A week ago, my FreeNAS box went crazy after a thunderstorm. I knew there was a problem with my FreeNAS box’s motherboard from very early on, but I didn’t care until the thunderstorm somehow disabled not only two ethernet ports on my router but also two network interface cards (NIC) on my FreeNAS box also. Without a working NIC card, I can’t really have a FreeNAS box going. Of course, the easiest solution would go out and buy another NIC. NIC is super cheap nowadays, and so this won’t be a problem obviously. Nonetheless, I noticed my FreeNAS box wasn’t up to the task not for FreeNAS issues but for the hardware I had in the box all along. Especially the motherboard was so uncooperative in a sense that sometimes it refused to probably start up the system, right after a reboot. Yes, I had flashed the newest firmware for the motherboard too, but the motherboard issues weren’t going away. I didn’t want to have to mess around with hardware problems much any longer, and I noticed the computer I ran FreeNAS on was not green (i.e., power hungry). Obviously, I need a better home network attached storage solution than this.
I was thinking about building a new FreeNAS box, but building a computer wasn’t my specialty since my suspicion was that I might end up building just another power hungry NAS box (i.e., network attached storage). Furthermore, building a brand new FreeNAS box (i.e., not using the old computer parts or spare computer machine) might cost as much as purchasing a brand new machine that designed to be a NAS box anyway, therefore it would be wise for me to just save some time and purchase a brand new NAS machine and reuse the hard drives from the old and now unusable FreeNAS box. I started to look online for the right NAS hardware solution, and I found couple hardware NAS solutions.
It seemed that people’s reviews and recommendations on Amazon were varied depending on the luck they had with a specific NAS hardware (included custom NAS software) solution. There were just as many good reviews and bad reviews elsewhere on these NAS hardware (included custom NAS software) solutions too. Some people recommended specific Synology hardware; others recommended specific Drobo hardware; I went for QNAP TS-419P II (diskless — you have to provide your own hard drives as the bays do not come with hard drives). The reasons I went for QNAP TS-419P II were,
- the price wasn’t too outrageous (I bought at $499.99 with free shipping on Amazon),
- it got 4 bays for hot-swappable drives,
- it supported 3TB drives that I already had,
- nowadays it shipped this specific model with USB 3.0 ports (but it also got USB 2.0 and eSATA ports),
- it got dual NICs for better network performance when using with switch or not
- it got Marvell 2.0 GHz processor (enough power to do more than just NAS such as streaming media)
- relatively low power consumption — sleep mode consumes 13W and in operation mode consumes 26 W under the assumption of having 4 hard drive bays fully occupied,
- people said this one got great data transfer performance (and I confirmed this too when using it) — I used CrashPlan to backup to QNAP TS-419P II iSCSI LUN and saw data transfer traversed somewhere between the range of 121 Mbps to 700 Mbps.
I wasn’t going for Synology since I had not find the right combination of features and price for their various hardware NAS models. For Drobo, I had read so many comments elsewhere online and few ones on Amazon that had complained about slow data transfer performance. Drobo got advantages such as combining and expanding any size drives into a RAID, but these weren’t enough to win me over. Plus, when I was looking at Drobo prices, those were more expensive than QNAP NAS models.
After Amazon delivered QNAP TS-419P II to me, I got it up and running with ease. The initial process was not too long, but it wasn’t like an immediate gratification either. I don’t think there is any NAS setup (i.e., hardware and software installations) that can be said having an immediate gratification experience.
Anyhow, the hardware setup part for QNAP TS-419P II was super easy. I installed three 3TB hard drives into 3 bays of the QNAP TS-419P II box by pulling each bay out, matched the hard drive screw holes to the ones on each drive holder, tighten the screws not too tight (screws came with the purchased of the QNAP TS-419P II box), pushed the drives all the way in and snapped the drive locks down appropriately. I connected the external power adapter 96W to the box on one end and the other end to the electrical outlet of a UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply). Finally, I pressed the power button on the QNAP TS-419P II box to hear the first beep which it made to alert you that it got powered on. The manual instructed that I should wait for at least two to three minutes to hear the second beep before I could assume that the box was started successfully. The second beep was beeped.
The software part was somewhat confusing to get started. The CD which came with QNAP TS-419P II supported Mac and Windows. I inserted the CD into Mac and installed QFinder. QFinder failed to find the QNAP TS-419P II on my network. Go figured! I connected directly to the QNAP TS-419P II through a browser by typing in the local IP address which the box itself had leased with the router’s DHCP server. Immediately, the browser found the box, and the software worked with the browser to allow me to initialize the hard drives. It was confusing, because I remembered it asked me to initialize the hard drives but now I also remembered it also allowed me to upgrade the firmware. I did upgrade the firmware to the latest firmware I found on QNAP official website, because the one on the CD was outdated. I remembered it asked me to initialize the drives again after the firmware upgrade, but I’m not sure now. Anyhow, I was able to log into the administration console of QNAP TS-419P II through a browser after the firmware upgrade and drive initialization.
