QNAP TS-209Pro Turbo Station
- Can be used in RAID 0 or 1 mode; hot-swappable drives in the event of a RAID 1 array failing; Web, FTP, printer and media server
- Its Web interface takes a little time to get used to
If you're looking for a fully-featured NAS device for the home or the office, this one can't be passed over. It's pricey, but you're paying for plenty of functionality that's ready to go once you install a couple of hard disks.
Price$ 539.00 (AUD)
Appliances for sharing data over a local area network don't get much more comprehensive than the QNAP TS-209Pro Turbo Station, which offers two easily accessible Serial ATA hard drive bays for storage, and one gigabit Ethernet port for connectivity. It's suitable for use at home or in a small office.
It's basically a hard drive enclosure with advanced firmware; it doesn't ship with any drives, you'll have to get your own, but once you do, you'll find the QNAP a snap to assemble. To get the drives in there, simply take off the faceplate, unscrew the drive bays, mount the hard drives using the supplied screws, slide them back into their bays and screw everything back in. Its network configuration isn't too hard either, but its Web interface does take some getting used to.
Even on a network that doesn't rely on a DHCP server to dish out IP addresses, the QNAP's Finder software will do just that: it'll find the TS-209Pro on the network and go through all the steps required to configure it. IP and Gateway information can be entered, and then the two hard drives can be configured as a single disk, RAID 0, RAID 1 or linear disk volume. We set up our 1TB Seagate Barracuda ES drives in a RAID 1 configuration, because 2TB is a heck of a lot of data to lose should one disk in a RAID 0 or single drive volume fail. The bonus is that the drives in a RAID 1 array are hot-swappable; if one fails, you can swap it out without even powering down the unit. When a drive fails, it'll beep a couple of times and the status light at the front of the QNAP will flash red, but it will continue to serve data until a new drive is inserted.
It will take about 25min to set-up the QNAP, at which point the main 'Public' drive can be mapped to your system, and it'll make a few unsettling beeps at key points during the initialisation process. Once it's up and running though, not only can it be used as a dumping ground for large files, and as a backup device, it can also act as a Web and FTP server. It can also be a media server, using TwonkyMedia, to distribute files to UPnP devices (such as the Netgear Digital Entertainer). Furthermore, it can serve multimedia files through its own Web interface (either locally or over the Internet), which can be time consuming as files have to be uploaded individually. Uploaded music files can be accessed through iTunes (the QNAP will show up as a shared device), and uploaded photos can be viewed via a thumbnail interface.
Another interesting feature of the QNAP is its built-in BitTorrent client. You need to save torrent files to your PC first, and then open them in the QNAP's client to start downloading them, but the advantage is that you can download media directly to your network storage device and you won't need to leave your PC on throughout the night.
Two USB ports at the rear of the QNAP allow external USB drives or a printer to be attached and shared, while a USB port can be used to instantly copy data from USB keys. Physically, the device is solidly built and doesn't make too much noise while it's operating. It's made out of metal and has an extraction fan, so drives are kept reasonably cool.
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