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QNAP TS-109 Pro NAS Review

by 3oh6     |     August 6, 2007





QNAP TS-109 Pro Review




Price: $349.74 CND NCIX
Availability: Now (Special Order)
Manufacturer's Part Number: TS-109 Pro
Warranty: 1 Year Limited Warranty


Table of Contents
1 - Introduction
2 - Package & Contents
3 - Specifications & Features
4 - Hardware & Installation
5 - Software Setup
6 - Feature Testing
7 - Benchmarks
8 - Benchmark Results
9 - Conclusion



1 - Introduction:

It is not un-common anymore to hear the average person discuss their "home network" in everyday situations. That's right, the term "network" is no longer isolated to the vocabulary of the pocket protector sporting computer geeks that dwell in the depths of the IT department at the office. The home network has rocketed to the fore front of the latest marketing catch phrases with even video game consoles looking to take over the job as the home network hub. A few years ago the idea of a network in every home was almost laughable, but thanks to companies like QNAP Systems Inc., that is no longer the case.

QNAP Systems Inc. is a relative new comer to the computer hardware industry but is as mature as any other when it comes to Network Attached Storage, also known as NAS. Having over five years experience building NAS devices means that QNAP has more experience in this market than most and has kept them at the cutting edge of this still growing and emerging segment of the industry. A NAS can be as simple as providing a back-up solution for a single computer user or as complex as a fully fledged server for a small office.


Today we will look at the QNAP TS-109 Pro, a device so diverse in its capabilities that it can make your home network the envy of any computer geek but is also powerful enough to support a small office of dozens of users. Whether you are the home user that needs a boost to their network or looking for a solution for your office network that isn't quite ready for an IT department, you will want to read on as the QNAP TS-109 Pro may just be the all-in-one solution that you are looking for today.


2 - Package & Contents:

Despite being so powerful, versatile, and potentially useful, the QNAP TS-109 Pro is extremely compact.


With such a compact device, there obviously isn't a need for an over-sized package and QNAP has done well to the keep size of the package to a minimum. This eases transport and keeps shipping costs down.


Despite its small size, there is an extremely efficient use of space that provides more specifications and details about a product than I have ever seen. This side panel is completely covered with almost every specification that the web site for this product covers. I will discuss all of these details momentarily in the Specifications & Features section.




The rear of the package continues with this theme of stuffing information about the TS-109 Pro down our throats. We can see there are a few diagrams that help outline just what the TS-109 Pro can do as well as a few graphs detailing performance, noise rating, and power consumption.


As we move inside of the package we see a very organized and extremely secure environment for the TS-109 Pro for transport. The styrofoam inserts hold the enclosure away from the package edges and keep it completely still with very little to no chance of damage no matter how active the delivery company gets with the package.


All of the QNAP TS-109 Pros accessories are housed in the fitted box we saw resting below the enclosure in the previous photo. In this photo, the contents of that box have been removed and spread out for us to have a look at. Included in the accessory package are the following:
  • External 12V, 36W, 100~240V power adapter
  • Power cord for the adapter
  • CD-ROM (user manual, Quick Install Wizard)
  • Quick Installation Guide
  • Ethernet Cable (6ft. Cat 5)
  • Foot stands
  • 4x flat head screws for mounting hard drive
  • 2x round head screws for assembling the TS-109 Pro
  • TS-109 Pro Station


This is simply a photo of the TS-109 Pro protected in its plastic bag and Styrofoam end pieces as it sits in the package. Overall I think this package is absolutely perfect with great protection for the device and accessories without wasting any unnecessary packaging. We will now have a look at the extremely large specification and feature list of this QNAP TS-109 Pro...there is an enormous amount to cover.


