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Thecus W5000 WSS NAS Review

Low-cost Windows Storage Servers (WSS) give small businesses access to enterprise-class features at a desktop price.

Software Features

Almost all of the software features come from Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials, but Thecus does add a few value-added bits as well.

WSS VersionWorkgroupStandardEssentials
Join DomainYesYesYes
DeduplicationNoYesYes
BranchCacheNoYesYes
Hyper-VNoLimited to 2No
Failover ClusteringNoYesNo
DHCP, DNS, WINSYesYesYes
Server Essentials ExperienceNoNoYes
Active DirectoryNoNoYes

First, let's look at differences between the three Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 versions to find where Essentials fits in. Microsoft broke up a lot of the features to make Essentials a product with a real need.

All of the Storage Server variants are based on Windows Server 2012 R2. That right there costs roughly $550, and the Datacenter version sells for thousands. The three storage-specific versions bring many of their features down to embedded appliances at much lower prices.

Software FunctionsWindows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials
File SystemNative NTFS, FAT32, EFS, ReFS
Disk ManagementData DeduplicationStorage SpacesNTFS Online Scan and Repair
Network SupportIPV4IPV6Multiple NICsDNSDHCPWINS
File and Block Storage ProtocolSMB 1.0, 2.0, 2.1, 3.0, 3.01NFS v2, v3, v4.1iSCSI Target Server (Block Storage)
Directory ServicesActive Directory IntegrationDomainAuthentication and AuthorizationDomain ControllerCertification ServicesFederation ServicesRights Management
Windows Client Integration via Launch PadAgent Deployed on ClientOne Click Connection to NAS Appliance
PerformanceNIC TeamingSMB Multi-Channel
Secure Remote AccessRemote Desktop ServicesRemote File Access via FTP / FTPSRemote Web Access via HTTPS
Licensing50 Users or DevicesNo CALs RequiredSingle Processor SocketUp to 4GB of System MemoryP2P via Orbweb Ultimate Edition
Print Server SupportFull Windows Print Server SupportLocal Printer ConnectionDistributed Scan Driver
Health ReportingIntegrated Health Monitoring and Reporting
Media Pack for StreamingWindows Server Essentials Media Pack
Global Language Pack36 Available

If you haven't used a Microsoft Windows Server OS, many of its capabilities may be new to you. For the most part, the features list is standard in Windows environments, but desktop users rarely need or come across these specific options. Windows Server looks and feels like regular desktop Windows, but there are some areas you'll need to explore and read about in order to configure them.

Server 2012 R2 introduced data deduplication (dedupe) to the Windows storage environment. The feature is included in the Essentials version, and it's amazing. In brief, the technology searches for similar files and remove duplicates. When you open a folder, the data is still there for you to click on, open, run or whatever you want to do with it. After all, the information was never really deleted. It's just combined to save disk space and available in both places. Dedupe incurs a lot of CPU overhead, so we recommend trying different settings to find the right balance for your workload.

  • Deuce65
    "Low-cost Windows Storage Servers (WSS) give small businesses access to enterprise-class features at a desktop price."

    Um, is this a hardware review or a press release?
    Reply
  • cpburns
    Did you read the review and verdict?
    Reply
  • Travis Hershberger
    While many people may actually use RAID 5 with this device, this is what we call professional malpractice among IT pros.

    Ref: http://www.smbitjournal.com/2012/11/one-big-raid-10-a-new-standard-in-server-storage
    http://www.smbitjournal.com/2012/11/choosing-raid-for-hard-drives-in-2013
    http://www.smbitjournal.com/2012/11/choosing-a-raid-level-by-drive-count
    http://www.smbitjournal.com/2013/06/dreaded-array-confusion
    http://www.zdnet.com/blog/storage/why-raid-6-stops-working-in-2019/805
    http://www.zdnet.com/blog/storage/why-raid-5-stops-working-in-2009/162
    Reply
  • CRamseyer
    You need to understand a couple of things about all of those articles. The articles are not talking about your home or small business NAS with four or five drives to start with. The ZDNET author has a history of writing articles and article titles to bring people in. Many disagree with Robin's findings. I wouldn't say that is the case with the only article that relates to this review though, Why RAID 5 Stops Working in 2009. In that article he references a 7-drive RAID 5 array. With 6 or more drives we use RAID 6 (RAID 10 in some cases) for the very reason he cites. With five drives and in a home or small business environment RAID 5 is sufficient as long as you are proactive. Keep the system on a battery backup, keep air vents fee of dust and if a drive fails replace it right away.

    Some users may want to take redundancy to the next level and run RAID 6 on a 5 drive array. That is fine and I know people that do. I don't recommend it on a sub-1000 Dollar system that already has performance issues with RAID 5 though.
    Reply
  • Marco Ullasci
    "We rarely hear of failures in the field"
    Here I am.
    "In our own experience, NAS failures come from easy-to-replace fans and power supplies, rather than the main components that make up the heart of the system."
    Changed power supply and changed fan but still no fun.
    I had to dump my DS411Slim after putting some € on it in an attempt to fix.
    The brown thing happens.
    Reply