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Written by Bruce Normann   
Wednesday, 08 June 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
QNAP TS-659 Pro II NAS Network Server
QNAP v3.4 New Features
Closer Look: QNAP TS-659 Pro II
Insider Details: QNAP TS-659 Pro II
QNAP Turbo NAS Features
QNAP TS-659 Pro II NAS Hardware
QNAP TS-659 Pro II Software
QPKG Center Software Expansion
NAS Testing Methodology
Basic-Disk Test Results
RAID 5 Test Results
NAS Server Final Thoughts
QNAP TS-659 Pro II Conclusion

QNAP v3.4 New Software Features

When QNAP launched the v3 Graphical User Interface on their Turbo NAS servers, they set a new standard for this market. A year or two later on, and the latest iteration offers a wide variety of enhancements that keep it at the forefront of modern networking applications. Overall, the feature set is a mix of elements that are broadly targeted at either the home user, a small/medium business, or a full fledged enterprise situation. NAS products have gained in popularity to the point where network administrators consider them mainstream appliances, small businesses consider them a lifesaver, and they are gaining traction in the home market. It's important to meet the needs of each one of those potential customers if you want to be the market leader, and that is clearly QNAP's intention.

The first thing you see when you connect to the NAS is a new Administration logon screen. It seems like old hat now with version 3.4, but the QNAP v3 User Interface features a very attractive rounded GUI design made popular by Apple, and if I had an all-in-one computer with a touch screen the similarity would be further enhanced.

qnap_ts-809_admin_panel_3.1.jpg

There are an overwhelming amount of features available to manage the QNAP Turbo NAS, as the huge list in the previous Software Features section demonstrates. In this section of the review, we will focus on some of the enhancements that were added recently with version 3.4.

RAID 10 - RAID 10 combines the advantages of RAID 0 and RAID 1. This configuration allows for one disk failure from each RAID 1 pair and offers better write performance for some database applications. There's a bigger penalty in array capacity for the redundancy that you get, compared to RAID 5, but for some it's definitely worth it. RAID 6 can withstand ANY two drives failing at the same time, whereas RAID 10 is only stable if one drive in different RAID 1 pairs fails. It's an extra chance you take for the increased performance. That's why they invented RAID 50 and RAID 60, for those enterprise-class needs.

QNAP_TS659_Pro_II_Turbo_NAS_Server_RAID10.png

Real-time Remote Replication - Allows real-time remote replication of one NAS to another over the Internet for maximum data redundancy. This feature is applicable to Intel-based NAS units from QNAP, so the lower-end units can't play. Fortunately, there are a wide variety of Atom-based Turbo NAS models to choose from if this is a needed feature. Don't think of this as a business only feature, it's just as relevant for home users who want to have an advanced remote backup capability, but don't want to pay a monthly fee. Just convince a family member or close, reliable friend who lives across town or across the country to join in a NAS sharing scheme. You can each back the other person's data up in real time. For most home users this is going to be overkill, but if you both have fiber running through your neighborhood, why not?

QNAP_TS659_Pro_II_Turbo_NAS_Server_RTRR_Feature_01.png

Advanced Folder Permissions - Enables you to configure access control to folders and subfolders for efficient management and better security. This is primarily aimed at business applications, but if you've got a house full of users, it makes sense to put some restrictions in place, and set up some safe areas where no one else has access. Kids and credit card data don't mix well, for example.

QNAP_TS659_Pro_II_Turbo_NAS_Server_Permission.png

ElephantDrive Cloud Storage - Lets users save backups in cloud based storage in addition to their Turbo NAS for an off-site storage with continuous data protection. This is going to be a very popular option for home users. Just as Carbonite has established a nice market for their data protection services, ElephantDrive will work very well for NAS users who have consolidated storage. It's not as complex as setting up your own private cloud, and doesn't offer all the capabilities you get by doing that, but it's ideally suited for users or groups who are interested in off-line storage. Most of us should be interested, because the truth is 90% of home users are vulnerable to a wide variety of disaster scenarios.

