I know the cool-kids love Synology; but I’ve made a habit of being a contrary git, so of course I prefer QNAP. According to my embarrassingly large inbox, I purchased my original QNAP TS-210 in 2009. It’s been through at least three sets of disks, served hundreds of hours of music and stored 15 years of photos. Not least of all, it was a key part of a demo environment in a book wot I wrote. It has had regular updates from QNAP, for which I’ve not paid a penny.
Sadly, the TS-210’s teeny 800mhz processor no longer cuts it. The motherboard has a dry joint, and the SATA controller occasionally pukes on my extra-compatibility list disks
So, after much deliberation and a sinking pound, I elected to finally replace the old girl with a QNAP TS-251. My expectation was the same but faster, but I’ve been genuinely impressed. The Dual core Intel J1800 is at least 5 times more powerful than the early ARM core of the TS-210, and comes with modern amenities such as USB 3.0 and HDMI support.
The form factor is still very small, if a tiny bit bigger than the my outgoing box. The fan seems to idle at 1005 RPM, and even under load is not perceptibly audible.
I was aware of the virtualisation features; and whilst nice to have, KVM wasn’t going to replace my home VMware lab. The virtual networking is more than competent, offering VLANs, 802.11ad, and virtual switches. Nicely integrated is a web interface remote console.
The base RAM 1GB of RAM clearly not enough, but 2 x 4GB SODIMMs is easy enough to add, although you have to remove the cage first.
There was a another nice feature I’d not considered; the Domain controller. Massive overkill for a home network, but it means I can implement single-sign-on and DNS without having to leave a much more power-hungry Microsoft VM running. Neat.
Optware has been replaced by Entware-NG. This took more time to find than I would hope, but it is a vital package manager.
One nice touch is that the 3.5″ disk trays will take a 2.5″ SSD without messing about with adaptors. Unlike my various HP Microservers, which need them at £15 a pop.
The one feature that seems to be missing is a mail server. You could argue that for a basic NAS, the QNAP has an embarrassment of features, and missing one probably isn’t a big deal. I’m far too old to be messing about with postfix. However, this is where the Virtualisation features and working for Fortinet really helps. I can easily spin up a FortiMail VM00 which will more than meet my needs.
So, all in all I’m really impressed. Disks! I forgot to talk about disks! Obviously a NAS needs storage. An extravagance perhaps, but for low power draw and high performance SSD was the only way to go. Given the relatively low write cycles, I chose the “consumer” grade SanDisk 960GB SSDs in a JBOD configuration. The disks are automatically backed up to a spinning rust array, on a weekly-ish basis. I can easily saturate the 1Gbps interface with SSDs, and wonder what kind of concurrent write performance I would get.