QNAP Models Description: Choose the Perfect Fit
Do you handle large volumes of data daily? If the answer is yes, you know the high value of backups. Backing up data ensures the recoverability of your data in case of a disruptive event. In particular, if you can not afford downtime, backups are your best chance to keep the production up and running in the emergency situations. The question is how do you go about backing up your data? Where do you keep your backups?
You most likely have already heard about QNAP NAS. QNAP stands for Quality Network Appliance Provider and NAS is a Network Attached Storage. QNAP NAS is often a device of choice for storing backups. Various QNAP NAS models are available for home users, small businesses and enterprises. This article dives into greater depth about what a QNAP NAS is. It goes over the most popular QNAP NAS models and reviews their characteristics and capabilities.
Before We Start
QNAP NAS can be used for multiple purposes, such as media streaming, application storage and backup appliance. Many small, medium and large businesses choose QNAP NAS as an ultimate backup solution. NAKIVO Backup & Replication is a lightweight, agentless and affordable backup solution that you can install on your QNAP NAS device to protect your data on a daily basis.
About QNAP NAS Parameters
Let’s review the main hardware and software parameters of a NAS that you can use to make your decision:
- Hard drive bays: 1–30
- Type of processor: Intel, AMD, Marvell, Realtek, AnnapurnaLabs
- Operating System: QuTS, QTS, QES
- Rackmount — primarily used by enterprise NAS models. Rackmount devices have high performance, but also higher noise levels and no fans.
- Set-top — small and affordable devices for your home. Set-stop devices have a low level of noise but no fans.
- Tower — great for home, office or data center. Tower NAS devices have low noise and pleasant fans. You can place a Tower model on a table or shelf.
Interpreting the QNAP NAS Parameters
Let’s talk about processors. There are two main architectures for NAS processors: x86–64 and ARM. Processors of the x86–64 type assure better performance and compatibility with applications. On the other hand, ARM processors require less power, and they are more affordable. Intel and AMD offer x86–64 architecture processors. Marvel, Realtek and AnnapurnaLabs supply ARM architecture processors.
Tips for choosing a NAS Model
Here are a couple of things you should pay attention to while choosing the right NAS model:
- Make sure your NAS model supports an expansion unit called “expansion chassis” or “expansion enclosure”. This expansion unit comes in handy if your disk bays get full. You can use the expansion unit to install additional disk drives in your NAS device.
- Verify the number of disk bays you can install and the number of disk drives that you can add to the NAS device. Additional disks for NAS are sold separately. The original QNAP NAS devices do not include disks. To install or uninstall disks on your NAS device, use hot swap.
More about NAS features
USB ports: You can connect a NAS to your computer with a USB 3.0 micro-B port. However, connecting a NAS device to a computer is different from connecting a USB HDD to your computer. With a NAS device, you should rely on a network interface instead of disk drives (F:), (J:), and (K:). To connect via network interface, use a virtual switch on a NAS device. Connect your NAS via the IP address of the NAS that you have connected to your computer via USB. This feature is called USB QuickAccess.
TVS series: The two types of QNAP NAS, the TVS series and TS series. The TVS series have a more robust CPU, extra PCle slots and a built-in transcoding engine.
Note: PCle is an interface standard that allows communication between your motherboard and other components of your computer. With PCle slots, you can add the PCI adapter without using a drive bay. To enhance your QNAP NAS device, install a QM2 card, SSD drive, Ethernet adapter, Wi-Fi adapter, or a graphics card into a PCI Express slot.
eSATA ports: Those are external ports that allow you to connect external hard disk drives to QNAP storage expansion units.
Note: You can’t use this type of port to connect your NAS device directly to a computer.
An integrated audio controller: If you use NAS to store and play video and audio files, you may find this option exceptionally useful. This type of controller has audio output and input ports — mini jack, 3.5 mm. To listen to your audio content, connect your speakers or headphones to the QNAP NAS. You can install the Music Station app from App Center to play audio content. You can also install Video Station software to watch and manage videos on your NAS device.
RAM slots: If you need a high-performing NAS device, think about the maximum amount of RAM (random-access memory) it can support. NAS devices with higher RAM can copy and run applications more efficiently.
