NAS (network attached storage) is no longer reserved for small business users due to the drop in the price. In addition, many newer NAS has incorporate many features such as the ability to share multimedia files and download files withtout a computer in addition to the ability to store and share files. These all make NAS a great addition to many home network setup. Today, we will be looking at probably one of the most feature-rich NAS on the market–the QNAP TS109 Pro. Join us, as we take a look at this product and put it through our tests.
We have seen a surge with the NAS (Network Attached Storage) to the market recently. Many of the newer NASes not only serve as a network attached storage device but also packed with many features which make them not simply as a tool for small business but would be very useful tool for many home users who need a mean of centralize data storage and sharing.
Here at Bjorn3D, we have reviewed many NAS from various vendors, ranging from QNAP, Synology, Sans Digital, to Vantec. One thing that is certain is that each new product comes to our lab is packed with more features and most of the time, much more user-friendly. This makes NAS a great addition to any home user with multiple computers. Many of these NASes are virtually maintenance-free and the installation process is as easy as hooking up a few cables to the hard drive.
Our first look at QNAP’s product was their TS101. We were fairly pleased with its features and performance and it had received Bjorn3D’s coveted Golden Bear Awards. Well, the folks at QNAP has since updated their product and adds more features to their NAS. Today, we will take a look at their latest release–the TS109 Pro.
QNAP’s website offers very detailed comparison among various NAS which the company sells; check it out to see the difference among different models (link). Here is a short comparison between the TS109 Pro and TS101:
ABOUT THE COMAPNY: QNAP SYSTEMS, INC
QNAP Systems, Inc. (QNAP) is a devoted and dominant provider of Internet Appliance (IA) products. QNAP was a previous IA business unit of ICP Electronics, Inc. (ICP). We have more than 4 years’ solid and successful experience in designing and developing innovative and customized IA products. Our extensive expertise and product lines cover networking storage, digital surveillance and message communication.
QNAP has our own R&D, business development, and technical support sections to provide quality customer-oriented services. Until now QNAP has already released more than 20 NAS models for SMB (small and medium business). Our IA products have received ISO 9001 qualification, covering product design, manufacturing and supply. QNAP is dedicated to providing top quality products in the market and offering complete support to our customers.
For more information on QNAP, please visit their website at: http://www.qnap.com.tw/index.asp
Create your own File Server in the easiest way
FTP Server simplifies the data sharingHaving troubles with sending large files by e-mail due to the limited capacity? You can establish your own FTP server by using TS-109 Pro. You can manage the access authority of the FTP server and share your files with your friends or customers easily in a few steps.
Backup Server with the most professional auto-backup software
Enhanced data protection by optional RAID-1 mirroringImagine, your server’s hard drive crashes and you lose everything. What would you do to have it back? QNAP’s exclusive Q-RAID 1 provides the ultra-high-level redundancy, which helps to keep a real-time synchronized mirror in your external USB or eSATA hard drive box. In case the main storage is damaged, the backup disk can be installed to TS-109 Pro to resume normal operation
Establish your interactive Web Server
MySQL Server TS-109 Pro is the most affordable choice as a standalone database server for system integrators. It can be applied flexibly in various deployments such as a database server of another web server in remote site or as an additional backup database server to achieve system redundancy.
Share your printer resource by Printer Server
UPnP Media Server (with built-in TwonkyMedia Server)
Multimedia Station for photo sharing
Enjoy continuous download independent of PC
Share your music by iTunes Server
Support Windows ADS
With Windows ADS (Active Directory Service) support, you can deploy your Turbo Station in small business environment easily! It enables Windows domain users to easily access the shared data with the Active Directory authentication. This not only saves server manager’s time and effort in creating duplicated groups and accounts, but also lowers the maintenance cost by centralized management.
Sharing files across Windows, Mac, Linux, and Unix.
TS-109 Pro is specially designed for different users to share the files across Windows, Mac, Linux, and Unix environment.
