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Failure Recovery

I did a quick pull-the-drive failure test, which actually was pretty smooth. I started a large folder copy and then pulled one of the drives. After about 30 seconds, the System Status indicator started blinking red and the System Status and Disk Management pages both showed an "Online Degraded" status. I checked my Yahoo mail account and found an alert message that was a copy of the log entry, i.e. 0100 : 05/08/2008 11:53:39 : A drive was removed or has failed, please check the unit.

I then reinserted the drive and once again checked the System Status and Disk Management pages. The System Status page continued to show "Online Degraded" but the Disk Management page showed "Online (Rebuilding 0% complete, 656 minutes remaining)". (The actual rebuild of the 3 TB RAID array actually took about 3 hours.) I once again checked my mail and found separate messages that were copies of the additional log entries:

0103 : 05/08/2008 11:55:32 : A new drive has been inserted.
0201 : 05/08/2008 11:55:33 : RAID rebuild in progress; please do not shut down.
0201 : 05/08/2008 11:55:35 : RAID rebuild in progress; please do not shut down.

I don't know why two "rebuild" messages were sent. Throughout the test, the filecopy continued without a hitch.

Closing Thoughts

I have to hand it to Iomega for trying to give its SMB NAS customers an alternative to Windows Server as a NAS OS. The 1 TB 200r model without print server (33636) lists for $200 more than the 1TB 200rl that includes print serving for two printers. And if you choose the 200r that supports print serving for 5 USB printers (33820), the list price gap increases to $800.

For performance, the 200rl replaces the now-retired StorCenter Pro 150d at the top of our NAS Charts. This is very good news, especially if Iomega hopes to earn a spot in enterprise data centers for the 200rl, since performance is a primary consideration for business-focused NASes.

Unfortunately, the 200rl is a firmware release (or two) from being a product that I would feel comfortable recommending for business use. While it passed the pull-a-drive test more smoothly than many other RAID NASes we have tested, I wouldn't call its overall performance rock solid.

Maybe it was just a series of annoyances from the documentation, to the touchy power switch to the buggy drive backup to the undocumented single FTP share limitation. Or the fact that you'll have to remember to not keep any USB drives attached or risk a hung boot. Or the lack of an option to reboot on failure or securely administer it via HTTP.

But the overall impression is that this one needs a little more time in the development oven if you're looking for a robust, full-featured NAS worthy of a place in your business' server room.

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