A built-in card reader: Has a slot for SD cards and allows you to copy files from SD flashcards (you use in cameras), multimedia players and servers.
RJ-45 ports: Two or more Ethernet ports (RJ-45) enable you to transfer data between multiple components without using one to one connections. This type of topology assures high performance and bandwidth when numerous hosts are transferring data from your NAS.
Most modern NAS devices have at least one 1-Gbit RJ-45 port. However, to use port trunking (link aggregation), purchase a device that has two or more Ethernet ports. Link aggregation allows you to combine two physical links into one logical link. This process requires a switch.
Example: You can connect a NAS device with two 1-Gbit Ethernet ports to a switch that has 1-Gbit ports. Now you can connect two computers that have 1-Gbit Ethernet adapter to the same switch and have them transfer data to NAS. In this case, every computer uses the 1 Gbit/sec bandwidth, making the total bandwidth of your NAS device to 2 Gbit/sec.
However, if your device does not have two or more RJ-45 ports, configure multiple ports on your NAS and use these alternatives to link aggregation:
- Balance-rr (Round-Robin)
- Active Backup
- Balance XOR, Broadcast
- Balance-tlb (Adaptive Transmit Load Balancing)
- Balance-alb (Adaptive Load Balancing)
QNAP NAS Models
There are numerous QNAP NAS models. QNAP doesn’t offer an easy classification that can help quickly identify a device. QNAP devices are categorized by series. The first number in the series tells you the maximum number of disks you can install on your NAS. To see the full list of NAS models, click here.
QNAP NAS offers devices for:
- Personal and home use. These units are great for multimedia streaming, collaborative editing and backup.
- Small and medium businesses. Used for storage, file compression, deduplication, collaborative editing and remote backup. Can be optimized for a virtualization server.
- Enterprise. You can create a cloud-based NAS and run it on a public cloud or on-premises. Use dual-NAS for backup, online deduplication and as an all-flash storage solution.
QNAP Storage Features
Now let’s go over the main features of QNAP storage:
RAID (redundant array of independent disks). Software RAID is used by QNAP devices to ensure compatible and flexible recovery. If you need to recover data, you can connect drives to a Linux computer and then mount them to software RAID.
Supported file systems. There is only one file system that is used by QNAP NAS devices — ext4 — a highly reliable file system. You can use ext4 to format your disk drives.
Note: You can also use the btrfs file system on some of the devices. However, this file system is slower and isn’t great for snapshot management.
Video Transcoding. Allows you to convert files of different formats to a standard format such as MP4. Video transcoding can transcode on the go, while you watch a video in real-time. You can also use background transcoding to transcode the video in advance. This might lower the overall CPU usage. It works great when several users stream video stored on a single NAS device.
Supported Network protocols. For higher security standards, it’s recommended that you use protocols that support encryption.
- Supported protocols: HTTP/HTTPS, Telnet, SSH, SNMP, SMTP, SMSC, LDAP.
- Data sharing protocols: SMB (CIFS), NFS, FTP, SFTP, TFTP, AFP, iSCSI.
Qfinder Pro: a tool for locating NAS devices on a network. Qfinder can be installed on Windows, Linux or MacOS. Use Qfinder to locate a NAS device that has not been configured yet and acquire its IP address via DHCP. The tool can also be used to run updates of QNAP NAS firmware.
Video Surveillance. You can use QNAP NAS as security equipment. To do so you need to install a surveillance station application. This software allows you to:
- Record videos from IP cameras to disks
- Use a web browser to view the videos in real time
- Watch videos from a monitor connected to a QNAP NAS
Top 3 QNAP NAS models
We have reviewed the basic parameters and features of QNAP NAS. Now, let’s look at the top most popular QNAP NAS models:
This is a small solution for home or small office that has numerous great features. QNAP TS-231P3 has:
- A white chassis and matte surface
- Two bays for 3.5’’or 2.5’’ disks
- Plastic disk trays
- A power button (front panel)
- A one-touch copy button
- One USB port and LED indicators
- A 70 mm fan to cool the device
- A 1.7GHz processor (ARM-based)
- Support for running LXC and Docker containers
- Low power consumption
- A 90 W power supply connector (rear panel)
- 2 GB of DDR3 RAM (can be upgraded to 8 GB)
- Two RJ-45 ports (an opportunity for link aggregation)
- Three USB 3.0 ports (an opportunity for wireless access)
- Support for NAS expansion
Note: The weight of this device without disks is only 1.46 kg. Due to the ARM processor, this NAS model does not support video transcoding. However, this model can be used as a surveillance station with up to 16 cameras.
