The Qnap TS-210 is cute, should save power, and has a way to go before it is a market killer. The hardware is too slow for modern disks and networks, fast enough for backup but not for any of the other uses the TS-210 promises. The device is too noisy to use in your office. The original software is a true example of sloppy software development. Update 2011-04-12: The current firmware makes the Qnap TS-210 a nice device for backup. Update 2011-06-02: The new Qnap TS-212 a better choice if you want to do anything other than backup.
This page was started on January 14, 2010, when the Qnap TS-210 was sold with the original software then updated in August 2010 after a firmware update that made the TS-210 better but not good. New firmware arrived in April 2011 and makes the TS-210 useful. I updated this page as I tested the new firmware.
At the start of July 2011, I threw the Qnap TS-210 in the bin because it is too slow.
Update 2011-06-02: The new Qnap TS-212 a better choice if you want to stick with Qnap and do anything other than backup. The 212 replaces the 800 MegaHertz Marvell processor with a 1.2 GigaHertz version. All other hardware and software appears to be identical. Shops with stocks of both models charge about AU$25 extra for the 212. Some shops are clearing out the 210 at a far lower price.
- + Low power.
- + Quiet when disks not active and the fan slows down.
This list covers hardware problems not fixed by firmware updates.
- - No disk noise suppression.
- - Too slow. Choose the new TS-212.
- - No USB 3.
This list is from the original firmware. You can see all the things fixed by the latest firmware update.
- - The icon is continuously animated. Do you realise how depressing it is to think that something truly insanely bad from the early days of the Web, 1994, could be used by someone today? Someone at Qnap is either totally evil or in marketing.
- - The login is a popup instead of a Web page. Evil. You cannot choose to save the login in the browser or anything intelligent. Evil!
- - Installation settings do not work.
- - For the settings that do work, you often have to reboot to make them work.
- - No immediate backup.
- - No Wake on LAN. Evil. It makes all the power management useless!
- - Endless options and information are mentioned in the HTML but do not display on the page.
Update July 2011
NAS devices need a backup. You can backup from NAS to NAS and it is expensive plus it clogs your network. You can backup to USB. Good NAS devices provide several USB connections so you can have two or three backups to external disks.
Everything else is switching from USB 2 to USB 3. You need USB 3 connections when you add backup disks to a NAS device. All the new disks are too fast for USB 2. All the new USB disk enclosures are USB 3. If you are buying a NAS device today, your NAS device should have USB 3.
Update June 2011
The software steps up from 3.4.2 to 3.4.3. I cannot see a difference.
Update April 2011
There is new software (firmware) you can download for the TS-210. The software is under downloads on the Qnap site. You select the model and see the right download.
The new software is far better than the old. The first version from early 2010 should never have been made public. The August 2010 version was what most people would call an early beta version not yet suitable for sale to the public. The April 2011 version looks usable.
The new software is faster but the 800 MHz Marvell processor is just not fast enough for anything other than a backup. There are alternatives where an Intel Atom is used instead of a Marvell. The better architecture of the Intel Atom makes the Atom twice as fast as the Marvell for the same clock speed.
The TS-212 uses a 1.2 GHz Marvell processor. The TS-219P+ uses a 1.6 GHz Marvell and twice as much RAM. The TS-259 Pro+ has an Intel Atom 1.8GHz dual-core processor and 1 GB RAM.
The original product was so variable that it swung from brilliant to junk and back second by second. Take just one example. After you have it running, go to Administration, System Status, Resource Monitor. The CPU usage displays as a nice little chart. On the same page you should see disk usage and network bandwidth usage but both those charts were blank because Qnap use a different way of presenting the charts, a non standard way. A quick look at the page HTML shows the working display uses the HTML canvas element and the two failed displays are ancient Flash rubbish. Some script kiddie wanted to put flash on his or her resume and Qnap let her/him damage the page. All the displays work in the current firmware.
The Qnap is in a room with temperatures in the low 20s (Centigrade) and is fitted with two medium power disks. The machine was going through a continual annoying power down/up whine that sounds like the fan. The Web temperature display said the system was at 50°C (122° F), disk 1 is 42°C (107° F), and disk 2 is 39°C (102° F). The default settings for the fan was way too high and the fan appeared to be continually switching between high and low speed. That problem went away with the latest firmware update. Now the fan stays quiet when the disks are idle and only jumps into noisy mode when you access the disks.
You will save power with a two disk Qnap TS-210 because the processor uses a tiny amount of power and everything else, the fan, power supply, and support chips, are smaller than the equivalent in a conventional computer. The TS-210 uses 14 watts before you add disks. Each disk adds from 6 to 12 watts. You do not need the fast high power disks because the Qnap is not fast enough to use the speed. Slower low power
green disks are fast enough.
