Thecus N7770-10G Elite-Class Business 7-Bay NAS Review

by - 5 years ago

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Introduction


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Today’s review is a real pleasure for me as I get to take a closer look and test an elite class business NAS with built-in 10GbE and high availability function. I got Thecus’ N7770-10G 7-bay business NAS on the table and I’m going to give it thorough testing to show you just how amazing it is.

When I review consumer class NAS devices, I often talk about how they are suited for all sorts of media and streaming needs as that is the main focus for that group. The Thecus N7770-10G does all this too and it does it great, but it isn’t what it was designed for. This is a business class NAS and as such it needs a whole other set of features and functionality. You get a complete backup solution that includes the use of external devices, cloud backup, snapshots, and client backup as well as total security thanks to Intel Security Antivirus, AES 256-bit encryption, and VPN server functionality. The N7770-10G still provides all the mobile connectivity and media streaming capabilities as well as centralized authentication control.

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The Thecus N7770-10G NAS isn’t built around a low-power ARM or Intel Celeron CPU, instead it’s built with a full Intel Core i3-2120 dual-core processor that has a base clock speed of 3.3GHz. To go with that CPU, you get 8GB DDR3 ECC memory that is expandable all the way to 32GB, dual Gigabit Ethernet, 10GbE card pre-installed, and 7 drive bays for a lot of raw storage.

It is my personal opinion that we have been stuck at 1Gbps ethernet connections for way too long. While we had the ability to link those together to achieve better connections, it is old by now and today’s needs also increase the need for better connectivity. In that regard, I’m glad to see Thecus having this model with an included 10GbE adapter, making it ready for the step into the next speed category. It still features two Intel 82574L Gigabit Ethernet connections too, which you naturally all can link aggregate and trunk. Further, you get a total of six USB 2.0 ports where two of them are on the front and two USB 3.0 ports on the rear. The HDMI port further allows you to turn your NAS into the ultimate multimedia hub by connecting the NAS directly to your TV or monitor.

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The N7770-10G supports RAID 0, 1, 5, 6 10, 50 and JBOD modes besides single disk usage. You can create multiple RAID volumes with different modes, only limited by the amount of drives you have available for the pool. Should a hard drive malfunction occur, changing one is simple thanks to online RAID migration and expansion, hot spare, and auto rebuild. You can also pick which filesystem you prefer as the N7770-10G supports EXT3, EXT4, Btrfs and XFS for increased flexibility and ability to suit many different types of environments. Users can simultaneously use different file systems across multiple RAID volumes to get the best of each one.

iSCSI Thin-Provisioning is a thing that many people still read past as they don’t really know what it is, but it is well worth getting the handle on, as you can manage your storage better and get better speeds. Connect through iSCSI for the fastest data transfer speeds available and make wasted disk space a thing of the past with thin provisioning’s flexible storage functionality. Windows Server, NT, and XP users will need to download the iSCIC initiator from Microsoft, but Windows 7, 8, and 10 users, for example, have it built right into the OS. If in doubt, just search for iSCSI from your Windows start menu search.

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Two awesome features in Thecus NAS’ that often are overlooked, are the Disk Clone and Disk Wipe functions. Both can be extremely useful for both business and home users. The Disk Clone features allows you to copy the entire contents of a disk to one or many other disks while the Disk Wipe function allows you to permanently destroy a volumes data.

Business data is sensitive data and sensitive data needs to be protected. Thecus N7770-10G offers AES 256-bit RAID volume encryption that allows you to fully encrypt the entire RAID volume. Sensitive data also has to be sent and received with the proper security, for this you can set up the VPN server. It allows users to remotely access a secure network with the equipment already at hand.

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Data Guard backup solution is the ultimate software as it provides both local and remote parts. Currently, data is backed up across RAID volumes and external drives. In addition, Data Guard uses innovative technology to sync data across the network to other NAS and servers. It makes managing NAS user-friendly and convenient. But there are many ways to backup your data and the Thecus N7770-10G pretty much supports them all.

With BTRFS support, users can enjoy the simplicity of snapshot backups. Snapshots of data at various time points can be manually or automatically made and just as easily later restored to rollback files or folders to previous states. Rsync is probably the most common used technique and Thecus supports this too. It gives great flexibility with remote backup capability, a flexible scheduler, and the stability of Linux-based transfer.

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You can easily create your own cloud solution with the Thecus N7770-10G, but that doesn’t mean that the existing cloud providers should be counted out. There can be many reasons to use these services and Thecus supportsDropBox, Amazon S3, and ElephantDrive cloud backup functionality. The best here is that it is as easy to use and setup as all the normal and local sharing functions.

