QNAP TS-509 Pro Turbo NAS ReviewNemo - May 5, 2009
Category: Storage / Hard Drives
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Computer storage may be considered one of those items that people tend to not think much about until you either run out of space or you suffer a catastrophic failure and realize you just lost all your important files. Or perhaps you're looking to added extra space to share files among different computers or stream media such as music and videos. Home users are not the only ones faced with the challenge of finding a good solution for sharing and protecting files. Home office and small business owners are also faced with challenges,especially when it comes to increasing requirements for storing and archiving data and making sure files are located in an easily accessible and safe location.
Network attached storage is a way to address all these concerns, but it's not simply a matter of buying something in a box that has 'NAS' plastered on it somewhere. There are a myriad of network-enabled products available these days ranging from single-drive enclosures to multi-bay servers holding eight or more drives. As the market becomes more crowded each manufacturer must distinguish itself in terms of performance and features. Shopping for a NAS can be confusing for the uninitiated, but at the very least one should look for different RAID level support and the ability to easily set up and administer the server. If you are a business looking for additional storage, then support for different operating systems, easy user administration and the ability to handle multiple users simultaneously are a must.
QNAP Systems Inc. is a relatively young company, having been founded in Taiwan in 2004. Billing themselves as the “Quality Network Appliance Provider” (now you know where the got the name QNAP), the company is dedicated to providing network storage for the home, small office and corporate markets as well as specialized products for video recording surveillance applications. Today we're looking at the QNAP TS-509 Pro 5-bay NAS server to see how it meets those needs.
The TS-509 shipped in a heavy corrugated box that protected the contents and arrived without damage. Extracting the server from the outer box revealed a box larger than I expected until I remembered this is a 5-bay unit. The first thing I noticed was a crumpled corner as if someone had dropped the box before packaging it for shipping. The front of the box features a picture of the NAS unit along with a list of major product features. Also prominently displayed on the front of box is a graphic touting the 1.6GHz Intel processor and 1GB DDRII memory in the server. Switching around to the back of the box you can get quite an education on the features and how the work accompanied by graphics explaining such features as RAID capacity expansion and RAID level migration. QNAP expounds upon the features that would most appeal to a business user looking for functionality and ways to protect and backup important files. The third picture in the group below is of the side panel where all the features are listing in great detail. You could spend enough time reading through these that your arms will certainly tire of holding the box before you are done. You can also get a better look at the crumple zone on the upper right corner of the box. Finally, the obverse side panel lists features in French, German, Italian and Spanish in case English is not your mother tongue.
It's time to open the box and hope that there's no damage to the unit. With the box open and the flaps flaps folded back, you can get an idea of how well-protected the unit is. You can see the damaged corner on the upper right hand side, but there is a dead space in the interior of the box formed by the closed cell foam inserts that encase the server and protect it during shipping. In this case they did their job well as there was no damage. The smaller brown box you see on top in the middle contains all the accessories. Once the unit is all the way out and the accessories box removed you can see what a good job the package designers did in ensuring the server would have a safe journey during shipping. The accessories box contains all the goodies you'll need to install the hard drives and hook things up. There is a power cord and Cat5e Ethernet cable along with a set of hard drive mounting screws and a pair of keys to lock the hard drive trays. You'll notice there is no power brick as the TS-509 has an internal power supply. Also included is some product literature, a multi-language quick install guide and an installation CD.
Once the unit is removed from the protective foam you can see the unit is also wrapped in plastic to further protect it form any scratches or scrapes. Let's get this thing unwrapped and finally see what it looks like. Checking out the front of the TS-509 Pro you can see the five hard drives bays taking up most of the space on the front of the case. At the top next to the QNAP logo is a 2-line LCD status display. Down the left side are a pair of buttons for the power and one touch copy function along with a series of LED indicators. The LEDs are used for hard drive activity, LAN connectivity and overall status of the server. On the lower left is a USB 2.0 port for connecting a flash drive or an external storage device. Looking at the unit at an angle shows the gray matte finish on the metal sides of the case. Moving to the back of the case shows quit a few connections. On the right side below the QNAP label is an eSATA connector. Below that are a pair of Gigabit LAN ports along with four USB 2.0 connections. Directly below are two additional ports, an RS-232 and a VGA port both covered by plastic caps. Both ports are reserved for maintenance purposes. Moving on around there is a small fan for the built in power supply and an AC power connection. That just leaves us with the temperature-controlled 120mm fan that occupies most of the space on the rear panel. Checking out the bottom of case reveals four rubber feet to keep the unit stable and to allow you to stack the unit vertically.