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QNap TurboNAS TS-221 review

Kat Orphanides
24 Oct 2014
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
220
inc VAT

This is a perfectly good NAS device, and is now pretty cheap compared to the best out there

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Specifications

2 disk bays, N/A storage supplied, 1x 10/100/1000Mbit/s Ethernet ports

The QNAP TurboNAS TS-221 is a neat and unfussy two-bay NAS enclosure with a sturdy brushed metal chassis and a pair of drive trays that pull out from the front. As well as a front USB port, which you can configure to transfer data instantly between a USB drive and the TS-221 at the touch of a button, there are two USB3 ports at the rear and two eSATA2 ports. You can also use the storage to connect printers, UPS communication cables or even a TV tuner. The NAS connects to your network via a Gigabit Ethernet port at the rear.

QNap TurboNAS TS-221

Conveniently, the TS-221 provides a handy web-based setup page that includes an illustrated guide to installing drives and connecting to your network. Once physically installed, you can use a bundled utility to set the RAID type you want to use, from a selection of RAID0, RAID1 and JBOD disk configurations. After that, you can access the TS-221’s built-in web interface.

Qnap TS-221 Setup Screen

The illustrated set-up guide

The web interface has an easy to use window manager with handy shortcuts to a variety of popular features. Key configuration settings are available in the control panel, while other shortcut icons give you fast access to the NAS's integrated music, photo and video sharing apps.

Qnap TS-221 Web Interface

The colourful and icon driven web interface

There are also shortcuts to the Download Station, which can be used to download content from BitTorrent, FTP and HTTP sources in the background, and Surveillance Station, for controlling IP cameras. Neither of these apps is installed by default but both can be downloaded from within the NAS's interface. QNAP’s app centre has loads of different tools and applications for a variety of business and consumer needs from the Asterisk IP telephony server to tools that turn your NAS into a digital TV recorder and UPnP media streamer.

Like many modern NAS devices, the TS-221 also provides a personal cloud service that allows you to register an account and give your NAS a unique name on QNAP’s myQNAPcloud service. This effectively acts as a Dynamic DNS provider, which keeps track of the IP address from which your NAS is connected. You'll always be able to connect to it remotely, even if your ISP changes your IP address. We were annoyed by the verification email, though, which sent an HTML file as an attachment instead of using the message body.

If you want to use the TS-221 to share content over your local network, you can either use one of its existing SMB shares or create your own. If you want to either create or change the permissions of a share, you have to go to the control panel, open the Privilege Settings tree and select the Shared Folders tab. We'd have preferred a shortcut icon on the main screen.

QNap TurboNAS TS-221

We tested the TS-221 with our reference 3TB Western Digital Red hard disks. Although the TS-221 can be configured in RAID 0 or JBOD modes, we tested using RAID 1, as it includes data redundancy and is the most sensible option for many offices.

In our SMB file transfer test, we saw a large file write speed of 47.3MB/s and a read speed of 46.5MB/s, making an average speed of 46.9MB/s. Small file transfer speeds were much slower, though, with a 12.1MB/s write speed and a 16.3MB/s read speed, producing average speed of 14.2MB/s.

We also tested the NAS's throughput with it configured as an iSCSI target, so that you can access a portion of the NAS as though it’s a locally installed hard disk. This is often faster than SMB shares, as transfer speeds are more dependent on your PC's processor than a NAS device's.

The results of our small file tests illustrate the speed advantage of iSCSI, as we saw write speed of 39.2MB/s and a read speed of 25.96MB/s, making an average speed of 32.5MB/s. The large file test, which repeatedly copies a 100MB file, produced roughly the same throughput as our SMB tests, with an average transfer speed of 46.85MB/s.

QNap TurboNAS TS-221

The NAS is a tad underpowered due to its 2GHz Marvell processor, although it has 1GB of RAM. This means that it's ill-suited to running resource-hungry applications such as phone servers or e-commerce systems, even though apps are available for it. If you just need a NAS to act as a local file server or make your favourite photos and videos available online, the TS-221 does the job very well and has a pleasant interface.

At launch the TS-221 was poorly specified when compared to similarly priced NAS enclosures such as Synology's DiskStation DS213+, which has a dual-core processor, 512MB of RAM and faster transfer speeds. That NAS is still our preferred device, but with prices of this NAS dropping as low as £180 from Ballicom, there's a significant saving to be made. If you want a NAS, but don't plan on using it heavily, or taking full advantage of its features, then this is a good buy.

Basic Specifications

Price£220
Rating***

Storage

CapacityN/A
Formatted capacityN/A
Default file systemext4
Price per gigabyteN/A
InterfaceSATA2
3.5in drive bays2
Free 3.5in drive bays2
RAID modesJBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1

Interface

Ethernet ports1
USB direct access ports (front/rear)0/0
Other USB ports (front/rear)1/2
eSATA ports (front/rear)0/2
Other portsnone

Networking

Ethernet connection speed10/100/1000Mbit/s
Universal Plug and Play supportyes
UPnP media serveryes
iTunesyes
Print serveryes
USB disk serveryes
Web serveryes
FTP serveryes
Protocols supportedTCP/IP, SMB/CIFS, AFP, FTP, HTTP, HTTPS, NFS, SSH, Telnet, WebDAV, iSCSI

Miscellaneous

Size150x102x216mm
Vertical positioningno
Ethernet cable includedyes
Additional features2x USB3
Power consumption active26W

Buying Information

Price£220
Warrantyone year RTB
Supplierhttp://www.scan.co.uk
Detailswww.qnap.com

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