As with the QNAP TS-419P+ we reviewed, the N4200PRO allows you to expand your array by replacing smaller disks with larger disks. You will still have to wait for all your drives to be replaced with larger disks to recognize your expanded space. This means that if you start out with one 750GB drive, you can expand your data capacity seamlessly by adding three more drives. Let’s say that you wanted to then upgrade those four 750GB drives to four 2TB drives; simply replace them, one by one, and you have just upgraded your capacity even further. You will have to upgrade all drives before you realize the new capacity. All of this can be done without ever powering down the N4200PRo.
Even though Thecus claims you can perform an online RAID level migration, it is however somewhat limited. You will have the ability to convert the following RAID levels:
- RAID1 -> RAID5
- RAID1 -> RAID6
- RAID5 -> RAID5
- RAID6 -> RAID6
With the included iSCSI support, you can use the N4200PRo as an additional large drive in your server, use it as an iSCSI Target, or as an iSCSI Host. Again, with the iSCSI creation, you need to think about this upfront while you are setting up your storage array as you cannot change your data distribution later without destroying your RAID array. With the QNAP -TS419P+, you can create your array then allocate any free space to iSCSI without the hassles you face with the N4200PRO.
Creating Users and Shares
The Users and Group Authentication menu option contains all the things you need to create users on your NAS. It allows you to create users individually for ACL (access control lists) or groups for a more generic permissions structure. You can even configure the NAS for ADS (Active Directory Server)/NT support. For home users or small office users, the best feature of the user management interface is the ability to batch import users by means of a CSV file.
Submit files containing user names, passwords,
and group names separated by commas without any spaces,
each line represents one user.
Creating shares with the N4200PRO is not difficult either. All you have to do is click the “Add” button, name your share, provide a description, choose whether it is browseable, whether it is public, and if you want to enforce a Quota or not. You can set the permissions for each folder by user or by group after the share has been created by dragging either the user or the group to Deny, Read Only, or Writable.
Outside of all the exciting things the N4200PRO brings to the table, there is one feature that the NAS needs to handle well – serving up files. The N4200PRO can be setup a few different ways depending on your initial configuration with regards to things like Jumbo Frames, Network Teaming, and RAID Setup. Our configuration in the Lab is as follows:
- 4 x ST31500341AS 1.5TB SATA 3.0Gb/s HDDs in RAID 5
- Single Network Interface
- Gigabyte 880GA-UD3H
- AMD Phenom II X4 965
- 2x2GB Patriot Sector 5 PC3-12800
- Seagate 500GB ST3500630AS
- BitFenix Colossus
- BFG LS-450
- Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
In House Server:
- Gigabyte GA-EP45UD3LR
- Intel Core 2 Duo E7400
- 2x2GB Corsair XMS2 CM2X2048-6400C5
- Hitachi HDS721010KLA 1TB HDD SATA 3.0Gb/s (OS Drive)
- 5x Hitachi HDS72202ALA330 2TB SATA 3.0Gb/s (Hardware RAID 5)
- Lian Li PC 75B
- OCZ GameXStream 850W PSU
- Windows Server 2008 R2
- 2x 120mm Antec Fans
- 4x 80mm Panaflo Fans
- D-Link DGS-2208 Gigabit Switch
- Cat5e everywhere
- Jumbo Frames: 9014 Bytes (matches all systems on our network – including NAS)
For testing the transfer speed of the NAS we really didn’t do anything fancy. Our benchmark was transferring a 46.6GB Blu-Ray ISO (Avatar) from the N4200PRO to our workstation and back. We just initiated the file transfer and watched the networking tab in Windows Task Manager and the Bandwidth Usage Tab in the Resource Monitor for the NAS. We experienced around a 73.1 MB/s to the NAS and 70.93 MB/s from the NAS to the workstation. The N4200PRO outperformed the Drobo FS, QNAP TS-419P+, and our in house server in “transfer from” speeds and came in at second place for “copy to”.
For more on our Avatar Benchmark please see our Benchmarking application: COD Benchmarking Utility