Data Burn is another great feature that comes in line with the previous mentioned Disk Clone and Disk Wipe features. With Data Burn, you can connect a CD, DVD, or Blue-ray burner and create physical optical backups of your data. In addition, it also supports burning of ISO image files instead. You can of course also use a connected optical drive to easily backup the data to your NAS.

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When you buy a Thecus NAS like this, you also get a few extra software pieces that are well worth having. The hardware in itself is solid quality while failovers and redundancies are available for almost all systems. But you also need to protect your files and an Antivirus software is perfect for this. Thecus partnered with McAfee and includes their award-winning software for free.

Acronis True Image is also included for free and it is one of the easiest ways to manage your backups, I use it quite often on both a personal level and for my reviews setups. It is one of the easiest pieces of backup software available with a long set of functions and One-click protection setups.

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Keeping an eye on the NAS while you’re on the go isn’t a problem either thanks to iOS and Android connectivity. With T-OnTheGo and the T-Dashboard, you can manage your NAS, and upload to and download/stream from your NAS using an iOS or Android device on the go.

Feature Highlights

  • Intel Core i3-2120 (3.3.GHz Dual Core) processor
  • 8 GB DDR3 ECC Memory (Expandable to 32 GB)
  • 10GbE card included
  • 1 x HDMI port
  • Hot-swappable hard drives
  • RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, 10, 50, and JBOD

Packaging and Accessories

The front and the back of the box look the same, and it looks stunning. There is no doubt looking at the package that we’re dealing with a premium NAS. The feature highlights as well as the NAS itself are shown clearly and easy to spot.

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The side of the box goes more into detail on the specifications and package content. This is also where it will be marked what market it is intended for, which really only comes down to what power cable is included.

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The other side shows the feature highlights and how it can be useful in pretty much any scenario. As the box says, A NAS for every need.

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Inside the box we find a power cable for our region, a single RJ45 ethernet cable, four keys for the drive trays, screws for seven 3.5-inch drives and screws for seven 2.5-inch drives as well as a utilities disk, warranty card, and quick installation guide.

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A closer look


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Thecus made sure that this beautiful N7770-10G NAS arrives in perfect condition. It is packed securely and also features protective film on the NAS itself.

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The drive trays lock individually and each has two LEDs, one for status and one for activity. The rest of the LEDs are located to the left of the drive trays. One for power and status, two for LAN, and two for USB.

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Moving further down we see the two front USB 2.0 ports for easy backups or peripheral attachment above the power button. All the way to the bottom is a 2-line status display and four buttons to control it. With it you gain access to basic information, status, and settings without having to use anything but the NAS itself.

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Turning the NAS around and having a look at the rear, we instantly notice the add-on card at the top. This is the 10Gbase Ethernet adapter that also gives the N7770-10G its name. This card can be switched to other supported PCIe cards should you wish to do so.

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Below the add-in card are all the rest of the powers. Two Gigabit Ethernet ports, four USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports and also a HDMI and D-Sub VGA port for your monitors. While the HDMI might be the one most home users will go to, the D-Sub VGA port is what’s used in many server environments. Having the option direcly instead of having to use an adapter is great. The amount off USB 2.0 ports on this NAS also highlight the direct usage feature. You can connect a mouse and keyboard individually and still have four USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 ports left for anything else – for example two USB 3.0 drives and four printers. In the end, the choice is yours.

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All the way at the bottom we find the product stickers next to the build-in PSU with switch power and own cooling fan. The PSU is also easily replaceable should something happen to it.

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Even the drive trays in the Thecus N7770-10G deserve praise. They are a solid build and made from metal which both helps the sturdiness as well as the heat dissipation from the drives. The front of the trays allows for air intake to help with the cooling while the bottom is padded to protect your drives. The trays can take both 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch drives

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Starting to strip down the NAS to see what’s inside and the first thing we will notice is that the chassis isn’t made of a single top piece. You can open each side individually although there isn’t much use for it for most people. You don’t get access to much from just opening it up, except that you see the quality build that Thecus made. A one-piece top cover would also easily warp on this size and dividing it into smaller pieces prevents that.

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We also get the first glimpse on the motherboard from here where there is plenty of access to the rear of the board.

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The rear piece pops off after losing a few more screws and we get a view on the two 90mm fans that take care of the general case cooling and expels the hot air from the NAS.

