So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
QNAP TS-109 Pro
- Has a fast gigabit Ethernet interface, supports drives up to 1TB, can be expanded via USB 2.0 and eSATA ports, has built in servers for Web and FTP functions
- Its multimedia Web interface didn't work during our tests
For small businesses who want a large network storage solution for sharing data amongst users or for storing backups, the TS-109 Pro is a fine choice. It's expandable via its eSATA and USB ports, it's fast, and it packs plenty of management, remote access and security features.
Price$ 499.00 (AUD)
QNAP's TS-109 Pro is a network attached storage (NAS) enclosure that can house one 3.5in Serial ATA hard drive. It doesn't come with a hard drive, so users can install the capacity of their choice, up to 1TB.
It's one of the most versatile NAS enclosures on the market, and it's not very big either. It packs Ethernet, USB and eSATA ports on its rear panel, and its front panel has another USB port, as well as coloured status lights, a power button and a copy button (for copying data off USB keys). The drive can be secured using a Kensington lock, and it can be placed on a desk either flat or vertically.
Installing a hard drive is fairly simple; the all-aluminium enclosure (which also acts a heat sink to keep the drive cool) slides open reveals a 3.5in hard drive mounting space with fixed Serial ATA power and data ports. A 3.5in drive can be slid into place and then secured with four screws. The enclosure is a little tricky to slide back on correctly; it was a little fiddly during our tests.
The TS-109 Pro comes with plenty of useful features that make it an attractive proposition for the small office that requires a file server, such as a gigabit Ethernet connection for fast network transfers (file transfers up to 18MBps were achieved during our tests). It also allows for bit torrent files to be downloaded directly onto its hard drive, rather than to a host PC, and has a built in iTunes server, for streaming music across a network. The latter features will definitely appeal to enthusiast PC users.
Up to three extra hard drives can be connected to its two USB and one eSATA ports at the rear of the unit. These ports allow non-network-capable external drives to be accessible over the network and they can be used to increase the capacity of TS-109 Pro. A RAID 1 function (called Q-RAID) also allows attached hard drives to keep a mirror image of the TS-109's drive. The supplied NetBak Replicator software can be used to back up PCs to the TS-109 in real-time, or via a schedule.
Furthermore, one of the USB ports can be used to connect a printer. Another USB port on the front of the TS-109 Pro allows for USB keys (or hard drives) to be plugged in and copied at the touch of a button. All these drives can be accessed via the TS-109's Web interface, either locally, or remotely.
For remote access to data, the TS-109 Pro has a built in FTP server, a Web server and a multimedia interface that allows photos to be uploaded and viewed via a Web page. We couldn't get the latter feature to work; our photos simply did not show up. The configuration interface of the TS-109 Pro allows for users and user groups to be created and it allows for disk usage quotas to be set, too. Each user can have their own private folder on the FTP server and user rights can be restricted, allowing users read access or full access to the folders on the unit. Playing around with the user settings and rights may be a little tricky for inexperienced users, but the general hardware installation and network setup of the TS-109 Pro doesn't require an expert. The supplied documentation does a very good job of outlining the steps required to get up and running.
Once the TS-109 Pro is installed and connected to the network, its hard drive will show up as a mapped drive in Windows Explorer and its shared folders, the ones that allow for access to the attached eSATA and USB drives, the bit torrent folder and the multimedia folder (for storing photos), will appear separately as shared drives in My Network Places (that is, they won't show up in the mapped network drive itself).
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