NAS Setup & Usage: Thecus N2310
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. Instead of using the supplied CD, I went right to the web application at http://install.theccus.com where the manufacturer maintains the latest and greatest version of the installation program. I normally like to do the setup manually, both because I’m trying to learn as much as I can about the inner workings of the product, and also because when it comes to computers I’m a control freak. This time, I decided I should learn how 99% of the rest of the world does it, so I followed the simple instructions on the Quick Install Guide, which took me here.
Once I had followed the step-by-step instructions and installed version 1.01.08 of the intelligent NAS application, then we went through the steps of Device Discovery, System Login, Network Configuration, and Password maintenance, all before logging 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 setup wizard is still available in case you get forget your password or need to reconfigure the NAS. Otherwise, just use your browser and login to whatever IP address that the NAS is configured to; the default is 192.168.1.100.
Once the initial setup is complete, and you log in to the main admin application, you will find the home page for your Thecus NAS. The latest version of the main control application is now called ThecusOS, and at first it looks like it’s missing about a dozen icons. Once you click on the small “Tools” icon on the far left of the light grey strip, you get a new pop-up window with all the Control Panel icons. The control apps are divided up into the following sub-groups:
- System Management
- System Network
- File Sharing / Privilege
- Network Services
- Application Server
- Module Management
- External Devices
Within each group are several small apps, from 1-2 up to 15+, depending on the complexity of the sub-group. System Management has 16 icons, ranging from the simple task of setting the date and time on the NAS device, to the critical and more complex Network Settings.
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 Thecus 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 function, which can be accessed with a small button on the rear panel. There is only one Ethernet port to configure, so Teaming or Port Trunking or Link Aggregation options are absent. IPv4 and IPv6 are both accommodated in both manual configuration and DHCP modes. Jumbo Frames is supported, as well as the standard MTU value of 1500. At the top of the screen, and one level up in the network hierarchy, are settings for the Host Name, Domain Name, and DNS Settings. The defaults loaded during the initial setup are generated using DHCP, but manual settings are allowed. Status information is provided for the connection, including the link speed which is more than likely going to be 1,000 Mb/s, or GbE as its known today.
There is one place in the setup process where you may benefit greatly from reading the manual ahead of time. It’s really too bad that this information didn’t make it onto the setup screen, as it could cause an aborted setup. If you are installing HDDs that already have data on them, or if they have been configured in another system already, you should choose the Manual RAID Creation option at the bottom of the screen. Don’t worry about making the install too difficult, as the next steps are very simple and easy. With only two drive bays the choices are limited to JBOD, RAID 0, and RAID 1 and all you have to do is pick one of those choices from a menu.
Once you’re all done, you get the chance to review the system configuration before you hit the Submit button and load all the selected settings. You can go backwards from this screen and make any desired changes, so it’s not like some setup routines where you have to start all over from scratch.
Let’s look at the RAID migration process a little. I started with a single drive and the way the N2310 treated that was to call it a JBOD configuration. That seems counterintuitive to me, since there was only one disk, but it’s just another way of saying that all disks physically installed in the NAS will be treated as individual disk volumes. Next, I installed one additional disk and configured the pair of them as RAID 1. There is no way to migrate from a JBOD setup to a RAID volume, the data stored on the JBOD disks has to be deleted. Not a problem for me, and most users won’t need to follow this path, but it’s something to be aware of. So I deleted the existing volume and started the RAID Volume Creation process. One of the options Thecus offers is Quick RAID, which shortens the RAID creation time if you are using drives that have not been partitioned. I was re-using drives that had previously been installed in another NAS, so I couldn’t use this option. Because there are only two drive bays on the N2310 I had only a couple of options, including RAID 0 and RAID 1. I chose RAID 1 because it’s the most useful option of the two. It gives you full data redundancy, while RAID 0 only gives a small increase in steady-state throughput.
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 in the recent past.