QNAP_TS659_Pro_II_Turbo_NAS_Server_Elephant_Drive.png

Download Station V2 - Now easier to use with a new AJAX interface, broadcatching support (RSS download), and enhanced overall performance. For those of us intent on drinking from the fire hose, this new interface makes it easier to set up your various data feeds.

QNAP_TS659_Pro_II_Turbo_NAS_Server_DownloadStationV2_450.png

Advanced Print Server - Now supports Internet printing with permission control as well as Bonjour printing for Mac. Who doesn't have a printer in the house, that doesn't have an Ethernet interface, and you have it hooked to one of the desktop systems, and are using printer sharing to allow others on the network to access it? Well, as more and more of us are migrating to laptops, it seems wasteful to keep one desktop running, just for a printer server. Got a Turbo NAS, problem solved?

QNAP_TS659_Pro_II_Turbo_NAS_Server_APP_Diagram_Printer.png

MyCloudNAS Remote Access - MyCloudNAS is a free built-in DNS service provided for users to register a unique domain name for their NAS. It further reduces the hassle of complicated Internet registration and allows users to quickly access their NAS through the Internet. This is the thing people have been waiting for, I think. When you hear discussions about Private Cloud vs. Public Cloud, this is what they're talking about. While some of the other remote access apps give you limited control of the NAS for specific tasks, MyCloudNAS gives you full access from anywhere in the world. Pretty cool, even if I'm going to want to read a couple dozen tech articles on network security before I try it. I'm chicken that way!

QNAP_TS659_Pro_II_Turbo_NAS_Server_MyCloudNAS_01.png

USB Wi-Fi Network Adapter Support - Allows you to deploy the NAS wirelessly. I can see this being worthwhile for smaller NAS units, but my old-school brain says I want this plugged directly into my router or into a Gigabit switch that connects to my primary workstations.

QNAP_TS659_Pro_II_Turbo_NAS_Server_APP_Diagram_Wireless.png

Two more features are included with the new version 3.4, but they're both for business-class IT environments, so I won't dwell on them here. They're more applicable to the high-end rack mount units that QNAP sells to the corporate world.

System Management Features - Import/export of users, host-based permissions control, enhanced Virtual Disk support, and direct file viewing via Google Doc

Virtual LAN Support - You can integrate the NAS into an existing VLAN on a virtualization infrastructure and configure the NAS as the storage system for other VLAN devices. This feature is applicable to Intel-based NAS

You can see that v3.4 was a major release in terms of new functionality. QNAP offers a huge selection of FAQs and how-to guides on their website that go into much more detail. It's one of the most informative sites I've seen, in any industry. They not only show what each feature does, they show you how to do it, with screen shots and real-world examples. As I said in the beginning of this section, QNAP clearly wants to stay on top, as the market leader in this segment. The high level of support that they offer for each user and each product is another example of how they intend to do that.



 

Comments 

 
# Power Efficient, but cost efficient?Christopher G Fields 2011-06-09 06:45
Great review and looks like a great product, but as a Computer Engineer I have to say that the whole "Great for the home owner" appeal probably is not there. I would say maybe a small business would look at this to reduce cost before Betty Crocker buys this for her home to store her pictures of the family. $400 sub similar devices are out there that are cost effective and offer raid services. Great review though and probably a great product.........for a small business or a nerd like myself, but then I'd just build my own for the fraction of the cost.
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# Peter CrockerPeter 2011-07-15 17:42
A few years ago I bought a TS-639 pro with 6 * 2TB WD 2002FYPS drives. Good for 8TB storage. At this moment I get between 55 and 100 MB/sec transfer speed. The one tested here will top this. I use it for home pictures, video, backup, documents, iSCSI with a virtual MAC, printserver, you name it.
I must agree that it has cost me, but you show me a NAS with this performance,capacity and posibilities that costs less. I can not find them out there. Software and support is also good.
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# Different expectationsBruce Bruce 2011-06-09 09:37
Glad you enjoyed the article.

Home users and businesses definitely have a different POV when it comes to technology costs. The IT director at my company (~400 people) bought one of the 5-bay units a year ago, and remarked how inexpensive it was, for all the things it could do. I don't think a home user is ever going to feel the same way, but a unit like this can serve reliably for a LONG time as the strong foundation of a home network. So, over time the higher initial cost amortizes out.