No fan design
The fan used inside a device is for the purpose of cooling system, no matter how quiet it is, the fan has to be activated for air ventilation. Somehow, it is inevitable to generate intermittent chirping noise which distracts your work or diminishes your enjoyment. TS-109 Pro adapts no fan design approach by using silver/ black aluminum case for thermal dissipation. It provides an absolute quiet working environment for you!!
One touch USB auto copy
When a USB device such as digital camera, digital camcorder, or pen drive is plugging into the front panel USB port, data in the USB flash disk or digital photos in your camera can be backed up to TS-109 Pro automatically by simply pressing the USB copy button.
Unique advanced HDD health scanning (HHS)
No idea how’s the health status of your centralized storage hard disk? TS-109 Pro is embedded with HHS technology which lets you to perform checking disk and bad blocks scanning to prevent potential data loss.
Unique Web File Manager
TS-109 Pro provides unique Web File Manager function for you to easily download, upload and manage the files on the server by browser.
SSL Security (HTTPS)
You can access and manage your Turbo Station by using web browser securely. All connections between PC and NAS including user ID, password, files, download tasks, etc. are encrypted in SSL tunnels and are well protected.
Remote management of download tasks on multiple Turbo Stations
QGet is powerful P2P download management software provided with QNAP’s Turbo Station series. QGet can be installed on any Windows computers for users to simultaneously manage BitTorrent, FTP and HTTP download tasks of multiple Turbo Station servers.
Network Recycle Bin
Can you imagine if you delete an important file on the NAS by mistake and lose it forever? You don’t need to worry now! The files deleted from the network shares of the TS-109 Pro will be moved to a particular recycle bin folder. You can restore your data anytime in case of unintended file deletion.
Built-in DDNS support
TS-109 Pro supports dynamic DNS (DDNS). You can register a unique domain name from a DDNS service provider and assign it to your Turbo Station. There is no more need to remember a lengthy IP address!
QNAP TS109 Pro
|128MB DDR II RAM, 8MB Flash
|1 x 3.5” SATA I/II HDD, up to 1TB, expandable to 2TB via eSATA/USB (the HDD is not included)
|1 x Gigabit RJ-45 Ethernet port
|USB, Status, eSATA, HDD, LAN, Power
|3 x USB 2.0, support USB printer, disk, digital camera, pen drive, card reader, USB hub
|1 x eSATA port
Intelligent USB auto copy button
210(D) x 60(W) x 182(H) mm
Net Weight: 1.2Kg
Gross Weight: 2.1Kg
|External power adapter: 12V, 36W, 100~240V
Sleep mode: 6.6W
Fanless, HDD sleep mode
|Heat dissipation by aluminum case
K-Lock security slot for theft prevention
Linux embedded system
TCP/IP, DHCP Client, DHCP Server, CIFS/SMB, AFP, NFS, HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, DDNS, NTP, Jumbo Frame
EXT3 (Internal/external HDD)
Microsoft® Windows® 98/ME/NT/ 2000/XP/2003/Vista
User quota management (Per user)
Windows AD service support
File System Management
Network share management (max 256 Shares)
E-mail alert (support SMTP authentication)
Display system log / alert / error
English, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Japanese, Korean, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Russian
|Triple Backup Soluitons
PC client backup software-NetBak Replicator: Instant/ Schedule/ Auto-sync backup
Remote Replication: Remote file backup
Unique Q-RAID 1 mirroring backup to external HDD via USB or eSATA
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The QNAP TS-109 Pro comes in a black box filled with marketing information about the features and specification of the unit. The box is not too flashy but it draws attention and it offers a very informative description about its features.
Open up the box, we see that the enclosure is well protected with two pieces of Styrofoam cutouts and the accessories are placed neatly and securely inside a box.
The TS-109 Pro looks just like the TS-101 that was reviewed. It is made with brushed aluminum body that has the brown metallic look accented with black plastic on the front and the back. The unit looks and feels sturdy. It ‘s slightly larger than a hard drive enclosure and some other NASes due to the fact that it is fanless, so the cooling is solely depended on the metal body.
