If you’re an audio, video or IT professional or have prosumer-level storage and security needs, QNAP’s TS-239 Pro Turbo NAS might be on your wish list. While the average consumer won’t appreciate the high-end features of this network-attached storage (NAS) device, tech enthusiasts will see a list of the things they seek in a NAS drive. iSCSI? Check. Hot-swappable bay drives? Yep. iTunes server? Of course. Volume management software that lets you configure the device into RAID 0 and RAID 1 arrays? Absolutely. And there’s more.
The TS-239 is a hot-swappable two-bay drive with a 1.6GHz processor and 1GB of DDR2 memory. It runs relatively quietly despite the fan, but you’ll definitely notice it chug through some of its more difficult tasks. It’s very secure too, offering AES 256-bit volume-based encryption and plenty of administrative privileges to ensure only the people you want to view data can access it. IT professionals or people in charge of large amounts of data in the workplace will appreciate this. It’s easy to create new users and set up privileges and passwords for various accounts.
Like many QNAP devices the TS-239 has a one-touch copying. The beauty of one-touch copying is that it will let you quickly copy the contents of a USB drive connected to the port on the front of the unit. Copying can take just seconds or several minutes, depending on the size of the contents to be copied.
When setting up the drive, we detected the unit and its folders through Finder without difficulty and were able to drag and drop folders with ease. The File Manager system, like Synology’s Disk Station DS409slim, can’t upload folders, just files, so you’ll want to use the Finder windows for loading files onto the unit. It’s not the most streamlined approach, of course, and the File Manager interface is ridiculously outdated, but it does the job.
When you first start the drive’s browser interface, you’ll see six icons. As just discussed, the Web File Manager is pretty useless, but the Administration, Web Server, Customer Service, QNAP Wiki, and QNAP forum icons are useful portals. The QNAP Forum, Customer Service, and QNAP Wiki icons link to ways to access information about the product. This is helpful considering the complicated setup processes involved with some of the drive’s higher-end abilities.
The Administration icon links to the main hub for configuring the unit. On the left panel, you’ll see many folders capped by an overview icon. On the right you’ll see a window with the details for their specific feature.
The Disk Management folder enables the user to configure iSCSI targets, RAID alignment, and Volumes management for the drive. The volume management will reveal the capacity of your drives, their status, their SMART information (good, bad, etc) and even let you scan to see if there are any bad blocks of data. The drive will warn you with a ‘this will take a long time’ notification if you attempt the scan. You can format your drives, create a single disk volume, RAID 1 mirroring disk volume, RAID 0 striping disk volume, or linear disk volume.
These features can only be initiated when you first manually insert a new drive or replace a drive; we kept receiving an error when we tried to format the volumes after they’d been inserted. Our review unit included two populated drives set at a RAID striped configuration and to alter it we had to pull one of the hot-swappable 3.5in drives out.
Remote access is initialised through the Network application and the DDNS tab. You’ll have to go www.dyndns.com to enable the Dynamic DNS Service and allow for port forwarding. It’s a multi-step process that isn’t as approachable as some of the home media servers we’ve seen, but then, this drive is catering to a more high-end audience. Similarly, there are remote replicate and remote RAID expansion features available to give you even more power to manipulate and access your data when you’re away from your machine.
A recent firmware update allows Mac users to use the TS-239 as a backup disk through Time Machine. The attention to Mac users is appreciated because the interface of the drive will remind some users of older Windows operating systems in its layout and aesthetics.
If you’re a business owner hoping for a do-it-all NAS or a consumer looking for a home media server, there are better drives out there to fit your needs. The TS-239 Pro Turbo NAS is ideally suited for IT professionals who will be able to take advantage of the considerable high-end features of the device: online RAID capacity expansion, built-in iSCSI target service, and remote access and replication. This isn’t a drive you can just plug in and expect to immediately comprehend and master. Those who put in the time will enjoy QNAP’s dedication to the business and professional costumer, but the quirky setup processes will prevent a larger audience from enjoying this drive.