But, I hear you... I'm a self-declared cheapskate - my relatives call my home "The house that does without". This is an unfair description, but I do have a tendency to buy things once, by choosing things that have lasting value. The rest of my family is always buying the newer, cheaper version of things, and replacing them every 18 months. Me, I'd rather not have to redo everything that often.
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# Encryptionendocine 2011-06-09 20:11
One thing that wasn't mentioned in the review is drive encryption. On a QNAP system its an option, but not viable on a large array because the CPU can not handle it, so don't buy it for that. Hopefully either atoms get more powerful or they use faster processors for their future products. Tried to encrypt a 4T array and it was going to take days on a 459.
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# Next TimeBruce Bruce 2011-06-09 20:22
I suspect the next major upgrade of the top-line NAS units will include CPUs that support Intel® AES New Instructions (Intel® AES-NI). The increased performance, compared to prior generations of CPUs is astounding.
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# I mostly concurJim 2011-06-10 15:36
Good review. I'm a SOHO user with several PCs that are heavily used for work/play. I work at home a lot and need good reliable, fast storage for PC backup storage, file sharing, remote file access, and now using Oracle's VirtualBox, I've been using NAS to store VM images. So figuring I'd buy something a little more high-end, I bought a TS-459 Pro II. Have only been using it for a few weeks now, but I'm very pleased. Performance is pretty much identical to results in the review. iSCSI is a neat capability for VM's. I populated my unit with Hitachi 5K3000 2TB disks in RAID-5 and it works flawlessly. These low cost "green" Hitachi drives are 512 byte sectors, and so far have not exhibited compatibility issues seen with other mfr's "green" disks. I stress tested them 24x7 for a week in the QNAP before moving any live data to it.

I agree the cost is a bit high for most home environments, but it really does satisfy my needs for a compact, environmentally-friedly, and robust "work at home" infrastructure.

Thanks,
Jim
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# The right product for the applicationBruce Bruce 2011-06-10 20:00
Sounds like you are definitely in the target market for this product line. You're using several of its core strengths at the same time.

Good choice on the Hitachis, they're one of the recommendations on the QNAP forum. Spinpoint 3 drives from Samsung are another good choice, apparently. I wanted to test out the SATA 6Gb/s capability, and there aren't a whole lot of good choices ATM. You also did the right thing by stress testing the system BEFORE you loaded it up with data.
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# True.. I was a bit gunshyJim 2011-06-12 10:05
Remembering the "Deathstar" fiasco IBM had with drives a few years ago, and the fact that Hitachi has these 5K3000 series drives manufactured in China, I was reluctant to order them at first. But with rebates, they were $59 apiece... Almost throw-away if they didn't pan out. I was pleasantly surprised that none were DOA or exhibited any early failure issues under stress. Although they are only 5900 RPM, they are faster than most other "green" drives, and when working in Raid-5, they can deliver more throughput than Gig Ethernet can provide. Sata III (6 GB/s) is nice (state of the art), but in reality the spindles at that speed can't deliver data to the controller that fast. I think the verdict on these drives will be out for a while until they establish some real-world track record. I'm cautiously optimistic, though.

Jim
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# RE: QNAP TS-659 Pro II NAS Network Servers 2011-06-16 14:07
Nice write up will passing this link on.

FYI

Memory info found while sifting threw the other reviews and the QNAP forum pages.

TS-659 PRO II/TS-x59 PRO II

memory 24.99 at newegg + $0.99 Shipping

Kingston 2GB 204-Pin DDR3 SO-DIMM Unbuffered DDR3 1333 System Specific Memory Model KVR1333D3S8S9/2G

Can confirm it works.
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# Thanks for the tipBruce Bruce 2011-06-16 14:28
Without access to the BIOS, it's tough to tell what kind of speeds/timing QNAP is using, and if they are consistent across the platform. They spec the existing system memory out as DDR3-800, and Kingston has another module with the same spec memory chips on it that runs at DDR3-800, CAS 6. So many JEDEC profiles, so little time....

Many thanks for doing the detective work!

