Thecus N2810 2-Bay 4K Capable SMB NAS Review

Introduction


Today’s review is a little bit special as I don’t just get the chance to test one of the newest NAS on the market, but also a new operating system at the same time. Thecus N2810 2-bay SMB multimedia NAS server with 4K playback is in the testing area and it comes with Thecus’ brand new ThecusOS 7.0.

Thecus N2810 NAS is powered by an Intel Celeron N3050 Braswell dual-core processor with 1.6GHz base clock and a 2.16GHz burst speed. This is a great processor for NAS usage as it’s both powerful and energy-efficient. On top of that, the N2810 supports hardware AES 256-bit encryption for that extra layer of security without impacting performance the way a software solution will. This is backed by 2GB DDR3 memory, but you can upgrade the system to a maximum of 8GB DDR3 RAM should you require more. The standard 2GB should still be plenty for normal usage scenarios and seamless 4K media playback.

Thecus opted for a full USB 3.0 setup which is a nice thing to see. Thanks to the USB bus’ compatibility you can easily use legacy devices while having maximum speed on your modern equipment such as high-end flash drives and external SSDs. There are two USB 3.0 ports on the rear and one on the front. The front port also features a convenient one-touch copy button that allows you to copy content to or from a USB drive with a single press of the button.

The two RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet ports on the N2810 support 10/100/1000 BASE-TX Auto MDI/MDI-X and Wake-on-LAN. You can naturally also set them up for link aggregation and Thecus allows you to set all seven modes: Load balance, Failover, 802.3ad, Balance-XOR, Balance-TLB, Balance-ALB, and Broadcast.

There is also the HDMI port for direct playback on your TV or monitor without the need for any other device at all. This is a feature we see more and more on modern NAS devices and it is one that I really love. While streaming is great, a direct connection allows for higher compatibility with formats and there are fewer points of failure or lag on the way. That said, the Thecus N2810 has absolutely no trouble streaming either, but we’ll get to that later.

Keen eyes will already have spotted the serial UART port too and that isn’t something that we usually see on NAS devices, it is however an awesome feature. We sometimes find the port on the PCB, but rarely on the device itself. UART stands for Universal Asynchronous Receiver/Transmitter and is part of the serial communication protocol.

The N2810 is the first Thecus NAS to run the completely new ThecusOS 7.0 operating system and user interface. The refreshed OS offers an easy to use and intuitive user interface and quite a lot of new features over the previous OS including the new Photo Station, Thecus App Center with over 700 apps, and user profiles. Besides the design and feature improvements, it also got a push in regards to the performance where it gets even more out of your hardware.

The N2810 steps up to the challenges that 4K playback creates and provides a robust hardware platform that is able to handle multiple tasks with ease. The built-in HDMI port allows you to transform the NAS into a multimedia hub by connecting it directly to your TV or media center to utilize the power of KODI. There are plenty of streaming options too with basic DLNA as well as Plex Media Server that can stream to your consoles with ease. The server can also automatically assemble iTunes, iPhoto, and Aperture content. Apple TV and Chromecast are both supported too, completing the circle of media abilities.

The N2810 is an SMB NAS and as such comes with a comprehensive list of enterprise-oriented features too, although none of them are limited to firms and enterprises, home users can take equal advantage of them. The Thecus System Failover feature is a fault tolerance process that creates mirrored data volumes. With at least two Thecus NAS available, data is copied by schedule and all changes are mirrored between the two NAS. While the second NAS is not visible, it communicates with the primary NAS. In the event of a power or network failure, a scheduled maintenance, or other unforeseen circumstances, System Failover automatically redirects operations to the secondary Thecus NAS, which then acts as the primary NAS.

Local failover is also achieved easily with a Thecus NAS and Snapshots. With BTRFS support, users can enjoy the simplicity of snapshot backups through BTRFS subvolumes. 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.

To complete the backup and failover abilities, the N2810 comes bundled with Acronis Backup Software that can backup all your data to the NAS with a single click as well as local backups and Time Machine support. Real-time remote replication (Rsync) is naturally also supported and it is one of the easiest to use and widest available backup methods.

Security is an important factor on a NAS, after all, it’s the device that holds all your files, memories, and data. Whether you’re an enterprise user or a home user, a virtual private network can come in very handy. The N2810 can operate as a VPN server and allow users to remotely access through a secure network.

Thecus also added Intel Security to the package that gives you an active defense against viruses that might have made it onto your NAS. The software protects you by scanning the files on your NAS and defending it against possible threats. Intel Security is the world’s largest dedicated security technology company and Thecus users will be able to benefit from Intel Security’s powerful software on their NAS entirely for free.

With the Thecus N2810, it is also an easy task to set up your own personal cloud service that will work with mobile iOS and Android devices with the use of Thecus’ T-OnTheGo app and your PCs. The mobile app enables users to access, copy, stream, and edit any data between their NAS and mobile device. Your own personal cloud, available from anywhere with internet access. The access from anywhere is made as easy as it could be thanks to the built-in DDNS feature that will give your NAS a name rather than a difficult to remember and mostly changing IP address.

