Thecus N3200PRO NAS Server ReviewNemo - June 14, 2009
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The Storage section contains all the pages needed to monitor the storage on the N320PRO, whether the internal drives or externally connected devices such as eSATA or USB drives. It is in this section where you create the RAID volumes, create folders and monitor the status of the volumes. There are a total of eight subsections covering all the aspects of storage management.
The SATA section provides information on the individual drives installed in the server. Each drive is listed along with formatted capacity, model number and current firmware version. The status of each drive is listed as well and will show a status of OK, Warning or Failed. Clicking on the status link next to each drive takes you to a detail page listing Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology (S.M.A.R.T.) output including tray position and drive temperature. There is one configurable setting on this page for the Disk Power Management where you can set the disks to power down after a period of inactivity. The default is 30 minutes (the minimum) and ranges up to 120 minutes in 30-minute increments. It would have been nice to be able to set a lesser amount of time than 30 minutes as we have seen on other NAS devices we've reviewed.
The eSATA page for getting information on any eSATA drive connected to the N3200PRO's rear eSATA port such as formatted capacity, used percentage, model number, firmware version and status. You can format the attached drive from this page and disconnect it from the unit using the Eject button.
Just as with the eSATA Information page, there is a corresponding page for any USB drive connected to the front or rear USB ports showing similar information regarding capacity, model, firmware and status.
The RAID Information screen displays the status and condition of the current volume. It displays the current RAID level, its capacity and status, stripe size and used space. You also use this page to access the RAID Configuration section to drop existing arrays and create new ones. Clicking on the Config button brings up the configuration screen, which we've seen before during the initial setup. Any existing volume must be first removed before you can create a new one, assuming all three drives are in use as in this example. Of course, removing a volume will destroy all the data so make sure you've backed up the data before trying this.
The Folder section is fairly self explanatory in that it where you create and delete folders and set access permissions. To get started the Add button will take you to the Add Folder dialog where you can specify the folder name and description. You can also set whether the folder can be seen when browsing the network and whether the folder is publicly accessible. Once the folder has been created the system will notify you along with a friendly reminder to set up the access control list (ACL) for the folder. If you set up the folder for public access, then there is no need to set up the ACL as everyone has access so the ACL button will be grayed out.
With the folder created you have access to several options for managing the folder. The NFS Share button allows you to set up which Linux/Unix machines on the network have access to the folder. The ACL button lets you determine which users have access to the folder. You will need to have users and groups created first which we will look at later on in the review.
The Edit button allows you to change the folder name and description as well as the setting to make the folder browseable and whether the folder is to be a public share. The Del button will remove the folder and all of its contents so it should be used with caution.
The Service Folder section displays all of the folders used by the different services on the unit. These folders are automatically set up when the the volume is created. You can perform the same functions as with user-created folder such as managing NFS shares and the access control list as well as editing the folder characteristics. Most of the service folders default to public access which is why the ACL button is grayed out – there is no need to set permissions on a folder which is available to everyone. You can click on the link in the Folder Name column or press the Edit button to edit the folder characteristics just as described above for regular folders. If you change the folder to be non-public the ACL button becomes active and you can then set permissions as shown above. You can't rename or delete these folders as they are needed by the system services. This feature is not covered in the user manual.
ISO Mount is a feature that is not mentioned anywhere in the user manual. I searched the Thecus support site and found a document called ISO Mount User Guide. The site lists several NAS products to which it applies but doesn't list the N3200PRO. However, the interface shown in the guide is virtually identical to the N3200PRO so I'll use it as a reference to try to explain this undocumented feature.
As the name implies, ISO Mount is a way to mount an ISO image and make the files available over the network. Up to 200 different ISO files can be mounted using this feature. The first step is to select the folder containing the ISO image from the drop down list and hit the Select button. Once you have chosen a folder the screen will show you the folders within that ISO and then all the files from a selected folder. You can specify a mount name and then click the Add button to mount the ISO. You will be prompted to confirm you want to mount the image and after you click OK, you'll see another dialog telling you it was mounted successfully. Once you return to the main page you'll see the mount path and the ISO path.
If you map a drive from your local client to the NAS box using the mount path as your target you can see the mount name showing up as a folder. You can then access the files within the ISO image like any other files on the system. This is a real handy feature as it eliminates the need to burn the ISO image to a CD/DVD and makes the files available to any user on the network. File access should be faster using a hard drive versus an optical drive as well. It's a shame that the feature isn't covered in the user manual. The ISO Mount User Guide is enough to get a technical user started in the right direction, but the fractured English and lack of detail might leave a typical home user bewildered and confused.
Nsync is not a reference to a has-been boy band, but instead Thecus' proprietary remote replication application. The feature is new to the 1.00.03 version of the firmware we're using and thus hasn't seemed to have made it into the user manual yet. Other units we've reviewed here at OCC use rsync to synchronize files between one NAS and another identical unit. Thecus' implementation of this technology works between another N3200PRO or it can use an FTP server as its target for storing data. For additional information on how to use Nsync you can search the Thecus web site for an Nsync quick guide for one of its other NAS products.
Clicking the Add button brings up a dialog where you can create a task and specify the target as another Thecus NAS or an FTP server. You also have to specify additional target information such as the IP address, folder name and login credentials. You can then create a schedule to run the task on either a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Another point to remember that if you are using another Thecus NAS device as the target you must enable the Nsync Target service in the Network section.
That finishes all the options in the Storage section and so it's on to the Network setting.