3 - Specifications & Features:

The feature list of this QNAP TS-109 Pro is really quite astounding. There really doesn't seem to be an end to what the TS-109 Pro can do and there isn't really anything that QNAP has missed from what is shown here. The QNAP web site does an incredible job presenting all of these features so borrowing from them seems the most logical. We start with a condensed list of features:
  • Create your own File Server in the easiest way - Define the authority and quota for each user independently
  • FTP Server simplifies the data sharing - Establish an FTP server to provide easy methods of transferring large files
  • Backup Server with the most professional auto-backup software - Enterprise-class technology makes backup extremely simple and efficient
  • Enhanced data protection by optional RAID-1 mirroring - QNAP's exclusive Q-RAID 1 provides the ultra-high-level redundancy, which helps to keep a real-time synchronized mirror in your external USB or eSATA hard drive box
  • Remote Replication - Files can be backed up from TS-109 Pro to other QNAP NAS products in remote locations
  • MySQL Server - TS-109 Pro is the most affordable choice as a standalone database server for system integrators
  • Share your printer resource by Printer Server - Add any USB printer to the network easily and without additional print server hardware
  • UPnP Media Server (with built-in TwonkyMedia Server) - Works well with DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) compliant media players
  • Multimedia Station for photo sharing - Automatically generate a web-based photo album with thumbnails and details, such as date, resolution, focal length, aperture, etc..
  • Enjoy continuous download independent of PC - Simultaneously manage BitTorrent, FTP and HTTP download tasks
  • Share your music by iTunes Server - Allow multiple network users access to one iTunes library
  • Support Windows ADS (Active Directory Service) - Enable Windows domain users to easily access the shared data with the Active Directory authentication
  • Sharing files across Windows, Mac, Linux, and Unix - A complete solution for a mixed network
  • No fan design - Passive cooling provides no added noise
  • One touch USB auto copy - Quickly and easily dump camera or thumb drive data onto the network
  • Unique advanced HDD health scanning (HHS) - Perform disk checking prevent potential data loss
  • Unique Web File Manager - A very easy to use interface simplifies data manipulation on the TS-109 Pro
  • SSL Security (HTTPS) - All connections between PC and NAS including user ID, password, files, download tasks, etc. are encrypted in SSL tunnels
  • Network Recycle Bin - Prevent accidental file deletion
  • Built-in DDNS support - Easily Configurable with Dynamic DNS service

There was no reason to over hype just what this device can do because the TS-109 Pro really can do all that a server can and has so many built in features it can do many things better. I have only summarized the feature list because going into great detail about each feature would require us to be here all day and night. If you are looking for more specifications or details about the features, I highly recommend heading over to the QNAP Web Site as they really do a good job explaining the various features of the TS-109 Pro. In order to provide this impressive list of features, both a solid hardware and software package are required.


The networking protocols supported covers pretty much the entire gamut and operating systems supported means that almost any computer on the planet can connect to the TS-109 Pro. In addition to all of the feature software, the QNAP can be set to run in a large number of languages. We can also see that we can have up to 256 users in a maximum of 128 user groups. This should provide more than enough flexibility for any mid-sized office setup. Let's now finish up the Specifications section with a quick look at the hardware that makes the QNAP TS-109 tick.


The one specification left out from this hardware list is the type of processor but as we will see shortly, the QNAP TS-109 Pro has a 500MHz Marvell SoC (system-on-chip) at the heart of its capabilities. That processor is supported by 128MB of DDRII DRAM and 8MB of Flash memory. The TJ-109 Pro is obviously a single drive unit that can handle hard drive sizes up to 1TB internally as well as 1TB external drives via the eSATA/USB port. The last notable specification worth mentioning is the power consumption that lists the TS-109 Pro using up only 6.6W when asleep and 14.4W when in operation. I would love to see a server try to run on those kinds of numbers.

Now that we are completely versed on what powers the QNAP TS-109, we might as well have a look inside and get this little wonder box up and running.


4 - Hardware & Installation:

Leading off the top of the hardware section is probably the most important piece of hardware when it comes to a unit like the TS-109 Pro. Without them, the unit just can't get balanced.


The two feet don't secure to the TS-109 Pro in any way, they simply slide onto the body wherever you wish them to. We can see there are rubber pads on the feet as well as the arms that grasp the TS-109s body. These rubber pads will keep the feet from scratching the beautiful aluminum body and also keep the feet from scratching and sliding around on the surface where you set the TS-109 Pro. The feet are also made of aluminum and painted to perfectly match the body.




The visual appearance of the QNAP TS-109 Pro is very simple yet sophisticated and quite elegant. The body is made entirely of cast aluminum with an almost granite like grayish brown with a hint of purple finish. The aluminum has strokes in it that give the finish a brushed look and overall, the TS-109 is very striking. Both end caps are made of black plastic and house the various connections on the back as well as a number of LEDs on the front identifying Power, LAN, eSATA, HDD, and status. In addition to the LEDs, there are a pair of buttons for power and copy. The copy button is paired with a USB port for hooking up a card reader or USB thumb drive for instant one-button transfer of files from a digital camera or other device.