It was a straightforward matter for me to configure QNAP TS-419P II up for TimeMachine, NFS, iSCSI, and Windows Share (QNAP labels this as Microsoft Networking) services. It did took me some time to get familiar with QNAP administration console, but it didn’t take long. QNAP administration console got question mark icon which linked to helpful explanation scattered throughout. If you had experienced with FreeNAS or any NAS before, QNAP software might not be a problem for you at all!!!
QNAP software got so many features! To name the few things I could do with it and the box itself.
- Allowing the creation of RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, and 10
- Allowing monitoring of disk health and temperature of each hard drive
- Allowing admin to do SMART Test rapid test or complete test on each hard drive to confirm the health of each hard drive
- Allowing the creation of iSCSI targets and LUNs in a very simple manner
- Allowing admin to add virtual disks elsewhere (i.e., from another NAS box) to expand the size of QNAP TS-419P II box itself (up to 8 virtual disks I think)
- Easy to add and manage users and groups
- Allowing admin to set quota storage size for users
- Allowing the creation of TimeMachine service to backup Mac OS X Lion (or other Mac OS X iterations)
- Allowing admin to set up Microsoft Networking so Windows machines can communicate with QNAP TS-419P II’s various NFS share folders
- Allowing admin to configure and add NFS share folders so Linux machines can communicate and share with
- Allowing admin to set up FTP service
- Allowing only administrator to SSH into the box if SSH was set up correctly (Telnet too, but who would use Telnet eh?)
- Allowing admin to configure SNMP
- Allowing admin to set up web server for simple web hosting or virtual hosting from QNAP TS-419P II box
- Allowing admin to enable UPnP service and configure BONJOUR
- Users can enable Web File Manager to manage files and data through a web browser
- Users can enable Multimedia Station to stream media
- Admin can enable Photo Station to share photos which displays in photo blog like manner (got to upload photos to Multimedia folder and the scanning process will eventually figure out what photos are present — allowing the organization of photos in Photo Station later)
- Admin can enable Music Station and users can create playlists of available songs
- Admin can enable Download Station so users can use Bittorrent, FTP, and Rapid Share in download manner
- Enabling Surveillance Station to allow admin monitors and records live video of 2-4 IP cameras (but I had not used this so I don’t know how well will this work out)
- Allowing admin to enable iTunes Server so playlists and songs on QNAP TS-419P II can be shared with iTunes accounts on local network and vice versa
- Allowing the enabling of UPnP Media Server (but I have no idea how to use this one yet)
- Allowing the enabling of MySQL server
- Admin can use QPKG Center to install popular software scripts such as WordPress
- Admin can enable Syslog Server
- Admin can enable RADIUS Server (I don’t know much about RADIUS yet so I haven’t used this feature)
- Admin can enable and configure Backup Server to backup data on QNAP TS-419P II to another NAS machine
- Admin can enable Antivirus solution so he or she can scan QNAP TS-419P II for viruses (it seems to be that it’s using ClamAV)
- Admin can enable TFTP Server
- Admin can enable VPN Service
- Admin can enable LDAP Service
- Admin can attach external storage devices and configure it within the software
- Admin can work with USB printer
- Admin can attach UPS and configure UPS settings
- Admin can enable MyCloudNAS Service to allow mobile devices to share data (I don’t know about this one yet but it seems you might have to download QNAP mobile app — not sure though)
- Admin can use System Status to monitor System Information, System Service, and Resource Monitor
- Admin can address network features from configuring NICs to blacklist or whitelist IP addresses (wildcard uses available)
- Firmware update is simple and easy
- Admin can always reset everything back to factory default settings
Obviously, I might have not mentioned some of the features that QNAP TS-419P II got, but I had mentioned quite a fews. In practice, I just configure the QNAP TS-419P II once and two days later everything is still working like a well-oiled machine. I can’t attest to long term performance and durability of QNAP TS-419P II yet since I haven’t used it long enough. Nonetheless, I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that everything will run smoothly for a long time to come, because QNAP TS-419P II has all the NAS features and more that I’ve ever wanted to work and play with in a NAS box. Do you have any good or bad experience with QNAP TS-419P II and like to share with everyone? If you do, please write a comment or two below this blog post.
- QNAP TS-669 Pro TurboNAS Review (slashgear.com)
- Testing 10 Gigabit Ethernet Performance: QNAP TS-879 Pro & Synology DS3612xs NAS Review (techspot.com)
- QNAP TS-469 PRO 4-Bay NAS Server (techfresh.net)
- Sometimes, Glossing Over The Simplest Things Would Prevent One From Fixing The Problems (essayboard.com)
- Gigabit LAN Empowers Productivity Such As Running Virtual Machines On A Network Attached Storage’s iSCSI (essayboard.com)
- QNAP taps the Atom for its new four-bay TS-439 Pro Turbo NAS device (zdnet.com)
- QNAP Turbo NAS Multiple Vulnerabilities – Security Advisory (seclists.org)
- TechSpot: Testing 10 Gigabit Ethernet Performance, QNAP & Synology NAS (neowin.net)
- QNAP’s JTB-400: A BYOD 4-bay Thunderbolt Enclosure (anandtech.com)
- Iomega adds four-bay StorCenter Pro ix4-100 to its NAS lineup (zdnet.com)