Iomega UltraMax Plus

The UltraMax Plus is Iomega’s latest RAID hard drive, the second generation to the one I bought a couple of years ago that today continues to work hard.

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Using the trademark dotted-grille design and smooth aluminium shell, the new UltraMax Plus retains its sophisticated and quality look. Iomega have become somewhat famous for this and in many ways reflects the range of Mac hardware that it complements. The look is simple and clean with few lines or curves to distract from the rectangular box shape. At the front there are two LED lights, one which stays solidly lit when powered and the other flashing when there is hard drive activity.

You’ll notice that the front doesn’t have a power button. This has been moved to the back and comes in the form of a switch. Whilst this gives the front a much cleaner look, it also means that it’s a clumsy design when it comes to switching it off as you have to reach around the back of the unit and find the switch. I guess some people will happily leave their drives switched on, but in my conscious effort to reduce my carbon footprint, I usually switch devices like hard drives off when not in use. This not only prolongs the life of the drives inside, it also minimises background noise when I’m working.

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The spec sheet for this drive reads like a whose who list of connectivity options. Aside from networking, all of the current generation of ports are included: 3 x USB 2.0, 1 x FireWire 400, 2 x FireWire 800 and 1 x eSATA. This makes the UltraMax Plus capable of achieving some impressive transfer speeds providing you have the relevant hardware like a FireWire 800 port or eSATA connection.

The UltraMax Plus starts at 1TB and finishes at 2TB, enough storage for Time Machine backups which I recently discovered, has a tendency to very quickly eat up your storage. These two capacities are made up of two SATA II hard drives of split-equal sizes in a RAID configuration. These can be set to RAID 0 or 1, JBOD or Non-RAID according to your preference with the default at RAID 0 for mass storage.

Straight out of the box, the UltraMax Plus is formatted in HFS+ format ready for large and fast file storage for Mac OS X. Windows users who want to use this drive can reformat the drive to FAT32 or NTFS.

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I benchmarked the UltraMax Plus against my original 640GB UltraMax with both on FireWire 400, a Western Digital Studio 500GB drive on FireWire 400 and the portable Helium using USB 2.0.

The test results show the transfer times in the direction of computer to external drive.

527 items 3.37GB (minutes)
Western Digital 1.17.73
UltraMax Plus: 1.46.31
UltraMax original: 2.16.82
Helium 2.18.51

1.09GB single file (seconds)
Western Digital 24.63
UltraMax Plus: 27.29
UltraMax original: 41.59
Helum: 38.92

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The UltraMax Plus easily beat out the original in both tests with significantly better transfer speeds. With eSATA, the speed gap may have been larger but since very few computers ship with this port, we’ll have to wait and see.

If you’re in need of a speedy storage solution, the UltraMax Plus RAID system could be the answer you’ve been looking for. It does come at a hefty cost with best prices starting around the £190 mark. However, Iomega has included all the essential and useful bells and whistles that other drives in lower price brackets don’t include such as the full range of connectivity including the super speedy eSATA which will be handy down the road. It’s also one of the few drives that ship pre-configured for RAID storage access and handily includes a USB hub at the back.

2009-03-12 Onwah Tsang

1 comment - why not add yours

  • Nik Handson says:

    This drive was fine when running on my white MacBook while connected via FireWire 400, however I couldn’t connect via USB as for one, the chassis has the flat end port when every other chassis I’ve encountered has the square end… and then even when I did get hold of a double flat ended USB cable my MacBook wouldn’t see the drive.

    I tried formatting the drive to various file systems, including exFAT so it could be seen on my PC running Windows XP as Windows doesn’t like FireWire… I’ve got an eSATA port on my PC’s motherboard and tried connecting it various ways, but my PC could never see the drive.

    I contacted Iomega and got a replacement, but same results. In the end I took the hard drives out of the iomega chassis and stuck them in a USB 2.0 chassis I brought from eBay for £10 and now the drives works perfectly using the exFAT file system on both my Mac and PC, which is great as I’ve moved on to the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display which has no FireWire port.

    Yes this iomega drive looks pretty, but for me it’s been no good for what I want it for. I’ll be sticking to WD drives from now on!

    Posted on 14th November 2012

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