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Performance, Continued

To get a different perspective on performance, I tried an interactive file-copy test to see how the TS-101 might perform in real-world use. These tests were done with a different computer than the iozone tests. I used my old Dell Inspiron 1000, a 2.2 GHz Mobile Celeron with 320 MB RAM, running Win XP Home SP2. The results in Table 1 below are averages of multiple runs of moving a directory tree containing just over a gigabyte.

  100 Mbps LAN 1000 Mbps LAN % change
100 to 1000 Mbps
Write to TS-101 ~ 200 sec ~ 148 sec - 26%
Read from TS-101 ~ 140 sec ~ 86 sec - 43%
Table 1: File copy test results

These results show that reading benefits more than writing from using a Gigabit Ethernet connection.

Conclusion

I found the TS-101 to be a nice product to work with. Its performance was solid, it had a extensive feature set, and it was generally a well thought out product. The TS-101 was also the first NAS I've worked with that had support for using an external drive in RAID mode. This was a nice feature that gives users an additional level of data security. I also appreciated the fact that the TS-101 had a sturdy aluminum case and didn't require a fan to operate. My attraction to NASes is largely based on low noise and power usage, so the quieter the better.

On the other hand, the product did have a few rough edges. While the documentation was well written overall, there were sections that could have been better. And while I appreciated the basic support for Apple systems, I was a bit disappointed to find that both the "Download Station" and the backup utility were Windows-only.

Since their basic features sets and prices are almost identical, I thought it would be interesting to compare the Qnap TS-101 to the previously reviewed Synology DS-106e.

The DS-106e had a number of advantages over the TS-101, the first being performance. Our performance tests aren't 100% comparable since the disk drives used were not identical, but the fact that the DS-106e bested the TS-101 in most tests is a pretty good indicator that the DS-106e is a better performer. The only tests where the TS-101 beat the DS-106e were in the gigabit read measurements, which could be due to the TS-101 having twice the RAM of the DS-106e.

Multimedia-wise, the DS-106e also bested the TS-101. Both had a nice photo-album feature, but the DS-106e supported the UPnP protocol as well. As far as database support, the DS-106e used the full-featured MySql while the TS-101 used a less powerful Sqlite - however, depending on your needs, the reduced memory requirements of Sqlite may be a benefit. As mentioned just above, the TS-101 had 64 MB while the DS-106e only had 32, which should benefit performance in certain areas.

As far as the TS-101's advantages, its RAID 1 support was not matched by the DS-106e, and its fanless design is definitely a plus.

In general, both products were powerful, full-featured NAS devices that would be nice additions to any home or small-office network. But the Synology DS-106e's advantages mean that Qnap still has some work left to do on the TS-101.

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