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The first thing that I am able to pull out of the N7770-10G is the 10Gbase add-in card that is included with this NAS. While other NAS allow you to upgrade with 10Gbase as an option, it’s nice to see it included and it saves the trouble of finding a compatible product.

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The PCIe 10Gbase card is using a x4 connector as that’s all that is needed for a single port and it is also otherwise a simple little controller.

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There are two chips used on the 10Gbase card, a Marvell 88×3110 controller and an additional Tehuti Networks TN4010 as a single port MAC solution to match.

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The motherboard inside the N7770-10G resembles that of a desktop system more than those we usually find in NAS servers – but it isn’t a default sized board. The Intel Core-i3 3120 CPU is active cooled and the system is using normal sized DDR3 DIMMs.

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The rear side of the motherboard doesn’t have anything added. The size is plenty to keep everything on one side as seen above, with space to spare.

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The front LEDs are quite large and provide great visual identification in all environments. A minor thing, but one that can make a lot of difference depending on usage environment.

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The two memory modules included come from ADATA and are DDR3 1600 ECC-DIMMs with 4GB each, making up the 8GB RAM that the N7770-10G ships with.

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While taking the NAS apart, I found a few hidden or undocumented features where the first is an mSATA slot located right next to the CPU and with screw holes at both 30mm and 50mm distance.

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The second undocumented feature is an extra SATA port located next to the MDU USB module used for the operating system. The intention of this SATA port is a little weird to me, but it could come in useful. If I had designed this NAS, I would probably have extended it to the back for an eSATA connection that this NAS is missing a little bit.

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There is a proper power setup with solid capacitors and voltage regulators to make sure that nothing gets damaged and has a stable power supply.

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The SATA bridge is using a full-sized x16 connector which explains why it doesn’t feature an individual power connector for the seven drives it has to power.
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Along the bridge-card are four Marvell 88SE9170 PCIe-to-SATA 6Gb/s host controllers.

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On the motherboard itself are a few more chips than the CPU itself, such as two Intel 82574L LAN controllers.

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The Pericom P13VDP takes care of the video output.

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And the Fintek F71889ED and Winbond w83795g provide additional sensors.

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Seagate Enterprise NAS 6TB Drives


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When I received this NAS, Thecus had included five great NAS drives from Seagate’s Enterprise series for me to test this unit with. A great NAS also deserves some great drives and while my usual NAS drives aren’t bad, they’re designed more for the consumer segment.

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The 6TB Seagate Enterprise NAS drives are built for reliable performance storage for cloud-based systems and NAS applications from 1 to 16 bay enclosures. They are available up to 8TB capacity, but these five I’m having in the Thecus N7770-10G today are 6TB drives with 128MB cache, a 7200 RPM spindle speed, operating temperatures up to 70 degrees Celcius, and able to withstand shocks of up to 70Gs.

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The drives have a long endurance and great workload ratings. The endurance is rated for 300TB a year and they have a 1.2 million hour meantime before failure rating. Seagate is also backing these drives with a 5-Year warranty and also offers 5-Year Rescue Data Recovery options.

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The drives are built on customer proven technologies coupled with the newest density platters that allow for lower power consumptions, smaller overall footprint, and lower total cost of ownership over previous drive generations. The RV sensors provide string reliable performance and the controller is flashed with NAS-optimized firmware for balanced reads and writes.

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The available Rescue Data Recovery Service options can save the day when the worst case scenario happens. It is an extra feature that you might want to consider when dealing with your important data. Any company is more or less lost when they lose their digital data. Seagate Recovery Services (SRS) can save the day in the following situations: RAID controller failure, Lost RAID configuration, accidental reconfiguration, accidental re-initialization of the RAID array, power surges that cause multiple drive failures simultaneously, missing RAID partitions, reformatted RAID partitions, virus damage, natural disaster, human error and drive failures. Most data can be recovered in-lab with a nearly 90% success rate.

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The PCB of the Seagate Enterprise NAS 6TB HDDs is well protected and the HDD controller and motor controller both feature heat transfer pads to help them stay cool in hot environments. The 128MB cache on the HDD is provided by an SK Hynix chip.

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The specification sheet below reveals the rest and we see that most of the drives in this series come with equal specifications aside from the capacity with only the 8TB flagship model being a little faster and having a double the cache.

The 6TB model that I’m having five of in this NAS today are rated for an impressive sustained sequential operation of up to 216MB/s and an average access latency of 4.16ms.

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System Specifications, Features & Power Consumption


Hardware Specifications

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Software Specifications

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Login

ThecusOS 5.0 has a simple yet effective login site that allows you to easy access modules and the admin interface from the same location.

