Thecus N2810 2-Bay 4K Capable SMB NAS Review

Setup – Initialization and Storage Options


Initialization

Using Thecus’ setup wizard app is one of the easiest ways to get going with your new N2810 NAS. It will automatically detect any Thecus NAS on your network and allow you to quickly make the main settings to it.

At first, you’ll need to log in with the default admin user and password that you can find in your quick installation guide.

When the credentials have been verified, you can set the name for easy recognition in your network environment as well as the IP settings for the main LAN port.

The last step is to set a new administrator password and you’re done. The NAS is now ready for you to make your disk and user setups through the web interface.

Should there be a new firmware available when you connect to the NAS the first time, then it will prompt you whether you want to install this right away or not. It is highly recommended to do this as it might fix bugs as well as add new features and improvements. It is also generally advised to keep the security and updates tight on headless units such as a NAS.

You don’t need to do anymore in order to upgrade if you chose to do so. The system will download the update, apply it, and then shut the system down once it is done. After this, you can power it on again and continue your setup.

The first time you log into the actual ThecusOS you’ll be prompted by a basic disclaimer as we know it from all systems. You are responsible for your own actions and stupidity, so think before you act. After all, we are talking about your own files and memories.

Having agreed to the disclaimer, we are presented with the system initialization setup wizard. That’s a long name, but a useful feature with two functions: Create your storage setup and users, the two basic tent poles for any NAS.

The RAID setup is quickly done and as easy as it gets. At first, you select which of the installed drives you want to create a new volume on. The drive symbols are aligned in the same order and direction as they physically are on the NAS, and the setup even shows an image of the NAS to give you absolute certainty of which drive you actually select. The drive background will change whether you have chosen it, it already is in use, or unused as in this case.

Which RAID mode is available depends on how many drives you select. The RAID setup page will also show you instantly how much space you’ll get from the selected setup and how much redundancy.

The final RAID creation page is to give the array a name. You can also change the stripe size, file system, and byte per inode. The Master RAID function will place default shares and files by applications on this drive while the Quick RAID function will skip additional checks and make the setup a lot faster. You can also choose whether you want to encrypt the volume with the assistance of the built-in hardware 256-bit AES encryption abilities.

The second thing we can create right through the system initialization setup wizard is users. Up until now we only got the admin user and that isn’t one that you should use for a normal day-to-day activity. So we need at least one more user, and probably a bunch more besides that for family, friends, and co-workers.

You can manually set the user ID for easy grouping and recognition of the level, or you can let the system create it. The only information that you need to provide is a username and a password. You can further add a description and email address for each user and set a user quota for it.

Since we just initialized the NAS, we don’t have any user groups yet besides the one containing everyone. If there were more, we could assign the new user to them right away. The page also contains a cool filter option for scenarios where you got a whole long list.

We don’t have any shared folders yet either for the same reason as groups, but if we did, we could assign them right away too. The reason for this appearing to be missing in an initialization is that the guide calls the normal functions to keep it simple and provide you with a unified experience.

You’ll get a final view of your settings before you create the user, or cancel the whole thing if you should have changed your mind. You can naturally also go back and edit things on the previous pages, should you have made an error.

And that was the initialization of our NAS, but we’re far from done with the functions and there is a lot more that we can play around with.

Storage Options

We just created a new storage setup through our initialization guide, but we might want to change that or create more if we didn’t use all the available drives right away.

The Disk and Raid function are found in the settings panel under the appropriate storage category. This is your center for all things storage.

Besides the information on the current setup, the Raid details also allow you to grow setups – if you got spare drives available. In this case, we can see that both my drives are in use, so there’s nothing to grow on.

We also get all information on the disk drives themselves, from model number and capacity to firmware and usage status. SMART and bad block scans can also be accessed from this page.

Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology, or SMART for short, provides you with both details and health information on the drive.

SMART can also be used to run quick and full tests of the drive for self-diagnose purposes, all directly from the NAS interface.

Spin down time is a setting you might want to adjust for your drives. You shouldn’t set it to short so you’ll have too many unnecessary drive changes and you shouldn’t set it too long either as powering the drive down to a sleep state increases the drives life span and also saves on your electric bill.

The last available option is for the Self-Encrypting Drive (SED) feature.

Advanced Storage Features

Most home users still rely on traditional methods of file sharing such as Samba/CIFS, but we shouldn’t forget about iSCSI here. While it’s mostly enterprises that take advantage of this, it’s just as much worth doing for you as an enthusiast user. Any modern operating system supports this right out of the box, and that also includes such old systems as Windows 7.

Thecus added iSCSI support to this NAS too and it is one of the features that I really welcome to see in any system.

Creating a new iSCSI target and LUN is as easy as it is to create shared folder, only you get a far better setup and less wasted space on your system.

You can set CHAP authentication as well as run it without.

The thin-provision mode allows you to set up an allowed space without instantly having to allocate it on your drive. This gives you a lot more flexibility and reduces wasted empty space compared to instant allocation.

And that’s all you need to do in order to setup your iSCSI target. Well, actually you only need to set the two names and the capacity, the rest is completely optional.

The only global setting for iSCSI is whether you want to turn it on and off.

The Thecus N2810 also supports NAS stacking through iSCSI, but that requires two or more NAS to be running.

While the operating system got an overhaul, we still find some of the great features that we have come to love from Thecus such as the Disk Clone and Wipe features. What they do is pretty much explained in the name.

Another useful feature is the ability to mount ISO files as shared folders, making them available through your network as if it was a drive.