If you need several TS-210s to store data across more than two disks, there are devices from Qnap, Synology, Thecus, and others that house 4 or 5 disks and use faster Intel Atom processors. The larger devices offer RAID 5. Carefully check the maximum disk size for each device because some new disks are larger than the 2 TB limit of some devices.
I suspect the most efficient modern AMD and Intel processors in the right Antec case with one big slow moving fan would use less power than multiple little devices. If you had your system disk set up as two disks in a RAID 1 array then had 9 disks in a RAID 5 array for data, a conventional computer case and cooling would provide both the power to handle many disks plus the speed to perform the multiple backup, synchronisation, and search processes you would perform on a large data array. The right case and fan combination would be quieter.
The Qnap TS-210 is noisy with the fan at full speed so do not use it in the same room. Use an Antec Sonata case or similar when you want a quiet NAS in the same room. See FreeNAS, Openfiler, and Ubuntu to build your own NAS.
The TS-210 with the latest firmware update has less fan noise because of better fan management. Some of the modern low power 5400 RPM
green disks will produce less heat and the fan will stay at low speed under heavier loads.
The TS-210 has no suspension system for the disks. The slightest disk noise resonates through the TS-210. Use quiet Samsung disks or place the Qnap in a different room. I used some spare Hitachi disks in the TS-210 and they produce so much noise, I moved the Qnap to a storage room.
This section is based on the original firmware.
You can plug in external USB devices and create scheduled backups from the Qnap disks to the USB disks. You can also backup to other Qnap NAS devices. Using the original firmware, my test USB disk dropped out frequently making the scheduled backup useless.
There was no option to perform an immediate backup. When you copy something to the Qnap, you have to wait for the next scheduled backup and there can be only one scheduled backup per day. You cannot copy to the Qnap, perform an immediate backup to the USB disk, then safely delete the original from your computer.
This section is based on the latest firmware.
There is now a
backup now option for immediate backups.
Usable disk space
Update 2011-06-02: You buy a NAS to store data. You expect a 500 GB disk will store 500 GB of data. No. See the comments for details of the discussion on usable space.
A disk sold as 500 GB by the manufacturer may store only 465 GB as reported by the operating system. Formatting the RAID array as Ext3 reduces the available space to 456.98 GB. The operating system supplied by Qnap will use some of the available space. The current download is about 0.1 GB and will use more space when installed on disk. I originally installed 500 GB disks on the TS-210 and had to swap to bigger disks to get 500 GB of usable free space. The available space is displayed in
Volume Management. An analysis of space usage is displayed in
My TS-210 is now equipped with 2 TeraByte Hitachi disks that provide 1.863 TB of usable space according to Qnap. My current requirement is 1 TB of free space and I had to buy a disk of at least 1.5 TB to get the space. The 2 TB disks happened to be on sale at the same price and give me some extra margin for future expansion. Given the low cost of larger disks, buy the extra space.
You can see how a problem could occur. If you wanted to duplicate a disk from your computer to the same size disk in a NAS and the NAS happens to use a different geometry disk or a different file system, the NAS could end up with less available space than the source computer. In practice it should not be a problem because the source computer should have a lot of spare space for work files and should not fill the NAS. During backups you also exclude work files, temporary files, and other things not needed if you have to restore the computer.
The processor speed is adequate for local use without encryption. The processor is rarely above 10% usage. I did not test with SSL or encryption and either one might use all the processor resources. For non SSL use the the processor should support several file transfers at once.
Access by a Windows machine using SMB is sometimes slow and sometimes fast but that is a characteristic of Windows and SMB. Windows takes a long while to open a file across a network and can then transfer the file at near network speed. When you transfer one big file, windows will wait up to 10 seconds before starting the transfer then slide the data across reasonably fast. When you transfer lots of little files, the first one might suffer a 10 second delay then each subsequent file a 1 second delay. If you use FTP instead of SMB, your files transfer at the same transfer speeds and there is far less delay between files.
The Qnap TS-210 uses a Marvel 6281 processor running at 800MHz but the clock speed is irrelevant. The AMD Geode processor is available at the same clock speed and performs twice as much processing because of better architecture. Intel have a similar processor, the Atom, that is very low power and performs twice as much work per clock cycle, compared to the marvel. When you see a Marvel chip, divide the clock speed by two. most of the new NAS devices use the Atom.
Update July 2011: The overall speed of a device depends on the processor, all the support chips, memory, the file system, and some other factors. The Qnap TS-210 is too slow for file transfers across the network. I did not track down the bottlenecks. A 30 hour backup killed my interest. I had a terabyte disk to backup and tried it across the network. The network is a gigabyte network and should sustain close to 100 MegaBytes per second if nothing else is running. 40 MB/s would be decent when the network is busy. The Qnap TS-210 could not sustain 4 MB/s. The backup should have completed while I watched MasterChef. Instead it ran all night and was still running the next day when I killed the backup and disposed of the Qnap.