You can also reverse the whole thing and use the public cloud systems together with the N2810 NAS. The system will work with DropBox, Amazon S3, and ElephantDrive cloud backup functionality. Guard your data with RAID at home and an additional level of protection in the Cloud. Just drag and drop files into the folder on your NAS and access them on any computer or mobile device with DropBox, Amazon S3 or ElephantDrive.

With currently available hard disk drives you get up to 8TB in the consumer sector and 10TB in the enterprise sector. With two drive bays at your disposal, that’s already a lot of storage and you can take maximum advantage of this storage thanks to iSCSI and the efficiency of iSCSI thin provisioning. 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.

Feature Highlights

  • Embedded with Intel Celeron N3050 Dual Core CPU
  • Running on the newly-designed and enhanced ThecusOS 7.0
  • Seamless 4K Multimedia Playback
  • Uninterrupted Accessibility with Thecus System Failover
  • Secure Remote Access with Virtual Private Network (VPN)
  • Faster Transfers: 2 LAN Ports for Link Aggregation
  • 99% Virus Prevention: Bundled with Free Intel Security
  • Complete Client Side Protection: Bundled with Free Acronis Software

Packaging and Accessories

Thecus packed the N2810 in a beautiful box that clearly shows the intended usage, as a 4K capable multimedia center.

The rear of the box continues the beautiful full-colour wrapping with the feature highlights. There’s no doubt that you have a premium device in your hands when you look at the package.

It continues on the sides where the brand new Thecus OS 7 is presented on one side.

The second side reveals the hardware specifications, device size,  and package content.

Inside the product is a quick installation guide and a product disk as well as the warranty card and product notes.

Besides the manuals and the NAS itself, there is also a power adapter with connection cord, two sets of drive tray keys, an RJ45 LAN cable, and a security latch for the power cable that can prevent accidental removal.

ASUS Surprises with XG-D2008 10Gbps Switch for Home Users

This one came quite as a surprise for me, but it is a very positive surprise as ASUS unveiled one of the first, if not the first, 10 Gigabit Ethernet switches designed for home users. We have long moved away from the slow mechanical storage drives and some people like me even moved on to something as crazy as NVMe drives in RAID setup. With that in mind, a Gigabit Ethernet connection becomes the biggest bottleneck in your system with a speed of around 120-125MB/s max. Even when you use link aggregation, you won’t be able to support these kinds of speeds.

ASUS’s new 10Gbps Switch is called the XG-D2008 and now that we’re starting to see the entry of 10 Gigabit Ethernet for home users, although mostly enthusiast users for now, it comes a little bit as a surprise to me that it is ASUS leading the front here. When we saw the NAS manufacturer Synology enter the router market last year, I figured that it just was a matter of time until they expanded into switches too. ASUS does however have a big experience in pretty much any field, so it doesn’t come as that big of a surprise after all, that they release a product like this.

Right now the information about the switch is very limited, but I really do like what I see. The design of the XG-D2008 is beautiful in what appears to be a unibody structure of aluminium with a brushed finish. The device is very simple and will blend well into any environment. While the port amount wasn’t revealed as such, we see the 8 in the name and can count 8 LEDs for LAN ports on the image, making it an 8-port switch.

The plug-and-play description points towards an unmanaged switch, although there still could be a user interface at the same time. We will make sure to update you with more information as they become available and hopefully also be able to bring you a review of this new 10 Gigabit Ethernet Switch with an enterprise-level performance yet a mainstream price tag.

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

Introduction


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Samsung Unveils New Class of Solid State Drives for SMBs

Samsung have been incredibly successful with their 840 and 850 series of drives in the consumer market and the drives have been well received for their performance vs price ratio. But Samsung also makes drives for the more business oriented sector and they’ve just introduced the latest high-performance SATA solid state drives for small and medium-sized businesses (SMB), the Samsung PM864 and SM863 SSDs.

The PM863 and SM863 solid state drives are the ideal solution for SMBs as they offer a much higher density in the 2.5-inch form factor which in return saves IT managers precious real estate in the data center without sacrificing power or performance.

The PM863 and SM863 deliver outstanding performance and reliability thanks to the V-NAND technology. The 3-bit MLC V-NAND-based PM863 is developed for mixed pattern applications and ideal for use in content delivery networks and streaming or Web servers. Alternatively, the write-intensive SM863 based on 2-bit MLC V-NAND is an optimal choice for online transaction processing (OLTP) and serves as an ideal choice for email and database servers.

There are plenty and great capacity choices in these two drive series. The Samsung PM863 comes in 120GB, 240GB, 480GB, 960GB, 1.9TB and 3.8TB capacities and offers sequential read speeds up to 540 MB/s and random read speeds of up to 99,000 IOPS.