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Dashboard

ThecusOS dashboard has a list of items pinned by default as seen below, these are called favorites and you can add any page that way. To the left you got all the categories and setting options and that panel can also be collapsed to make more room for icons.

The logs, shutdown, restart and logout features can be found at the top at all times, so you don’t need to navigate around to find these key features. Several of the most used features are also present as hotlinks at the bottom of the screen, such as RAID setup, fan speeds, and network information.

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Power Consumption

The chart contains the actual power consumption measured at the PSU connection and while loaded with a maximum amount of drives. Peak, or maximum, power draw will occur during boot times.

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Setup – Initialization & Storage


There are quite a few ways you can get started with your new Thecus NAS, but the easiest is connecting to the default IP address that has been set for first LAN port. You can find it in either the setup guide or also read it on the physical display on the NAS itself. Use the browser of your choice and login with the default username and password and you’re ready for the initial setup.

Initialization

Thecus OS welcomes us to the new NAS with a System Initialization Setup Wizard that will guide us through the setup in very few steps. The first thing you’ll need to decide is whether you want to turn email notification on or off. This can be a very useful feature, but it is also something that you can configure at a later time.

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Next, the setup wizard will scan the drives that you have installed and allow you to create a first disk setup of those. Which modes available will depend on how many drives you select and whether they should be available or spares. By selecting the five Seagate Enterprise NAS drives that Thecus included for me, the OS choses RAID6 as the best option.

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The setup wizard will let you create another user as the next step, something that you always should do. You should never use your main administrator account for normal connections and as such you’ll need a new user anyway.

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And that was all the configuration you need to do to get started. You get a final view of the settings you made before you can submit and apply them.

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Once done, you’ll be presented with the simple but very effective dashboard from where you can continue the setup, add users and groups, shares, and install more features.

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Storage Setup

The initial setup created a storage pool from our drives, but that might not be the one that we want in the end or we might just want more. Deleting and creating new storage pools is as easy as it could be and done in very few steps.

The initial storage page provides information on both internal and external drives. The internal drives allow for SMART self-checks and bad block detection while the external drives only can be ejected from here. I should note here that the display of 0GB capacity on the one USB drive isn’t an error, the drive is actually just 256MB big. It is the first ever USB drive that I purchased and I like to use it to store encryption keys on. You can also set the overall disk power management here, when the drives should be sent into sleep mode.

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The smart info will provide a brief information about the selected drive, including power on hours and temperature. You can also run both short and long self-diagnose tests from here.

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The RAID management is however the place we want to go now. We got a current RAID storage pool that, for demonstration purposes, we want to destroy and create a new.

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Clicking the edit feature will allow us to remove the pool and create a new one. There’s also an additional protection popup that will prevent you from accidental deletion of the wrong drive array.

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Once we removed the old one, we can create a new. Actually, we could create a new one even with the old present if we got installed drives available. But in this case we are creating a new one from all available drives. While you select which drives should be available and which should be spare, the information text at the bottom of the page changes to show you what RAID modes will be available for your current selection.

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The second step is then to choose one of the modes available. I’ll create an RAID6 array with these five disks as it is an optimal choice – not being concerned by available capacity. RAID6 offers a greater protection than RAID5 where up to two drives can fail without you losing any data.

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We’re almost done with our new disk array and all that is left to do is give it a name and decide whether it should be the Master RAID, if we want to encrypt the entire volume and whether we want a quick or slow RAID build. The Master RAID function is used to define where the default shares and folders will be placed.

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The next step highlights one of the great features on Thecus OS, allowing us to choose the setup further. We can select which file system we want to use, EXT3, EXT4, BTRFS, or XFS. We can also set the bytes per inode and the stripe size of the array here. If in doubt, pick the default settings.

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We get another final look at our settings before we submit and apply them.

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You can now either wait for the RAID to finish formatting and initializing, or you can continue with the setup of more features such as users, groups, and services.

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More Storage Options

There are quite a few extra storage options that will come in handy along the way and Thecus OS deservers big praise in this area.

Starting with NAS stacking, the Thecus N7770-10G comes with built-in iSCSI initiator that allows users to connect up to 5 Thecus NAS devices together and create iSCSI target volumes whenever the need arises to expand storage capacity. The process is as simple as any other in this OS as seen in the screenshot below. A few login and server details, or use the discovery function, and you’re good to go.

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Another really useful feature in the Storage section is the ability to mount ISO images directly from any connected storage. Simply select a shared folder at the top of the page and the guide will quickly do the rest for you.

