Thecus is the latest NAS manufacturer to join the ranks of those who have recently upgraded their NAS operating systems. QNAP’s QTS 4.0 operating system added a number of multimedia “Stations” to make their NAS products more competitive with those from Synology. NETGEAR’s ReadyNAS OS6 rolled out a new cloud-based setup system and introduced the SOHO NAS market to the BTFRS EXT4-based file system. Buffalo, on the other hand, didn’t add too many features and used their NAS OS update to polish up their interface.
Thecus' OS upgrade, named Thecus OS™6, like Buffalo’s NAS OS update, doesn’t add many new features, but rather focuses on a user interface overhaul. It also includes a free DDNS service (thecuslink.com) and improved online instant updates for installed server apps.
Admittedly, this is the first Thecus product that I’ve reviewed, so I don’t have the historical perspective I have with other NAS brands. However, if you’re interested in comparing the previous version of the Thecus’ OS with the latest version, Tim included a slide show gallery in his review of the Thecus N4800 last year.
For this review, Thecus supplied the N2560 – a two bay BYOD NAS that Scott Deleeuw recently reviewed. As pointed out in Scott's review, the two-bay SOHO-focused 2560 does not include some of the features you’d expect to find in devices with additional bays or targeted at business use. Here are some of the features that you’ll find in higher end Thecus products, but are missing on the 2560:
- AD support
- iSCSI support
- NAS Stacking
- NFS Share
- LDAP support
- TFTP server
Thecus advised that ThecusOS6 will initially be available on the N2560 and the N4560 which will be available beginning in October. Thecus' plan is to roll out ThecusOS6 to the rest of their NAS products with fewer than 7 bays. Thecus hopes to have the rollout completed by the end of the year, but since the OS for other models is still in development, that's not a firm date. If you’d like to try out the new UI, Thecus has provided a read-only Live Demo.
Having worked on documentation projects in the past, I understand the challenges of writing a concise, but useful quick start guide. Thecus boiled down the installation to three steps:
- Insert the drive
- Connect the cables
- Go online and download installation software.
When you go online, you have the option to download a Windows, MacOS or Linux Intelligent NAS utility. You need to run this installation program on a local computer to initialize your NAS. So Thecus gets credit for eliminating the need for a CD-ROM drive. But households that have only tablets and/or smartphones will need to skip ThecusOS 6.
There’s a QR Code at the bottom of the quick start guide that takes you to the Thecus Online Resource Center. This link is well worth a bookmark. There you’ll find a wealth of information including Getting Started information, Video Tutorials, How To guides, User Manuals, and FAQs. For those of you who don’t like to read manuals, spend a few minutes viewing the two videos that cover installation of the disks, initializing the NAS and creating your own free Thecus Link account for DDNS. The videos might save you some time.
While the quick start guide points you to online installation, the included CD contains the same installation programs for Windows and MacOS. It also includes a getting started guide, the user manual and one of the videos that you’ll find in the online resource center. Though it’s not mentioned in the user manual, Thecus includes a licensed version of Acronis PE which you can install from the CD’s autorun installation program.
Thecus OS6 CD installation
The installation software, detailed in the gallery below, identifies the IP address of your Thecus NAS, initializes, and, if necessary reformats your disks, and helps you set up your ThecusLink DDNS account.
User Interface Overview
Since the bulk of the ThecusOS6 is about the user interface, let’s jump in and take a quick tour. After logging in, you land at the page shown below.
Thecus OS6 Home Page
Unlike many of the competitors' landing pages, the default landing page of Thecus OS6 is fairly stark and is only populated with icons for Shared Folder and RAID management. My personal preference is to have a landing page that provides a complete status of the NAS when I log in. Of the NAS OS updates that I've reviewed, NETGEAR's ReadyNAS OS6 has what I consider to be a good landing page.