[Review] QNAP TurboNAS TS-439 Pro II+
Lately we received 3 NAS units from QNAP for review, these being the TS-119P+, TS-219P+ and the more advanced TS-439 Pro II+ model. In this review we will go more in depth on the TS-439 Pro II+. This model is a class on its own and focuses more to the business side of the market whereas the latter 2 are more targeted towards the home user and small office.
If you would be more interested in reading about the TS-119P+ and TS-219P+ models, please click here to be redirected to that specific review : QNAP TS-439 and TS-639 Pro Turbo Quick Review
Business class unit, no doubt about that
First impression you will get when you unbox it, is the solid build quality. This unit is really well made; the case itself consists of a thick layer of cold rolled steel. Front panel is made of PVC with a glossy screen for displaying information such as its IP address and to perform some basic settings. Next to the display there are 2 buttons (‘Enter’ and ‘Select’) to change certain network settings. Below the display you can find the status, LAN, USB and E-SATA led lights which light up depending on whether the unit is active; a USB/E-SATA device is connected. Not visible at first sight but visible when inserting the drive trays, you will see a light per hard drive to visually tell you in which slot a drive is currently present and active. They also visually tell you if the drives are currently being written to/read from.
Front drive bays are a bit different from the other QNAP models we recently reviewed, since these contain a key locking mechanism to secure and protect the drives from unwanted removal or accidental disconnect. Also on the front, are the power-on button and a USB slot with copy-button for instant data copy so everybody can access its content more quickly.
Unlike the home user models, this device has a built in power supply with silent fan to the rear.
The TS-439 Pro II+ is a fairly powerful box for its small size. It sports one of Intel’s latest generation ATOM processing units (namely the D425 1.8 GHz Single-core model). Memory wise it has 1GB DDRII for instructions and 512MB dedicated DOM Flash memory for firmware/OS. The front has 4 hot swappable disk bays capable of holding either 3.5inch or 2.5inch hard drives. SSD support is present.
- 1x reserved monitor port (VGA)
- 2x Gigabit LAN (possible to connect it to 2 separate networks or use 1 for data replication, load balancing or failover to another QNAP NAS).
- 5 USB 2.0 ports (1 in front, 4 at the back) for connecting USB hard drives, support up to 3 USB printers or other USB memory device.
- 2x E-SATA ports to connect E-SATA external hard drives.
- Size: 177 H – 180 W – 235 D
- Weight: 3.65 kg NET – 4.65 kg GROSS
As previously mentioned this unit has a built in power supply which means you only have to plug in the power cable. Also mentionable: the TS-439 Pro II+ uses a 92mm cooling fan, which in our opinion is a smart move over the 80mm fans which tend to produce a higher noise level. This 92mm fan on the other hand, is near silent. The cooling system is controlled based on a heat policy set up in the administration panel, thus the fan will only spin at full throttle when the disks get really hot. In our tests the unit has never made any significant noise, even with 4 fully charged bays with 7200rpm hard drives active.
Disk performance & setup recommendations
If there is one thing the QNAP TS-439 Pro II+ really shines, it just has to be the different configurations in disk management. And we are not talking about just the possibility to use 2.5 or 3.5 inch hard drives here. We tested the unit with 1 – 2 and 4 hard drives, all were 3.5 inch models both in 5400 RPM model as 7200 RPM counterpart.
Speed averages (made up from multiple tests on various systems in our gigabit network environment):
- Small files (between 250kb and 1mb) 25 up to 50 Mb/Sec*
- Medium sized (between 250mb and 700mb) up to 120 Mb/Sec
- Large files (starting from 2gb up to 10gb) up to 100 Mb/Sec
*The speeds for small file sizes are very dependable on file size. Any photo below 300kb got us a steady 25 Mb/Sec, whereas larger HQ photos of 1mb and more push it to almost 50Mb/Sec. We tested these units on both Cat. 5E and Cat. 6 patch cables, we did gain a speed boost when this unit was connect through our patch Cat 6 vs. the default QNAP Cat 5E supplied with the NAS. It’ very dependent on the file size, thus we can’t put a fixed number on this. But averaging we would say for smaller files you gain at least 5%, yet with moderately (medium) sized files it was up to 20% speed gain. So for those amongst you with high speed switches, you might want to consider getting a Cat. 6 cable and see if it’s worth it for your goal.
A general iTunes album of about 100 Mb will be transferred in about 2 seconds. Which means word, excel, powerpoint and other various file formats can be opened by your network users in about the same time as if they were to load them from their physical (local) hard drive.
Unlike its smaller brothers, this 4 bay model has a higher level of RAID features. With the added power of this CPU and more RAM it’s also capable for iSCSI, Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware virtualized volumes and has Citrix support.
The advanced RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) consists of:
- Single disk (1 disk inserted).