There are 256 MegaBytes of DDRII memory and the memory was never more than half used for NAS applications. You will run out of memory if you decided to use the Qnap as a Web server or start some of the other complex applications supplied in the software. Do not mix Web development and serving with backup on the TS-210. Use a faster device for Web development or load Ubuntu onto a spare desktop machine. Look at the Qnap devices with the 1.6 GHz Intel Atom processor.
The TS-210 has 16 MB of flash memory to store the software. This is enough for a Linux based NAS device but not enough for all the other things QNAP claim the TS-210 can perform. A Linux computer using SSD, Solid State Disk, can fit Linux plus a lot of applications on a 16 GB SSD and provide all the features with a good user interface and help pages. Trimming everything down to 16 MB means cutting out the nice user interface, the help pages, and a lot of options. The latest firmware is 100 MB and loads most of the software on the disk with the firmware flash memory holding only the firmware updating software, a disk startup and initialisation system plus a minimal web server to deliver the initialisation pages.
The TS-210 startup is slow. Qnap probably store most things highly compressed into the flash memory then expand it to regular memory during use. If you leave the TS-210 on all the time for incremental backups, the startup time will not matter. What you will get instead is the annoying fan and disk noise. A large flash memory would be a really cheap upgrade and make the 210 suitable for a system that shuts down until needed then starts up almost instantly.
I would like to see a TS-210 style device with the faster Intel Atom plus space for an SSD along side the regular disks so I can configure an Ubuntu Linux based NAS. Administration would be provided by Webmin.
Thecus produce a range of NAS devices at low prices and some are very slow, slower than the Qnap. The Thecus N2200 is the closest to the Qnap TS-210 but does not have Wake on LAN, making it equally useless as a device that just sits in the corner and powers up only when you need it.
The Thecus N3200 Pro costs more but offers Wake on LAN, space for three disks, giving you the option of RAID 5, and a faster AMD Geode processor. The Thecus N0503 ComboNAS is a slight step up from the N0503 in price and offers more memory in case you decide to run a Web server from the same box. The N0503 and N3200 both have two network connections and could be used as a backup on one network and a Web server or something else on another network. With both boxes, you are up at a price similar to a desktop box or server. The savings compared to a PC are reduced power when in standby mode and a simplified installation process. I-Tech have the best prices on most Thecus models.
The Qnap TS-239 Pro II is the cheapest Qnap with Wake on LAN, has similar specifications to the Thecus N0503 but only two disks instead of three, and costs over AU$100 more. The price makes the Qnap TS-239 Pro II too expensive for a 2 disk backup box and more expensive than a regular mini tower based backup.
Synology sell similar devices.
I use the Qnap only for backup. I moved the USB disk from the Qnap and connected the disk direct to my computer to create another backup. I also built an Ubuntu based NAS server and will use that as a third backup.
Installation for windows and Mac is made easier by a supplied program to find the Qnap device on the network. Plug the software into your computer and the Qnap into the network router. Find. Start the installation. There is no utility for Linux and you have to juggle a network address.
The problem is finding the network address used by the Qnap. If you know the MAC address (internal network hardware identifier) of the Qnap, you can allocate the MAC address of the Qnap to a fixed IP address (Internet address) in your router (network controller, that box in the corner with all the blue wires).
I found the easiest installation for Linux uses a netbook. Download the latest firmware from Qnap to the netbook. Expand the zipped file. Disconnect the netbook from the network. Connect the Qnap direct to the netbook. Change the netbook IP address _____ to match the Qnap device. Use a Web browser to access the Qnap. Run the firmware upload then configure the Qnap. You can then find the MAC address and configure your router to allocate a known IP address to the TS-210.
You can check the disk health by looking at their S.M.A.R.T. information. If they are old disks recycled for backup, you can scan the disks for bad blocks. From what I can see, you have to leave the disks as independent disks during installation then run the scan for bad blocks then join the disks in a RAID array then synchronise the array. If you create the array first then scan, you waste six hours synchronising your 2 TB disks before you find bad sectors.
You can also run the scan after you create the array. I tested the scan after creating the array and the scan chewed up seven hours for one of the Hitachi 2 TB disks.
There is no point buying the Qnap TS-210 if you do not install two disks. As a backup device, you get the most reliability using RAID 1. RAID 1 requires a disk synchronisation. Two Hitachi 2 TeraByte disks take a long time to sync. The sync time is five hours and 50 minutes. I should have started this with the Qnap in a spare corner instead of on my desk or started last thing at night and left it running overnight.
Check now: The Logical volume (RAID array) has a
Check now button. You may be asked to run the check after restarting the Qnap from a power failure. The check of the two 2 TB Hitachi disks lasted 20 minutes.