My two pennies worth on NAS storages; The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Although cloud storage is here to stay and the pricing is getting reasonable I still can't give up my dear NAS storages:

  • QNAP TS-419P+ (4 x HD NAS)
  • Zyxel NSA-220 (2 x HD NAS)
  • Synology (can't recall the model) (1 x HD NAS)

Why so many? I have all the important data mirrored on three machines/locations: the main machine (Ubuntu 12.10) on study room, Zyxel NSA-220 on second floor and QNAP TS-419P+ on separate warehouse/garage.
This is the rundown on the hardware are the challenges I have had with these.

The Good

Synology NAS has never let me down. Nowadays it is retired after serving whopping 8 years without any issues. Synology NAS worked with all OS's without a glitch.

The Bad

Zyxel NSA-220 performance sucks compared to the specs it was sold with (giga NIC nah!) and it has failed to auto start properly few times after longer power outages but that's OK.
All in all I am pleased with this NAS.

The Ugly

I am never buying another QNAP product ever! period!
This baby just isn't working on all thruster... never... ever.

It costed whopping ~550€ (without the HDs) and what did I get:
  • 60% of the protocols don't work as promised; samba, NFS, streaming - none work even on a basic level - Linux/Windows/authentication/write permission/etc issues make most of the features unusable one way or another.
  • 100% of the additional packages/add-ons don't work; mysql, phpmyadmin, etc. QNAP starts to restart httpd service ever 10 seconds and blows out the logs plus your email box if you have configured the alarm system.
  • So far broke down 75% of the installed HDs... yes, three officially supported HD types have been damaged by this gadget within 6-12 months after installation. This is mathematically impossible as the manufacturers and batch numbers are different on HDs (I have shuffled HDs).
  • RAID1 doesn't work properly: HDD1 broke down and even though it had RAID1 setup with HDD2 there was nothing to salvage. I can't believe that this gadget's firmware relies only on HDD1. What a piece of wannabe HA crap.
  • Two times the software update has totally lost the configuration and disk partitions... that's why they write that do not update without a reason. Then again: the reason to update is to get this gadget to work even partly (see points above).
  • Disk management (RAID, bad sector search) is so slooow that you better prepare for nightshift
  • Android app... why do they even bother
  • rsync only with SSH and dead slow - I estimate that 90% of the users run this behind NAT so why SSH only rsync? especially when it slows down the speed way too much
  • UPDATE 03/2013: now with latest software a simple power failure during NFS streaming totally wiped all partition data... nice going QNAP!
QNAP support is a joke on these issue; there hasn't been any real advice as how to solve these issues. On support pages bugs are called features... This geek is not laughing.
Whenever this gadget works it is lightning fast but don't expect to have any data security or reliability in multi OS environment.

Summa Summarum

Avoid QNAP. Just buy basic NAS storages from some quality manufacturer like Buffalo, Synology, Zyxel, LaCie, etc that actually listen and care about their customers.
Something to notice here is that as far as I can tell QNAP is the OEM for Cisco 's Small Business NASes.


Personally I would even go as far as to buy only single HD/volume (1,5-3Tb) NASes and mirror data between them. What is the sense of using RAID on 2+ HD NASes when the actual hardware is not up to the task (non existing performance)? Also noteworthy is the fact that 2+ HD JBOD setup is very bad idea; if the gadget motherboard or second HD brakes down you will be doing forensics all night long to salvage... well nothing :-)