A fast and versatile storage option

A fast and versatile storage option

Qnap's TS-109 Pro is a network-attached storage (NAS) enclosure that can house a 3.5-inch Serial ATA hard drive. It doesn't come with a hard drive, so users can install the capacity of their choice, up to 1TB.

It's one of the most versatile NAS enclosures on the market, and it's not very big either. It packs Ethernet, USB and eSATA ports on its rear panel, while the front panel has another USB port, coloured status lights, a power button and a copy button (for copying data off USB keys). The drive can be placed either flat or vertically on a desk and can be secured by using a Kensington lock.

Installing a hard drive is fairly simple; the all-aluminium enclosure (which also acts as a heat sink to keep the drive cool) slides open to reveal a 3.5-inch hard drive mounting space with fixed Serial ATA power and data ports. A 3.5-inch drive can be slid into place and then secured with four screws; however, the enclosure was a little tricky to slide back on correctly. The TS-109 Pro comes with plenty of useful features that make it an attractive proposition for the small office file server, such as a gigabit Ethernet connection for fast network transfers (file transfers up to 18MBps were achieved during our tests). It also allows for BitTorrent files to be downloaded directly onto its hard drive, rather than to a host PC, and it has a built-in iTunes server for streaming music across a network.

Up to three extra hard drives can be connected to its two USB and eSATA ports at the rear of the unit. These ports allow non-network-capable external drives to be accessible over the network and can be used to increase the capacity of TS-109 Pro. A RAID 1 function (called Q-RAID) also allows attached hard drives to keep a mirror image of the TS-109's drive. The supplied NetBak Replicator software can be used to backup PCs to the TS-109 in real-time or via a schedule.

One of the USB ports can be used to connect a printer. Another USB port on the front of the TS-109 Pro allows for USB keys (or hard drives) to be plugged in and copied at the touch of a button. When attached to the TS-109 Pro, all these drives can be accessed via the unit's Web interface, either locally or remotely. It will take some networking know-how to set the drive up for remote access, however.

For remote access to data, the TS-109 Pro has a built-in FTP server, a Web server and also a multimedia interface that allows photos to be uploaded and viewed via a Web page. For small businesses who want a large network storage solution for sharing data among users or storing backups, the TS-109 Pro is a fine choice.

It's expandable via the eSATA and USB ports, it's fast, and there's plenty of management, remote access and security features.

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