The Samsung SM863 provides more options for configurable over-provisioning and is available in 120GB, 240GB, 480GB, 960GB, and 1.9TB capacities. It features read speeds up to 520 MB/s and write speeds up to 485 MB/s. Both drives will be available to SMBs in early August 2015 and are already available for the enterprise customers now.

The price isn’t all that bad, but it is of course a premium price over ordinary desktop drives such as the Samsung 850 series. The PM863 120GB, 240GB, 480GB, 960GB, 1.92TB, and 3.84TB capacities have an MSRP of $124.99, $159.99, $289.99, $1099.99, and $2199.99 respectively. The SM863 drives will cost you $139.99, $179.99, $329.99, $869.99, and $1259.99 respectively for the 120GB, 240GB, 480GB, 960GB and 1.92TB drives.

Synology DiskStation DS215+ 2-Bay NAS and All-In-One Server Review

Introduction


Last month I had the pleasure to take a look at the Synology DS715 [review here] 2-bay NAS and today I continue with Synology’s second recently released NAS, the Synology DiskStation DS215+.

The DS215+ is an all-in-one 2-bay NAS server that offers high performance while staying energy-efficient and providing a full set of business features. The dual-core CPU is powerful enough to handle multi-tasking applications and can help small and medium businesses to centralize their backups, protect critical assets, and share files quickly and efficiently – and that on a budget.

Inside the DiskStation DS215+, we find an Annapurna AL-212 dual core ARM processor with 1.4GHz with floating point unit and hardware encryption engine and 1GB DDR3 memory.

There are plenty of connection options on the DS215+ starting with the two Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 ports that allow you to set all modes of failover and link aggregation, including IEEE 802.3ad. The unit has two USB 3.0 ports for external drives and other devices as well as an eSATA port. Readers familiar with my reviews will know that I love it when they add the eSATA port as it is my preferred method of attaching external storage as it doesn’t have the same latency as USB does.

The hardware encryption engine coupled with the other improvements allow this unit to deliver twice the performance over the predecessor when dealing with encrypted storage.

Synology’s drive trays in these units are awesome and allow for a speedy setup as well as maintenance. The screw and tool-less design is as simple to use as pulling the sides off, inserting the drive and putting them back on. The trays are also lockable which is another bonus. You don’t eject them by accident and no false friend runs off with your drives that easy.

The software part is well covered by Synology’s DiskStation Manager (DSM), an operating system that has won a lot of rewards, and all well deserved. It comes with most basic and used features as standard and you’ll most likely find what is missing there in the add-on section. DSM is real easy to use and has great multi-tasking support.

One of the great features of DSM is the File station, a fast and secure way for sharing and managing your files stored on the DS215+. It has built-in FTP and email clients and allows drag and drop of files from both Windows and Mac OS systems. Mobile systems can do the same with the DS file app. HTTPS, SSL/TLS encryption, and link expiry dates also ensure file sharing over the Internet stays secure.

The basic file sharing on your network isn’t any problem for the DS215+ either as it supports it all. SMB2, FTP, NFS, WbDAV, windows AD and LDAP – you’ll find it all. Network recycle bin is also available on both AFP and CIFS shares.

The DS215+ allows for seamless account integration thanks to the User Home feature that automatically creates user folders to minimize effort while the Windows ACL support allows admins to fine-tune access controls and set up privileges through a familiar interface.

This is truly an all-in-one server as it is labeled with everything it supports. From file storage and media streaming over Mail servers and VPN servers, the DS215+ lets you do it all. It can also work as a print server with your USB printers and share them over the network as well as act as DNS server, Directory Server, RADIUS Server, DHCP Server, and Log Center. All that in one tiny box.

With the support of Windows AD, LDAP, and Domain Trust, DS215+ enables seamless account integration. The User Home feature can automatically create a “home” folder for every user account to minimize the administrator’s effort in repeatedly creating “home” folders for all accounts. Windows ACL support on DS215+ allows IT administrators to fine-tune access controls and set up privileges to files and folders on DS215+ through the familiar Windows user interface. With compatibility for major protocols, DS215+ can eliminate server configuration overhead and enhance IT administrators’ efficiency.

 

Backup and storage works in many ways and one very useful is the personal cloud the DS215+ allows you to set up. The Cloud Station allows you to sync files between devices in online and offline mode. The Cloud Station can remember up to 32 historical versions, encrypts the traffic, and can also sync between different NAS stations as well as mobile devices.

Security isn’t just well covered in the Cloud Station and Drives with the AES 256-bit encryption, the DS215+ also supports Antivirus and basic network security. You can also enable two-step verification for your users.

All of Synology’s mobile apps work great with this device, may they be DS note, DS audio, DS video, DS photo+, DS cloud, DS file, DS download, and DS cam. Everything right at your fingertips and on your smartphone or tablet.