- JBOD (Just A Bunch Of Disks, meaning all disks inside will be recognized as 1 big hard drive).
- RAID 1 (Mirroring, for data security, at least 2 disks required).
- RAID 0 (Striping, for increased speed, at least 2 disks required).
- RAID 5 (Combines the speed of R1 with the security (parity) of R0), minimum 3 disks required).
- RAID 5 + Hot spare (nX = 3 + 1 inactive serviceable when array detects failure of disk) 4 disks required).
- RAID 6 (same benefit as R5 yet fault tolerance of nX = 2) 4 disks required).
Extra features include:
- Online RAID level migration (when extending the system’s RAID setting by adding hard drives).
- Online RAID capacity expansion (when increasing the volume capacity by adding hard drives).
- Complete back-up solutions, from external hard drives to cloud-based storage up to Apple Time Machine backup for Apple devices.
- Failover support & Load balancing to another QNAP NAS.
We can only applaud for QNAP for making it such an easy task to add new hard drives to your QNAP NAS. Usually this is a daunting task since extending a RAID level or expand its capacity isn’t always easy as cake for most manufacturers offering similar solutions. From our testing patterns we can recommend the following options:
- Avoid RAID 0 (striping) since it only gains advantage when using multiple virtual machines and in the end isn’t all that secure for data storage. If you must be advised that your data is striped to 2 disks, thus when A fails, B will only have half of your file left. Always use the same type of hard drive if you must use this option.
- For data storage, starting with only 2 hard drives is recommended to use RAID 1 (mirroring). You will only see the capacity of 1 drive available, but this is logical since the other one is a dedicated replica (or mirror) from the 1st hard drive. Always use the same type of hard drive.
- For speed gain without compromising data integrity: use RAID 5 or 6. You can use a RAID 0 set with a RAID 1 set of drives to replicate what’s on the RAID 0 pair, but this is pointless and does not get you the speed boost which RAID 5 will give you. This is by far the most used setup for professional enterprise storage. You will need at least 3 hard drives of the same type, but we would recommend getting 4 (and hot spare it). You never can play safe enough when you are storing very important data on them.
- JBOD is a way to go when you want it real easy. Yet there is no backup in this case, so be aware that you best have the data duplicated on your local PC/Mac/Linux, external hard drive or buy a 2nd QNAP NAS for backup of your current device. (But this is a fairly expensive solution when you can avoid the problem).
Note: with the TS-439 Pro II+ (and all other business class models) you have the option of encrypting your volume(s). This is a feature exclusive to these particular models.
File manager / Download manager / Multimedia station
Just like the home user models, this device is no difference when it comes to the basic capabilities of a NAS device. It features the Web file manager, the download manager and the multimedia features.
- The Web file manager (which nobody who calls himself IT will use for office deployment) is nice feature for remote login onto your NAS from work or abroad. The way to really use it is by mapping a network drive, and using the NAS like it was local storage.
- The Download manager is an easy way if you wish to download torrent, ftp or http files overnight, or just want to add them when you’re at work so they’re downloaded when you get back home. A nice application QNAP have included is the QGet, it’s a desktop client that sends (for example) a torrent file to your QNAP NAS and tells it to download it remotely without the need of your computer to be powered on.
- This Multimedia station is the place where you can set up most of the home entertainment part. Since the TS-439 Pro II+ is fully compliant with UPnP and DLNA it’s easy to share movies and pictures in your multimedia station so your DLNA compliant media (such as TV’s, Iphone, Ipad, Ipod Touch, Bluray player, network streaming box,..) can access media from it.
Since this little box is so advanced and we can’t really get in depth with every feature it boasts without making this review look like a textbook to Essential simplified Chinese grammar. We will give you the basics here, and allow you some margin to be impressed by your new purchase. In the end it will be up to you to set it up and fiddle with some options if you want to unlock its full power and potential.
Unlike the home user series, this business class NAS will not give you the 6-step software wizard. Instead it will ask you what you want to do on the display screen. When first powering the TS-439 Pro II+, you will be asked whether you wish to use RAID (and which level), and prompted if you wish the device to encrypt the hard drives. After this brief selection is done you will be greeted with the name of the NAS (by default this is the model number) and the IP address where you can access its administration panel and files on. By default the username and password used are twice ‘admin’ (but you can change this afterwards).
We recommend you installing both QGet and QFinder from the setup cd rom. The QFinder is a real nifty application for checking the NAS’s IP, fast network mapping, firmware update and configuring a couple of options like changing the device’s name, date/time, password, filename encoding and network settings. Via the network settings tab, you can quickly set it up to be used as a:
- Standalone NAS
- Balance –rr (Round Robin)
- Active Backup (Fail Over)
- Balance XOR
- IEEE 802.3ad / Link Aggregation
- Balance-tlb (Adaptive Transmit Load Balancing)
- Balance-alb (Adaptive Load Balancing)
All other settings need to be configured by logging on to the web administration panel. You can do this by entering the IP in your browser, or by double clicking your device’s name in the QFinder application.
