QNAP has a huge range of NAS enclosures for consumers, small businesses and large companies. The new TS-219P II is classed as a home/Soho product, and features two hot-swappable drive bays that accept 3.5in or 2.5in hard disks (up to 3TB capacity). It also has three USB ports for external storage or sharing printers, plus two e-SATA ports for external drives.
Getting up and running
After installing the disks in the plastic carriers and hooking up the single Gigabit LAN port to the network, the next step is to install the QNAP Finder utility. On first run, this detects the NAS and starts the six-step browser-based installation procedure. This installs the firmware from the CD and creates the RAID array. With only two drives, the choice is between RAID 0, 1, JBOD or single-disk volumes.
Once installation is complete, you can log into the web interface to tweak settings, and there are certainly plenty to play with. It has lots of advanced admin and network features, such as creating users and groups and the ability to integrate into an Active Directory domain, making it easy to slot into a small business or corporate network. Most home users will find these baffling, but the defaults are sensibly chosen to make it easy to get up and running with shared folders on a Windows network without much fuss.
Advanced setup and features
The main screen of the interface has a selection of wizards for basic tasks such as creating users, setting up shared folders and using the handy (and free) MyCloudNAS remote access feature. This does away with the need to use static IP addresses or dynamic DNS for remote access to the NAS management console. Backup features are numerous, including the option for cloud-based backup to services such as Amazon S3, ElephantDrive and Symform.
As well as standard shared folders, there is iSCSI support. This allows PCs to access a NAS volume just like a local hard disk, rather than using shared network folders. iSCSI targets and standard shared folders can be enabled concurrently, with a configurable percentage of the available storage set aside for iSCSI.
Instead of a wired network connection, a compatible USB Wi-Fi dongle (not supplied) can be used. There is a compatibility list on QNAP’s website.
Add-on application servers are numerous, and include an iTunes server, UPnP/DLNA media server, web server, Web File Manager, Multimedia Station, Photo Station, Music Station and Download Station. This latter allows web and BitTorrent downloads to be scheduled. The Multimedia Station is for sharing media files over the web, although it’s not the most intuitive application to use. This applies to some of the other applications, too. There are also lots of optional third-party plugins available (called QPKGs), including a WordPress blog server.
QNAP supplies free smartphone apps for Android and iOS devices, allowing media streaming and file uploading.
How it performed
Although the unit is sold as a bare enclosure, we installed two 250GB Hitachi CinemaStar disks and ran Passmark 7’s Disk Test on a shared folder mapped to a drive letter to see how it fared. For sequential reads, it managed 86MB/s, dropping to 64MB/s for sequential write operations. Random seeks, reads and writes came in at 35MB/s and the overall composite Disk Mark was 669. These are pretty decent results for a two-bay NAS.
If you like your NAS devices fully loaded, the QNAP TS-219P II certainly delivers, with heaps of features to keep you busy. For those new to NAS appliances the interface could be a bit overwhelming, although it is easy to install and configure for basic folder sharing. If you want to use it for hosting a small website or blog it’s a great choice, but the high price makes it overkill If you just need some simple shared network storage.
With no shortage of features or performance and hot-swappable drive bays, the TS-219P II will appeal to business users and those needing advanced NAS functions, although it is not a particularly cheap device.
Pros: Hot-swap drives; quiet; lots of applications and add-ons; mobile apps
Cons: Interface is a bit clunky; not cheap