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Browse for the ISO file you want to mount, tell it what to mount is as and press the Add button; that is all you need to do.

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The ISO file is now mounted and ready to be accessed from everywhere on the network where the N7770-10G can be accessed.

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We shouldn’t forget about the High Availability NAS cloning (HA) that brings your downtime as close to zero as possible and it is probably the ultimate data access fail-safe. NAS setup in the HA will automatically synchronize their contents through a Heartbeat connection and if one NAS has a problem, not only will you be able to fix it without data loss using the protection of RAID and other Thecus backup methods, the healthy backup NAS will take the reins and ensure continuous data service even in the face of hardware failure.

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Disk Cloning and Wiping can come in very handy, but it only works for externally connected disks. The N7770-10G sadly doesn’t feature any eSATA connector, but it does have plenty of USB connectors. Securely wipe data from drives or clone the ones you need an extra backup of with just a few clicks.

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There are two more points worth highlighting in the storage section, but I get to them on the next page as part of network shares.

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Setup – Users, Services & Files


One of the things you’ll both need initially and probably quite often down the line is the user and group authentication pages.

Users

We already got our static administrator user and the one that we created during the initialization, but there is a good chance that we need a whole bunch more for everyone that needs access to this amazing NAS.

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Creating new users is very easy and it doesn’t require much: A username and a password. You can also change the default user ID and assign groups if you already created any.

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Thecus OS has one of the best features for mass user creation and it is very simple at the same time. You can create a text file with all the information or just manually paste it into the edit field. User, password, and user group separated by a comma and one per line, that’s the only rule. This batch function will create both users and groups if they don’t already exist.

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User Groups

The easiest way to maintain access rights to a lot of users at the same time is user groups. We have one by default for all users and we can create pretty much as many more as we’d like.

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Creating new groups is even easier than users. All you need is a name and optionally you can select existing users to add right away and change the group ID.

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Network Services

The network services is another place you’ll want to visit, that is if you want to use anything else than Windows-shares that are enabled by default.

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But just because they aren’t enabled, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t all there. AFP and Time Machine for Apple users as well as NFS for Linux and Unix users is there.

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Both FTP and TFTP are present in basic forms and the only thing I really miss here is an FXP enable/disable function.

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You can naturally set up SSL connections for your web services in case you need those. Most home users won’t, but if you are a business then there is a good chance that you will need this.

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UPnP service can be enabled to save you the hassle of setting up network information and routing manually and DDNS is also supported for those who don’t have a static IP address but need to be able to access the NAS from everywhere.

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The UPnP port management allows the NAS to set the configurations in your router if UPnP is supported by the router and enabled. This is a lot easier to do when setting up new services than it is to multitask and manually set it in the router; keep the settings where they belong.

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While we are in this area, we’ll take a short look at the auto thumbnail creation. This is particular useful for users who access their photo folders via the mobile app T-OnTheGo.

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Shared Folders

On the previous page I skipped two points and one of them was the normal shared folders that will be available when you browse your network neighborhood. There are some default folders for the apps and features the NAS is born with and you can create all the ones you need on top of that.

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I really like Thecus way of assigning user and groups to the ACL settings. Select either of the clearly categorized users or groups and hit the plus button where you want to them to be.

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iSCSI shares

Business users, and more enthusiast users as well, have discovered the power of iSCSI setups and Thecus OS supports this too on the N7770-10G. Windows 7 and newer all have iSCSI initiators build into the operating system, making it an obvious choice where thin-provisioning prevents a lot of wasted space.

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How you set it up comes down to your own needs and you can find a lot of tutorials for it around the web. This is nothing that you should be afraid off, even when you never done it before.

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Setup – There is more, Add-Ons & External Devices


Thecus OS has a file system check built-in and once activated, it boots into its own little setup. From there you can run intensive file system tests to make sure that everything is running as you’d like without any apps or users interfering while it happens.

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Extra Modules

You can install quite a few extra modules onto the Thecus N7770-10G, ranging from NBZGet and transmission download tools over Picassa, Dropbox, ElephantDrive, and Virus Scanners to Scheduling tools and media players. You can install them directly online or find them via the manual App Installation page that links to the App Center

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Installing a new app from the Auto App Installer is as easy as hitting the icon in the Action column and wait a little bit. It will download and install the module automatically. You’ll still have to enable it after that.

Thecus_N7770-10G-SSapps 2

 

Backup Features

Thecus added plenty of backup features on the N7770-10G NAS, and you can add even more through the App Center as we’ve just seen.

