There are two main types of RAID device available. The simpler models, which are mostly aimed at small business users, are supplied with hard disks already built-in so they can be plugged in and set up right away. The more complex models are aimed at larger corporate users, who have specialist IT staff who can configure and maintain the storage system.
The TS-509 Pro Turbo NAS is certainly aimed at corporate users, but the manufacturer - a Taiwanese company called QNAP - has made a good stab at simplifying the set-up process to make it as straightforward as possible.
Like most corporate RAID systems, the QNAP TS-509 Pro Turbo NAS is available as a ‘barebones' chassis that allows you to install your own choice of hard drives. Bought in this way it costs just under £590, although you'll obviously need to budget in the cost of the disks your require.
However, you can also ask the UK suppliers at Ultimate Storage to configure and install a set of hard drives for you. The price will vary depending on the choice of hard drive, but our review QNAP TS-509 Pro Turbo NAS was equipped with five Samsung hard drives with 500GB storage each (2.5TB total) and costs just under £1,050.
The QNAP TS-509 Pro Turbo NAS is equipped with five drive bays, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, an external eSATA interface and USB 2.0 port for connecting additional storage devices. As well as providing RAID and NAS storage facilities it can function as a print server, web server, FTP server and even an ‘iSCSI' server that provides remote access to its storage.
It can encrypt your data for extra security, and there's a handy ‘One Touch' button on the front of the unit for quickly transferring files from a USB device on to the QNAP TS-509 Pro Turbo NAS, or vice versa.
The installation process is simplified by a system that QNAP calls ‘touch and go'. When you turn on the QNAP TS-509 Pro Turbo NAS for the first time it automatically detects the number of drives that have been installed and displays the RAID options available for that configuration on the small LCD display on the front of the unit. You then simply select the RAID option you want and the QNAP TS-509 Pro Turbo NAS will configure itself automatically without you even needing to turn on your computer.
If you do need to adjust settings in more detail there's a program provided that quickly locates the unit on your network and checks that it's working correctly, and then provides an IP address so that you can configure the various settings by using your web browser.
We wouldn’t go so far as to recommend the QNAP TS-509 Pro Turbo NAS to small business users with relatively little technical knowledge, as its price and sheer range of features mean that it remains very much a product for corporate users. However, it is easier to set up and maintain than many similar RAID devices, making it a good option for larger organisations that are looking for a high-capacity, low-maintenance storage solution.