To give you a general idea of the TS-109 Pros size, I have placed an 80GB Seagate 7200.9 hard drive beside it. This hard drive has a single platter so it is going to be the smallest 3.5" hard drive out there and the TS-109 Pro is not a whole lot larger. Obviously the unit is going to be taller and thicker but the footprint is certainly no larger than a Webster's dictionary.




To open up the TS-109 Pro, we simply have to slide the two halves apart. When the TS-109 Pro comes out of the package, it actually isn't secured together so be careful pulling it out as the two halves slip apart quite easily. I personally almost dropped half because I was not ready for it to slide apart. Despite the relatively small footprint, the interior has a good bit of space and is very straight forward as to how you mount the hard drive.


The reason for the extra thickness of the enclosure is for this gap that we can see between the exterior sidewall and the PCB. This open area under the PCB is going to allow the components on the PCB to dissipate heat to the exterior shell where the ambient air will then remove it from the TS-109 Pro. Despite consuming only a handful of watts in operation, the processor, RAM, and other components will still generate a small amount of heat and need room to breathe.


Removing the hard drive tray is just a matter of removing four phillips head screws. The PCB is now free to come out with the removal of another four phillips head screws.


The PCB is quite busy with all of the various ICs jammed together as close as possible in order to maintain as small a PCB as possible allowing as small a device as possible. I have highlighted a few of the main players in this symphony of electronic components. Here is a brief list of the hardware that I was able to identify on the PCB:
  • Processor: Marvell 88F5-BEG1...The upper right hand corner of the image identifies the processor but I could not find any specific information on this particular model number. We do, however, already know it is an SoC component running at 500MHz and clearly a Marvell product.
  • RAM: Hynix HY5PS121621C...The upper left inset image singles out our 128MB of onboard DDRII memory which comes from Hynix. The Hynix memory is a JEDEC standard FBGA package binned for 4-4-4 timings (DDR2-533 / DDR2-667) with a operating temperature range of 0C~95C.
  • LAN: Marvell 88E1118-NNC1...The 88E1118-NNC1 Gigabit controller is a tough guy to find any information on but this controller is from the same family that populates many motherboards these days including various motherboards with this exact controller from Marvell running their LAN ports.
  • USB Hub: Genesys Logic GL852...The USB hub functions are controller by this Genesys Logic 8-bit RISC processor.
Since we have now looked at every square inch of this QNAP TS-109 Pro, all that is left is to mount a hard drive and get to work.




The connectors in the top image are where our hard drive will interface with the NAS and as we can see, it is your standard SATA power and data connections so the hard drive simply slides into place along the tray. The second image above shows the hard drive that will be used for testing sitting in the hard drive tray ready to slide in place.


The Western Digital 250GB SATAII hard drive that will be used for testing took a little bit of effort to slide into place. It almost felt like the connectors didn't quite line up with the hard drive connectors. I then grabbed the Seagate 80GB drive we saw earlier and attempted a mount with it. The smaller Seagate drive slide into the connectors with very little effort so clearly the connections lined up perfectly. It is hard to say if any hard drive is going to have mounting issues but QNAP has likely dealt with this situation and made the connections universal with all drives. Some may need just a little bit of effort to connect, but I certainly didn't feel like there was any chance of damaging either the drive or enclosure during the Western Digital installation. We are now ready to connect the TS-109 Pro to the network, power it up, and take a look at the software that will be used to control the device and its various functions.


5 - Software Setup:

Setting up the software for the TS-109 Pro is simple and as easy as it should be. QNAP has done an excellent job in making the entire process quick and painless by having a great interface for the software and using a program to "locate" the TS-109 Pro so users that are not familiar with IP addresses and the like will have no bumps in the road on the way to setting up their NAS. Let's have a quick look at a few screen shots that we encounter during the installation.


Loading the CD into an optical drive brings up the main installation software. After choosing the correct model, we are then greeted with a language selection seen here, and a few of the proprietary software that QNAP ships with its units. The program of most interest is the QNAP Finder, second from the top in the list.