The front has the LED status indicator for the HDD, LAN, power, USB, and eSATA. In addition, we see the power button, a one touch copy button, and an USB connector. The indicators are clearly labeled. The power button is designed so that it requires holding the button for a few seconds to turn off the unit in order to prevent any accidental shutting of the unit. The one touch button is a will automatically copy the content on any attached storage device to the internal hard drive with one touch of the button (more on this later).
Nothing too exciting is found on the back of the unit. The back has two USB connectors, one eSATA connector, a Gigabit Lan connector, power connector, reset button, power cord hook, and a security lock slot.
Inside the accessory box, there are a power brick (rated 12V, 36W, 100~240V), a CAT5e cable, two metal stands for the enclosure, a software CD, a setup guide and a bag of screws. The quick guide is fairly detailed and colored so it’s easy to follow for the installation process. A more detailed manual is included in the CD as well as the drivers and software applications for the NAS.
Take the two screws on the back of the unit and the top cover slides out of the enclosure to reveal the internal components. We can see that the TS-109 Pro uses Marvell 88F5182-A2 C500 SoC (System on Chip) processor rated at 500 MHz. Next to the CPU, we see two Hynix DDR2 RAM for a maximum of 128MB. Furthermore, there is also an 8MB flash chip. The flash memory on the TS109 Pro has been reduced to 8MB compare to the 16MB on the TS101 but the RAM has been increased to 128MB from 64MB on the TS101.
The setup process of the TS109 Pro is extremely easy due to the fact that there’s no cable needed and the whole process can be done in five minutes. The QNAP’s enclosure is designed so the hard dirve can be installed by aligning the connector on the hard drive to the connector on the PCB and the unit, so no need to connect the data and power cable. I believe almost all SATA hard drives should fit in the enclosure without any problem. I have tried the Western Digital WD Caviar SE16 and Seagate ST380013AS and I have not found any problem with either hard drive. If you wish to be sure that your hard drive would fit, check out the QNAP’s website for the list of compatible hard drives and USB printers (link).
After installed the hard drive to the unit, connected the power and network cable, I inserted the CD and use the QANP Finder program to setup the NAS. The program searches the NAS and provides a step by step instruction to assist setting up the unit. The program is very neat and makes installation and NAS detection a breeze.
I particularly like the fact that QNAP has included the latest firmware (version 1.1.0 Build 0710) in the CD. During the installation, users are prompted to update the firmware image. The quick installation automatically formats the hard drive and mounts the NAS to a drive letter. The installation takes about 142MB of hard disk space.
FEATURES–SETTINGS AND MANAGEMENTS
The main interface of the TS-109 Pro is exactly the same as the TS-101 that was reviewed. The options are being divided into eight main categories. Looking at the user menu, we can get a sense of the TS-109 Pro’s features.
The menu is organized into eight major categories: Quick Configuration, System Settings, Network Settings, Device Configuration, User Management, Network Sharing Management, System Tools and Event Logs. Within each menu, they are further divided into subcatetories. (click for larger size)
The TS109 Pro software supports Windows 98/ME/NT/ 2000/XP/2003/Vista, Mac OS9/OSX, and Linux and Unix. In addition, the web interface can be accessed with IE 6.0 or higher, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple’s Safari.
The amount of features packed in the TS-109 Pro is overwhelming and it can be a daunting task for any newcomer to the NAS. Luckily the options are all well organized into categories and the interface is easy to navigate. In addition, the included pdf manual is very detailed and easy to follow.
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The Quick Configuration offers the similar step-by-step guide which we found in the QNAP Finder where users would be able to use to it configure the NAS.
We can see that the files can be encoded into any of the 10 languages.
Most basic configuration of the TS-109 Pro can be found under the System Settings, User Management, and Network Management. Under the System Settings, users would be able to setup the basic information on the NAS, such as server name, date and time, and file encoding. The TS-109 Pro can automatically synchronize with an internet time server and offers 10 languages supports for file name encoding.
User Control Panel
Group Control Panel
User disk quota can be set to a given size.