 

That is a lot of functionality and features in one little device and one that saves both the environment and your wallet thanks to the low power consumption. When the HDDs hibernate, the DS215+ consumes just about 9W and less than 21 W when accessed. Thinking small can pay off in the long run.

Synology Displays New NAS Units at Computex

Computex 2015 – We’ve seen the new Router from Synology already, but it wouldn’t be an NAS manufacturer if they didn’t bring those devices along too.

On display is the DS216se, a budget friendly NAS server perfect for home and personal use. The two-bay NAS unit allows for easy drive mirroring, network sharing and it is also DLNA certified for streaming to your TV, consoles and set-top boxes.

Moving up the scale a bit and we get to the DS215+, an NAS unit designed for Small and Medium Businesses. It delivers great performance up to 209MB/s reading and 139MB/s writing thanks to the dual-core CPU and dual-LAN ports with link aggregation and failover support.

You also get USB 3.0 and eSATA ports along to connect extra external storage including the Synology DX513 expansion unit.

The DiskSTation DS715 is a completely new unit and doesn’t succeed any previous units. It is built around a powerful quad-core 1.4GHz CPU that offers hardware encryption engine.

The DS715 SMB NAS comes with 2GB RAM and can deliver a great performance with up to 205.5MB/s reading and 77.62MB/s writing.

The dual LAN ports support failover and link aggregation as they’re supposed to and you can expand the unit with 5 more drives using Synology’s DX513 expansion unit.

Enterprise users are also covered well by Synology’s lineup, especially with their rack units. The RC18015xs+ for example brings a quad-core processor, up to 32GB RAM as well as advanced snapshot technology for flexible point-in-time data backup and recovery.

The RXD1215sas is a high-redundancy expansion unit offering dual high-speed 6Gb/s SAS modules and allows for stacking with up to 15 units for a total of 180 drives.

Credentials May Become Compromised via Old Windows Vulnerability from the ’90s

Nobody wants their private information shared on the internet, but we live in an era where everything that’s connected to the internet may eventually become public. This is the case of an old Windows vulnerability from the ’90s, which still poses a security threat according to security specialists.

Brian Wallace, a security researcher from Cylance, has been reported to have found a new way to exploit a vulnerability that was previously found in 1997. He stated that the flaw can be used on any Windows OS-powered device, may it be a tablet, PC, server or laptop, and can be used to potentially exploit and compromise around 31 programs.

The vulnerability that goes by the name of Redirect to SMB is said to be exploited by intercepting communication with a Web server using the man-in-the-middle approach. This in turn redirects all traffic to the malicious SMB server, which supposedly collects sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, credit card information or other things users type in.

There are some limitations to the technique though, as Wallace pointed out. The attacker needs to be on the same network as his victims and the attack can easily be prevented by blocking outbound traffic to the 139 and 445 TCP ports. But let’s be honest, who is going to do that? I mean most people don’t even change their default router credentials, let alone go into its settings and block traffic to specific ports.

Microsoft is said to have not made an official statement regarding the matter, but Wallace’s findings have been revealed at the Computer Emergency Readiness Team at Carnegie Melon University. With all this snooping around that’s been going on lately, how secure do you feel? Or is that even a matter of concern at this point?

Thank you PCWorld for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of High Performance Laptops

Synology DS1515+ 5-Bay SMB NAS Review

Introduction


NAS devices are the perfect addition to pretty much any company, but small and mediums businesses more than anyone else. It’s a cost-effective and versatile solution to keep all your data centralized with easy to use backup mechanisms, just to name one function. Today I’m taking a closer look at the Synology DS1515+ that is a perfect NAS for any Small or Medium Business (SMB) setup with its features, functions, and performance.

The DS1515+ is a 5-bay SMB NAS, and that 5th bay comes with more benefits than most people think of right away. A four-bay unit is pretty much what we consider standard these days with its possibilities of RAID 0, 1, 5, 6 and 10. The 5th bay gives us the added safety of being able to have another hot-spare drive in our system for automatic recovery in case one of the other drives should fail. Or you could just use it for extra storage, the choice is really yours.

Synology’s DS1515+ is a premium device in its class, offering 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports that support failover and link aggregation to maximize the transfer speeds and reliability. Having four LAN ports also allow for more users to access the device at once, without the risk of package bottlenecks.

It also comes with four USB 3.0 ports to connect external storage for backups or for the added storage capacity. The USB ports also bring along added functionality for a wide array of other devices such as printers, scanners (requires 3rd party add-ons) and surveillance cameras. The two eSATA ports on the rear allow for the Synology DX513 expansion units to be used to increase the storage even further, but normal eSATA enclosures and drives work just as great when connected through them.

The front of the NAS is kept very simple and doesn’t feature much besides the drive bays, LEDs, and power button. There are no front USB connectors like we see so often on NAS devices, but they are probably more a thing for home users and not businesses. The device will be setup and will more or less have to do the rest by itself – and spoiler alert: it does.

