Why virtualise your NAS environment?
Qnap TS-469Pro NAS device
Qnap's TS-469Pro is a 4-bay NAS with a ton of features that would suit business users and enthusiasts
- Well built
- Lots of features
- Clean and logical interface
- High price
Well built, and featuring a clean and user-friendly interface, the Qnap TS-469Pro NAS device is a great choice for small business users and enthusiasts. It can be used as a storage point for large files, to backup computers on your network, as a server and as a personal cloud device. We love it.
Price$ 899.00 (AUD)
The Qnap TS-469Pro is a four-bay network attached storage (NAS) device that's geared towards those of you who want an advanced and versatile network storage solution. It can be set up to house backups and large files on a local network, yet it can also be used as a personal cloud unit that allows you to access your data remotely over the Internet. It's designed primarily for small-to-medium business users, but there are many features that also make it appealing for enthusiasts.
While the price of the TS-469Pro is steep ($899 without hard drives), it's a unit that is well built out of metal and which features the specifications of a basic computer system: it runs a 2.13GHz, dual-core Intel Atom CPU and 1GB of RAM. Its Web interface is comprehensive and it allows you to do more than just configure the storage and store your data. There is a Surveillance Station so that you can run a supported IP camera through the NAS' interface; there is a BitTorrent manager so that you can download files directly to the NAS itself; you get the ability to set up the NAS for remote access without even having to know anything about networking; you can stream music files from the NAS to your phone using the QMobile app. And there are lots more advanced features, too.
Primarily though, the TS-469Pro is a device that is perfect for storing large amounts of data and keeping it safe. It comes with four 3.5in drive bays, which are accessible through the front, and which are also lockable with the supplied key. The drive bays can also take 2.5in notebook hard drives without additional hardware — the holes are pre-drilled in the trays to allow for the smaller drives to be attached. The trays themselves are made of metal and feel very sturdy. They slide in easily and stay in place securely. Indicator lights let you know which bays are active and there is a label on the top of the unit, too, so that you know the number of each bay. The highest capacity that can be installed is 16TB via four 4TB disks.
Setup and performance
After you've installed your chosen drives in the TS-469Pro, connected it to your network via Ethernet and powered it on, you'll need to log in to its Web administration page. To do this, you can use the supplied (and also downloadable) Finder program, which will detect the device on your network and let you easily log in to it without you having to hunt for the IP address manually. The Web interface is clean and laid out in a logical manner with all the different sections shown in a tree structure on the left.
From the Disk Management section, you can set up your hard drives in one of four redundant arrays: RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 6 and RAID 10, and encryption is supported, too. You could also use RAID 0 (striping without redundancy) or JBOD (just a bunch of disks, which simply combines the capacities of different disks into one virtual volume) if you don't care about redundancy. Once the storage is configured, you can set up users and user permissions, user groups, user folders and data quotas for those users. Folders can be accessed through the network on your computer, and drives can be mapped through your operating system for quicker access.
We tested the TS-469Pro using Gigabit Ethernet through a Linksys X3000 modem/router and we installed three 1TB Seagate Constellation ES hard drives in a RAID 5 array. We transferred data from a PC equipped with a 10000rpm WD Raptor hard drive and which was also connected to the router via Gigabit. The NAS was able to write large files (think video files) at a rate of 70.73 megabytes per second (MBps) and small files (think MP3s and photos) at a rate of 50.46MBps. It read large files at a rate of 92MBps and small files at a rate of 68MBps. With RAID 5, high performance is not the aim as much as redundancy, but the results we obtained are still very good, with the write speeds being faster due to caching. As for power consumption, our test unit with three drives installed consumed about 47W when it was reading and writing data.
Backup and other apps
While you can use the Qnap TS-469Pro as a backup location for your Windows or Mac computers (it supports Time Machine), you can also backup the data on the NAS to drives that are attached to its eSATA or USB ports — there are two USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports and two eSATA ports. For more advanced backups if you're a business user, cloud backup to services such as Amazon S3 and remote replication are supported. One other neat little backup feature is the copy button on the front of the NAS, which allows you to easily backup data from thumbdrives and portable hard drives at the touch of a button.
The drive bays in the TS-469Pro are hot-swappable, which means you can remove and replace drives while the NAS is still powered on in case you ever experience a failure. The TS-469Pro will re-synch the RAID array once you replace a faulty disk (as long as you have used a redundant array and not RAID 0). This can take a very long time (the best part of an entire day or more) depending on your configuration, but you can still use the NAS while it does this.
The front panel has a two-line LCD and a couple of buttons. It displays status messages and can let you access the device's main menu. On the rear there are video out ports (VGA and HDMI) to which you can attach a monitor and view the NAS' BIOS. (You can attach a USB keyboard to make changes to the BIOS if you need to.)
To set up remote access to the TS-469Pro, you can enable the MyCloudNAS service from the Web interface. Through this service, you can create your own personal URL on either the mycloudnas.com, myqnapnas.com or qcloudnas.com domains, which will then allow you to access all the features of your Qnap remotely, including the administration interface and all the main apps. All files on the NAS can be accessed through the Web File Manager, but if you specifically want to access music, video or photo files, you can log in to the Multimedia Station and Photo Station apps. Conveniently, you can also share files with friends easily by right-clicking on them and copying the generated link; you can even add security to these links (using https, password protection and an expiry period).
BitTorrents can be downloaded directly onto the Qnap's storage through the Download Station app. To do this, you have to first download the torrent tracking file to your computer and then open it through Download Station. The download will then start and the finished file will end up in the qDownloads folder.
Surveillance can be enabled via an app, and this allows supported IP cameras on your network to record directly to the Qnap. You can set the resolution and frame rate within the Qnap interface, as well as things such as alerts, alarms and types of recordings (manual, motion triggered, and also how long to keep recordings). We tried it with a D-Link DSC-920 camera, which the NAS supported, and the Surveillance app was able to connect to it. You must use Internet Explorer 7 or better (and only the 32-bit version) in order to access the Surveillance app though, which is inconvenient.
Overall, the Qnap TS-469 Pro is more than a place to store your multimedia files, and it's more than a backup device. It can be used to share data over the Internet; it can be used to run services such as a Web server (for multiple sites), a Radius server (to authenticate Wi-Fi users through the NAS), a VPN server, and it even has built-in virus scanning (via ClamAV). It's an advanced bit of kit (it even supports trunking through its two Gigabit ports) and it will primarily suit enthusiasts and business users; if you're just after basic network storage for a small household and don't care about fancy features then this product will be overkill for you (and also too expensive). If you want something with a great amount of features, good ease of use and fast performance for a busy household or a small office, then the TS-469Pro should definitely be considered.
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