Under the User Management and the Network Sharing Management is where the users would be able to setup user accounts and sharing privilege. TS-109 Pro offers the same quick step-by-step guide for setting up user accounts and it supports maximum of 256 user accounts each with their own password, private network share, and different privileges. In addition, the unit supports maximum 128 groups.
The TS109 Pro can also control the network sharing. Each user can be offered limited or full access to the network sharing server on the NAS.
The TS109 Pro supports a wide range of networks, including Windows client, Macintosh client through AppleTalk, and Linux client through NFS service. A nice addition to the TS109 Pro is the supporting of the Microsoft ADS (Active Directory Service) which will automatically enable Windows domain users to easily access the shared data with the existing groups and accounts.
In addition, the TS109 Pro supports Jumbo Frame setting of MTU 1500, 4074, 7418, and 9000 bytes and offers email update on the Server status via SMTP server.
All connections between PC and NAS including user ID, password, files, download tasks etc. are encrypted in SSL tunnels and are well protected. Furthermore, the TS109 Pro also offers IP Filter, which offers another layer of security control over thet connections.
Given to the fact that the TS-109 Pro is a “Network Attached Storage”, it would not be a surprise to find many Server applications in the TS109 Pro. In fact, the unit offers 12 Server applications.
- File Server
- Backup Server
- Printer Server
- Mirror Station
- Remote Replication
- FTP Server
- Web Server
- Media Server
- Multimedia Station
- Download Station
Not only that the TS-109 Pro supports FTP Server, it also supports MySQL and SQLite server. The FTP port range can be defined and the maximum number of connectors can be limited as well as maximum download rate.
The TS109 Pro also offers Telnet and SSH connection, which allows users to conduct interactive sessions with computers elsewhere on the Internet by providing a character-based (i.e., non-graphical) connection.
The TS109 Pro can also funtion as a Web Server that supports php.ini Maintenance.
The TS109 Pro is also a powerful Multimedia Server. It supports iTunes server, web-based multimedia browser, and a UPnP Media Server powered by TwonkyMedia. The NAS offers a web-based interface for multimedia organization. The Web-based Multimedia browswer will index, catalog, and automatically create a thumbnail. Users with administrator priviledge are able to modify the files while users without the administrator priviledge would only be able to view the files.
The multimeida will automatically create thumbnail of the media files. (click for larger size)
Once the file is selected, the NAS will display a wide range of imformation. (click for larger size)
The administrator is able to log into the multimedia server to edit, add and remove the files. (click for larger size)
In addition, the TS109 Pro can also be a multimedia server for digital contents, such as movie, music, and photos. With the build in TwonkyMedia server, the TS-109 Series would be a good media storage center and it works well with DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) compliant media players. The unit also has photo server for all of the digital picture collection and supports iTune as well.
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Once the iTune Server is enabled, the NAS automatically shows up under iTune so the multimedia files can be drag-and-drop to the NAS without.
What I love about the TS109 Pro is that it offers web interface file control for EVERYTHING. One of the great features about the TS109 Pro is the Web File Manager. This feature allows users to access and manages the file on the NAS with a Web Browser.
Finally, the TS109 Pro also has the ability to download BitTorrent files remotely and without a PC. We have seen this feature with the QNAP’s TS101 and the Synoloogy DS-107 that was reviewed. This seems to be the standard feature in many newer NAS on the market. QNAP has included a program called “QGet” which is a Windows application which offers users a mean to manage the download tasks. Unfortunately, this application only works under Windows.
The TS109 Pro offers excellent backup with the NetBak Replicator application. Users would be able to backup the files and folders to the NAS and the program does both real-time as well as scheduled backup. Like the QGET software, NetBak Replicator is a Windows only application, so Mac users are out of luck.
