I needed some more space to backup my MacBook Air, and needed to keep the Air's mobility, while also being fairly reliable. So how did this device fair, for a need that is literally an network attached drive.

If you are not a highly proficient user and have no dedicated skilled tech support, forget this device. It needs to be set up by a professional, because of the learning curve to use the Web UI, and the considerable security holes it has by default.



Specifications



  • HDD: 2x User selectable 2.5"/3.5" SATA drive trays up to 8TB drives in each tray
  • Possible disk configurations:
  • Supported File Transfer Protocols:
  • Supported Management Protocols:
    [/list]

    What's in the box?


    Also, HTML encoding on the label... nice one Computer lounge.

    Well there's the NAS itself with a cloud install key (Remember this, it's important), and AC cable and a smaller box that contains a LAN cable (Which in my case had a broken tab due to defective packaging so falls out often), screws, and AC to DC brick and quick start guide. What was missing, that I got in my NexStar CX, is a screwdriver, this was a surprise given it uses #0 Philips head screws, and given that it's not common in homes, and small offices, that would have been nice.

    Inside the NAS is a fanless PCB that houses the Feroceon CPU, 2 SATA connectors and a fan. Now if you are attentive you would notice that there is no dedicated air channel around the SATA daughter board, for the passive CPU cooler, which means even at the highest setting, nearly all of the air into the case passes along the the drives and bypassing the CPU heat sink, since that's the path of least resistance, which means the CPU runs constantly hot, at 40-45 degrees Celsius when idle. where as the drives never break the 40 degrees mark.

    Installation


    Simple, pull the drive trays out install 3 black screws for 2.5" drives (where the arrows are), or 4 silver screws for 3.5" drives like in the picture below.

    Slot the drives in the tray slots, drive 1 goes in the left most one, drive 2 in the right most one.

    Adding the stickers is optional.

    This is when I ran into the first issue, the drive trays... are incredibly cheap and flimsy. I've had pieces of paper that were more structurally sound than the trays. The tray locking mechanisms are even worse... which is not nice when you have over $350 worth of drives in it.

    The initial setup


    The initial setup, as you saw earlier there is the cloud key stuck to the side of the machine, so is it possible that you can set it up while the device starts up for the first time, because it really does take a few minutes to start up...[br]

    But wait, the device needs to be online to access it and run the cloud installer... and the first thing you have to do in the installer is accept a mandatory firmware install... The initial firmware install too boot. Why on earth do I have to accept something that has to be installed. Why can't you just install on the first boot, as it has to be there. Or even ship with it and just update the cloud installer on first boot. And this firmware install forces the device to reboot.[br]

    This pretty much sums up the cloud install process, take a web installer, remove half the good features and you have got the cloud installer. It SHOULD be orders of magnitude better than this, and orders of magnitude faster to do the initial set up. The whole premise of the cloud is to allow you to do things easier, not harder. I should be able to set up the whole device, settings and features, while it is installing so it is ready to go when the initial install is done, and to be secure at the same time (Oh and I will come back to the security part).[br]

    But it shouldn't be to hard to fix, you should be able to use the device's manual to set it up.[br]

    ...[br]

    The Manual


    Yep, the device's manual, or more accurately a LACK of device specific manual. QNAP only have a single manual, that covers ALL of their devices, from the most basic to the most advanced enterprise ones...[br]

    Not only does it have a lot of information that doesn't relate to the device, it is missing whole features... main selling point features none the less. Their is a feature called "One touch USB copy", which I am scared to use, since no mention of it, and I have no idea if it is going to copy a folder onto the USB disk (Possibly overwriting everything on it) or copy a folder onto the NAS.[br]

    The Performance


    One thing I can agree on is that this device isn't lacking in the performance department when it comes to file transfers, with my real world tests (With the final mile being over wireless) using Blackmagic Disk Tools off the App Store got me, using a 2 GB sample 8.0MB/s write and 8.0 MB/s read. Which for a NAS of its category is very good, although it could be better if it had used hardware RAID, since it could use parallelisation while reading.[br]

    The Operating System


    It's a custom Linux based system, so it's surprising that it is missing all of the good Linux management tools, and the any of the ones included are quite obviously "modified" (Read hacked) to run in the environment.[br]

    The web UI that you are pretty much forced to use, is ok. But has a hell of a learning curve, and is ridiculously slow to do anything on it.

    Annoyingly it seems to dislike opening windows so they are completely visible on the screen meaning it is very hard to do settings changes.

    The Featured Software


    The featured software is rather bad, the ones which are front ends for third party services work fine, but the QNAP made apps like surveillance station didn't even install and load. Backup station's Time Machine defaults made it impossible to start.[br]

    And the most prominent feature, the myQNAPcloud app didn't do anything that it said it would, since it only does UPnP port holing, DDNS and for some reason is another fronted for the VPN access; you have to install a tool called CloudLink to actually get the cloud based access. I would have expected that to be either preinstalled or set up to be one-click install, since they push that feature so hard.[br]

    The Security


    The security on this device is total garbage.[br]

    Straight out of the box, this device is set up to have default password (admin) for the Admin account, which has Root, SSH can only use that account and is on by default. Which is kinda bad, SSH is on with effectively no password, and if you want to use SFTP you have to give people the Root account credentials. But it gets better, it will automatically open all external ports for enabled services to that box, update a DDNS (under the *.myqnapcloud.com) domain to point to the box's external IP address and even advertise some of them. Because you can't just insert "site:*.myqnapcloud.com" into Google to list >20 thousand results and then just scrape it and brute force.[br]

    As well as that all connection logging is off by default, and you do enable it, it can only display 10 thousand results in their web UI, and it logs any connection... local and external; Rate limiting as well is off by default as well; and the administration interfaces defaults to HTTP even when HTTPS is available.[br]

    For a device that is targeted at homes and small offices, both of which almost never has a dedicated IT team, especially one that has a good idea of cyber security and networking threats this device can have; this is very, very poor. This device should have had SSH off by default and required the user to manually turn it on, because you don't want to leave backdoors into your device to be used by bad people or agencies to access the user's files.[br]

    The Reliability


    The device's reliability is poor. The UPS support on this device is dismal. There are two possible settings, have the device immediately power off and stay off until you get physical access to the device to push the power button, causing unnecessary downtime if there is no one who is technically proficient to power it on; or have the device stay on until it runs out of power and corrupts the file system. It would have been nice to see a middle ground, where it ran till it only had a certain time of power remaining, and then it hibernates until mains power is restored, at which point it automatically starts up and resumes from hibernation. No unnecessary downtime, no data corruption.[br]

    I have seen on multiple occasions that when the device goes to sleep, sometimes the networking shares go with it, which causes the awkward point that you have to login to the web interface's file viewer to force it to wake up and be accessible. And it doesn't help you can't schedule a period of time when it will never sleep the drives.[br]
    If I had to give this an subjective score I would give it a 8 of 10.
    While it does fulfil my needs for a network attached drive; the security flaws, lack of an in-depth manual, and poor reliability, and bad thermal design pull the score down. But the sheer speed of the device, and some of the software design, brings that score back up.

    Although I will have to admit the MyQNAPCloud is a completely different beast, secure, stable, well designed.