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Iomega Home Media Network Hard Drive 500GB

A network drive serves two main purposes. One, it is a place to store your files – plain and simple. When you are maxed out on space on your PC, a network drive affords the extensive storage required for advanced computing work, media files and backups. The second main purpose:

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Price: £100
Tech Specs:

Capacity    500GB
Ethernet    Gigabit
Media Server    DLNA
Dimensions    198.88 x 124.97 x 39.88mm
Weight    1.11kg
Iomega

Pros:
A wealth of digital media features, including DLNA streaming support and Active Folders for automatic torrent downloading
Cons:

Not a high-end network storage device, only boasting average transfer speed. Not all the built-in features are Linux-friendly

A network drive serves two main purposes. One, it is a place to store your files – plain and simple. When you are maxed out on space on your PC, a network drive affords the extensive storage required for advanced computing work, media files and backups. The second main purpose: enhancing your digital life. More than just a network drive, the Iomega Home Media Network Hard Drive – which is about the size of a male hand and styled with an unassuming black enclosure – provides a wealth of powerful and unusual digital media features, many of which work quite well with Linux computers.

For example, the drive supports DLNA streaming, so for developers and advanced users testing media streaming to set-top boxes such as the Apple TV, or to videogame consoles such as the Xbox 360, the device automatically sends out a message on a network that the media files are available. Another perk is that you can set up what Iomega calls an Active Folder – when you load a torrent file into one of the folders, the drive automatically recognises the .torrent file extension and starts the download, without using any client software. It means you can load the drive with the small XVID torrent file for movie downloads and then ‘leave and forget’ as the full high-def file downloads to the drive, sans any intermediary PC. The Home Media Hard Drive supports remote access using the TZO service (a way to make a custom domain for yourself), but you will need a static IP address or the know-how to configure your router to support a static DHCP address (most do not by default).

Not all of the features on the Iomega drive are Linux-friendly. The drive comes with EMC Retrospect, a Windows back-up utility. You can use MozyPro, however, which is an online back-up service for off-loading files from the drive to the web. The installer that comes with the drive only supports Windows and Mac, but no matter: the utility is of questionable value anyway, since you can perform most config functions by typing the IP address of the drive into your browser. Performance was just acceptable for the Home Media Hard Drive, not exceptional. A 1GB collection of photos, and a 2GB collection of videos, transferred in about six minutes, or twice as long as the same files took on a custom Ubuntu server with internal (and very fast) SATA hard drives. The Home Media Hard Drive is not intended as a high-end networking storage device but the extra features are welcome – and the price is perfect.

Verdict: 3/5
The performance is nothing to write home about, but the drive does the job well enough for the money. Not all the features are Linux-friendly, but it does offer some nice bonuses such as the direct/automatic torrent downloading and the DLNA streaming support.
John Brandon

This article originally appeared in issue 81 of Linux User & Developer magazine. Back issues are still available.

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