The QNAP Finder automatically searches the network for the TS-109 Pro. Once it finds the unit, it asks us if we would like to run through the setup wizard. Up to this point the computer knowledge required to setup the TS-109 is not above my 7 year old nephew. Again, QNAP has done an incredible job designing their software for ease of use despite the fact that the TS-109 Pro is technically classed as an SMB or Corporate device.


The setup wizard is very easy to follow along with and outlines exactly what it is that each step is accomplishing. After setting the administrator password, we come to the TCP/IP configuration. For a user experienced with your network, you can enter the static IP information with the appropriate fields. If you are not familiar with any of the settings on this screen, it is as simple as leaving the radio button on the automatic setup. This is just another way that QNAP has made this device as simple to setup, or as configurable as you need for the power users. There are many more examples of this type of flexibility throughout the software options on the TS-109 Pro.


After initializing the hard disk that we installed in the TS-109 Pro, the setup wizard formats and copies the firmware onto the hard drive. At that point, the TS-109 Pro is up and running, ready for action. The wizard automatically opens a new web page with the IP address for the TS-109 Pro that was configured during the wizard. Anytime you want to access or configure the TS-109 Pro, it is just a matter of opening a web browser and punching in the IP address. You will then be taken immediately to the front page of the device as seen above.


From the main access page of the TS-109 Pro, we have the options for the various features of the device. Before we get to those, however, we will have a quick look at the administrator options for the power users that want to know what they can really do with the TS-109 Pro. The layout is simple enough and the web page interface makes browsing and adjusting the TS-109 Pro very simple. We have the opportunity to re-run the Quick Configuration or make any number of adjustments to the NAS as you can see above.






The above screenshots are just a couple of the various sections we saw on the main page of the Administrative Configuration page. Every section is easily labeled and configuring the options within each section is simply a matter of filling in the fields or selecting the options from a drop-down menu like pretty much any web page out there. This is the beauty of a web based interface, it provides an interface that almost every user is relatively familiar with.


6 - Feature Testing:

We now have the QNAP TS-109 Pro setup, configured, and functioning correctly on our network as a Network Attached Storage device, or NAS. During the configuration, the Windows network we chose allows all of the computers on the local network to see the QNAP TS-109 Pro in any instance of Windows Explorer. So anytime you go to save/open a file and the prompt for where to save/open the file comes up, you can simply navigate to the QNAP TS-109 Pro. Or, if we wanted, we could simply map any folder on the drive and give it a drive letter to show up like any other hard drive on a system.


Immediately after setting up the QNAP TS-109 Pro, we can see that there are 5 folders already designated. The Public folder is available to anyone on the network and doesn't require a username/password to access. Anyone on the Op network is able to read and write to the Public folder. The other "Q" folders are automatically created and unfortunately cannot be deleted or re-named. They are all linked to the various features of the TS-109 Pro which is why they can't be deleted or changed otherwise the programs used to access them won't be able to function. I am a control freak and would like to see the ability to change the names at the very least of these folders to make them uniform with the rest of the folder naming scheme on this network, even if it means having to update the folder used from within the program associated with the folder. We will look at the various features that are associated with these four folders in this section a little bit later on.

Web File Manager
The first feature we will look at though is the Web File Manager which allows us complete access to the TS-109 Pro like we have above through Explorer, but the Web File Manager allows access through any web browser which includes remote access as well.


The Web File Manager is accessed through the link on the main page of the TS-109 Pro by typing in the IP address from the local network. Users will need to have a username/pass in order to access the Web File Manager, even for access to the Public folder. The screenshot above clearly shows that I am accessing the Web File Manager locally from the network since the address is simply 192.168.0.151. We can see that we are located in the Public folder where I have placed some image files to show how they are presented in the file view of the Public folder. Along the top, I have imposed the mouse-over tips that provide us with information on what each link allows us to do. The file manager basically allows us to do anything we could from within Explorer including uploading files, adding folders, deleting and more; but the best of the Web File Manager and TS-109 Pro is yet to come.


