Whether you’re looking for bulk storage or something more, this four-bay NAS appliance ticks all the boxes
There are plenty of business-oriented NAS appliances on the market but the Drivestor 4 Pro is designed for a domestic or home-office role.
It can serve as both a central hub for all your data and a versatile home media server and, at £309, it’s eminently affordable – although you’ll also need to budget for hard disks, as it doesn’t come with any.
READ NEXT: Best NAS drives to buy
Asustor Drivestor 4 Pro AS3304T NAS review: Is it safe?
The Asustor brand has had a hard time lately. In February 2022, NAS systems around the world were hit by a ransomware attack called “Deadbolt”, exploiting a vulnerability in Asustor’s remote-access feature. Those unlucky enough to be infected found that the files stored on their NAS had all been encrypted and could only be recovered by paying a ransom of more than £800.
It’s not a good look for Asustor but it isn’t the only company to have been hit: Qnap appliances have also been targeted by Deadbolt, while it was reported last year that malware was trying to gain access to Synology NAS systems by brute-forcing passwords. Asustor has since released an update that should prevent similar attacks in the future but for true data protection a NAS needs to be backed up like any other storage device. That’s the case whether you go with Asustor or any other vendor.
Asustor Drivestor 4 Pro AS3304T NAS review: What makes it interesting?
One thing that’s attractive about the Drivestor 4 Pro is its bright red 2.5Gbits/sec Ethernet socket at the rear. This provides an easy way to get ultra-fast access to your data – as long as it’s connected to a compatible router or switch.
The AS3304T also features an ARM-based Realtek RTD1296 CPU, which can handle 4K decoding at 60fps, so if you want to stream video to a 4K monitor or smart TV you can be confident the NAS won’t stutter.
And because the NAS has four drive bays, you can combine three or four hard disks to create a RAID 5 array, gaining a balance of capacity and data security that two-bay units can’t offer. Additional storage can be added via the unit’s three 5Gbits/sec USB 3 sockets.
Asustor Drivestor 4 Pro AS3304T NAS review: Is it easy to install and add drives?
The Drivestor 4 Pro’s shiny front cover is attached by magnets, and pops off effortlessly to reveal four pull-out drive caddies. These will take any standard SATA hard disks, although I recommend you use NAS-optimised models that are designed to withstand the rigours of the role. Its 3.5in drives are held in place by integrated clips, so you can install and swap them without using tools; you can also use the supplied screws to install 2.5in laptop disks or SSDs.
You don’t need to fill up all four bays right away. You can start with one or two drives, then slot in more as and when you need extra space. It only takes a few clicks in the web interface to convert a single-disk volume or RAID 1 array to RAID 5.
Asustor Drivestor 4 Pro AS3304T NAS review: Is it easy to set up and manage?
The Drivestor 4 Pro is easy enough for anyone to use. A friendly web-based setup wizard takes care of downloading the latest firmware, suggesting a default configuration for your installed drives, setting a secure administrative password and so forth.
Once everything’s up and running, the NAS is managed from ADM’s friendly icon-driven interface, which again runs inside a web browser. Access Control settings let you create individual accounts for each household member, so they can have their own private space as well as shared folders.
If you want to get more adventurous, there are plenty of other options to explore and settings to play with, including some more commonly found on business-grade models, such as Active Directory integration, SSH and SFTP access and support for iSCSI. If you don’t need those capabilities you can safely ignore them, and Asustor’s online help pages are accessible from a helpful icon directly on the main page.
Asustor Drivestor 4 Pro AS3304T NAS review: Is it fast?
The Drivestor 4 Pro’s single Ethernet port supports either gigabit Ethernet or a high-speed 2.5Gbits/sec connection over a standard Cat 5E Ethernet cable.
This means you can transfer files at more than twice the speed of a regular Ethernet connection as long as you have a 2.5GbE-compatible router or switch and a 2.5GbE Ethernet adaptor at the client end. Devices that access the NAS over Wi-Fi won’t see much benefit, as the speed of the wireless connection is likely to be the limiting factor.
What speeds can you expect in practice? I loaded up the Drivestor 4 Pro with a four-disk RAID 5 array, connected it to an Asus ROG Rapture GT-AXE11000 router and tested file-copy performance over both wired and wireless connections. Here are the average speeds I saw:
|Write speed (MB/sec)
|Read speed (MB/sec)
|Wi-Fi 6 (same room)
|Wi-Fi 6 (next room)
As you can see, the Drivestor 4 Pro has plenty of performance to offer. As with all NAS appliances, you’ll need an Ethernet connection – ideally a multi-gigabit one – to get the best speeds, or your transfers will be limited by the speed of your wireless network. Even over Wi-Fi, though, it’ll normally take only a matter of seconds to backup and share large files.