Basic features such as User management, folder privileges, hosting your own website, set up a personal ftp, remote access, security policies, backup & restore settings and Applications (QPKG) can be found in the review of the TS-119P+/TS-219P+ review. Since they are essentially the same for this model.
When you are a system administrator, you might prefer to change the default DCHP IP allocation to one of your choice (manual setting). You can do this both in the browser’s Administration panel or via the configure option button in the QNAP Finder application.
Notifications, alerts & logs
Notifications and alerts are an essential feature for most serious business owners, since they really want to know when something goes wrong before it is too late to interact or provide a potential solution.
Every QNAP NAS comes by default with quite the notifications portfolio. You can set up an SMTP server so the system can send you a mail when things go wrong. But the really nice feature is the ability to allow the system to send you a text message to your mobile in SMS format. Default they work with ClickATell.com, yet any other SMSC provider can be inserted manually.
Logs can be found in the ‘System Logs’ tab, and give you a well-made and compact overview about what’s going on inside your QNAP NAS. You can view the current online users, the system connections log and even set it up to save log files to a remote syslog server.
When it comes to power consumption, the TS-439 Pro II+ really is a rock star. With an average power draw of only 33 watt (Inc. 4 active hard drives), you can hardly call it consumption. Compared to similar devices from direct competitors, the QNAP nibbles rather than consumes power.
Holding into account that 4 hard drives usually consume that number of power, we can say the overall design of the board and it’s power saving features deserve the highest ECO standard available to date. QNAP is very dedicated to bringing green devices into your home/business, and impressive numbers like this can be found over their whole range of products.
The QNAP TS-439 Pro II+, just like any other QNAP NAS, features an advanced power management schedule where you can choose when you want your QNAP product to be turned on/off or restart the server. This can be set up either on a weekly, weekend or day to day basis. Both startup and shutdown are configurable when choosing a daily schedule.
System info, services and resources
Every QNAP devices comes by default with various options to check how your new purchase is coping in its new environment. To make sure your TS-439 Pro II is doing fine it’s recommended to check the ‘System Status’ tab’s options from time to time.
Globally speaking we differentiate:
- System Information (CPU temperature, HDD temperature, CPU usage, System FAN speed, and some basic network info).
- System Services (Gives you a global overview about which services are currently running or disabled).
- Resource Monitor ( CPU monitor, Memory usage monitor, Disk usage monitor, Bandwidth transfer and a Process monitor are included, very similar to the Windows resource monitor).
External hardware, power & storage
The QNAP TS-439 Pro II+ (and virtually all other models) support USB/E-SATA drive sharing. By plugging in a simple USB drive, the resources can be access by anybody who has access permission to your NAS. This comes in particularly handy when you just want to edit some files on your USB stick and 2 different people in the network need to edit this. There is no need to copy the files to the NAS itself, but this is always possible and can even be automated. Any inserted drive will automatically pop up in your shared folders.
USB hardware, such as printers, are easily shared to your network users. You just need to plug in a USB printer and a small wizard will guide you to the process. Unfortunately our Canon Pixma already featured a network connector, yet we imagine there are a lot of users out there who still have a printer which only supports the default USB plug.
External power can be provided over UPS. By default all QNAP models support the aid of UPS devices to make sure your data is safe when a power crash/ electrical shutdown was imminent. You can manually enter the IP of the UPS Server and choose whether your NAS should stay on longer than 5 minutes after a power cut and whether it should go into ‘auto protection’ mode so your data is safe until the current restores again.
One of these small things QNAP offers on all models, is the possibility to mount <.iso> files via your NAS. Personally we think this is a really good feature, making it unnecessary to attach USB dvd/cd rom stations to notebooks or pc’s who don’t feature an optical station. Not to say a network install will go 10x faster than reading it from optical media.
From a business perspective, the iSCSI feature really is a winner. Most servers and/or workstations nowadays can boot over the iSCSI network protocol. This is very practical when you prefer diskless systems in your office space, and gather all resources in your remote datacenter. The speeds when configured in RAID 1 and 5-5HS and 6 these business models push forward is powerful enough to satisfy the most demanding workstation loads. From a price/performance perspective you really are getting a good deal of this TS-439 Pro II model.
QNAP’s tech labs are inventive and their usability is easy and clear for the average network admin to set up in minutes. The QRAID (online RAID) make it very easy to add storage or change the migration level’s setting.
Firmware wise they are beefy in package yet slender enough to push up the performance. The advantage of sharing the same firmware interface with multiple devices is that QNAP can really focus on the delivery of debugged content unlike certain competition who are releasing device-specific patches.