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QNAP TS-870U-RP NAS Network Storage Server Review

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QNAP TS-870U-RP 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.

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The setup process is a series of small steps 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 comes 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 eight drive bays at once and configure the array from the start. Building 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.

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Alternatively, one of the new features of the 3.8 version of firmware is the ability to use a web-based application to do the setup. Just make sure the Turbo NAS is connected to your ISP through a router, point any Windows, Mac, or Linux machine to start.qnap.com and follow the step-by-step instructions. It sure beats running the install disk from your DVD drive. Plus it’s a quick and easy way to make sure you are starting out with the most up-to-date firmware release. Once the basic NAS functions are enabled and operating, you log in to the main System Administration application on the server to fine tune your configuration.

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Once the initial setup is complete, you need to log in to the main admin application, which QNAP just calls Turbo NAS V3.8 firmware. The default main screen presents you with several large icons:

  • Photo Station
  • Music Station
  • Video Station
  • Download Station
  • Web File Manager
  • Surveillance Station Pro
  • DJ Station
  • Administration

Each of these icons spawns a new window, much like any app would do. The Administration Icon is where you will probably head first, in order to customize the NAS to your needs, before you put it into full operation.

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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 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-870U-RP are labeled “Ethernet 1″ and “Ethernet 2″; 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 right for the adapter you want to update.

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Let’s look at the RAID expansion and Migration process a little. The Disk Management menu is the S/W component you use to configure the individual disk volumes and the disk arrays. 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 three more disks to the system, I was presented with the choice of RAID 1, 5, 6, or 10 and I chose RAID 5 from the pick list. The TS-870U-RP migrated from no RAID to RAID 5 in one step. The process took about 3 hours to ‘synchronize’ all the disks. I’ve definitely gotten spoiled by the 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. Starting from scratch with all disks installed during the initial setup shaves some time off this procedure, but it won’t get down to minutes, it’s still hours.

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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.


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