The TS-109 Pro has a built in feature that allows us to setup a Dynamic DNS Service through a number of popular services. We can see that I have setup a Host Name of ts109pro.dyndns.org through a Dynamic DNS account which now gives us access to the TS-109 Pro main page and administration from anywhere that an internet connection is available, without having to remember the IP address of the network that the TS-109 Pro is on. We simply have to type in ts109pro.dyndns.org:8080 to access the main page. Looking at the address in the web page showing the DDNS Service page, we will see that we are no longer accessing the Administration page through the local network and actually accessing the unit from the host name specified. The one step required to make this happen was the configuration of the router on this network. We had to forward port 8080 to the IP address of the TS-109 Pro so that any traffic requesting that port would be forwarded to the NAS.


Web Server:
The next item available from the TS-109 Pro main web based menu is the Web Server function and since we just setup the TS-109 Pro to accept connections remotely over the internet, it seems to be the obvious choice for us to focus on next.


Enabling the web server is as simple as everything else on this impressive unit, with a simple check box in the administration section. We can specify the port number and the even setup the TS-109 Pro to act as an SMTP server. Towards the bottom of the image above, we can see that the TS-109 Pro allows us to configure the PHP installation by simply editing the php.ini file within the Admin area which is a very nice feature. We can also upload a saved copy or restore the default php.ini file that comes loaded with the TS-109 Pro. With the web server up and running that provides full PHP support, we will now have a quick look at the MySQL section and what is required to get that setup and running.


There are no surprises here with yet another checkmark being all that is required to enable the MySQL features. Unfortunately, that is not all that is required and the first disappointment of the TS-109 Pro crept into play. In order to use MySQL, you have to administer a database, and quite disappointingly the TS-109 Pro does not come pre-configured to do that. The manual provides instructions to setup PHPMyAdmin to accomplish the administration but after spending a number of hours attempting every conceivable configuration, there was no way to make the two work together and get MySQL databases administered. An e-mail has been sent to QNAP technical support from their web site for further assistance but has yet to be responded to after a couple of days...another disappointment.


With no MySQL function, we will have to resort to showing off the PHP web serving features alone. Everything works right out of the box with no further configuration needed and within a minute we were able to get a photo-blog up and running on the TS-109 Pro with the PHP powered Folderblog as the engine. There was honestly no difference working with the TS-109 Pro as opposed to a fully fledged server running PHP on a Linux box. The ability to edit the php.ini file really makes things simple for any use. When MySQL gets up and running, there is really no limit to what the TS-109 Pro can do when it comes to serving small web sites and/or limited applications.


Multimedia Station:
The Multimedia Station is almost your very own, automatically generated, and fully featured photo gallery. We can essentially upload photos to the QMultimedia folder of the TS-109 Pro, and the Multimedia Station will automatically prepare thumbnails and provide a gallery view that includes features such as comments, image information, and a slide show option all automatically available for every folder of photos we add. Let's take a look at the main interface logged in as the Administrator.


We already have a few albums present in the Qmultimedia folder from recent reviews. These were uploaded simply to provide an example of the features the Multimedia Station provides while we take a look at the interface. Again, the screens we are looking at now are from the Administrator that allows full control over the content. In a minute, we will see some examples of what a Guest user will see when they come to the presentation web site. The control bar we have gives us the ability to sort the images by size, date, or alphabetically by name. We also have the option to create folders as well as delete, and rename folders and files. The last option we have as an Admin is to set the viewing groups for the various galleries (folders) that are setup.


The screen for setting album accessibility is very straight forward. The default user is listed as Guest but we have the ability to create additional users with or without passwords. This feature is very nice and allows for providing access to certain albums for some users and other albums for other users. Of course, you can also have a single user like Guest see all albums. Unfortunately, any new albums created show up in the Inaccessible column and need to be moved over manually for even the Guest user to see them.


As the user Guest (essentially anyone visiting your gallery that you have not setup an account for, the main album page is populated with the automatically generated thumbnails. When the user moves the mouse over the thumbnails, a brief description pops up with the comment written below in green font. When clicked on, we end up at the main image page.


More photo information is listed on this page with a larger version of the image but still not full-size. Below the image, the comment is written out in blue font. From this page the user can then start a slide-show by selecting the interval time from the drop-down menu (3 is default and the lowest). We can also click on the image which presents a pop-up of the full size image, or simply increase or decrease the image size with the given buttons. The last of the controls allow us to move forward through the album without having to move back out to the thumbnails and we can even rotate the images which is kind of neat.

