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Tom's Hardware's 2011 Gift Guide: Part 2, Last-Minute Extras

Network Storage: Thecus N5200XXX


The holidays arrive at businesses, too, only it’s called using the year-end budget. Many organizations have policies such that if the IT budget doesn’t get used, it vanishes. One of the highest priorities for any business now is data storage, so if money has to get spent, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better application for it than centralizing information. Obviously, a five-drive NAS like the Thecus N5200XXX isn’t aimed at data centers. It’s meant for SMBs, enterprise branch offices and/or workgroups, and even single power users who might be supplying Web services. Stocked with 3 TB drives, one N5200XXX can store up to 15 TB of data, although buyers may wish to start with a much smaller pool.

Unlike many NAS boxes that use low-end SoCs, the N5200XXX is fueled by a 1.8 GHz Intel Atom D525 accompanied by 1 GB of DDR3 memory for improved RAID processing performance. Thecus supports RAID modes 0, 1, 5, 6, 10, and JBOD, along with drive hot-swapping, online RAID migration and expansion, hot sparing, and auto-rebuilding. In-system volume encryption is handled with AES-256, so data protection is bulletproof against theft.

Thecus throws in a copy of Acronis True Image for data and bare metal image backup. Native rsync support lets users back up to remote locations. You can copy bi-directionally with attached USB devices. The NAS also supports UPnP AV streaming, iTunes Server, and photo Web serving via Piczza! Other standard issue services, such as USB print serving, FTP, and secure FTP support, are present.

More advanced, business-oriented features include power management scheduling and Wake-on-LAN support. This may only account for a few dollars in savings per year, but it remains a notable feature as part of a broader green office policy. RAID volume management can be done while the drive is active and accessible by users, thus saving considerable downtime. Admins will appreciate the inclusion of iSCSI thin provisioning, and those concerned about security should make use of having a USB flash drive act as the key that unlocks the NAS device’s AES-256 encryption.

With dual gigabit ports for failover and balancing, plus an eSATA port to accompany the four integrated USB 2.0 ports, the N5200XXX comes loaded with all of the expansion capability and storage power a small office could ask for.