The built-in power supply comes with an inward plug to make sure the power is safely connected, but also to allow you to move it closer to a wall or other objects without interference. This feature is mainly for a secure power connection as the fans will need room to push the hot air out and your network cables most likely prevents you from moving it closer to the wall anyway.

We see the two easy removable outtake fans in the image above. Fresh air will be pulled in through openings between the drive bays and the sides where the Synology logo acts as air vents. A clever use for the branding and it looks good every time.

The DS1515+ NAS stands firmly on its four big rubber feet that should absorb any vibrations that might occur from the spinning hard drives. The drive bays can all be locked to prevent accidental opening as well as tampering with the setup. Of course, the drive bays aren’t just hot-swap able, they’re also tool-less for 3.5-inch drives. This makes the installation and setup quite a bit easier. The NAS also supports the use of 2.5-inch drives, but they will have to be mounted in the caddies with screws.

Inside the Synology DS1515+, we find a 2.4GHz quad-core Intel Atom C2538 processor with Floating point unit and Hardware AES-NI encryption. There is plenty of power in this device to make sure that transfer speeds and performance aren’t affected, even when encryption is enabled. It comes with 2GB DDR3 1600MHz memory, but is upgradeable to 6GB without too much hassle.

The SSD cache function can speed up your transfer speeds significant and allow much faster access to hot files. You’ll easily be able to max out all four LAN ports without too much trouble. The downside is that it requires two SSDs and thereby two drive bays, but it makes a lot of sense when the expansion units are used. Another feature that administrators will love is the easy integration into almost any environment with VMware, Citrix, and Hyper-V support. It also offers the Central Management System to easy manage all the Synology devices on your network from one location.

Personal and commercial cloud integration is just as easy as anything else with the Synology DS1515+, a NAS that doesn’t seem to leave many wishes open.

Synology Introduces New 8 and 12-Bay SMB NAS’

Yes, more speed is what we like. Synology has launched their latest two NAS models targeting the Small and Medium Businesses (SMB) as well as large-scale businesses with their 8 and 12 bays respectively. The two new models, DS2015xs and DS3615xs, are aimed to bring 10GbE SFP+ ports to the mainstream and can be scaled up to a raw capacity of 120 and 216TB respectively by connecting DX1215 expansion units.

The 8-bay DS2015xs is powered by an all-new ARM Cortex-A15 quad-core CPU and can take up to an 8GB RAM module to deliver an amazing 2,090MB/s throughput. Both the two built-in 10GbE SFP+ and the two 1GbE RJ-45 ports provide support for Link Aggregation and failover.

The 12-bay DS3615xs is equipped with a 3.4 GHz dual-core x64 processor with an AES-NI hardware encryption engine and ECC RAM expandable up to 32GB to give it a throughput at over 2,350MB/s and over 268K IOPS. It has four Gigabit LAN ports along with a PCIe 3.0 slot for expansions. In addition, backed by read/write-optimized SSD cache and SATA III support, the model is designed to unleash the full potential of blazing fast SSDs while minimizing the cost per gigabyte.

Synology’s new DS2015xs and DS3615xs are backed by a 5-year warranty, as well as next-day Synology Replacement Service in selected countries. The specification pages weren’t online at the time of writing, but that should change very soon for both the DS2015xs and DS3615xs. The pre-order prices at Scan UK are £1081.50 for the 8-bay DS2015xs and £2055.18 for the 12-bay DS3615xs at the time of writing.

Thanks to Synology for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of Scan UK

Western Digital Launches WD Sentinel DX4200 NAS

Western Digital is mostly known for their hard drives, but they also create and sell complete ready to deploy setups. As such they have just launched their newest addition to the SMB range (Small and Medium Businesses), the WD Sentinel DX4200. A NAS with plenty of data and backup protection, redundant networking ports and a redundant power option.

 “The WD Sentinel DX4200 provides the enterprise grade storage and file services capabilities of Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 workgroup, in a compact package that is ideal for to the SMB segment,” said John Loveall, Principal Program Manager, Windows Server and System Center, Microsoft. “We are pleased to work with WD to serve our mutual customers.”

The new NAS comes in two versions with either 8 or 16 TB capacity pre-stocked. Western Digital of course used their own 7200 RPM Se enterprise-class drives here, so the reliability should be top. These drives are usually used in data-centres among others and you can configure the setup as either RAID 1 or RAID 5. Of course it supports automatic migration and capacity expansion. The boot-drive isn’t a tiny flash module in this device but rather a 2.5-inch harddrive with the option to add a second one in RAID 1 mode for data redundancy.

The new WD DX4200 is powered by an Intel Atom C2338 dual-core CPU and has 4GB ECC RAM. The RAM is expandable to 16GB if the default 4 shouldn’t be enough. For additional external connections it has four USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports. It also features dual Gigabit Ethernet with failover protection and has a VGA port for maintenance. The operating system on the device is Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Workgroup, a choice that will be loved by most businesses but not so much by home-users. Since this however is a device aimed at the enterprise market, it can only be seen as good thing.

