Review : Iomega 1TB Helium portable hard drive

Iomega redesigns Helium drive with smaller case and 1TB disk

MacNN Rating:


Product Manufacturer: Iomega

Price: $150

The Good

  • Small
  • 1TB capacity
  • Formatted to HFS+ for Macs
  • Attractive aluminum housing

The Bad

  • No FireWire port
  • No Thunderbolt port
Iomega has continued to improve its line of portable hard drives, releasing new models that offer increased capacities in smaller housings. The latest Helium drive continues the company's tradition, packing a 1TB disk into a small aluminum enclosure. In our full review, we take a closer look at the new storage option geared for Macs.


The latest Helium drive diverges from the design of its predecessor, trading the contoured top and bottom panels for a more blockish build. We like the chance, which appears to be slightly more compact and aesthetically complementary to the latest MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs.

The housing is built from aluminum with a matte finish, measuring just 4.75 x 3.04 x .61 inches and stamped with Iomega's logo. A single mini-USB port and a white status light can be found on one of the end panels.


The small design takes advantage of the latest 2.5-inch drives, finally capable of holding 1TB of data. The disc is also paired with AES 256-bit hardware encryption, providing an extra layer of data security. Users can install Iomega's Encryption Utility to configure the system, which can be set to work only with one particular computer.

Keeping to the focus on Mac machines, Iomega ships the Helium drives formatted to the Apple's HFS+ file system. Like most drives, however, Windows users or anyone who needs cross-platform compatibility can easily reformat the drive from Mac OS X or Windows.


Using Intech's QuickBench utility, we were able to achieve average sequential read speeds of 28.8MB/s, with sequential write speeds of 27.9MB/s. Moving to random reads slowed performance down to 9.9MB/s, with random write performance reaching 18.5MB/s. Maximum transfer speeds were achieved with 128KB or larger files, which landed on the disk at 38MB/s.

For a real-world test, we took the empty Helium drive and used it to run a Time Machine backup for a MacBook pro filled with 300GB of data. We were able to finish the entier backup, which included a typical mix of software and media files, in approximately three hours and 36 minutes. This equates to a transfer time of approximately 24MB/s.


Purchasing the drive entitles users to download Iomega's Protection Suite, which includes Trend Micro Smart Surfing for Mac with a free one-year subscription, Iomega QuikProtect, and MozyHome online backup service with 2GB of free cloud storage. Most Mac owners probably won't find much need for the included software, considering the popularity of built-in Time Machine backup, however some buyers may find use for the software add-ons.

Final thoughts

We like the Helium's new design and, of course, the 1TB disk option. Users who need the fastest transfer speeds for video editing or other data-intensive tasks should look for a Thunderbolt- or FireWire-equipped external drive. For the rest of the crowd that does not need anything faster than USB 2.0, however, the Helium is a great combination of affordability, compact size, light weight, and attractive looks.