virtual Ethernet adapter on your computer, and assigns an IP address to that adapter. The client software automatically logs into a VPN gateway that is part of the HMNHD-CE and uses IP addresses in the 5.10.0.0 network.

Updated: 30 March 2011

Iomega's servers (actually TZO's) provide dyanmic IP address mapping so that the client and HMNHD-CE can find each other. Iomega provides dynamic DNS service for the Personal Cloud features. TZO provides dynamic DNS for the standard remote access feature. But since there is no web portal involved, you must open a router port (50500) so that connections coming into your HMNHD-CE sitting behind your router's firewall can be made.

Setup

I was disappointed in the setup experience on the HMNHD-CE. The quick start guide makes it appear to be a simple process. But the setup lacks a wizard to help you configure remote access enable security and actually set up the "cloud" features.

Each of these functions is not difficult. But a wizard to guide you through all the steps would reduce the learning curve. In particular, connecting to your personal cloud's storage requires the installation of the client software. This wasn't explained very well in the printed Quick Start guide and caused some initial head-scratching.

When you insert the CD, the Iomega Installer starts. Your only choice, other than User Manual, is Automatic installation. I was surprised to see that the installation program wasn’t signed by a publisher, and both Windows 7, (Figure 2) and my anti-virus warned me about the dangers of installing unsigned software. Similarly, I received warnings that the software hadn’t passed Windows Logo testing.

Windows 7 warning about installing unsigned software

Figure 2: Windows 7 warning about installing unsigned software

When the software finished installing, I got a message that said “Installation complete”, but the Iomega Storage Manager then didn’t start automatically.

If all you arere looking for is shared storage, you don't really have to run the setup program. By default, all security on the HMNHD-CE is disabled, and all users have access to all six default shares shown in Figure 3. The default name for the device is HMNHD-XXXXXX where XXXXXX is a random set of numbers and letters. Of course, you can give the HMD a more user-friendly name when you log into the browser-based administration.

Default shares for the HMNHD-CE

Figure 3: Default shares for the HMNHD-CE
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