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The QNAP TS-239 Pro reminds us of nothing so much as an easier-to-use version of our home-rolled FreeNAS server (January 2010). Unlike most NAS boxes we’ve reviewed, with their little ARM embedded processors and 512MB of RAM, the TS-239 Pro packs a full gigabyte of RAM and a 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor. Furthering the impression that it’s a mini computer is the VGA-out port, which, when combined with a USB keyboard, lets you configure the QNAP’s Linux OS directly. Essentially, the TS-239 Pro is a two-bay Linux home server, with all the features you’d expect from a home or SMB NAS box, from UPnP and iTunes streaming to FTP and web servers—and even some features you wouldn’t necessarily expect, like support for networked cameras.
Like most NAS boxes, the web GUI is the key to configuring and using the TS-239 Pro, and QNAP’s web interface is better than most. The first screen you see when you log in offers wizards for creating groups, users, and shares, and configuring FTP access and backups. A side menu tree offers status, disk and hardware management, and more. System logs and S.M.A.R.T. disk info are easy to find.
The TS-239 ships with several shares enabled by default—helpfully, these all start with Q: Qmultimedia for media, Qweb for websites the NAS is hosting, Qusb for USB devices plugged into its two ports, etc. Both the included iTunes and UPnP media servers scan Qmultimedia out of the box, but you can change this. User and group permissions are one of the QNAP NAS’s strengths; it’s easy to set per-user permissions for files and folders, unlike some similar NAS boxes.
Like Synology’s NAS, the TS-239 Pro doesn’t ship with any drives by default. We tested ours with two 1TB Samsung Spinpoint HD103UJ drives in RAID 1. File transfers were quick, as you’d expect from a 1.6GHz processor and 1GB of RAM—we copied a 2.79GB file from our PC to the NAS in just one minute, 20 seconds, and 650MB of smaller files in 18 seconds—both faster than the Synology DS409+, with its ARM processor. Unsurprisingly, the Athlon X2 240 CPU and 2GB of RAM in our homebrew FreeNAS server spanked the QNAP’s transfer speeds, with our 2.79GB file transferring to the FreeNAS server in 53 seconds—nearly half a minute faster than the QNAP. Of course, the QNAP also consumes far less power.
While the web GUI is laid out differently from Synology’s, the features offered are largely the same—although the Synology DS409+ is a little more feature-rich, with iPhone apps, support for more networked cameras, etc.—and useful if you need ‘em; pointless if you don’t.
We dig the locking drive trays and sleek style of the TS-239 Pro, but it gets a bit loud during file transfers. The TS-239 Pro has a powerful processor, plenty of ports, a great web interface, and a lot of options, though having only two drive bays means you won’t be using RAID 5. At $500 for a two-bay NAS with no drives, it’s approaching Windows Home Server prices, but the TS-239 has enough power (and enough features) that it’s worth buying.
Powerful CPU, highly configurable; locking drive bays; command line directly accessible via VGA and USB ports.
Not particularly quiet. Expensive.
|QNAP TS-239 Pro ||Synology DS409+ ||Homebrew FreeNAS |
|Size as tested ||1TB (2TB in RAID 1)||3TB (2.25TB in RAID 5)||2TB |
|PC to NAS, small (min:sec)||0:18||0:22 ||0:16|
|PC to NAS, large (min:sec)||1:20 ||1:31||0:53|
|NAS to PC, small (min:sec)||0:18||0:18||0:18|
|NAS to PC, large (min:sec)||1:06||1:00||1:09|