If there’s one thing that strikes a chord with all of us in the connected world it’s that we want everything at our fingertips; not later, now. There are a few ways the tech industry has serviced this need, most notably cloud storage and Video-On-Demand. For those with home entertainment and central file server needs, the cut-and-dry method seems to gravitate towards a home NAS system, with the more robust being SOHO (small office home office) solutions. I’ve never used a NAS device before, so the dual bay QNAP Turbo NAS TS 251 was as much a learning experience as it was a test of its features and capabilities, something I came to enjoy quite a bit. Priced at around R5 700 just for device excluding any hard drive makes the NAS seem a touch expensive, but there are many redeeming factors and qualities to justify investing in a NAS device given the features on offer.
The NASty Bits
NAS devices are pretty much mini-computers with a dedicated purpose—centralising control of your home networking capabilities. To do that requires some hardware capable of dealing with many devices connecting to and making use of its storage and applications. To run these tasks the NAS has a Intel Celeron J1800 CPU, a nimble 2.41GHz dual core CPU with an “Al-Gore approved” 10W TDP. This particular unit comes with a 1GB of low power DDR3 RAM, which is upgradeable to 8GB. Bear in mind that the unit only has two DIMM slots, so upgrade accordingly. The unit also comes with two Gigabit Ethernet ports, so it has more than enough throughput to your router. Coming with two USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 ports mean it has enough connection options for a variety of devices.
This dual bay NAS device is lightweight, even with the 4TB Western Digital Red hard drive installed. The unit is small enough to fit alongside or under your desk or within a breathable space in your TV cabinet. Its white finish may be more “chic” than I am used to, but I found it more or less “Feng Shui” enough for my Qi—i.e it’s not horrible looking. A surprisingly pleasant feature was the stubbornness of the unit—even though there are no suction cups or hardcore rubberised feat, the material they use on the feet is simply excellent at keeping it in place; perfect if you have little ones or a cat who doesn’t want you to have nice things.
My First Time…Setup
Placing the unit was simple—right next to the router by my desk. Proximity to the device itself does mean the spinning disk is heard, but it’s a sound that I found at worst to be mildly audible when doing heavy lifting tasks like transcoding or installing new applications.
Setting the unit up was a simple affair—simply screw the Hard drive in place, power up and plug the Ethernet cables into a router and use the QR code on the side of the unit to access, add and set up the unit through the myQNAPcloud interface. Installation using my cellphone threw up some errors, so eventually I went through setup on the desktop.
The instructions were simple to follow and after about 20 minutes the device has been setup and paired to an account with a username and password. To access the device you can either install Qfinder Pro which is a “top layer” software interface to access your NAS or change some basic setting. For the more robust features, you have to access the device itself via IP.