Iomega UltraMax Plus review

  • Price When Reviewed: 185 . 260

  • Pros: Excellent value; can be used as media or backup drive.

  • Cons: Slower than G-RAID 3; poor Mac software.

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This drive is reviewed as part of our group test of desktop storage devices.

Like the G-RAID 3 , the UltraMax Plus is a two-drive unit with a design that mimics the Mac Pro and offers the widest range of connections: from fast eSATA to the ubiquitous USB 2.0. Iomega’s device offers more flexibility than G-Technology’s at a lower cost.

It has its downsides, though. While the G-RAID 3 is designed to work as a striped media drive for video and animation post-production work, the UltraMax Plus can be set up in a variety of ways. You can choose to have it striped (RAID 0), mirrored (RAID 1), joined (JBOD) or unjoined configurations. These can be altered by changing dipswitches – it’s great to have the flexibility to use the drive for another purpose if you replace it with a larger or different model in the future.

Due to some poor colour-coding in the (black-and-white) manual, you have to set these to the opposite of how they appear in the manual, which is asking for trouble.

£185 is a great price for a quad-interface 1TB drive, and at £260, the 2TB version is much less expensive than the £415 2TB G-RAID 3. There’s no 3TB version of the UltraMax Plus yet.

Where the UltraMax Plus loses out to the G-RAID 3 is in our performance tests. The drives were neck-and-neck over FireWire (both standard and the 800 version) and USB 2.0 – as they were with most of the rest of the pack – but over eSATA, Iomega’s drive in a RAID 0 configuration couldn’t keep up with G-Technology’s.

The most demanding motion-media creatives won’t mind paying the 60 per cent premium for the G-RAID 3’s 8-9 per cent extra data throughput, but many will prefer the UltraMax Plus’ value.

In a mirrored configuration (RAID 1), the speeds of eSATA dropped to almost half that of the drive as RAID 0. However, it was still faster than any of the other connections – so if you’re looking to back up large projects fast or often, the UltraMax Plus is a great investment.

Both Mac and Windows users get the cut-down corporate backup tools Retrospect Express, which is painful to use. Windows users also get the effective Retrospect HD, which shares nothing with the corporate tool except the name, but there’s no Mac version.

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