I know this isn't true, but it's funny to think that there's a cousin of the ASUS Eeee hiding inside my QNAP. LOL
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# RE: Thanks for the tips 2011-06-17 06:09
Glad it helped.

I spent a few days Googleing for the solution.

NOTE: I found posts that the other Kingston module does -NOT!- work. Any module that's specs match the module above should in theory work.

I couldn't see paying QNAP 600% more for what looked like just a generic little stick of laptop ram.

On the Bios note. Have you or anyone tried connecting a monitor to the VGA port on the back with a USB k/b and mouse and booting up? I was wondering about seeing the bios my self but other things have been occupying my time.

I haven't had it for long but so far I am pleased with that little box.

This unit is a more costly little NAS but has far more capabilities and potential than the other offerings out there.
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# Free TipPeter 2011-07-15 17:51
Before you want to upgrade the memory, you might firts want to check the QNAP resource monitor. My TS 639 pro standard has 1 GB installed.
The resource monitor shows me that it rearly uses more than 400 Mb, even when I am tranfering files at max speed.
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# CorrectionPeter 2011-07-15 17:52
Before you want to upgrade the memory, you might first want to check the QNAP resource monitor. My TS 639 pro standard has 1 GB installed.
The resource monitor shows me that it rearly uses more than 400 MB, even when I am tranfering files at max speed.
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# True facts...Bruce 2011-07-15 18:11
You're right about that, Peter. I looked at that issue in more detail in my latest review, of the QNAP TS-219P+. The section called "NAS System Overhead Measurements" clearly shows that file transfers hardly tax the memory subsystem at all. It's all the other capabilities where the extra memory can make a difference, really. It's not needed for the basic disk I/O.
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# More Memory....Jim 2011-12-07 08:26
I actually did add a 2-gig DIMM to my TS-459 ProII. Works fine and it was about $20. I was figuring that since it's running lunux as the underlying OS, the memory could (or would) be used for disk cache buffers. It's not clear that that is happening. But if you want to download, and install other applications, or enable many of the built-in services, the additional memory is a nice touch. :-)

BTW, my 459 has been working beautifully for over 6 months now and the hitachi disks are still going strong. I couldn't be happier.
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# Thanks for the update on the Hitachi HDDsBruce 2011-12-07 08:39
Good to hear that the Hitachis are holding up OK. Too bad we won't see those prices for awhile. $59 for a 2TB HDD is just a big fantasy now.....
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# No more cheap disks....Jim 2011-12-09 08:42
Yeah. I'm really glad I bought one extra at the time. Since RAID arrays like to be populated with identical disks, I figured having an identical spare was a good idea.
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# For $25 after the rest...Mik 2012-05-27 23:22
I decided, if it uses it or not most of the time, for the tiny little extra it costs to bang it in there today rather than after I wished I had it, it was worth adding it to the order. Almost bang on $2000 for a 12TB, 659 Pro II from Amazon.co.jp
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# The 1%'ersBruce 2012-05-28 08:10
You're right, an extra 1% on the initial cost is just not a significant issue. Memory is dirt cheap right now anyway. Too hab HDDs aren't. {$^(
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# sm768@hotmail.coms 2011-07-16 06:17
I have always found that planning for the future saves time and aggravation later on.
Anything worth doing is worth over doing, With in reason. Reason only being limited by ones Bank account/credit limit.
True, file transfers don't even come close to using the base system memory but start running a few other things and it can start to add up. streaming content to more than one media center running a personal web server etc. and it starts to eat up system resources. So adding 2gb of extra ram to future proof it for less than $30.00 is a no brainier when you have already invested around 2K$ for the box and the drives to populate it.
I wish my linux/programming Kung-Fu was stronger. I would love some one to port mythtv to it. Add a mythtv ipgk/qpkg a silicondust HD Homerun dual the soon to be releases cable card version network tuners. That would make this thing really rock. I have the dual and am impatiently waiting for the cable card version to be released later this month they work with linux mac and ms-win ware the centon offering is an internal card only works with ms-win. I found a post on the silicondust forum that someone was porting mythtv to a synology box. I hope someone takes up the challenge for QNAP. I really like my TS-659 PRO II. I still need to more drives read "a few more pay checks" to complete the box.
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