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Versatile NAS solution

Versatile NAS solution

QNAP's TS-101 is a network attached storage (NAS) device that can house any Serial ATA (SATA) hard drive. It's capable of serving files over a home or office network and, furthermore, it has good connectivity options that allow users to share other peripherals, such as printers, across a network.

The TS-101 has a strong security focus, too, as user controls can be implemented through the drive's configuration, so restrictions can be imposed on disk space usage and file accessibility.

The enclosure itself supports a 3.5-inch SATA drive, which means it can be equipped with a drive as large as 750GB and used to back up data from your network. It also has an array of ports that can be used to attach even more devices and an eSATA port on the rear that can be used to attach an eSATA hard drive to the unit, either to add storage capacity or to back up the data.

A RAID 1 array can be set up easily from the Web interface of the TS-101, which can mirror data either to a drive attached to the eSATA port, or to one attached to its USB 2.0 ports.

Two USB 2.0 ports at the rear of the enclosure and a USB copy port at the front allow users to attach hard drives, USB keys, USB hard drives or even devices such as printers and scanners.

The above ports functioned flawlessly in our tests and we were also impressed at the ease with which we were able to install the unit and set it up. The TS-101's solid construction was evident when we dismantled it to install our Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 SATA hard drive. The mounting points for the drive are rock solid and they are attached to an aluminium plate, which itself is attached to the extremities of the enclosure (which are entirely aluminium). This makes the entire enclosure a heat sink for the drive. It noticeably warms up after the hard drive has been in use for a while, but not too hot to handle. Apart from the spinning of the drive, this passive cooling solution is silent.

The main function of the TS-101 is to store data from a PC (or PCs) over a network. To do this, the best way is to connect it to a router or switch. If a network does not have a DHCP server, then it should be manually configured with an IP address according to the rest of the network settings. It can easily be accomplished using the supplied software.

Once the drive is set up on the network, enter its Web configuration to initialise the hard drive and format it. Standard folders are created on the hard drive for sharing data, storing copied data from USB devices and downloads (the TS-101 has the ability to download torrent files). These folders must then be mapped to the PC so they can be accessed.

For testing, we connected the TS-101 to an SMC EZSwitch 8508T, which can realise the full potential of Gigabit devices. This switch and the TS-101 both support Jumbo frames, as does our test motherboard platform, an ASUS M2N32 WS Professional motherboard. The TS-101 read data at a rate of 12.75MBps and wrote it at a rate of 4.5MBps.

These results aren't fantastic, but are an improvement over data transfers conducted on a 10/100Mbps link, which garnered 6.16MBps and 3.7MBps, respectively, in our tests using the same data. Direct attached storage on a PC (via USB 2.0 or eSATA) will provide faster rates, of course. A unique feature of the TS-101 is its ability to download torrent files independently of any PCs. The TS-101 will download torrents from the broadband router and store it on its hard drive. It will also manage the download and upload rates of torrents, and schedule them to start at specific times, which is perfect for users with peak and off-peak quota limits.

Verdict: The connectivity options and the versatile features of this NAS enclosure make it worth considering if you want to build a high-capacity network to store or back up data. Apart from its ability to conveniently copy data from USB devices and download bit-torrent files, we particularly love how easy it is to create a RAID 1 array using its eSATA and USB 2.0 ports.


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