The first built-in backup feature is for the system DOM where you can schedule automatic backups.

Thecus_N7770-10G-SSbackup 1

Rsync is probably the most popular and simplest backup solution. It works pretty much anywhere and with everything, which also explains the popularity.

Thecus_N7770-10G-SSbackup 2

The ACL can also be backed up and restored.

Thecus_N7770-10G-SSbackup 3

One of the unique backup features is the Data Burn that allows you to burn directly onto optical drives that you have connected to the NAS. You can also burn to ISO from here in case you don’t want to burn an actual disk. Those ISOs can be stored or also mounted as shares as seen earlier.

Thecus_N7770-10G-SSbackup 4

Cloud backup is built-in in the form of Amazon S3, one of the most popular commercial services around the world.

Thecus_N7770-10G-SSbackup 6

Firmware Upgrade

The Thecus OS features automatic firmware upgrade, but you can also do it manually. During my testing, a new firmware came out and I’ll of course flash that onto the N7770-10G

Thecus_N7770-10G-SSfirmware 1

Thecus_N7770-10G-SSfirmware 2

The upgrade process will keep you updated on what it does all the way until it has finished.

Thecus_N7770-10G-SSfirmware 3

After the firmware updated, you can celebrate with balloons and streamers as shown below. Well, you can, but there really isn’t a need for it. All that is left to do is to reboot the NAS and the new firmware will take effect.

Thecus_N7770-10G-SSfirmware 4

External devices

The external storage drives are covered under the storage section, but there are more things in the world of USB than storage drives.

You can also use the Thecus N7770-10G as a print server for your USB printers and easily share them out to everyone that is connected.

Thecus_N7770-10G-SSusb 1

Uninterrupted Power Supply units can also be connected and setup in this section.

Thecus_N7770-10G-SSusb 2

Thecus_N7770-10G-SSusb 3

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Local Display and Mobile Impressions


The Thecus N7770-10G has plenty of horsepower under the hood to do so much more than just being a NAS. You can install the LocalDisplay module and use it as HTPC replacement. Connect a mouse, keyboard, and monitor to the NAS and you don’t need any extra hardware to browse the web or local files. You can install quite a few addons too, where one of them is VLC.

Thecus_N7770-10G-Photo-HDMI2

FireFox is still one of the preferred browsers and it is the one that is pre-installed with the LocalDisplay module. You can use it to connect to the Thecus OS admin interface or visit eTeknix.com as shown here. We of course prefer the last one.

Thecus_N7770-10G-Photo-HDMI1

Thecus Dashboard for Android

The Thecus Dashboard for Android is a simple yet powerful little companion that it is worth loading onto your phone or tablet. It doesn’t provide access to all the features you just can access via the browser anyway as other apps, it instead focuses on the key functions that you’ll actually need on your mobile device.

Thecus_N7770-10G-SSmobile-1

The discovery function didn’t work on my Samsung Galaxy Tab2, but it’s also an older device. However, adding a server manually worked like a charm.

Thecus_N7770-10G-SSmobile-2

Clicking on the added server from the list and you’re brought to a login page. Enter your normal admin password and select whether the device should save the password or not. With the limited security that we have on mobile devices, I would recommend not to remember it.

Thecus_N7770-10G-SSmobile-3

Once logged in, we see the three features that the Thecus Dashboard has: Service Status monitoring, the ability to change user passwords, and to bind this Android unit to the NAS.

Thecus_N7770-10G-SSmobile-4

The service status page provides all information you need at a glance, from CPU load to fan status and uptime.

Thecus_N7770-10G-SSmobile-5

You can also view, enable, and disable running services quickly.

Thecus_N7770-10G-SSmobile-6

You got access to all the users that you have created with the ability to quickly change their passwords.

Thecus_N7770-10G-SSmobile-7

And finally, a simple binding function between the Android unit and the Thecus NAS.

Thecus_N7770-10G-SSmobile-8

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Testing Method


Thecus_N7770-10G-Photo-test setup

Most of the hardware for NAS testing isn’t an important factor when it comes to benchmarks, most of it comes down to the network infrastructure. I will be teaming the two Intel Gigabit Ethernet ports on my test bench and connect them to my managed switch. The same will be done with the available LAN ports on the NAS, which should give a great testing environment.

As part of the testing, the NAS is connected through a Netgear GS724TPS managed Gigabit switch and then to our test bench to give the best real world setup test that we can and the NAS itself will be packed with Western Digital’s latest RED NAS drives. Intel’s NASPT software does require us to drop the memory down to 2GB, as using any more would lead to data caching and skew the results.