Asustor Drivestor 4 Pro AS3304T NAS review: Is it noisy?
When mechanical hard disks read and write data they make a distinctive clicking noise. It’s not too loud, but with four of them all working away at once there’s no chance of completely silent operation.
Even so, the Drivestor 4 Pro’s casing does a decent job of muffling the sound, and the front cover helps to reduce it a tiny bit more. Asustor claims a peak sound level of 32dB in active use; in practice we found that with the unit located in the living room, the grinding sound of reading and writing files was audible, but soft enough to live with happily. With the television or radio turned on, the background noise from the NAS was completely unnoticeable.
When there’s no disk activity, the only noticeable sound is from the large rear-facing fan, and at a claimed 19dB this is very quiet; you’d have to be sitting quite near the unit to notice it at all.
Asustor Drivestor 4 Pro AS3304T NAS review: Is it good for backup?
A NAS is a great destination for backups, since it’s quick to access, robust and physically separate from your computer. The Drivestor 4 Pro works with both Windows’ and macOS’ built-in backup solutions: you can set it up as a repository for Windows File History, and simultaneously enable it as a Time Machine destination. For traditional scheduled backups, Asustor offers its own free Backup Plan software for Windows, or you can use any third-party solution that supports backing up to a local network location.
As we’ve noted above, the NAS itself should also be regularly backed up, and Asustor provides several ways to achieve this. You can set the unit to regularly replicate your data to a remote location using rsync or FTP, or to an external USB device according to a schedule. Optional apps from the App Central store let you back up to cloud services, including Backblaze, Dropbox, ElephantDrive, Google Drive, IDrive, OneDrive, Box.com, Mega and other, although backing up over the internet can be slow, and depending on how much data you want to store, you may be in for a steep monthly fee.
For ad hoc backups, you can also plug an external hard disk into the front-facing USB port and press the button on the front of the NAS unit to immediately copy across the contents of a selected folder.
Asustor Drivestor 4 Pro AS3304T NAS review: Is it good for media?
While the Drivestor 4 Pro has a CPU that’s designed for media, the unit itself has no video or audio output. That’s not a problem: in the App Central store you’ll find native, regularly updated versions of Emby, Jellyfin, Plex, Twonky and Asustor’s own LooksGood server. These provide plenty of options for browsing and streaming your video and music files to a browser or smart TV. With the right configuration, you can even make your library available over the internet to remote devices.
DLNA and Chromecast support is available, too, while the OwnTone app lets you serve up media to iTunes and Apple AirPlay devices. If you want to be sure of enjoying your shows without hiccups, you can enable the optional “Media Mode”, which reserves 512MB of the unit’s 2GB of onboard DDR4 RAM as a playback cache.
Asustor Drivestor 4 Pro AS3304T NAS review: What else can it do?
The App Central store isn’t just about music and movies: it includes more than 140 apps split across 26 categories. We’ve mentioned the numerous backup tools on offer, and you’ll also find apps for automatically syncing your data with cloud storage services, or running your own private cloud via OwnCloud Server.
You’ll also find servers that let you use your NAS to host a website, a WordPress blog, an FTP site or even an e-commerce store using the Prestashop platform. Advanced users can deploy third-party apps, or develop their own, using click-to-install editions of JRE, PHP, Python, Ruby and other frameworks. Docker-ce lets you run code in containers, while VirtualBox makes it possible to run entire virtual machines inside the NAS.
In short, almost any job that can run on a regular computer can be delegated to the highly versatile Drivestor 4 Pro. Just bear in mind that, with a lightweight processor and 2GB of RAM, it’s unlikely to give you enterprise-class performance.
Asustor Drivestor 4 Pro AS3304T NAS review: Should I buy it?
Based on recent headlines you might be hesitant to invest in an Asustor appliance. But it’s a sad fact that a malware attack can happen to anyone and, if you overlook the Drivestor 4 Pro AS3304T, you’ll be missing out on a very likeable piece of hardware.
It does everything you could really ask of a home NAS appliance, with fast networking, a versatile four-bay design, plenty of backup options and a generous array of apps that mean it can take care of far more than simple storage duties.