Section by Tim Higgins
As the product name indicates, ZyXEL has endowed the NAS326 with "personal cloud" features. I was able to register for myZyXELcloud easily enough, entering only my email address and password, and clicking on a confirmation email link.
I initially couldn't successfully pair my NAS326, even though it was located just fine. But after updating the NAS to V5.11(AAZF.4) and the myZyXELCloud-Agent to 1.0.4, the pair completed quickly. The screenshot below shows the pre-paired status screen with the old software versions. The upper icon is the pairing icon and it's animated. The animation led me to believe a scan was in process and that I had to wait. I eventually moused over the button and saw it was ready to be clicked. The button's function would be clearer if it just read Pair NAS.
When pairing is done, you click the DDNS Setup and UPnP Setup buttons. DDNS setup prompts to set up a subdomain of zyxel.me (I used snb.zyxel.me)
myZyXELcloud successfully paired
I found the UPnP Setup screen initially blank because I've disabled UPnP port forwarding on my router. Once I temporarily enabled UPnP, the available services appeared. Each service has a separate enable and they are all defaulted off. Enabling Webpublishing_HTTP here and the service itself in the NAS326 Administrator > Applications > Web Publishing page lets you access files in the published folder remotely. I found, however, that I couldn't access my myZyXELcloud subdomain while connected to my LAN. I had to connect from the internet to access the folder.
myZyXELcloud successfully paired
I also enabled WebDAV in the UPnP Setting menu and tried the ZyXEL Drive app. Unlike browser-based access, the Drive app connected just fine while connected via Wi-Fi to my LAN.
In all, I'd say myZyXELcloud should provide relatively easy remote access to files on your NAS326, if you're willing to run the security risk of enabling UPnP on your router and experimenting to find the right combination of myZyXELcloud UPnP and NAS326 applications settings. The otherwise comprehensive User Guide has no mention of myZyXELcloud and the ZyXEL Knowledge Base makes you specify a product in order to search for anything. I was able to unearth a myZyXELcloud User Guide from a Google search, but it wasn't that helpful, lacking even basic information such as the router ports that need to be opened to access myZyXELcloud services.
Version 5.11(AAZF.2) firmware was loaded onto the NAS326 and performance tests were run using the Revision 5 NAS test process. All tests were run using two Western Digital Red 1 TB (WD10EFRX) ZyXEL provided. The test volumes were created using Ext4.
The composite image below shows File Copy Write and File Copy Read performance for two drive NASes tested with the Revision 5 test process. For File Copy Write, the NAS326 turned in 104.6 MB/s which places below the middle of the pack. For File Copy Read performance, the NAS326 only 102.2 MB/s, also below the middle.
Note that quite a few NASes in both charts cluster between 109 and 110 MB/s. That's about the maximum throughput that you can achieve with single client Gigabit Ethernet testing. And, as we have noted in other reviews, performance within 5% of each other is ranked the same. Although the NAS326 falls outside that tolerance percentage, it still breaks the 100 MB/s mark (although just barely for read).
File Copy Write and File Copy Read performance for two drive NASes
The benchmark summaries below show the inpidual test results for each of the three selected products. For all three products, both the RAID 0 and RAID 1 File Copy Write and Read benchmarks were fairly consistent with the exception of the ASUSTOR Raid 1 File copy read which fell below 100 MB/s with a throughput of 94.5 MB/s. NASPT File copy to NAS and File Copy from NAS were similarly consistent for both RAID levels with the exception of File Copy from NAS for the Thecus N2810 which were 88.9MB/s for RAID 0 and 81.7 MB/s for RAID 1. Both the NAS326 and the AS1002T outperformed the N2810 for NASPT HD playback & record and NASPT 4K HD Playback for both RAID levels.
None of these three NASes have eSATA ports, so no eSATA results appear. The NAS326 was to the only one of the three that had both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports, so results were reported for both interfaces. Actually, it really didn't matter since the backup throughput for both interfaces was in the low teens. Clearly, the Thecus N2810 outperformed both of the other two NASes for all three file systems on the USB 3.0 backup tests. It also outperformed the other two for network backup and iSCSI read and write tests. However, the NAS326 did edge out the AS1002T for USB 3.0 backup by a small margin.
Benchmark summary comparisonThe NAS Ranker chart below was filtered for RAID1 and Revision 5 testing and sorted by ascending price. Priced at $128, the ZyXEL is the least expensive of the three NASes compared. It also ranks #16 (lower) than either of the other two compared NASes. However, you can't always correlate price with performance. The #15 ranked NAS is the ASUSTOR AS-302T selling for $330. The #17 ranked NAS is the ASUSTOR AS-202TE that sells for $339. Both are priced more than twice the price of the NAS326.
RAID 1 NAS Rank - Sorted by price
The chart below shows the individual and category scores for the three NASes. Not surprisingly, the NAS326 didn't have any category wins. However, it is surprising that the ASUSTOR had better category scores for Write benchmarks, Read benchmarks, and Video than the Thecus N2810. In fact, the NAS326 had a better Video category rank (#4) than the N2810 (#6). Backup category rankings for both the NAS326 and the AS1002T were low, as expected.
Ranker Performance Summary comparison
The ZyXEL NAS326, priced at $128, is the least expensive BYOD 2-bay NAS we've seen. Yet, it has surprisingly decent performance. Its low write and read category scores were, in both cases, brought down by NASPT Directory copy operations. Other write and read category performance results were all in excess of 100 MB/s. With a single Gigabit connection, it's unlikely that you'd see or feel much of a performance difference for most day-to-day operations.
The NAS326's new user interface is a step towards keeping it competitive with the "big boys" such as Synology and QNAP. Version 5.1 provides the NAS326 with a desktop interface, downloadable packages as well as assorted cloud features. For the least expensive entry level 2-bay NAS, the NAS326 offers a lot of bang for the buck. You'd have to spend more than double to move up in the charts to a higher performing, more fully-featured NAS.