QNAP TS-409 Pro Turbo NAS
First I'd like to thank QNAP for supplying this sample.
The QNAP TS-409 pro Turbo NAS is the latest addition to the QNAP NAS lineup. It shows quite some resemblance to its little brother, the TS-209. Though where the TS-209 stops at two disks and mirroring, the TS-409 allows up to four disks and supports a myriad of advanced RAID features and hardware monitoring. In addition it features everything its little brothers does, countless file sharing services and supporting services to utilize these to the fullest.
With these improvements the TS-409 pro Turbo NAS draws very high expectations.
The list of features is quite impressive. It includes the most basic and perhaps mostly used servers as well as some very advanced functionality. The QNAP site gives us the following list:
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<td scope="row">4x3.5" SATA HD, up to 3 USB devices</td>
<td scope="row">3 Kg (without disks), ~4,75 Kg fully loaded</td>
<td scope="row">225 x 176 x 188 mm</td>
<td scope="row">Gigabit Ethernet</td>
<th scope="row">Power supply:</th>
<td scope="row">External 12V adapter</td>
<th scope="row">Power usage:</th>
<td scope="row">18.8W in sleep mode<br>44.6W in operation</td>
<th scope="row">Supported filesystems:</th>
<td scope="row">FAT, FAT32, EXT3, NTFS (read only)</td>
<th scope="row">Hardware specifications:</th>
<td scope="row">CPU: Marvell 5281 500MHz<br>RAM: 256 MB DDRII</td>
The TS-409 comes in a box just large enough for the device itself and the accessories. Nothing is overdone here. On the sides we find a picture of the unit and the long list of features in several languages.
When we open the box we find the TS-409 protected by some Styrofoam and a plastic bag. On the side is a box with the accessories.
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The box isn't full of pointless things. We only get what we actually require. A manual, a little bag with 16 screws (four for each hard drive), an installation CD, a power adapter with mickey mouse cable and a UTP cable to connect the device.
The unit looks quite stylish. It's a small tower of aluminum with a plastic front. The plastic has holes which look good while allowing the drives inside to be cooled. The front plastic as a whole is a door which opens up and allows easy access.
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Opened up you immediately see what's important: four harddisks. The harddisks are mounted in brackets identical to the TS-209s. The drives are simply screwed on the brackets and slide right into the TS-409 pro. It supports hotswapping therefore you can add or remove a drive at any time without rebooting the system.
All cabling goes in the back, these consist of a power cable, an Ethernet cable and optionally USB devices. Additionally there is a front USB port for easy access. This allows you to connect your USB stick or camera and copy anything on it to the TS-409 Pro. A single copy button on the front allows you to do this without turning your computer on.
Once the harddrives are in place, the unit has power, and the Ethernet cable is connected you can start the software installation.
The TS-409 pro comes with the same installer as previous models. First the unit is detected and configuration starts by double clicking it in the list of detected devices.
Configuring the device is very straight forward. The installer will ask a series of questions and you just keep clicking next, or change the settings if required. After a few simple questions of which only the harddrive configuration is really important (device name and such can be changed via the webinterface) the TS-409 Pro is ready for use.
Even if you manage to configure your harddrives wrong you can still change it, in some cases even with data on it! (via RAID migration or online expansion)
To stand apart from the competition QNAP offers plenty of options in the firmware on their devices.
Most services are aimed at sharing data one way of another. All basic ways are covered and some more exotic things like iTunes and picture galleries are present as well.
Access to data is done on a user level. Different users have different rights. Rights can be set to read only access, full and can be set on a per share basis. The whole family/company could use the TS-409 pro without being in each other's way this way. Of course public shares are supported as well.
All files are stored on predetermined shares. These can be freely added next to the default shares. The default shares contain shares for media, downloads, the webserver, a public folder and a folder to copy data from USB devices. Any USB device connected will automatically appear as a share as well.
Many Internet and LAN fileservers are FTP servers. The FTP server on the TS-409 Pro requires little configuration. Once users are set and have access to shares, the FTP server makes use of these users. From there on everyone with access to the device can access data.
Filesharing on home networks is most user friendly via Windows Filesharing. The TS-409 Pro has a built in Samba server to support these shares. Simply browse to the IP of your unit and you can access all your shares. Access control is done via the central user system. Besides enabling or disabling the service there is nothing to configure.
Both FTP and Samba share all directories on the device.
To host your own website the TS-409 pro support the three basics in webserving: Apache, PHP and MySQL. Considering it is all run on Linux it is basically a LAMP-server.
