Iomega IX4 – Non Cloud to Cloud Upgrades are not a good idea

6th March 2012 2 By Simon

Questions have been asked whether this was possible and for a short period of time Iomega even published instructions on their site on how to do it (but quickly pulled them, more on that later).

The differences between the non – cloud and cloud edition Iomega IX4’s seem pretty non-existent (I actually couldn’t find any difference apart from the version of EMC LifeLine running between the two devices), so in theory it should have been possible to upgrade the older IX4 to the newer version of the OS.

When Iomega released the new version of the IX4 software to fix the issues with the OSX Time Machine not running correctly if you had updated to Lion I decided to have a look at the feasibility of upgrading to the cloud edition on one of my test devices.

Following instructions found over at the NAS-Central forums I modified the following script to run on a Linux machine to create the required USB key.

ifw=/media/sdc1/x4-200d-ix4-200d- # the original firmware
usb=/media/sdc1 # your fat32 formated usb thumb drive

mkdir -p $ix4/images
mkdir -p $ix4/update
mkdir -p $ix4/apps

openssl enc -d -aes-128-cbc -in $ifw -k “EMCNTGSOHO” -out $ofw
tar xzvf $ofw -C $ix4/update/

imgs=$(find $ix4/update/)
for img in ${imgs} ; do
if [ -f $img.md5 ] ; then
mv $img $ix4/images/
mv $img.md5 $ix4/images/

mount -o loop,ro $ix4/images/apps $ix4/apps
cp -p $ix4/apps/usr/local/cfg/config.gz $ix4/images/
umount $ix4/apps
gunzip $ix4/images/config.gz

md5=$(md5sum $img)
md5=${md5% *}
md5=${md5% }
echo “$md5” > $img.md5

cd $ix4/images/
tar czvf ../ix4-boot.tgz *

mkdir -p $usb/emctools/ix4-200d_images/
cp $ix4/ix4-boot.tgz $usb/emctools/ix4-200d_images/

Where I made changes to the script was I used the latest OS file for the Cloud edition over at the Iomega website and it took a little tweaking in my Linux environment to ensure that all mount points matched up correctly but the script ran and created my USB boot key.

Rather than using a device with any needed data on it I used the original drives (500gb) and ran through the reset process to image up the device.

All appeared to go well and the device rebooted during the process, unfortunately that’s where the good news ended and the really bad news started.

I now had a brick, not only that but I had a brick that I couldn’t for the life of me return to life, none of my previous fixes worked (I tried using known good working disks from another device, I re-imaged the drives from using my Acronis image and none of them fixed the issues). I then did a bit more digging around and discovered that I wasn’t the only one to have experienced this issue.

As I mentioned above for a short time Iomega had published instructions on their site to let people upgrade their older IX4’s to the newer Cloud release of software, unfortunately they had to retract that site and also ask various bloggers who referred to it to also remove the instructions because it turned out that there is a serious risk to the older devices, in their lab environments Iomega discovered that 75% of devices that they attempted to upgrade ended up bricked and un-recoverable, a far too higher cost in every ones opinion.

One thing that bothers me is that it now appears that all previous beliefs on how the IX4 implements the OS is actually wrong, yes the OS is stripped across the disks, unfortunately however that doesn’t appear to be all of the boot strap process as there is something else somewhere that stops the device from booting, it doesn’t matter whether you try and use the original disks that were in the device when the firmware patching fails or try known good disks from another device, once the IX4 is toast, it’s toast. I mentioned this little issue to a hardware designer friend of mine who expressed shock that there wasn’t a method to recover the device should something like this happen (I tried the old remove the battery trick as well, just in case but alas that didn’t work either) and that all designers should be allowing some form of recovery process in their hardware design.

Final word on this is, if you have a working older edition IX4 leave it running the latest firmware that’s available for it, don’t run the risk of bricking the device on the chance that you can upgrade it to the Cloud edition because unless you’re one of the lucky ones you’re more than likely going to brick the device to the point where it’s simply a door stop… oh and the bad news? it’s not covered under warranty by Iomega so you really are left with a dead device.