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Iomega StorCenter Pro NAS 450r

The asking price initially looks high but the 450r is endowed with a good hardware specification that delivers in the performance stakes. You won't find a better data protection and disaster recovery solution either at this price as Iomega includes some quality bundled backup software.


Iomega has been a long term player in the SMB storage business and over time has built up an impressive portfolio of products. The latest to join this extended family is the StorCenter Pro NAS 450r which now represents the very pinnacle of Iomega€s rack mount NAS appliances and aims to offer small businesses affordable data protection facilities.

It terms of storage capacity the 450r isn't offering a spectacular deal as the model on review only has a raw 1TB which most desktop NAS boxes costing less than a grand can beat easily. However, the general hardware specification is well above average as the appliance sports a decent processor and a good helping of fast 667MHz DDR2 memory. There are spare DIMM slots on the motherboard but don't think about upgrading as opening the lid will invalidate the warranty. Backup to external devices such as tape drives is supported as the appliance has an embedded Ultra320 SCSI controller and offers a port at the rear.

The quartet of 250GB Hitachi DeskStar drives are fitted in sturdy hot-swap carriers and looked after by a PCI-e RAID controller preconfigured as a triple drive RAID-5 array with hot-standby. As the 450r is aimed at office environments noise levels need to be low and we can report that once the fans had settled down after power up the appliance was quite unobtrusive and not much louder than a well specified PC standing next to it.

Iomega really scores over the majority as its business appliances all run Microsoft's Windows Storage Server 2003 R2 (WSS2003) which delivers a far superior feature set than most of the Linux club. Two roads are available for installation and management as you can stick a mouse, monitor and keyboard on the 450r and access it locally but it is designed to be headless and ideally should be managed remotely over RDP. Installation is a simple enough affair as on first contact you get a quick setup wizard which leads you through adding basic network settings, configuring email alerts and securing administrative access.

User and groups are created in the normal Windows Server 2003 fashion as are volume shadow copies. The majority of storage configuration tasks can be carried out from the Storage Server Management (SSM) snap-in which organises the various features under a single tree in the left pane. The centre section provides access to more wizards and help files whilst the right pane is used to display actions and customise the whole interface. Shares can be created speedily as a wizard runs through choosing a folder, providing a share name and determining access restrictions. Setting up file and volume quotas is just as easy using predefined templates which allow you to decide whether they should be hard or soft. The former will block users from accessing more space if they have exceeded their quota whilst the latter merely reports the breach. Utilisation thresholds can also be added to quotas allowing the appliance to warn users if they are getting close to their limits. Iomega includes the file screening option which allows you to decide which files are allowed on the appliance. You also get the storage report tools included which provide details on areas such as duplicate files, quota usage and file ownership.

Even iSCSI is on the features list as Iomega includes a copy of Nimbus€ MySAN on the appliance which can be installed straight from the management interface. You're not gaining any extra value here as this is the free version although you do have to license it by registering your details at Nimbus' web site. Note that the appliance's preconfigured partitions don't take MySAN in account and to use it we had to delete the data volume, create a smaller one, reinstate our shares and then use the remaining space for some iSCSI action.

The 450r scored exceedingly well in our performance tests with the Iometer utility reporting average raw read rates of 85MB/sec with a share mapped to a Boston Supermicro dual 3GHz Xeon 5160 running Windows Server 2003 R2. CIFS performance with large single files is good as well with test copies of a 690MB file returning read and write speeds of 54MB/sec and 43MB/sec. FTP speeds are even better with the FileZilla client utility reporting impressive read and write averages of 83MB/sec and 50MB/sec. Speed isn't so good when dealing with multiple files as copying a 2GB test directory with 5,000 small files saw speed drop to 28MB/sec and 22MB/ sec for read and write operations. iSCSI performance is reasonable for a NAS appliance with Iometer reporting a modest 41MB/sec read speed over Gigabit Ethernet.

Iomega's software bundle is particularly generous and focuses heavily on backup and disaster recovery.

First up is EMC's Retrospect Express 7.5 which is provided to automate securing local workstation data to the appliance and comes with five client licenses included. You also get CA's ARCserve r11.5 which is licensed for a single server and can backup appliance data to a device attached to the external SCSI port such as a tape drive or library. Disaster recovery is high on the agenda as ARCserve comes with this option licensed and you also get an Iomega recovery DVD included. Using a USB DVD drive, you can boot the appliance with the disk, restore it back to its factory fresh status, reinstall ARCserve and restore all your user data from the latest backup media. Even virus scanning is included as the appliance comes with a preinstalled copy of CA's eTrust AntiVirus utility which provides real-time monitoring of all local drives and on-demand scanning.

To see the real value of the 450r you need to look beyond its modest capacity to the number of features on offer. Iomega's backup and disaster recovery bundle is very generous, the hardware specification is capable of delivering top performance and there's room to add external backup devices as well.


The asking price initially looks high but the 450r is endowed with a good hardware specification that delivers in the performance stakes. You won't find a better data protection and disaster recovery solution either at this price as Iomega includes some quality bundled backup software.

1U rack chassis 1.86GHz Intel Xeon 3040 processor 1GB of 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM memory HighPoint RocketRAID 2310 PCI-e 4X controller Supports RAID0, 1, 5, 10, JBODs and hot-swap 4 x 250GB Hitachi DeskStar SATA hard disks in hot-swap carriers LSI Ultra320 SCSI; dual Gigabit Ethernet Iomega Discovery, EMC Retrospect Express 7.5 and CA ARCserve Backup and Disaster Recovery r11.5 SP1 software bundled.

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