Review: Four NAS Machines

Qnap TS-219P

Multimedia Server

The UPnP/DLNA multimedia server on the TS-219P works with multimedia players that use this standard.

iPhone and iPod Touch users can also connect to the NAS system over the network to access multimedia content like photos, music and video.

You can use the QGet tool to remotely control downloads over BitTorrent, FTP or HTTP.

The Qnap TS-219P is a NAS enclosure with two bays which can hold up to two 2.5 or 3.5-inch SATA drives with a maximum capacity of 2 TB.  The drives, which are hot-swappable, can be set up as a Jbod array (meaning you can share the total maximum capacity of both disks), a RAID 0 array (data split across both disks) or RAID 1 (the second disk mirrors the first).

The hardware involved is a 1.2 GHz Marvell processor with 512 MB of RAM.  Behind the enclosure, there is a Gigabit ethernet port, but also two eSATA ports and two USB 2.0 ports--as well as a third on the front.  That makes it easy to connect an external hard drive or a USB key.  The USB ports can also be used to share a print or to manage a UPS.


Interface

If you're familiar with the old version of the Qnap software, you'll be glad to hear that it has been completely updated.  The new version is much simpler to use and easier on the eye.

File Sharing


The TS-219P has everything you need, with support for the CIFS/SMB, AFP and NFS protocols allowing it to work on Windows, Mac and Linux networks.  You can access your files remotely over FTP and secure FTP (with SSL/TSL).  In administrator mode, you can also use a browser to connect to the TS-219P over a secure HTTPS connection.

Other features

As well as the protocols we mentioned above, the TS-219P has a range of other features.  Like Synology, Qnap includes a web server with support for PHP and SQL, which is very useful for anybody who wants to host their own site.

It can also act as a print server (with up three USB printers) as well as a storing your photos and music files.  As soon as you copy them into the 'Qmultimedia' folder, the device sorts your photos in albums that you can view using the interface.  It also appears as a source in iTunes, meaning you can stream music to any computer on your network. 

If you're interested in some of the more technical features, the TS-219P also supports iSCSI target mode, online RAID extensions, SMS updates and capturing video from up to two IP-based webcams.



You can either backup all of the files on an external peripheral over USB or eSATA immediately, or according to a fixed schedule.  We had suspected that the speeds over eSATA would be much faster, but there was actually very little difference.  The average data transfer rates, with reading and writing combined, is 15 MB/sec. using USB and 16 MB/sec. using eSATA.

RAID 0 and RAID 1 Tests




It was when we copied files over a Windows network and from an FTP server that the TS-219p really showed us what it was made of.  In both cases, we tested its performance configured as RAID 0 and RAID 1.  As you can see on the graph above, the TS-219P managed an average write speed of 17.8 MB/sec. and an average read speed of 34.6 MB/sec., compared to 25.6 MB/sec. and 35.7 MB/sec. respectively for in RAID 0, meaning the speed advantage of this technology is only available for writing.



The results of our FTP tests were very similar, although write speeds were slightly slower, which was compensated for by faster read speeds.   With RAID 1, the TS-219P reached write speeds of 13.1 MB/sec. and read speeds of 35.7 MB/sec., with 21.3 MB/sec. and 37.9 MB/sec. respectively in RAIO 0.


Noise and energy consumption

We test all NAS systems that don't come supplied with hard drives with 1 TB Western Digital Caviar Green drives.  We chose this model because it's quiet and energy-efficient.

When we looked at how much power this system needed, we measured a consumption that varied between 20 W and 23 W depending on whether the drive was idle or in use.  Compare that result with the LaCie 2big Network, which, using inferior components, manages to use 50% more power.  And it's still a lot less than the amount of power required by a regular computer acting as a fileserver.

You need not worry about being disturbed by the TS-219P if you install it in your office.  When we first started it up, the fan produced a very quiet sound, but that's all.  Of course, it all depends on which hard drives you use.  Our Caviar Green discs produce very little heat, so the fan didn't need to do much work.

Qnap TS-219P
ProsCons
  • High speeds over SMB/CIFS and FTP
  • Quiet operation
  • Attractive, easy-to-use interface
  • High functionality
  • Disappointing USB and eSATA speeds
  • Bulky design
  • As well as being very powerful, the TS-219P has a wide range of features. It's a great NAS system, but its rather functional design might put some people off.