In addition to backing up to the NAS, the TS109 Pro also offers two ways to back up the NAS. The QNAP NAS also supports Q-RAID 1, which offers users to create mirror raid with the external hard drive so the data on the NAS can be mirrored for safe-keeping. Furthermore, the TS109 Pro also offers Remote Replication. The Remote Replication allows users to back up the data on the TS109 Pro to another QNAP storage solution. The data will be backup in block mode so only the modified data will need to be updated after initial backup and data will be compressed automatically to save transfer time. The backup can be configured instant, scheduled, or synchronized.
The One Button Copy that we have seen on the front of the TS109 Pro allows the TS109 Pro to copy any USB storage device that is connected to the NAS. In addition, the TS109 Pro supports USB printer sharing and USP in the event of power failure. The Samsumg ML-1710 that I tested was working properly with the TS109 Pro despite the fact that it is not listed on QNAP’s website as supported devices.
Note that the UPS supports USB UPS and SNMP USP.
I absolutely love that QNAP has included the Network Recycle Bin in the TS109 Pro, which was not found in the TS101 or the Synology DS-107 that I had reviewed. In fact, I wish all the NAS on the market would include this feature and I hope QNAP would implement this in their older NAS. This feature will prevent any accidental delete of important files and offers a way to retrieve these files. Once this option is enabled, whenever the files are deleted, they won’t get erased from the hard drive, rather they will be moved to a recycle bin folder. It is only by deleting the files in the recycle bin folder the files will then get removed from the storage.
The TS109 Pro also offers an easy way to update the firmware. The firmware update interface has a direct link to the QNAP’s main site (though it maybe better to link directly to the TS109 Pro’s download site but that’s nothing to be complaining about).
Something that’s unique about QNAP’s NAS is that they offer HDD health scanning. TS-109 Pro is embedded with HHS technology which supports disk checking and bad blocks scanning to prevent potential data loss.
In addition, since the unit does not have any fan, it’s absolutely silent and need to worry about possible fan failure causing the NAS to fail. The unit does run quite hot during operation and when the ambient temperature is hot (like in the summertime).
|Intel E6600 Core 2 Duo
|EVGA nForce 680i SLI (BIOS P30)
|Team Group TXDD2048M800HC4DC-D
Seagate Barracuda Barracuda 7200.10 SATA ST3400620AS (16MB cache)
Western Digital WD2500KS-00MJB0 SATA (16MB cache)
|Foxconn 8600 GTS
|Windows XP SP2
I install a 250GB Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD2500 in the TS109 Pro and TS101. Performance is tested with iozone 3.282 (www.iozone.org). The test is done with the 100 Mbps through my existing home network with Buffalo WHR-G54S router and Vitesse Gigabit Ethernet Switch. The test is done with jumbo frame disabled. The following command was used to test the transfer speed of TS-101:
iozone -Rab -i 0 -i 1 -+u -f -q 64k -n 32M -g 1G –z
This command basically tests the record size of 64kbytes and transferred file sizes of 32, 64, 128, 512 and 1024 Mbytes.
Before we take a look at the result, let me just give you an overview as to what does the tests represent. The Iozone’s Write test tests the performance of writing a new file. The Rewrite tests measures the performance of writing a file that already exsisted. The Rewrite performance is expected to be better than Write due to the less demanding task of rewriting the file with the metadata already existed in the file. The Read tests measures the performance of reading an existing file while the Reread test measures the performance of reading a file that was recently read. We often see performance of Reread to be better than Read as the file may be cached.
Using Kill-A-Watt (model P44400), we were able to confirm that the maximum power consumption of the TS109 Pro is 14W while the minimum power consumption is 6W (This information is consistent with QNAP’s reported 6.6W in sleeping mode and 14.4W in standard operation). The low power consumption is ideal for an application which is designed to run 24/7.
Since the TS109 Pro does not provide a way to monitor the temperature of the hard drive, it would be hard to assess the hard drive temperature under operation. What we have observed is that the exterior of the NAS does get quite warm during operation. It’s not scorching hot but it’s warm nonetheless and I do wish QNAP would offer a way to monitor the temperature and maybe even provide a slightly better way to manage the temperature or even using an active cooling. Granted the noiseless passive cooling is a much welcoming feature but I personally prefer cooler hard drive temperature despite a slight fan noise.
