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Thecus N4200

Is Data Encryption Worth Destroying Your NAS' Performance?

Thecus positions the N4200 as a business solution for small- to medium-sized companies, and it costs around $660. Customers can equip the NAS with up to four hard drives, and then apply RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, or 10. You can also integrate the N4200 using iSCSI. Again, it comes with a dual-core Intel Atom D510 processor and 1 GB of DDR2 SDRAM.

Encryption Setup

The encryption setup is easily accessible via Thecus' Web interface, similar to the other two devices we're testing. When creating a RAID array, you can enable the encryption option. After the array built, its storage space is completely encrypted via a partition-level approach. The encryption password can be any string consisting of anywhere from one to sixteen characters.

Here's another interesting detail: you need an external drive connected to one of the N4200's USB ports when you create an encrypted partition on Thecus' NAS. This is just one more hassle, of course, but it's all in the name of security. For practical reasons, you'll probably want to use a thumb drive, on which key to decrypt data stored on the partition is stored.

Restart with the USB Drive

Once the encryption process is complete, the USB drive can be removed. Thecus recommends that you make a copy of the key and keep both the USB drive and the file in a safe place.

The USB drive is also required whenever you migrate or expand the RAID configuration. Once you're done with it, put it back in its safe place.

When creating the RAID configuration, you must select the option “Encryption” and enter a password in order to use the feature.

When creating an encrypted partition, Thecus notifies you of the fact that a USB drive is required and that this drive should be kept at a safe location. The dialog window does not mention that encryption might slow down data throughput, but the PDF manual does.

A password must be entered if the encryption mode is selected, and the encryption/decryption key file is generated based on what you enter.

A padlock icon indicates that the partition is encrypted when the operation is successfully completed.

Be careful: if the NAS is started without the USB drive, it does not indicate that there are any RAID configurations available.

The key files required for encryption/decryption are stored on an external drive that should be kept at a safe location, protected from unauthorized access.

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