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January 1, 2010

Movin’ on up to the QNAP TS-219P NAS

by @ 7:04 pm. Filed under Apple, Computers, Linux, Technology

QNAP-TS-219P.jpg

I finally decided to bite the bullet and bought a real NAS for use at home. I decided on the QNAP TS-219P for a number of reasons I'll discuss in the post. Also, I have plenty of screenshots showing the QNAP UI and a couple simple benchmarks comparing the performance to a USB disk attached to an Airport Extreme.

When it comes to a home server, I've usually gone the "cheap" route. That means building my own server from old PC parts, setting up my own OS, and maintaining it myself. I've had good luck with this and certainly learned a ton about FreeBSD, Linux, and other stuff doing this.

But, the problem is that those old PCs take up space, make noise, and eat electricity.

One day, I decided that I was tired of paying the electric bills and having that big mid-tower server sitting around in my way. After all, for a home "server" I just need network storage to dump files on for the most part. Sure, it's nice to have an SSH server or the occasional thing like that, but not critical compared to the storage component.

That's why I've been using a Guardian MAXimus hardware RAID 1 USB disk attached to my Apple Airport Extreme (AEX) router. The Guardian Max gave me the mirrored RAID I wanted for my network storage since the AEX doesn't do anything with RAID at all.

Since I had the router turned-on all the time, attaching a disk to it for network use seemed like a good solution. I could ditch that huge PC and just have the AEX "airdisk".

This worked fine for about a year, and then I got fed-up with the slow Time Machine backups and the fact that the AEX router spins the disks down after some ridiculously short period of time like five minutes. Every time I tried to access the disk, I had to wait for them to spin up and become available. Then, once they were up, the performance was, uhh, shall we say "lackluster" at about 3-5 MB/sec.

One day, I stumbled across the QNAP line of dedicated NAS (Network Attached Storage) appliances. These were exactly what I wanted. Small, very low power, handled RAID, and could even do stuff like run SSH servers, websites, and other stuff. And, the key thing: they were reasonably priced (note I said "reasonably" not "cheap").

So, after much research and basically finding only good reviews of the QNAP series, I opted for the $400 TS-219P. This toaster-sized box features two hot-swappable bays and an ARM processor. The OS is Linux under the hood, but the appealing thing after adminning my own boxes was NOT having to admin this one! It is basically a plug-and-chug storage appliance.

Today, after upgrading to the QNAP, my Time Machine syncs are super snappy, I can set the disk spin-down time, and my direct SMB transfers are in the neighborhood of 25-32 MB/sec. Much better! The QNAP works with my Mac, Windows and Linux machines for storage, plus it provides an SSH tunnel server for private surfing on the road. I can also use it to share files with family members using a web interface rather than FTP or something like that. I generally don't even log into the admin interface for weeks at a time -- because the QNAP just sits there, day in and day out, doing its thing exactly as I want it to. It gives me no hassles - I get enough of those from my day job!

Anyway, I wanted to provide some screenshots showing the UI as well as a couple simple benchmarks using Xbench.

First, here is the old benchmark using the Airport Extreme router with the disk attached. Note that the hardware RAID1 enclosure was not the limiting factor in any way:

AEX-disk-bench.jpg

Now, here is the new and improved benchmark using the QNAP on the same network/etc.:

QNAP-disk-bench.jpg

Much better, huh? :D

Here's a random screenshot I took to show how the QNAP appears in Winbloze since the rest of my screenshots are taken from OS X:

QNAP-in-windows.jpg

QNAP includes a program called the QFinder which locates the NAS when first run and allows you to configure it even if you don't know the IP address/etc.

QFinder1.jpg QFinder2.jpg QFinder3.jpg QFinder4.jpg QFinder5.jpg QFinder6.jpg QFinder7.jpg QFinder8.jpg QFinder9.jpg QFinder10.jpg QFinder11.jpg QFinder12.jpg QFinder13.jpg QFinder14.jpg QFinder15.jpg QFinder16.jpg

Next up, we see the pics of the actual QNAP administration UI. I went through every menu so that you can see what the various options are. I forgot the System Administration menu, so that's last. I was too excited setting-up my new toy and taking all the screenshots was getting tiresome. Note the nerd goodliness of iSCSI, remote syslog, etc.

qnapweb1.jpg qnapweb2.jpg qnapweb3.jpg qnapweb4.jpg qnapweb5.jpg qnapweb6.jpg qnapweb7.jpg qnapweb8.jpg qnapweb9.jpg qnapweb10.jpg qnapweb11.jpg qnapweb12.jpg qnapweb13.jpg qnapweb14.jpg qnapweb15.jpg qnapweb16.jpg qnapweb17.jpg qnapweb18.jpg qnapweb19.jpg qnapweb20.jpg qnapweb21.jpg qnapweb22.jpg qnapweb23.jpg qnapweb24.jpg qnapweb25.jpg qnapweb26.jpg qnapweb27.jpg qnapweb28.jpg qnapweb29.jpg qnapweb30.jpg qnapweb31.jpg qnapweb32.jpg qnapweb33.jpg qnapweb34.jpg qnapweb35.jpg qnapweb36.jpg qnapweb37.jpg qnapweb38.jpg qnapweb39.jpg qnapweb40.jpg qnapweb41.jpg qnapweb42.jpg qnapweb43.jpg qnapweb44.jpg qnapweb45.jpg qnapweb46.jpg qnapweb47.jpg qnapweb48.jpg qnapweb49.jpg qnapweb50.jpg qnapweb51.jpg qnapweb52.jpg qnapweb53.jpg qnapweb54.jpg qnapweb55.jpg qnapweb56.jpg qnapweb57.jpg qnapweb58.jpg qnapweb59.jpg

Well, I hope that all this work answers a question someone has or helps them decide whether a QNAP NAS is the right choice or not. If you buy one (or not), I'd appreciate your using the link to Amazon below as a means to say "thanks for all the screenshots"! :D

"TS 219P- NAS (Network Attached Storage) Superior Performance All-in-One Server with iSCSI for SOHO and Home Users" (Qnap Systems)

"TS 439 Pro- Turbo NAS (Network Attached Storage) - Superior performance server with iSCSI for Business" (QNAP Systems)

"TS 239 Pro -Turbo NAS (Network Attached Storage) Superior Performance All-in-One Server with iSCSI for Business" (QNAP Systems)

P.S. this is my first post written with Ecto. I had to do some stuff manually in WP that I couldn't figure-out in Ecto. Let me know if you have any trouble.

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2 Responses to “Movin’ on up to the QNAP TS-219P NAS”

  1. Bill Says:

    Great post about the qnap. I bought one. Thanks.

  2. Duncan Baillie Says:

    I just got one the other day for Time Machine. Nice piece of kit but so far no luck getting it to work, although it should be easy. Have sent a support email to QNAP. Basically an authentication issue as I get

    “The network backup volume could not be mounted
    because there was a problem with the network
    username or password.”

    despite having tried several attempts at different password on both ends. More details of my woes at http://www.p2vpro.com.

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