100Mbps LAN PERFORMANCE
File Transfer Performance
The read and re-read performance of the TS109 Pro is slightly higher than the TS101, although it’s very slim increase in the performance. The write and re-write of the TS109 Pro is much better compare to the TS101. The TS109 Pro is about 1.5 times faster than the TS101, although it is still not close to the theoretical throughput of the 100Mbps.
The CPU utilization of the TS109 Pro is excellent. The TS109 generally uses 3~5% of CPU power. What is surprising to me is that the TS109 Pro’s write and re-write uses slightly higher CPU than the read/re-read. The higher thoughtput of the write/re-write maybe associated with the slightly higher CPU utilization.
GIGABIT LAN PERFORMANCE
File Transfer Performance
Switching to the Gigabit LAN shows a much better throughput for the TS109 Pro. The read/re-read of the TS109 Pro still performs similar to the TS101 (both have about 14~17MB/s throughput) but TS109 Pro has a larger performance gain over TS101 when both are connected to Gigabit LAN over the 100Mbps LAN. The read/re-read performnace may not be the best on the market a single drive NAS but its performance is quite respectable.
Like the performance of the 100Mbps, the TS109 Pro outperforms the TS101 in the write/re-write performance for about 1.6 times when they are connected to the Gigabit LAN. The overall throughput of the TS109 Pro in the Gigabit is about 13MB/s for write and 17MB/s for re-write compare to the 8MB/s and 10MB/s for the 100Mbps, respectively. The TS109 Pro is able to deliver better throughput than the theoretical throughput of the 100Mbps while the TS101 is not able to do so.
When both NASes are connected to the Gigabit LAN, we see a higher CPU utilization. The read/re-write consumes about 2% of CPU usage when it’s connected to the Gigabit LAN as oppose to 1%. It is fairly insignificant increase nonetheless. The write and re-write consumes about 5~7% of CPU power for the TS109 Pro. Once again, this could be explained with the higher throughput of the write/re-write and the 5~7% of CPU usage may not be that noticeable in today’s mutii-core CPUs.
The QNAP TS-109 Pro is a feature packed NAS with excellent transfer performance. It has maintained the same feels and looks of the TS101 but has upgraded the processor, memory, and software. Personally, I really enjoy the web interface file management and the Network Recycle Bin features. The ability to use Windows Active Directory Service, MySQL support, and the unique Q-RAID are also nice finds in the TS109 Pro.
The performance of the TS109 Pro is good. It out-performs the TS101 and consumes negligible CPU clock. The performance gain is especially noticeable using Gigabit network. Though the performance of the TS109 Pro is not the king on the block, it performs respectable for 1 unit NAS..
The passive-cooled TS109 Pro is a nice feature from QNAP but I would hope QNAP can implement a way to monitor the hard drive temperature as the unit does get hot when in operation. Although no one would like the added noise of a fan, I would still hope QNAP can come with a solution to offer a balance of noise and a mean to further cool the unit down.
I am also slightly disappointed to find out that two of the included software (QGET and NetBak) do not work with Mac operating system (though QNAP assures me that it’s on the work and hopefully they will get it out soon).
Currently, the TS109 Pro can be purchased at Newegg for retail price of $299.99 (link) while the non pro version can be purchased at $40 less at price of $259.99. It offers a great balance of price nd features. It is probably one of the most feature packed product among the NASes in the similar price range. Assuming that you have the need for any of the unique features in the QNAP TS109 Pro, it sure will deliver the needed performance at reasonable price.
QNAP TS109 Pro will receive a score of 9.5 (extremely good) out of 10 and receive Bjorn3D’s coveted Golden Bear Award for a featured packed, good transfer speed product.
+ Feature packed
+ Q-RAID 1
+ Web Interface file management
+ Good performance
+ Easy installation and detailed manual
+ Supports wide range of systems: Windows, Mac, Linux
– Runs slightly hot
– No HD temperature monitor
– Some software (QGET and NetBak) does not work with Mac