Zyxel NSA320 review
Zyxel is better known for its range of routers than it is for network storage. Externally, the NSA320 looks identical to previous models but there have been some improvements underneath.
Perhaps most importantly, the NSA320 is faster at copying files in our benchmarks than Zyxel's older models, both in RAID 0 or RAID 1 configurations. It’s still not the fastest NAS around, but it was quick at copying large files, averaging around 30MB/s for both types of RAID. It wasn't as impressive at copying small files, averaging around 10MB/s, but this is still a respectable result.
Installing and removing disks is slightly fiddly, but it's likely you'll never need to remove them. Once plastic carriers are screwed onto the sides of each SATA hard disk, they can be slotted into the bays located behind the removable front panel. These carriers could be more clearly marked, though, as it’s not entirely clear which way to screw them on. Removing a disk requires a plastic tool that's stored on the inside of the front panel, and it does require some force.
The discovery utility got us up and running very quickly, letting us quickly create up to five user accounts with or without administrator privileges. When two disks are fitted, it also provides options to configure the RAID array. The main administration interface runs in a web browser, but while it is logically organised, the nested menus can look intimidating. Creating user accounts was very straightforward, though – setting quotas and giving each user different access permissions to different folders all happens from within the same uncluttered window.
We had no problems using the NSA320 has a UPnP media server, although oddly it only worked as an iTunes music server once we had set a password. It can even be used as a server for Logitech Squeezebox network audio players, which don't work with UPnP. It also worked flawlessly when sharing a USB printer. Not only can it share the contents of a USB disk across a network, but it did the same for a Fuji digital camera and a SD card plugged into a USB memory card reader.
It's possible to download files from the internet directly to the NAS, which is handy for big downloads without having to leave a PC on. There's an upload manager, too, automatically uploading all photos and videos in a folder to Flickr and YouTube respectively. However, it's not possible pick which files are uploaded, or to define more than one user account per service. That doesn't make much sense when plugging a digital camera or memory card reader directly into the NAS device, but the ability to set up a watch folder and drop files into it using a PC is a useful timesaver.
We were pleasantly surprised by the Zyxel NSA320. Although its administration interface isn't as sophisticated as Synology's, it's reasonably quick and most of its extra features work well. However, as the Synology DiskStation DS211j costs the same and also has more features, it's the better choice for most people.
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