Published on December 20th, 2011 | by Greg0
QNAP TS-419 PII: So Much Data, So Easy
Most home users will end up with a full hard drive at some point. If you’re like us, you’ve already gotten a stack of USB 2 or USB 3 external drives, slapping the latest photo collections and videos and documents on them, one terabyte or so at a time. At some point, it was clear that our storage needs were outpacing our drives, and we needed shared storage instead of the constant struggle of finding and plugging in and handing over the right drives, unsecurely. If you have a small office, or take RAW photos, or do video editing, or even download a lot of stuff- you probably should get a NAS.
NAS- network-attached storage. Basically, it combines a small computer with a few hard drives and puts them all into a convenient breadbox package. Meant to run continuously, for always-on access, we’ve tried out several. Our go-to storage server is the Drobo, which is simple and fast and easy- but pricy, and with several downsides that make it imperfect for everyone. And we’ve seen some that try hard, but don’t quite offer the stability and speed that we expect. But a smaller, lesser-known brand continues to put out some of the best on the market,like we noted in our review of a similar older model about two years ago. Their catalog can be a bit intimidating- lots of models with similar names confuse even us.
We suggest the TS-419P II for most home or SOHO users. Small business as well could well-consider this one- it’s got enough storage for all but the heaviest users, and enough power for smaller enterprises. Sure, there’s a wifi dongle that supports wireless-N, but we didn’t try it- you just plug into your home network and add drives. That’s an important note: you’ll need to add hard drives to this one, since they aren’t included by default. They are hot-swappable though. The 2.0 GHz processor is incredibly zippy, which was great for running apps on the NAS. Whereas some systems have lots of hoops you’ll jump through to get apps running or running well (Drobo, we’re looking at you), the interface and application setup process from QNAP was refreshing.
We have a mixed network- Windows systems on three OS versions, Mac OSX computers, iOS and Android devices, tablets. In short, plenty of complications. But the QNAP TS-419P II was able to easily work with all of them. We even put it through the paces serving as a UPnP media server, playing our files through our XBox 360 and Sony PS3. We prefer a lower-protection RAID 1 or 3 configuration, but RAID 5 is available, unlike many systems. RAID is a type of data protection- basically, saving some space on each drive to duplicate data on the other drives, sharing the work and ensuring that even if a drive dies or fails that you’ll be able to recover it all without losing a file. We didn’t try all of the impressive feature set- integration with cloud services like Amazon’s S3, Time Machine support, secure FTP. But we did setup some private shares, protecting some folders from others on our network. And we enjoyed the Squeezebox server ability, as well as iTunes library server.
Blazing speeds- up to 100 Mbps- made quick work of file transfers, and there are even easy connections for up to three shared printers or USB storage devices that you can easily copy. The front USB port was quite handy. Plus, low power consumption and fairly quiet operation (35-40 decibels, noticeable in a silent room but quieter than most computers) were necessary when running a device 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And eMule (torrent) is available as a QPKG, their app system- so you can download torrented files silently and quickly straight to a giant shared drive… not that we encourage this.
We do, however, encourage you to check out QNAP, and their TS-419 PII. Maximum capacity is 12TB, depending on the drive you choose and your backup/protection settings. The only real downsides- the fairly pedestrian looks, and some definite configuration being necessary. Plus, their redesigned interface is slick, and much better than it used to be. If you need super-quiet, you might want to look at a NAS like their SS-439 that better supports SSDs (solid state drives), which run cooler. And those in need of less storage space, maybe six or so terabytes, can consider the very similar TS-219P II. All in all though, this is a well-made and quite impressive unit and worth the $540 price tag.