While the system is powered by a Windows Operating system, it still supports all the sharing functions you could want. Windows XP to Windows 8 is supported with CIFS/Samba, Mac OS X with Bonjour and Linux/Unix with NFS. It also features FTP, WebDAV, normal and encrypted web-server (HTTP/HTTPS) and Active Directory. Besides the normal NAS functions it also supports iSCSI SAN to work as block level storage for virtualized environments.

This is also a NAS that should keep your valuable data safe from nasty people. The front is secured with a sturdy bezel lock and on the rear there is a Kensington style lock to secure it to the premises. When it is powered on, it boots into a secured UEFI environment to prevent root-kits and other surprises from working. The security is further increased by the software measures deployed in the Windows environment. The redundant power supplies are another thing that can give ease of mind; if one should fail, the second will kick in.

The device itself measures 205.7 x 223.5 x 170 mm and weighs 6.64 kg. As an added bonus, you’ll get 1 year of WD Guardian Pro support where their skilled team is ready to assist you with any trouble you might have. The new WD Sentinel DX4200 is available now and will cost you £1,558.80 for the 16TB model and £1,198.80 for the 8TB model, both incl. VAT and free shipping.

Thank you WesternDigital for providing us with these information

Images courtesy of WesternDigital

Apple And IBM Coming Together To Challenge The Business Market

Apple and IBM, two well-known companies around the globe and two that want to take over the business world by working together and using each other expertise to bring the iPad as your next computer. Yes you read it right, your desktop computer, probably a Dell, in the partnerships eyes can be replaced by an iPad.

It looks like the first targets of this overtake venture are to be the retail, heathcare, banking, insurance, travel and telecommunications sectors – or quite a large chunk of the market in other words, with a new series of Apple developed Apps which promise to address issues that each of these sectors may be facing.

Developing the app is obviously Apple’s deal, but getting it right for the business market is something that they are not too sure on and this is where the expertise of IBM comes into play.

To be honest I really can’t tell if this partnership is trying to flog a dead horse or not at the moment. I know Apple is not business driven, with the pocket of the consumer their primary target, but lets look at the wider picture here. iPhones (and iPads) are already used as tools in the business sector, but the infrastructure that has been setup through a Windows environment is massive – really, really massive. If you’re looking at replacing every single desktop system with an iPad, you’ve got to consider the fact that a lot of training is required to use the new systems and I probably won’t be surprised if a major infrastructure change behind the scenes will also be required to cater for the swarm of iDevices.

Simply put the cost of changing the industry over to iOS is not as straight forward as giving everyone an iPad – once you look at all the other costs that have to be factored in, I just see this as a complete waste of time and money. Apple you’ve already got millions of worldwide users and the business markets are set on Windows – lets just leave it that way and save a ton of time and money being wasted.

Source: T3

Image courtesy: Mashable

Seagate Announce Five New Business NAS Systems With Up To 30TB Storage On Offer

Aside from desktop and enterprise hard drives and SSDs, not many people are aware that Seagate also have a NAS product line that covers every market sector including the SMB market. With the recent announcement that they are updating their NAS hard drive lines to include 5 and 6TB models, Seagate have updated their NAS line with two new products for the SMB market.

The new NAS range includes five systems which are built for environments with up to 50 users and with capacities and prices ranging from £199 for 2TB of storage up to £1,839 for a six bay 30TB system. The five units are broken down into groups known as Seagate NAS and Seagate NAS Pro.

The cheaper NAS line feature two and four bay systems with capacities of up to 16TB based around a Marvell 1.2GHz dual-core CPU, 512MB RAM, with two USB 3.0 ports and dual Gigabit LAN topped off with Seagate’s own OS 4 NAS operating system.

The second line which caters for the higher end of the SMB market is known as NAS Pro and this line coincides with the debut of Intel’s latest C2000 dual-core processor clocked at 1.7GHz. Sat alongside the C2000 CPU, Seagate pack each NAS Pro system with 2GB RAM, two USB3.0 and one USB2.0 port, dual Gigabit LAN and their latest NAS OS 4 operating system.

There is no work on when the systems will be available to buy at this moment in time, however full details on the two system lines can be found over on Seagate’s website: Seagate NAS & Seagate NAS Pro.

Source: Press Release

 

Thecus N4800Eco 4-Bay NAS Review

Introduction


In today’s market, performance, connectivity and software features are not the only areas that NAS manufacturers have to focus on when developing a new product. As businesses strive to save overhead costs wherever they can, the focus is now shifting over to saving power. Although performance is still a key area of focus, like desktop components, trying to get as much processing power as possible whilst using as little power as possible is the next step in the NAS evolutionary timeline. The N4800Eco that we are taking a look at today is by no means a newcomer to the market, in fact it saw its debut in the early part of last year, but with so many systems on offer today, Thecus are looking to give this system a second push to the market, proving that you don’t have to get the latest system in order to get the best balance between performance and cost of ownership.

