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ZyXEL NSA325 2-Bay Power Plus Media Server Reviewed

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2-Bay Power Plus Media Server
At a glance
ProductZyXEL NSA325 2-Bay Power Plus Media Server   [Website]
SummaryDual-drive Marvell-based NAS with USB 3.0 port, lots of upload/download options and support for add-in modules.
Pros• Lots of features - highly configurable via packages
• Eco friendly with hibernation, power spin down modes
• Time Machine support
• USB 3.0 port for faster backup
• Low noise smart fan design
Cons• No front panel indication of degraded RAID
• Drive not hot swappable
• No email notification of drive failure
• CPU seems to saturate easily during file copies

Typical Price: $150  Check NewEgg  Check Amazon

Introduction

If you’re in the market for a NAS device (Network attached storage) you have a few choices to make: How much storage do you need? How many drives do you want? Do you want the drives pre-installed, or do you want to by a bare chassis and supply your own drives?

For many SmallNetBuilder readers, the BYOD option is often the best bet. Though there are quite a few NASes from manufacturers such as Buffalo Technology, Seagate, Iomega and Western Digital that come with drives pre-installed, often you’ll find that BYOD NAS products offer you a lot more features.

With drive sizes now at 4 TB, a two drive NAS can be a great choice for home user. Unless you're a media junkie, it will take you a long time to fill up 4 TB and the option of RAID 1 mirroring can provide a bit more peace of mind for data security. Of course, you'll also need a separate backup device, preferably off-site, for true data security.

All dual drive NASes offer the option of RAID 1 (mirroring) to provide in-NAS data redundancy. Some, like the ZyXEL NSA325 in this review, even provide you with root access. Linux guys can go crazy without having to hack in.

Product Tour

The NSA 325 is an attractively designed NAS measuring 4.25” X 8.07” X 5.79”. The removable front panel features a molded in design which makes it look a little different than the traditional “black box” NAS. The front panel is attached to the case with three tabs and two small magnets hold the panel in place. The figure below shows both the front and rear panel configuration.

On the front panel, there are status indicator lights for hard drives, the front panel USB 3.0 port, Copy and a System status light. The rear panel includes two additional USB 2.0 ports for additional storage, UPS monitoring or print sharing. Indicator lights on the Gigabit Ethernet port show traffic and link speed.

ZyXEL NSA 325 front and rear panel description

ZyXEL NSA 325 front and rear panel layout.

The figure below shows you a description for each of the status indicator's colors and states.

ZyXel NSA325 LED status indicator description
ZyXEL NSA325 LED status indicator description



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User reviews

Average user rating from: 4 user(s)

NOTE! Please post product reviews from actual experience only.
Questions, review comments and opinions about products not based on actual use will not be published.

User Rating    [Back to Top]
Overall: 
 
2.4 Features :
 
2.5 Performance :
 
2.5 Reliability :
 
2.3
 
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Utter waste of money. Better off shredding the $150 instead

Overall rating: 
 
1.3
Features:
 
2.0
Performance:
 
1.0
Reliability:
 
1.0
Reviewed by mig0
June 13, 2014
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The system powers on, I guess that counts for something in terms of reliability.

Connecting to drives is so incredibly flakey. You will not be able to reliably connect to any drives using a windows share. You will have a tough time copyying files to the NAS.. If you're fortunate enough to manage to get say an itunes collection on the drives, you will not have consistent access to the files and will struggle to access the drives again to copy more files to it. When I see a deal on a QNAP I will try that instead.

 

ZyXel NSA325 after 1 year... fully up to expectations

Overall rating: 
 
4.0
Features:
 
4.0
Performance:
 
4.0
Reliability:
 
4.0
Reviewed by Gigio
December 11, 2013
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I decided to share my experience after reading the two previous negative reviews posted. Luckily these feedback where not available one year ago when, also following to SmallNetBuilder very positive review, I decided to buy the NSA-325...