I will be testing the NAS box performance under each of the RAID options that it has available as well just a single drive. Full volume encryption and shared folder encryption will also be tested where available, to check what impact it has on the performance. The USB 3.0 speeds will be measured with our trusted Angelbird SSD2go Pocket drive.

Test system:

Disks in Product:

We would like to thank our sponsors for supplying us with the components needed for the test system as well as drives.

Thecus_N7770-10G-Photo-hdd in trays

Software used:

With a device of this sort having so many different applications, Intel’s NASPT software covers all the bases and also gives us a set of results that we will be able to utilize and give a benchmark against other similar systems in the future.

Intel NASPT (Network Attached Storage Performance Toolkit) performs its test by transferring varying sizes and quantities of data to and from the device based on twelve different scenarios.

Intel_NASPT

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HD Video Playback


HD Video playback is a read test, where a single 2 Gb file is read in 256 kB blocks sequentially from the drive. This simulates where a 720p HD video is being watched across the network to a media player on the other end.

Thecus_N7770-10G-Chart-1 playback

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2x HD Video Playback


2x HD Video Playback works with exactly the same data set as the first HD Video test, however this time the same content is streamed twice from the NAS box simulating two simultaneous streams being made to external media players.

Thecus_N7770-10G-Chart-2 double playback

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4x HD Video Playback


In the same way that the 2x Video Playback streams to the equivalent of 2 external media players at the same time, the test here doubles that again up to a simulated 4 media players.

Thecus_N7770-10G-chart-3 four playback

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HD Video Record


The HD Video Record test is, as the name suggests, a write test to the NAS box. A single 2 GB file is written to the device in 256 kB blocks sequentially to the disk.

Thecus_N7770-10G-chart-4 record

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HD Playback & Record


The HD playback and record test now put the drive under the same single record and playback tests as before, but now at the same time. This will factor for the quick changes needed to switch between reading and writing two large blocks of data across the network to the device.

Thecus_N7770-10G-Chart-5 playback and record

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Content Creation


For content creation, Intel have simulated access to via video creation applications. This is made up of 98 files with 12 MB reads and 14 MB writes in varying sizes of blocks. The activity is predominantly non-sequential with the majority of access time made up of writing to the drives. There are quiet periods of read/write activity interrupted with busy periods to present a difficult workload on the drives.

Thecus_N7770-10G-chart-6 content

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Office Productivity


The office productivity simulation is very similar to the content creation, with a total of 607 files written to and read from the drive. A total of 1.4 GB of data is written to and read from the drive with a close balance between each made – the majority of write access is made up of 1 kB writes.

Thecus_N7770-10Gv-Chart-7 office

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File Copy To NAS


This test quite simply put copies a single large file from the test system to the NAS box to show how well the system can sustain a single write speed. The 1.4 GB file is copied to the drive and written in 64 kB blocks.

Thecus_N7770-10G-Chart-8 file to nas

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File Copy From NAS


File copy from the NAS works in exactly the same way as the copy test, but it works in the opposite direction. The single 1.4 GB file is read off the NAS in 64 kB blocks.

Thecus_N7770-10G-Chart-9 file from nas

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Directory Copy To NAS


In the directory copy to NAS test, a directory tree representing that of a typical commercially available office suite is copied to the NAS to trace the bulk copy of a complex directory. A total of 2833 files making up 247 MB are moved, but the file sizes vary considerably with an average size of 41.4 kB. Due to the varying sizes of the files, only around 50% of the writes are sequential.

Thecus_N7770-10G-Chart-10 dir to nas

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Directory Copy From NAS


In the same way that the file copy from NAS traces the same file back across to the test system, the directory copy from NAS does exactly the same but to the entire directory that it copied across previously.

Thecus_N7770-10G-Chart-11 dir from nas

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Photo Album


Last of all is a test based around a photo album. When a photo album is viewed on-screen, only the images that you see are loaded from the drive and so when you scroll through the album, the new images have to be fetched and read. The album here contains 169 photos with varying file sizes based on the size, quality, and detail in the image. Reading the files in a photo album puts an unusual read load upon the drive as the metadata is read, a thumbnail constructed and finally the image viewed.

Thecus_N7770-10G-Chart-12 photo album

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Average Throughput


Intel NASPT provides a summary at the end of each benchmark, included in this is the average throughput from all the previous test as one number. This is a pretty good overall view of a device and as such I’ve started to include this as well. The numbers below are the average of the previous 12 tests.