As its name suggests, the N4800Eco is in fact a direct relative to the renowned N4800 4-bay system that came to market in the middle part of 2012. Powered by a 3rd generation Intel Atom D2700 series CPU, the N4800 once again proved that it was a strong contender in the SMB market as it superseded the N4200 that we took a look at ourselves. Where the N4800Eco differs over the N4800 mainly comes down to the price point. Aside from the removal of the battery backup unit, the N4800 and the Eco are almost identical part-for-part, although the Atom CPU has been updated to a D2701 from the D2700 as seen on the N4800 – giving a slightly better power consumption in respect to the older unit. The Eco branding is there to show that it is a more economically cost-effective product to buy, with the 20% power saving that is advertised relating to the power difference between this system and the much older N4200.

Even though the N4800Eco is positioned within the SMB market, we find a number of features that also make it a worthy consideration for the SOHO market, with full multimedia support through a HDMI connection and a built-in media front end for direct playback of content from the system itself. Since the launch of OS6, Thecus now ship this system with the latest Linux-based OS, offering up a more fluid and intuitive user interface, with support for link aggregation, McAffee Antivirus, Cloud access as well as the sharing of devices connected through the systems eSATA and USB3.0 ports.

Showing off it economical traits, the box for this NAS is very green when compared to any other box I’ve seen from Thecus. A few key features and specifications are printed beside a picture of the system and there is a highlight to show if its 20% power saving that can be expected. Inside the box we get a typical Thecus package including an AC power adapter, network cable and screws for installing both 2.5″ and 3.5″ drives and a set of keys for locking the drives in place. A set of CDs with various extras and a set of manuals give everything we need to get going.

Western Digital Release System Update for My Cloud EX4 NAS

When I took a look at Western Digital’s My Cloud EX4 NAS a few months back I found the system to be a strong contender in the SOHO and SMB markets, offering up not only the ability to access your data from anywhere on the globe with the confidence that it is not being scanned by any third parties, but also the security of redundant storage. Whilst the EX4 has heaps of features on offer, the local network performance that was experienced left the EX4 a little behind other 4-bay systems in the same market segment.

Since our review on the EX4, Western Digital have been continuing to improve the My Cloud range and for the EX4 this has meant a major firmware update. Granted this is not something that I would normally cover in a news article, but for the EX4, WD state that the performance increase that is on offer from the update is quite considerable, bringing the system up and in line with the systems that previously left it standing behind. In addition to the read and write performance experienced over the network, the update also pays attention to the reliability of network connections, correcting the issue where some users were observing dropped connections when working remotely, better sustained file transfer rates, faster backups, faster build and recovery times of the systems RAID array(s) and finally improved CPU utilisation to improve the overall speed of the admin panel.

The firmware update is being rolled out to EX4 systems with a flag that a the new firmware revision is available for download, or alternatively users can download the latest firmware directly from WD at http://support.wd.com/product/download.asp?groupid=905&lang=en.

Source: Press Release

 

Synology DS1513+ 5-Bay NAS Review

Introduction


When we look at the number of bays that each and every NAS on the market has to offer, typically we find the bays rising in multiples of 2, although we do find that there are 5 and 7 bay options out there as well for those who want to bridge the price gap between the 4-6 bay price bracket and additionally the 6-8 bay bracket.  Typically in the home environment we find users buying 2-4 bay systems and with capacities of up to 16TB on offer, this is generally more than enough to suit the majority of users in this group. On the other end of the scale in the enterprise market, 16-bay systems are not uncommon and in some cases 24-bay systems can be found, but in between these two extreme ends of the market is the SMB (Small-to-Medium-Business) and SOHO (Small Office / Home Office) group of users. At this level in the market, 4 bay systems are ample solutions to go for but in most cases they are just a starting point, with users and businesses soon seeing that they need to go up to a 6 or 8 bay system to suffice their needs. As said though, the price difference in some cases is quite notable and this is where units such as Synology’s DS1513+ come into play.

The Ds1513+ is by no means a new system to the market, in fact it was released in the mid-part of last year, but what is significant about this system is that it has five drive bays to work with in a desktop format which allows for up to 20TB of RAW storage, but even more importantly it has four Gigabit Ethernet ports on the back, allowing for high-levels of bandwidth and throughput when setup with a compatible switch. So why I hear you ask am I reviewing a product that is nearly a year old? Well the simple answer is that whilst there have been a fair number of new products in the SOHO and SMB classes come to market since the launch if this system, I have until this point only looked at consumer level and SOHO based systems which are ideal for the home user, but not quite what the business user is after, both in terms of functionality and performance. Whilst I could have chosen a more recent system to put to the test, Synology were keen to show me that their DS1513+ is still s class leading product long after it hit the market – or that’s what they tell me.

