QNAP has been a known brand of Network Attached Storage (NAS) for a while now, and they have a huge number of models available, ranging from consumer to office grade hardware.
The brand new QNAP TS-659 Pro+ is yet another example of a small, but fully featured NAS box, mostly designed for office use, but also useful at home - if you have the budget for it. And it's available in New Zealand now through Snappernet.
With six 2.5"/3.5" HDD bays, the QNAP TS-659 Pro+ can easily manage up to 12TB of internal storage - plus whatever you can plug to its two eSATA ports and five USB 2.0 ports.
This new model is powered by an Intel Atom 1.8GHz dual core CPU and comes with 1GB RAM.It's not a quiet box though and you will notice when it's running.
The QNAP TS-659 Pro+ comes with two 1 gigabit ethernet ports, which allow you to load balance traffic to the storage.
Showing its "professional" side, the QNAP TS-659 Pro+ can be used as a network storage in virtualised environments thanks to its iSCSI service - it's even certified VMware Ready and Citrix Ready. The documentation says it's also known to work on Microsoft Hyper-V environments, a claim I did not test myself. The unit even support IPv6 now, if your infrastructure is ready.
In my tests I copied over 100GB to the NAS, from a laptop equipped with a gigabit ethernet port, through an eight port gigabit switch. At peak I saw about 60 MB/s traffic, roughly equivalent to 480 Mbps.
The box comes with a huge variety of services, including some that you obviously expect to be used by consumer users, and some that are clearly a business application.
You can easily deploy static websites and serve those directly from the NAS, while also using built-in PHP and MySQL services to provide dynamic content - even SSL secured web pages. A new feature of the latest firware is to allow for multiple virtual hosts, which means serving different domains from the same box.
You can manually manage users and groups on the very easy to use browser-based user interface, or you can integrate it to a Microsoft Active Directory.
Don't think of file sharing and web serving as the only features in this box though. You can also plug a USB printer to it and share over the network with other people.
While I did most of my data movement through the old Windows Explorer, the system also provides a handy Web File Manager, allowing users with no experience in the Windows ways to upload, download and search files.
Of course you will find support for other protocols for data transfer and management: CIFS/SMB, AFP, NFX, FTP, Telnet, SSH, SNMP.
This box could be the dream of digital content consumers. It provides a handy "Download Station", which is actually a BitTorrent client. It provides a small amount of configuration options, just enough to manage download times, bandwidth usage and TCP ports. But it works well, and you obviously don't need your PC on all the time while the storage does the work.
Even consuming the vast amounts of digital media you can store in this box is easy - if you don't have a multimedia program, you can always use the "Multimedia Station" to playback audio, video and slideshows directly inside your browser.
Even if you store your DVDs in original ISO format, the QNAP TS-659 Pro+ will mount if for you as another share, so you can easily access content previously stored in optical discs.
For iTunes users the QNAP TS-659 Pro+ allows you to upload your library and start the service to share it in your network, so users with iTunes clients can have access to the content. And for those Apple users the QNAP TS-659 Pro+ supports Time Machine backups.
Operations are very fast and the whole experience is responsive. The administration menu is quite large, so you might take some time to get to know every option - or perhaps you don't even need to.
You can also operate the unit through a button in the front panel that scrolls through options on a two line LCD - very handy to show what's the IP address for the NAS in your network, if you haven't changed the configuration to use a static IP address.
The unit I had here for review came with four Seagate drives, for a total of 4TB storage in a RAID 5 configuration. You can obviously manage the disc configuration and change the RAID configuration
I removed the RAID 5 configuration to test it with a single disc volume, and the operation took less than a minute. Building a Single Disk Volume including the four HDD took about five minutes per 1TB drive.
While very impressed with this, I have to warn you, it is not a cheap exercise to move your digital storage to the next level. The QNAP TS-659 Pro+ will cost you $2,637 + GST. And this is not including the HDD.
Full feature NAS, ideal for sophisticated home users or medium offices, branches
Easy to use
Backup options galore
Price will put the QNAP TS-659 Pro+ in reach of people with discretionary income only.