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Reviews - Featured Reviews: Network
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

NAS Server Final Thoughts

My first and solemn duty is to remind everyone that relying on a collection of drives in any RAID configuration for data backup purposes is a huge error. RAID systems provide protection against loss of services, not loss of data. Several examples will illustrate the problem, I hope:

  • the drive controller goes bad and corrupts the data on all the drives in the array
  • the entire storage device is physically or electrically damaged by external forces
  • the entire storage device is lost, stolen, or destroyed
  • a single drive in a RAID 5 cluster dies and during the rebuild process, which puts higher stress on the remaining drives, a second drive fails
  • floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, etc.

All these points lead to the inescapable conclusion that multiple drives in a common system, in a single location do not provide effective and reliable data backup. Throughout this review I've talked about high-availability systems, and the QNAP TS-659 fits that description, especially when employed in a RAID 6 configuration. Even with two concurrent drive failures, your data is still available and accessible. The NAS device stays online the entire time while the failed drives are replaced and the array is rebuilt. That's what RAID systems are designed to do. The inherent redundancy is not meant to serve as a backup file set.

I guess I was an early adopter, or at least I was in the early majority. I bought my first NAS in 2005, after my wife's Dell desktop shredded the first of several hard drives. While my NAS from the past has been sitting in one spot for most of those six years, the world of NAS products has not. New products available today offer so much more functionality and additional features that it boggles the mind. Most of the advances have been in the area of software, but the hardware has also kept pace. PATA became SATA; 10Mbps became dual Gigabit NICs with failover; "locked-in-a-box" (AKA: The Brick) became hot-swap RAID clusters; one button & one light became 4-line LCD displays. However you look at it, the range of capabilities available today looms high over what we had to choose from in the not too distant past.

I'm writing this article from a much different perspective than our Executive Editor. He runs an IT company and I support a small network for a home office. That being said, we both recognize the intrinsic value of network attached storage products. I bought my first one six years ago and it does automatic backups every night at midnight and 1:00 AM for the two primary workstations in the house. When I hear it light off at midnight, I know it's time to either finish my article or go to bed. Then the snooze alarm kicks off an hour later, if I'm still up. It performs well and looks stylish even today, if a bit outsized. It looks like this:

QNAP_TS659_Pro_II_NAS_My_Old_Maxtor_NAS.jpg

All of the QNAP TS series product in this article offer so much more capability than my old, simple NAS. Just as our small business has evolved, so too have the tools available. We're looking at creating a website and a blog to go along with it, and maybe a forum. All these can be hosted from one of these new versatile NAS devices, acting as a server. This kind of capability goes far beyond the simple remote access tools provided by Windows Home Server. Quite frankly, unless you are getting Windows Home Server for free from your MSDN account and you can repurpose an old computer that's sitting in the corner unused, all these NAS systems reviewed here on Benchmark Reviews are a much better value. If your Windows based server is only going to be used for serving out files, sharing printers and managing backups, one inexpensive NAS does all this at less than half the cost.

When you add in the new features that QNAP has added recently, like RAID 10, Real-time Remote Replication, ElephantDrive Cloud Storage, Download Station V2, MyCloudNAS Remote Access, and USB Wi-Fi Network Adapter Support, it's obvious that you get so much more with this solution package. The fact that you can get access to all these capabilities with an IT department is icing on the cake. The very fact that Microsoft offers four version of Windows Storage Server tells me that most end-users would be foolish to try and implement any of the MS solutions without professional services getting involved, at least for a portion of the selection and integration process.

So, what conclusions can we draw, particularly about this high performance, six-bay TS-659 Pro II Turbo NAS server. Click NEXT to find out, and discuss...



 

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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