So what sets a business level NAS apart from a consumer level product? To move up to the next level a NAS in my eyes needs to offer up a number of additional features. The first of these is multiple Ethernet ports; a home user for the most part is never going to fully saturate a single Gigabit connection, whilst in a business environment where multiple users are likely to be connected, creating a potential bottle neck as one Ethernet connection struggles to deliver data fast enough. The second thing that I look for is scalability; commercial environments typically create volumes of data much faster than one would at home and buying a larger system every 6 months for example is not what one would exactly call practical. Expansion units can simply connect into the existing system and drive volumes to create additional storage space with ease and lass hassle. The last thing that I look for is stronger performance levels. Going back to the LAN point that I made above, yes a home user may see a slight difference in performance between a RAID 0 and a RAID 1 array, but only just, whereas in a busier environment this difference in performance is noted far quicker as many users try to access the system. A strong storage controller is the key here.

The DS1513+ has all the basic credentials that I need for it to be classed as a business level system so the real question now is, can it really deliver those promised levels of performance and still shine through as a class leader nearly a year since its release? That’s what we’re about to find out.

Unlike some of the consumer level systems that Synology have in their catalogue, the DS1513+ has a more concise accessory set included with little more than a pair of Ethernet cables to get connected, a UK mains plug (in our case), a set of screws for installing 2.5″ drives into the drive trays and a pair of keys of locking each of the drive trays in place.

Viewsonic Ergonomic Monitors For Office Environments Unveiled

In certain market areas, selecting an appropriate monitor for the working environment is rather important, image editing and video editing applications naming just a couple of these key tasks. in the general working office however, the need for a specific type of monitor is virtually nonexistent and thus we find a whole host of differing options available and in use. There is however a catch with some of these panels and this is where Viewsonic have come forward, offering up a panel that is designed for the needs of a typical office environment, with the power consumption also playing a key part.

Shipping in two screen sizes, 22″ and 24″, the VG2233SMH and VG2433SMH displays offer up a full 1920 x 1080 HD resolution along with an exclusive SuperClear Image Technology which produces highly vivid colours in a true-to-life format and a super wide viewing angle of 178 degrees. To make the viewing of these displays far more comfortable for the office user, each panel allows full ergonomic adjustment through a combination of height, tilt, swivel and pivot which reduces eye strain and fatigue thus reducing downtime from work.

For the business the advantage doesn’t just stop at reduced employee downtime from work, there is also the potential for a financial saving to be made when in ECO-mode, with up to 50% savings on running costs on offer whilst also prolonging the life of the display. Once the total cost of ownership (TCO) is taken into account, there are a huge number of advantages to be made by switching over to Viewsonics commercial grade hardware, even if the current hardware is well within its lifespan.

In order to evaluate the potential cost savings, Viewsonic have created a simple and straight forward online tool that will allow businesses to calculate how much their current displays are costing to run versus one with Viewsonic panels installed. This tool can be found at: http://www.viewsoniceurope.com/led-tco-calculator/

Both panels are scheduled to be available towards the end of next month and with low prices of £119 and £139 (exc VAT) along with an option to register for a four-year warranty, the incentives to invest in these panels are certainly clear and strong.

Source: Press Release

Sandisk Release X210 SSD – Optimised For Data Reliability

Press Event: One of the world’s biggest manufacturers of flash storage – Sandisk, who have over 25 years of experience in the trade and now over 5000 employees on their books, have released a new SSD that is set to give the enterprise market exactly what they want – secure data but on a storage platform that is highly reliable.

Over the last few years, Sandisk have been working in the market to provide some of the most reliable drives around and as a result, they now have a 75% market share over flash based storage that is sold to the OEM sector of the market. Naturally the OEM sector is not their only focus and this leads to the enterprise sector of the market and in particular data centres. These customers of Sandisk have a specific demand for their data, they need it secure, fast and most of all on a reliable platform. This is where the new X210 comes in to play, following in the footsteps of the X110, the X210 has been firmware optimised for users who need consistent access to their data such as cloud storage providers and search engine providers.

Based around a Marvell controller, the X210 comes in capacities from 128GB right up to an industry leading 512GB, whilst still providing high random read IOPs of 85k and a sequential read speed of 505MB/s. The 19nm NAND flash that is inside these drives is backed by a 5 year warranty and with the capacity to handle over 80TB of write input, they have a longer life expectancy than the previous generation of drives. With more and more data centres and entry level server users moving over too SSD based storage, the key is finding drives that are also efficient during their lifespan and with a power consumption of <90mW, the X210 is also one of the most power efficient drives that Sandisk have in that sector.

The X210, however, is not just built for the server markets. It is also ideal for business desktop and laptop systems where time is a major factor. With both high read and write sequential speeds, low latency and a 19nm MLC NAND design, the drives are able to offer faster boot times and in the instance of users who do video editing, quicker render times as well.

The X210 series of drives are available now through Sandisk’s commercial business channels and are set to be one of the most cost effective solutions available for a rapidly growing SSD market.