QNAP TS-419P+ Turbo NAS Review
The days of using thumb drives and floppy disks to store your valuable data are gone. Today the options are many and for those of us looking for an easy to use storage solution, QNAP thinks they have the answer. The idea of a home server is nothing new and Microsoft has been trying to attack this market with their Windows Home Server operating system. What users may not know about is that companies that have been producing NAS systems for business recognized your needs and are starting to release products that fit very well in the home office or small office. These systems are small, use very little power, pack a ton of features, and are easy to use.
For storage, the TS-419P+ utilizes various file systems such as NTFS, EXT3 and EXT4, and the web interface makes the RAID configuration a snap. The supported RAID configurations are RAID 0/1/5/6/5 + spare / 1 + 0 / single / and JBOD. If you are new to RAID, the help files integrated in the QNAP administration are very useful and informative; they thoroughly describe the definitions and benefits / drawbacks of each configuration option within the administration interface. For the user that can’t completely come out of pocket to fill this NAS with drives right off the bat, you can start with just a couple of drives and expand as you go. QNAP calls this feature Online RAID Capacity Expansion.
With traditional RAID configurations, your options are limited once you have everything set up. With the TS-419P+ you can replace your current hard drives with larger ones later on and the data will seamlessly be replicated while the device is still powered on. For the small office or home user that runs out of space quickly, if you set this unit up with four 750GB drives in RAID 5 you can replace each drive with larger 2TB drives without losing data, or turning the NAS off. The thing to note here is that you must have the free space available on the NAS to “remove” a drive before you can upgrade it. You also will not realize the full capacity of the newer larger drives until ALL the drives are replaced with your newer larger HDDs. With the Online RAID Level Migration you can also migrate from a RAID 1 setup to a RAID 5,6… setup on the fly without losing any data or powering down.
For the small office, the TS-419P+ has built in iSCSI support so you can quickly add the NAS as a “drive” on your current Windows Server or other storage device. The process of configuring the iSCSI is easy enough with the “Quick Configuration Wizard” and allows you to expand your server’s capacity quickly. In testing, the configuration took less than 5 minutes and was quickly identified by Windows 2008 R2 to expand my 24TB server to 30TB.
Hardware installation is easy enough for pretty much anyone to handle; the TS-419P+ features 4 removable drive trays that make for quick hard drive installation and access. Each tray can either accommodate a 3.5 inch hard drive or the smaller 2.5 inch notebook style hard drives and all the mounting hardware is included.
The power adapter seems like somewhat of a lemon to me as there is no internal power supply. Personally, I can see the intention here as a user now doesn’t need to take things apart if the power supply should fail (which happened during our review), but I think one less brick under my desk is a good thing. Luckily, the power adapter can’t just be pulled out, since it is spring loaded it offers some resistance to accidental power source removal.
QNAP makes finding your NAS easy by providing you with a software application called QNAP Finder. This application scans your network for any QNAP NAS and allows you to connect or quick configure the NAS. It also provides you with some information about your NAS such as the hostname, the IP address, the software version, the type of QNAP NAS you have (in case you have mulitple) and whether or not the firmware is up to date. Clicking connect brings you to the web administration page, and clicking configure will bring you to a quick and dirty setup where you can set up a new password and configure things like networking and RAID. Clicking details gives you some useful information such as what types of drives are installed along with MAC addresses and much more.
The Web Administration is broken down into 9 different parts, each of them containing sub menus. For the most part, things are laid out in a logical order; however, there are some oversights worth mentioning. First, the overview page that greets you doesn’t seem to have any relevant information on it other than QNAP’s latest news. There are some quick links to create users and configure a share, but things like disk usage, logs, and power functions really should find a home here. Thankfully, QNAP included a Keyword search function here to make what you are looking for easier to find, and I actually had to use it to find shutdown and restart functions.