Unless you're running huge sites or require things like ASP the TS-409 Pro will suit your hosting requirements just fine. The webserver has its own default directory named Qweb.
With the huge amount of data that fits on the TS-409 pro it is likely that there are multimedia files to be found. For this reason there are several services to share your photos, videos and music.
There is a special web interface with a photo album. All photos put in the Qmultimedia folder are automatically shown here. By using directories you can organize this. As you can see I drew a nice picture and placed a TPU logo in the directory. Whenever there are new files thumbnails are generated. When you open a file you can read out all kinds of details.
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All music put in the Qmultimedia directory is automatically put in the iTunes library. When you boot up your iTunes player, the shared library is automatically detected. In addition basic playlists are also supported.
The QNAP TS-409 Pro Turbo NAS is connected directly to an Intel GilGal Gigabit NIC. The host is Windows 2003 standard server. Network settings have not been changed with the exception of enabling jumbo frames on both the host and the TS-409.
Due to performance being limited to below that of a single disk, tests have not been redone for each RAID level. Performance is close to the same and would only make things look complexer than they are.
As we can see in ATTO performance is not bad at all. It is a noticeable improvement over the TS-209 and when compared to the competition we have nothing to complain. It is clear however that maximum performance can only be obtained with large files. Transferring a large directory of MP3s for instance didn't get close to the 30MB/s shown by ATTO. Unfortunately writing is a lot slower than reading, however considering you're more often reading than writing this should not be a huge issue.
When compared to the previous models the TS-409 is really a lot faster. I suspect that when network settings are further tweaked some more could be gained (with all three devices). Either way, most users won't be network experts, so looking at out-of-the-box performance the QNAP TS-409 Pro Turbo NAS reigns over its predecessors. And since many people judge mostly by these performance numbers, there is an obvious reason to get a 409 over a 209 or 109.
Performance under load
With features like online migration, auto rebuilding arrays and the likes I can't help but wonder how much one would notice from a failing disk. From experience I know that high end adapters can still perform quite well when a disk fails. The QNAP TS409 doesn't have a dedicated processor for such tasks though.
Migrating or rebuilding an array can take several hours. Of course you won't be doing this often, if at all, so this isn't a big issue. Besides, high end controllers can take hours as well for these tasks. I did two simple and similar tests. First I installed a two disk RAID 1 array which I migrated to a four disk RAID 5 array. This took nearly 5 hours with little data on the disks. During the process the data was accessible, so a performance test was interesting. After this I "accidentally" removed a drive, again copying some data. Rebuilding again took several hours during which I copied some files again.
The result was near the same in all cases, performance drops to dramatic levels, streaming movies becomes impossible. However MP3 playback worked fine. I can only conclude that during large operations caused by failure or upgrades the unit will only be partially operational. Small files (MP3's, office documents, etc) will still be available, large data like movies or programs will have to wait.
In the specstable on the first page power consumption is mentioned. However this is the information given by QNAP. Using a simple watt meter in the power outlet I measured the actual power usage with four drives, both during load and while idle. To my surprise power consumption hardly fluctuated and remained just under 50W. The listed usage is therefore quite accurate.
Unfortunately the power outlet is located at an awkward placing and after taking many pictures I got annoyed with it and settled for the above picture :)
Value & Conclusion
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<td>I have been very positive about QNAPs previous products. Considering the TS409 Pro is near identical to the previous models I used I focused mainly on the changes in this review. Everything I liked before is still there and still works perfectly. The added value comes from the extra disks and RAID levels supported. And when I say RAID I'm not talking about a simple onboard controller, the QNAP TS-409 Pro surprised me with RAID 6 (although slightly pointless with only 4 disks) and features like online expansion and migration. Such functionality is usually only found on advanced controllers you'd find in high end servers.<br />
The TS-409 has nearly everything you could want from it, I'm therefore unsure where QNAP will go with future products. Perhaps an internal switch or access point could be added or perhaps (software) support for some additional USB devices, making the unit even more customizable. I can't think of any huge improvements though, so I think it is safe to say this product - although not the cheapest around - will be a safe investment as it won't require upgrading for years to come. Apart from bigger harddrives of course, which keep dropping in price as well.
any info on the twonky media server? i have a Lacie Nas that works fairly well but drives me crazy because to access the backend of the twonky media server to do updates on the software i have to call lacie and give them all my info. it is a pain. i would consider qnap if they may it easier.
Wanted to ask, if it supports NTFS as read-only, doesn't that spell trouble? I can't format 'large' drives/volumes ( >32 GB) on WinNT-derived OS'es to FAT32. Does the device format fresh drives by itself?
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