QNAP NAS Server Setup
The first thing you need to do with most NAS devices is discover them on your network and set them up. Most NAS vendors bundle a small, lightweight “finder” application with their products that has some system utilities included. The QNAP Qfinder 4.0 application provides device discovery, login to the main admin app, access to the folders on the NAS, multiple connection choices, device configuration, a report of device details, a resource monitor widget, a bookmark command, drive mapping, firmware update utility, and Startup/Shutdown functions, all before you log in to the full monitoring & control applications via the web browser. There are a number of sub-menus that you go through during initial setup; once you do that, the same setup wizard is still available, from the Configuration button, in case you get forget your password or need to reconfigure the NAS. Otherwise, just use your browser and login to the IP address that the NAS is configured to; the factory default is 169.254.100.100.
The setup process is flexible, in that there are three automated ways to do it: online at http://start.qnap.com and click “Start Now”, a “Cloud” version of the online setup, which is easily accessed with a QR code that is printed on a label, and the old-fashioned way of using the supplied CD to access the startup files. There’s also the full manual setup, which is easy enough, once you know which files to download from the QNAP support website. No matter which way you choose, it’s going to be a series of screens that guide you through the basics. The first three are easy; name of the NAS server, choose an Admin password, and set the clock. Then you need to establish the basic network settings of IP address, subnet, default gateway, and DNS server. The default settings are mostly designed around simple network structures, but the LAN techs will have no problem setting them to match a more complex corporate environment. Then comes network services, which offer the choices of Microsoft, Apple, NFS Service, FTP Service, Telnet/SSH, SNMP, Web Server, and Network Service Discovery. Again, the defaults will work for novices and the extensive options will keep the tyros happy. Finally, the disk or disks are initialized. You can start with one disk and migrate to the desired configuration later, or you can fill all four drive bays at once and configure the array from the start. Synchronizing a large array can take several hours, so if you want to do all the setup work at the beginning and then let the NAS server build the array overnight, that’s not a bad strategy.
Once you log in to the NAS the first time, you’ll have one more opportunity to set up some of the more advanced capabilities of the TS-470. After the Welcome screen, you get the following:
- First is the drive mapping feature
- Second is the Multimedia setup
- Third is the HTPC configuration
- Fourth is the Personal Cloud setup
- Fifth is the File Sync application, which was in Beta during the test period
- Sixth is the APP Center.
Once the initial setup is complete, you need to log in to the main admin application, which QNAP calls QTS 4.0. The default main screen presents you with several large icons:
- Control Panel
- Photo Station
- Music Station
- Video Station
- Download Station
- File Station
- Backup Station
- Surveillance Station
- APP Center
Each of these icons spawns a new window, much like any app would do. The old Administration icon has been renamed to “Control Panel”, and that is where experienced users will probably head first, in order to complete the customization process.
One of the critical aspects of setting up a NAS is the networking configuration. It’s so easy to get it wrong and accidentally shut down access, that QNAP includes tools in their setup wizard application, which you can still access after you inadvertently locked yourself out. If you get it completely out of whack, it’s still possible to recover by using the system reset button, which can be accessed through a small hole in the rear panel. Once you’re inside, this screen lets you change global settings and individual settings for each of the four Ethernet ports available on the system. IPv4 and IPv6 are both accommodated and a Port Trunking is also available as an option. The two integral ports on the TS-470 are labeled “Ethernet 1” and “Ethernet 2” in the software; and I’m happy to say that the ports on the back panel are physically labeled as well. The additional ports that are contained on the expansion card(s) are not always labeled; YMMV since there are about half a dozen cards from three different vendors that are supported. Some may have labels, most probably won’t. Once the ports are configured, you can make changes on the fly from this screen, just click the “Edit” button on the far left, for the adapter you want to update.
Let’s look at the RAID expansion and Migration process a little. The Storage Manager screen is used to configure the individual disk volumes, storage pools, and the disk arrays. Storage Pools are a new addition to the QNAP range, and they increase storage capacity allocation flexibility quite a lot. This is the first time I’ve seen them on a Linux-based NAS server, but they’re a mainstay in the Solaris operating system, with its ZFS file system. Our testing protocol at Benchmark Reviews uses both single disk and RAID 5 storage configurations. Besides the raw test scores we get from those setups, it also allows us to go through the RAID Migration process to see how well that works. Plenty of people start small when they get a new NAS, and expand the capacity later. After I added the remaining three disks to the system, I chose RAID 5 from the pick list and the new volume only took a couple of minutes to initialize. The TS-470 migrated from no RAID to RAID 5 in one easy step. Then I noticed that the system was ‘synchronizing’ the disks. This process took the normal 2-3 hours to complete. I’ve definitely gotten spoiled by the Solaris systems I’ve tested recently, that used pools to manage disk configurations. On those systems, I was able to make this same transition in a few minutes. Maybe the synchronization was still going on in the background, but I never noticed any impact on performance immediately after a volume migration.
Ok, if you’ve been following along this far, there’s not much more I can show you except how fast it is. So let’s get down to some benchmarking, and compare it to a variety of other NAS products that we’ve looked at recently.