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Thecus N5550 20TB 5 Bay Network Attached Storage
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<u>Thecus 20TB N5550</u>
Thecus is proud to present itself as a technological innovator. Once again, Thecus releases an all new 5-bay N5550 server to lead the competition. The past proves merit: link aggregation, LCM display, USB 3.0, multi RAID functions and so on. Impressive technologies have been used to develop the new N5550 NAS to serve one single purpose: improve user experience and satisfaction.
Intel Atom CPU: silent power
Intel Atom CPUs are designed to work without fans. This will dramatically reduce NAS noise and power consumption.
Associated with large amounts of DDR3, Intel Atom CPUs will provide much better performance. Don't be restricted to a 4-bay NAS, bring it up a notch, Thecus N5550 is available and boosts the best performance with a great price, without entering larger bay units. Multi-users environment, web hosting, intense backup, data encryption, application serving, heavy RAID computations, and HD multimedia streaming: welcome to the world of smooth multi-tasking!
McAfee Antivirus: preventing possible threats
The N5550 NAS is McAfee antivirus embedded meaning that users can have confidence that their sensitive data will be protected by the most advanced antivirus software, McAfee.
USB 3.0: from optional to mandatory
Thecus started integrating USB 3.0 more than one year ago, enabling this blazing fast protocol on most storage devices by embedding a PCI-e slot. On popular demand, future NAS will equip at least one port for USB 3.0 transfer rates of 10 times faster than USB 2.0.
HDMI, VGA and Audio out: removing the middle man
After installing the proper module, simply plug a screen by the use of HDMI output, you don't even need a computer anymore to check on your NAS! Local display via HDMI makes things that much more convenient, directly attach keyboard and mouse to start data management.
The N5550 also supports VGA output for attaching traditional televisions, projectors and monitors. VGA output makes this 5-bay NAS convenient to display presentation or media files when HDMI is not on hand.
To add, users can attach speakers directly to the N5550 NAS to play audio files. With audio out, managing media and audio files is simple; attach the speaker plug to audio out and you're set to go!
Ideal for small installations and/or mobile users, these features are designed to lower the total cost of ownership of your network architecture.
Specifications: N5550 for High Value Storage
- Intel Atom Processor
- 2GB of DDR3
- USB 3.0
- HDMI output
- LCM Display
1 x 20TB N5550
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I fitted 3 x 3TB WD red drives and chose the quick setup option with one large raid device. All seemed fine except the UI was very slow to respond and I left things copying to it overnight.
I woke up next day to the sirens of it complaining of 2 failed disks. After a reboot it worked again, spent 13 hours rebuilding it's array. Everything reported fine until a few hours later and the same happened again. I upgraded the firmware at this point and repeated the rebuild process. It seemed fine but at this point id spent hours on thecus' support forums and discovered many people having problems with the "quick" raid setup option. Because of this I re-did the RAID as a full setup, it took another day effectively to do this. I could have risked quick raid again but at this point I was already worried about how solid my setup really was and didn't want to take any chances. This whole procedure took the best part of the week.
Next, the module installation didn't work, I didn't get a list of modules. Eventually after a long time messing around with it started working. It could be co-incidental but it was just after I added the third DNS entry to the networking options, I don't know why that would be since even one is enough, or perhaps it was co-incidence.
It sometimes complains it's fan has failed but it doesn't seem to have? Again this seems to be a common problem on the thecus forums.
So - it seems fine when you prod it into working, I don't fully trust it though which is not good for a RAID NAS.
Great NAS for the price.
The only downside is the terrible software, it just feels very clunky and unpolished compared to the competition. The good news is that you can install Linux and maybe even Windows if you try hard enough. If you plug in a keyboard and an HDMI cable then you can use it as you would a PC (e.g. press F2/F12 for the BIOS or boot menu). The main problem I found with running another OS on the device was the fan speed was not automatically set, so it fan at full speed all the time. I had to buy a hardware fan control and set it to the lowest speed, this kept the drives below 50c.
TL:DR: It became unstable after a year or so. Independent of that, it's is not suitable for our type of environment. It might be fine for single-user home networks but all the fancy "professional" features are windowdressing only. I operated it in parallel to a Synology DS1515+, and despite very similar specs, the differences are glaring.
Initial set-up was okay, though not great. Much of the language in the menu was badly translated, and some checkboxes weren't even labelled. This has since been fixed via firmware upgrades.
Although the specs promise NFS, FTP and rsync. All of these protocols only work for the admin, not for regular users, and there's a warning message that you should not change the contents of the data partition, or you might cause problems! This means that officially, the only thing FTP is good for is for the admin to read data, or to copy things into the system partition. I was only able to get the rsync server to work, not the client (i.e. you cannot run an rsync command on the device to address another device on the network, but it will react if you initiate the command from the other device.
Imagine: The device runs on Linux but is not able to use any of the (many, many) "natural" protocols for moving data over a network. Instead users have to use Samba (the standard Windows protocol), which does not support standard Linux user permissions -- although the local file system on the device does. I have not tried accessing it from a Mac but since that also uses Linux file systems, my expectations are low.
Small annoyance: You cannot decativate various "app" folders, like iTunes etc.. We're trying to use this for serious work but there's always an empty, non-removable iTunes folder on the network... it's raised some eyebrows.
Next problem: We're running a small LDAP server for the group (on a Synology NAS), to share user accounts between machines. I spent days trying to get the Thecus N5550 to get the user account data from there but it never worked, although I also never got an error message. The users just never showed up. This means we had to manually make an account for every single user, and change their password in the admin console every time someone changes their regular network password.
Feature-wise, the specs are pretty much what I needed, but the implementation is such that most of them are nigh-useles. This thing is definitely not suited for professional or semi-professional multi-user environments.
But what's way worse: We started having performance issues. When the storage (5 3-GiB drives, RAID5) was nearly full, we started seeing file transfers crawl to a standstill regularly. I upgraded the firmware (once more...) but to no avail. I systematically tested all possible configuration options without effect. Even rsync on the admin console was often unusable, and that's with seldom more than one or two users connected, with a dedicated network switch and nothing else between computer and NAS. This is happening more and more often, sometimes the management interface crashes, too.
=> I'm replacing it with a Synology one. Costs 40% more but I'll spend 70% less time configuring it, and all the features I need are implemented in a sensible way. I'll tie it to one of our PCs. Let's see if the iSCSI mode works reasonably, at least.
one plus: The latest firmware supports BTRFS, which in turn supports versioning (if you accidentally overwrite or delete a file, you can still restore previous versions). That's cool and not something you get everywhere. It even seems to work, as far as I've tested it. Still useless if the box just crashes whenever you try to move data about...