Probably it is a question of expectations, however those set by SmallNetBuilder review have been fully met in my case.
Provided I'm unfortunately unable to understand "sparks" comments about disks configuration (I'm running the NSA-325 with two 3TB Toshiba / Hitachi that I've configured as independent separate drives, no RAIDs), I have been really surprised to see "Stanislav" review (hence the title of my own review).

Before the NSA-325 I have been running a couple of other cheap NAS, and I did have most of the problems mentioned by Stanislav. Plus issues with the embedded media server not being able to handle the library of music files that I have (about 200K files of various formats - mostly flac, wav and mp3 - organized in around 10K folders).

With ZyXel NSA-325 all of my problems have disappeared. The server is always ready (of course it takes a while to wake it up). As far as I remember I have needed to power it down and up only in a couple of cases where net discovery was not working properly.
In general I can access the NSA325 from everywhere (inside and outside of my home network) and from every device (besides a few audio video devices, I use Windows PCs, Android tablets and Android phones).

External access has been much improved by changing the modem/router supplied by the connection provider (I have now an Asus DSL-N55U). Also Wi-Fi streaming has improved following to this upgrade, but it was acceptable also before the router was changed.

I can stream everything without any issue, including high definition 3D movies. I have a Gigabit LAN, but the majority of the streaming devices, including the most used one, a Panasonic plasma, do not have Gigabit ports.
They all work fine anyway, and I have not seen issues up to three parallel streamings. I have not done tests with more however, nor tested parallel streaming extensively, as normally we don't need more than two video streams at a time.
Sreaming works both using DNLA (embedded Twonky works very well and refresh is fast) or direct HD Windows shares, which I prefer to use when the streaming unit allows it (for example the excellent WD Live).

The minor negative notes I have (taking into account the positioning / cost of this NAS) are:
1. fan is too noisy. Moreover it never turns down, even when the unit is in standby (so I often turn the unit down manually when I sit near it in order to silence it). This is the only really annoying thing of this unit from my point of view
2. front panel magnetic binding lets the panel move too easily. Apart that I would prefer not to have anything magnetic near my hard disks, especially as I think a magnetic system is not needed. The normal user will not switch NAS disks every day...
3. if possible I would have preferred a direct HD housing tray with no additional parts to assemble on the HD. But if additional mounting gear is needed for a safer HD housing then ok for me, again considering the unit cost.

A closing request for SmallNetBuilder. I did come back to the NSA-325 review hoping to see an update for new NSA-325 version 2, which should have an improved cooling system (less noisy fan at least) and the ability to house 2,5 drives. Hope to see it soon

 

poor at best

Overall rating: 
 
2.7
Features:
 
1.0
Performance:
 
4.0
Reliability:
 
3.0
Reviewed by sparks
November 22, 2013
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I agree that the ONLY way to use this unit is thru their software.
Drop in 2 disk and say JBOD and what do you get 1 drive. Well its both but considered 1 drive by the software. IS this writing data to both or one until it fills up or what?
I would rather have 2 disk, like one for work and one for movies or whatever I want but not with this unit.

I am assuming they wanted a dumb box and that is what you get, dumb as in the user went to public school lol.

performance is not bad, can't say much on the reliability.

Worst waste of money I have done in a long time.

 

ZyXel NSA325 after 1 year...complete disappointment.

Overall rating: 
 
1.7
Features:
 
3.0
Performance:
 
1.0
Reliability:
 
1.0
Reviewed by Stanislav
November 12, 2013
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I want to and wanted to like this. On the surface it has what you want in a small net based storage.

However, the OS and utilities are so bad as to make this nothing more than another set of harddrives attached via a network. Consistently when trying to connect to this via anything other than harddrive shares you get a status of "UNREACHABLE" via their own utilities. One cannot even connect via a browser.

Rebooting does not solve the problem. Complete reset temporarily solves the problem, but realistically, if you reset and reconfigure every day, what value is there.

Hardware gets an "Average" the actual usability and help (via only forums) gets one star (or below).