Early in the setup process, QNAP SMB systems ask if the system will be used in a business or home. Your answer dictates the initial system configuration and the applications installed. At any point, you can add business or home applications depending on your needs. I almost always choose business, because I don't use all of the applications for home users.
Over the last quarter, QNAP released QTS 4.2 Beta, our first look at the upcoming operating system GUI that sets the stage for years to come. QTS 4.2 isn't a radical departure from previous releases, but it does look and feel a little different.
QNAP's QTS software ships with several preinstalled features from the factory. The loaded QPKG packages, QNAP's version of an app for your NAS, are enough to get you started. The company has more than 160 additional QPKG apps available for free. Users can download the applications from the NAS operating system via a dedicated page. The software will automatically download the application and it install it without hassle. The apps offer a good mix of client software, the things you may use in your home and pure business applications. You can see the full list here.
QNAP's software also goes beyond the NAS. A number of mobile apps for iOS and Android allow users to take the content stored on the NAS on the road via an Internet connection. The transcoding feature in the TS-453mini plays an important role when streaming video to remote locations. The mobile applications support much more than just video. You can see the full list of mobile applications here.
By bundling the TS-453mini with a remote control and designing the airflow to make an already quiet product line even quieter, QNAP set the stage for this NAS to become a real media-center powerhouse. On-the-fly transcoding allows users to move the media beyond the theater in other formats as well. Your media can stream to other media players in the house over Ethernet, or outside of the network to mobile devices.
In the future, we will add comprehensive feature stories showing NAS operating systems and GUIs. There are too many pages, too many features and too many add-on packages to introduce in a product review.
There are hundreds of pages in the QNAP QTS operating system, but they all start here on the main page. The icons are similar to your Android phone icons; you can move and position them. There are three pages, so you can organize them by pages if you like. Users can also add or remove icons as needed.
A health-check feature on the lower right corner of the dashboard opens up to what we see here. The monitor provides a quick way to catch the latest QNAP software news, see details about firmware updates and view the status of your system. You can see the status of your array and CPU, and memory usage and network-traffic activity. There is also a pane that shows if other users are logged in to the system. This is useful in an office environment. You don't want to update the firmware and restart the system if a co-worker is using the system for a presentation at a remote location.
Before we even get into the applications, the system has a lot of user-accessible configuration features. Everything comes configured from the factory at usable settings. Users can easily configure options to suit their needs, providing a custom experience.
Users can elect to disable and hide all of the home/multimedia functions by clicking a single check box. This is a nice feature to save processing power and system memory if the features are not used.
In the Storage Manager area of the QNAP QTS OS, users can build arrays either in volumes or by pools of disks. Disk pools were introduced just a few years ago and allow the NAS appliance to tackle storage like an enterprise SAN. The same disk in the system can be part of two separate RAID arrays. For example, part of the drive may be part of a RAID 0 array, and another section of the disk may be part of a RAID 5 array.
When we test QNAP NAS appliances, we use the single-volume option. Systems with seven drive bays and lower are tested in RAID 5, while systems with eight or more disks are tested in RAID 6.
Users have a lot of options for the network. QNAP enables several modes of network teaming including 802.11ad link aggregation. There are a few ways to connect to the system from outside of your intranet. The server is accessible from QNAP's cloud feature, a free service through a specialized website, or through a third-party DDNS service.