This is a more powerful device designed for home and business use. It has numerous ports and features. The main characteristics of QNAP TVS-473e include:
- 4–8GB of RAM (TVS-473e-4G and TVS-473e-8G)
- Opportunity for memory upgrade
- Maximum memory capacity up to 64GB*
- 64-bit AMD RX 421-BD quad-core processor
- x86–64 architecture
- Grey chassis with tower form factor
- Effective fan cooling system (two fans)
- One USB 3.0 type A port (front panel)
- One USB 3.0 micro-B port (USB QuickAccess/front panel)
- Infrared receiver for remote control
- Led indicators, power button, quick copy button
- LCD display with Enter/Select buttons
- Four RJ-45 ports (rear panel)
- Three USB 3.0 ports (rear panel)
- Two HDMI and three 3.5 mm mini-jack audio ports
- Four 1GbE network adapters with RJ-45 ports
- Dual PCI Express slots for network cards or Wi-Fi adaptors
- Qtier feature for storage optimization
- Two HDMI ports for monitor-TV connection
- Compatibility of external media with video transcoding
- Surveillance station support
- Support for up to 72 IP channels
- Support for running LXC and Docker containers
- Virtualization storage for VMware VM files
- Support for Apple Time Machine and iTunes server
- Plenty of opportunities to scale hardware**
*To upgrade the memory, you can install SO-DIMM DDR4 RAM modules into SO-DIMM DDR4 slots.
**If you need more space, buy the corresponding QNAP NAS expansion chassis.
This is a powerful machine that can handle large amounts of data. The TS-2483XU-RP model is a perfect enterprise solution. The main specification of this device are:
- 4U rackmount chassis
- 64-bit Intel Xeon E-2136 6-core 3.3 GHz processor
- x86–64 architecture
- Speed of up to f 4.5 GHz during high loads
- Uses full-height and full-length boards and cards
- Four 92mm cool fans
- 24 3.5-inch drive bays for SATA hard disk drives (HDD)
- Up to 384GB storage with 16TB hard disks nowadays
- Four built-in RJ-45 ports with 1GbE Ethernet adapters
- Mellanox ConnectX-4 Lx network interface controller
- VMware virtualization storage
- 5 PCIe slots: Gen3 x4, Gen3 x8, three Gen2 x4 ports
- Up to 10Gbps speed with an ability to attach USB devices
- Support installation of high profile graphic cards
- 10GbE PCIe network cards with two SSD
- PCIe cards with four SSD drives
- QTier for disk arrays with SSD and HDD
- Expansion modules for 16 disks
- Redundant 800W power supply (800W x 2)
- The power supply has additional power connectors for video cards
- Great surveillance station with up to 128 monitoring channels
- What is QNAP?
QNAP stands for Quality Network Appliance Provider — a company that produces network-attached storage devices and appliances. QNAP first emerged back in 2004.
- Is QNAP good for backups?
QNAP is an ideal solution for storing backups. You can install various applications on QNAP including backup software. NAKIVO Backup & Replication is an agentless, lightweight, and affordable backup solution that you can install on your QNAP device to create an all-in-one backup appliance (with data protection software, hardware, backup to cloud, deduplication and storage in one device).
- Can I use QNAP NAS as an external hard drive?
Yes, but you need a QNAP model that has a USB port for Quick Access. Then you can connect your NAS to a computer with a USB cable.
QNAP is one of the best solutions for storage, backup and multimedia management. To choose the right device, you first need to know what you need a QNAP for. Do you need it for streaming movies, storing backups or hosting business data? Once you know identify your goals, you can select the QNAP with the parameters that match your needs.