Thecus_N7770-10G-Chart-20-average benchmark

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Encryption


Security is an ever-growing concern and encryption is a great step to achieve this. This page will provide a comparison between encrypted data and a normal single drive and what impact it will have on the performance. Not all NAS feature Full volume and Shared Folder encryption, but I will test what is available.

Full Volume Encryption

Thecus_N7770-10G-Chart-30-encryption

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Available File Formats and iSCSI


ThecusOS has the wonderful ability that you can pick what file system you’d like to have. Each of them have their own merrit and you got EXT3, EXT4, BTRFS, and XFS as options. I’ve tested all but EXT3 with a single disk setup in order to show the slight differences and where what shines. There are naturally more things than plain speed to consider, so pick wisely.

I’ve also included an iSCSI mounted share EXT4 partition in this comparison char to show what power can be behind this method of connecting storage. Windows 7 and forward all have iSCSI initiators built in and the setup only takes a few clicks on your NAS and PCs.

Thecus_N7770-10G-Chart-40 File Format fixed

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Final Thoughts


Pricing

The availability is still sparse on the Thecus N7770-10G, but that should change very soon. Currently it is listed by a few german shops starting from € 1081.75 and it can also be found at Span.Com for £1378.80 VAT included.

Overview

Wow, that is simply something I have to say right away. Wow, what an amazing NAS that Thecus created with their N7770-10G. In short, there is more than enough power for business users to run demanding tasks and plenty of features for enthusiast and power users too. Coupled with great connectivity and plenty of raw storage ability and you got what you need right out of the box.

The N7770-10G SMB NAS is built more like a normal PC, both in regard to the interior and hardware. The dual-core Intel Core-i3 CPU provides plenty of power for demanding tasks and supports hardware encryption. The use of normal DDR3 DIMM ECC modules also allows for an easy upgrade and more slots than we see when we deal with SO-DIMM modules. You get a CPU with 3.3GHz and 8GB ECC RAM right out of the box and you can easily upgrade the memory for up to 64GB ECC memory. The CPU is socketed, so you would even be able to upgrade that if you wanted to.

We don’t just find a lot of horsepower under the hood of the N7770-10G, there are also plenty of connection abilities. To start with there are two Gigabit Ethernet ports that can be linked, but it also features an included 10Gbase Ethernet add-in card to take the whole thing to the next level. There are two USB 3.0 and six USB 2.0 ports to connect peripherals and storage devices as well as an HDMI and D-Sub VGA out for monitors. You can also use it directly as HTPC replacement for browsing and more.

Feature wise you find everything from download managers over media applications as well as a comprehensive backup and failover solution. If you need it, you’ll find it. The app store has over 700 apps listed and most of them are usable on this NAS. Seven drive bays allow for a raw storage of 56TB using 8TB drives, which is quite a bit. The front display is very convieninent to check status and information as well as do basic configution changes. The drive trays are equally solid built as the entire unit. It isn’t the cheapest one, but it is definetly worth the asking price if you ask me.

Pros:

  • Great performance
  • Intel i3 3.3GHz socketed CPU
  • 8GB DIMM DDR3 ECC memory, Upgradeable to 32GB
  • 7-bay layout
  • Direct usage with HDMI and D-Sub out
  • 10Gbase adapter included
  • Status Display

Cons:

  • Availability
  • No eSATA connector

Neutral

  • Price

“Thecus N7770-10G is a NAS that comes with plenty of horsepower under the hood and connection abilities as well as plenty of upgrade opportunities. A great choice for any business that wants features and functionality.”

Extreme-Performance

Thecus N7770-10G Elite-Class Business 7-Bay NAS Review

Thank You Thecus for providing us with this review sample.

Article Index

  1. Introduction
  2. A closer look
  3. Seagate Enterprise NAS 6TB Drives
  4. System Specifications, Features & Power Consumption
  5. Setup - Initialization & Storage
  6. Setup - Users, Services & Files
  7. Setup - There is more, Add-Ons & External Devices
  8. Local Display and Mobile Impressions
  9. Testing Method
  10. HD Video Playback
  11. 2x HD Video Playback
  12. 4x HD Video Playback
  13. HD Video Record
  14. HD Playback & Record
  15. Content Creation
  16. Office Productivity
  17. File Copy to NAS
  18. File Copy from NAS
  19. Directory Copy to NAS
  20. Directory Copy from NAS
  21. Photo Album
  22. Average Throughput
  23. Encryption
  24. Available File Formats and iSCSI
  25. Final Thoughts
  26. View All

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