Thecus N3200XXX NAS Server ReviewNemo - October 6, 2011
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There are many configuration options related to the general setup of the N3200XXX in this section. These include setting the system date and time, configuring e-mail notifications, upgrading the firmware, setting the password, and system shutdown/reboot, just to name a few. We'll look at each of the options and turn to see what's involved.
Date and Time
This section contains options for setting the system date and time, as well as the appropriate time zone from the drop down list. You can also choose to allow the NAS to act as a network time protocol (NTP) server for other devices on the network. Once the time is set, you can enable synchronization with an external NTP server to keep the time as accurate as possible. You can choose one of the servers from the pre-configured drop-down list or you can type in one of your own.
The N32000XXX can be configured to notify you when events occur on the system. This can range from normal informational items, such as reboots and shutdowns, to warnings and errors concerning disk or RAID volume issues. You can turn on audible notifications as well as set up the system to send out e-mails to alert you to issues. Unfortunately, with beep notifications, there is no way to cancel the beeping without going in to the Notifications screen and disabling the option. To set up e-mail notification, you will need access to an SMTP server and the proper authentication protocol. The unit is pre-configured with different authentication types including 'login', which should work for most normal accounts requiring authentication and Gmail for those wanting to use Gmail as their SMTP server. Once you put in the server name and authentication type, you'll need to supply the account ID and password information. You can supply up to four e-mail addresses to receive e-mail alerts. You can also choose which level of alerts to send – All, Warnings and Errors, or Errors only. There is an E-Mail Test button to send out test e-mails to ensure you have everything properly configured. Be sure to hit the Apply button to save the changes.
The N3200XXX shipped with the 5.00.02 version of the firmware, so one of the first things I did was check the Thecus website for a more recent version. In fact, I did this before I started looking at the Web UI so that everything would be based on the same version. On the Thecus support site, I downloaded the binary for the latest version, 5.01.04, and placed it on the network where I could get to it easily. I used the Browse button to locate the upgrade file on the network. I also checked the box to save the current firmware and system configuration in case there were any issues. Since this was a brand new setup and we hadn't configured a volume yet, there was no 'nsync' folder available, so I plugged a USB drive into the rear of the N3200XXX and the system made a backup copy and stored it as '20110730_1330_N7700_5.00.02.img' on the root of the USB drive. Once you hit the Apply button, the system backs up the old firmware and uploads the new image. The system will ask permission to shutdown several network services before applying the upgrade. Once complete, you will need to reboot the NAS server in order for the changes to take effect.
You can set up a weekly schedule to power the N3200XXX on and off with two different time slots per day. Checking the Enable Scheduled On/Off checkbox then allows you to select an action/time pair to turn the unit on and off. The time is chosen from a pre-set drop down list of times in five-minute increments. As with other system setting changes, you must click the Apply button for the changes to take effect. The system will notify you via e-mail of a scheduled shutdown if you have information level notifications enabled.
The default password for the N3200XXX, like many of the NAS devices we reviewed, is an easy-to-guess 'admin'. Normally we would have changed it at the beginning using the Setup Wizard, but you can use this page just as easily. You should use a strong password of at least ten characters, using a mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols.
This section allows you to download the system configuration file to a location for safekeeping. It defaults to using the file name 'conf.bin' and will use your browser's default download location, although you can change both the file name and default folder. You can also choose to restore the system configuration from a stored file by browsing to the configuration file location and using the Upload button.
You can use this section to revert back to all the default settings that came on the box from the factory. While Thecus claims your data will not be destroyed, it's always a good idea to back up data before attempting to restore the factory setting.
Reboot & Shutdown
In this section you can choose to reboot the server or safely shut it down. In either case, the system will prompt you to confirm your action. In the past this was the only place to access these functions, but now the system also allows you to access these buttons from the menu bar using the Shutdown icon — a very welcome addition in my opinion.
File System Check
The N3200XXX can perform a file system check to determine the integrity of the file system on the disks. Hitting the Apply button will bring up a prompt asking permission to reboot the system. Once the system has been rebooted, you can select the volume you wish to check and press the Next button to proceed. If you change your mind, you can press Reboot to reboot he system and cancel the check.
To begin the check, press the Start button on the Status page and you can monitor the progress of the integrity check where the last 20 lines of information are displayed. Again, you can choose the Reboot option to cancel the check and reboot the system or press the Stopped (sic) button to cancel the check after it's been started. Once finished, the bottom pane contains the results of the check. You will need to press the Reboot button to restart the system and return to normal operating mode.
The N3200XXX supports wake-on LAN (WOL) service, which you can turn on using the Enable radio button. Once enabled, you can activate the server by sending a special formatted broadcast frame known as a 'magic packet'. Once received, the NAS turns itself on and goes through the normal boot process. I tested this feature on the N3200XXX using a magic packet sending utility and was able to turn the server on remotely without a problem.
The N3200XXX provides support for the System Network Management Protocol (SNMP), which provides the capability to manage devices over the network using a management host. Most SOHO setups would not need to worry about this feature as it usually would only be useful in a large enterprise environment with lots of nodes on the network.
UI Login Functions
You can enable or disable the Web Disk and Photo Server functions from this screen. On the N3200XXX, these modules must be installed separately after enabling them here. You'll recall from the previous page that there was a dialog that appeared when we first logged in reminding you to install the Piczza photo and Web Disk packages from the installation CD. We'll do that later on in the review. For right now we'll just click on the Enable radio buttons for both services.
That wraps up the System Management section and it is time to move on and look at the network options.