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Reviews - Featured Reviews: Network
Written by Bruce Normann   
Thursday, 30 June 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
QNAP TS-219P+ NAS Network Server
QNAP v3.4 New Features
Closer Look: QNAP TS-219P
Insider Details: QNAP TS-219P
QNAP Turbo NAS Features
QNAP TS-219P NAS Hardware
QNAP TS-219P Software
QPKG Center Software Expansion
NAS Testing Methodology
Basic-Disk Test Results
NAS System Overhead Measurements
NAS Server Final Thoughts
QNAP TS-219P 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. (AKA El Niño)

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-219 fits that description, if you employ it in a RAID 1 configuration. With one drive failure, your data is still available and accessible. The NAS device stays online the entire time while the failed drive 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. A larger NAS with more drive bays offers the possibility of increasing the redundancy with RAID 5/6/50/60, but for a SOHO environment, RAID 0 is generally adequate. Remember, we're not talking about losing data here, we're only talking about the ability to keep working uninterrupted, if one drive should fail. If two drives fail, it's time to pull the local backups off the shelf.

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:


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 affordable, two-bay TS-219P+ Turbo NAS server? Click NEXT to find out, and discuss...



# Why no consumer drives?Dirk 2011-07-23 23:23

to the "Cons" in the conlusion:
Why aren't consumer hard disks often the right choice for drive arrays, also a simple RAID-1 ?

I've heard about it before, but didn't find a real explanation. If you activate HDD sleep after xx idle minutes, the maximum hours of operation should be limited. What else?
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# RE: Why no consumer drives?Bruce 2011-07-24 06:55
QNAP has a detailed compatability list on their site, but you have to read between the lines to find out WHY consumer drives don't always cut it in RAID applications. Two things are primarily responsible: a software setting in the drive itself and the mechanical design of the platter bearings.

The consumer drives have an error recovery scheme that can interfere with the RAID controller, calle "Time-Limited Error Recovery" (TLER). There's ton's of info on the web, including the major drive manufacturer's sites about it.

The second factor is that the drive spindles can wear out quickly from excessive vibration when many, many drives are all chattering away in the same rack. So, some drives (WD Black for instance) are approved by the manufacturer in RAID 0 or RAID1 when there are only two drives in the enclosure. This is great news for all the two-bay NAS owners...
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# RE: RE: Why no consumer drives?Dirk 2011-07-24 08:32
I see, and I remember that I've read complaints about WD's "deep error recovery" with consumer drives. Too bad, because most home users might prefer the energy efficient drives.

By the way: Thanks for the extensive review, Bruce!

Your measured power consumption on the page "insider details" (8 W in sleep mode) was with or without drives installed? In many reviews, the sleep mode consumption with discs amounts to 12-13W, which is on par with the comparable Synology DS-211+.
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# Sleep ModeBruce 2011-07-24 12:14
There was one drive installed at the time I did the power measurement. In sleep mode, the drive is not spinning, that's why the power usage was lower.
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