The Multimedia Station is a really nice feature of the TS-109 Pro which provides an instant photo gallery that couldn't be any easier. Simply dropping a folder of images into the Qmultimedia folder on the TS-109 Pro gets the gallery setup as the NAS does the rest. Just set the user accessibility and send the links to your friends for viewing. Notice in all the screenshots that the address is the one that allows viewing from any internet connection that we previously setup so you don't have to be on the local network to view the albums. The only thing I would like to see is the ability for advanced users to change the look and feel of the Multimedia Station to provide specialized one-of-a-kind galleries.


Download Station:
The Download Station was a feature that carried a lot of intrigue with it. The idea of a NAS device acting as a torrent client without the need for a computer was very promising and quite exciting to be honest. Quickly though, it became apparent that while the idea is great, the implementation was lacking a little bit.


The Download Station screen is very simple and easy to navigate. You simply click on the link to add a new BitTorrent or FTP/HTTP task and a pop-up windows asks for the details or the torrent file. We can see in the image above that I have a couple of tasks running and not doing all that well. Despite the slow start, they do pick up speed and almost match a normal client for download speed that was downloading the same torrents on a different IP address at the same time. The TS-109 Pro seems to have no problem keeping up with the uTorrent and BitComets of the world.


The problem lies with the in-ability to really configure the client or see what is going on as far as the seeds and peers of a task are concerned. In the above screenshot, we can see that there is very little in the way of configuration of the client. For most users, this is fine but for the advanced BT user, this will not be enough. The other feature of the BitTorrent client is that you can not only administer it through the internet as we have seen in the screenshots above which give us full remote control over torrents, QNAP also provides software to allow access to the Download Station from a local machine directly connected to the TS-109 Pro on the local network.


QGet is the name of the program and it is simply a software version of the web based client that provides the same information and configuration as the web based controls. Having a software client for this task was found to be quite beneficial as it allowed quick work of adding BitTorrent tasks to the TS-109 Pro from a local machine. In this screenshot of QGet, we can see that the middle torrent is not downloading at all. It was left for more than 20 minutes and it never "caught on". Meanwhile, uTorrent that was running on another network had no problems picking up the tracker and started downloading immediately at up to 200KB/s. During the testing of the Download Station, there were a few torrents that did not seem to ever work for whatever reason, even after enabling DHT. QGet when combined with the "onboard" web based interface offer a great one-two punch for torrent control both locally or on the road from any internet capable computer.

Having Seed and Peer information available along with more configuration options might allow users to figure out why certain torrents didn't seem to want to run on the TS-109 Pro. For the torrents that did get picked up by the tracker, the TS-109 Pro client seemed to do a fine job and make this feature very useful for heavy torrent users.


NetBak Replicator:
We have one more piece of software to have a look at that comes with the QNAP TS-109 Pro and that is the backup software, NetBak Replicator. NetBak appears to be fairly simple yet somewhat comprehensive backup software for the TS-109 Pro, let's have a look.


The NetBak software is very straight forward and after a couple of minutes looking around, all of the features and abilities should be quite apparent for most users. Upon opening the software for the first time, a wizard finds the TS-109 Pro and confirms that it is the device you want to backup to. Once we get to the main window, we see everything is laid out nicely and within easy reach. The top section allows us to select the folder we want to backup to and confirm the location of the device we are backing up to. The tabs provide us with the function that we want, Backup, Restore, or view Log. The buttons along the bottom provide us with a means to the functions. The File Filter obviously allows us to setup a filter of which files to copy, and the Schedule button allows the setup of a schedule.


With the schedule feature you can setup the backup to run every day or only specific days of the week and the time of day for the backup to occur. The one limitation that is immediately evident is that this schedule has no ability to select which configuration you want it to perform so it will only perform the configuration that is currently loaded in the software. Having the ability to schedule various backup configurations for different backup schedules would be a welcome addition.


Speaking of configurations, the NetBak Replicator software allows us to save various backup configurations. This gives us the ability to quickly load another set of folders we want backed up within seconds. Again, letting the user associate a schedule to the saved configurations would be great because we could then schedule each configuration to run in the background where as right now, we can only run schedule one configuration and would have to manually run others that we may have.


If a scheduled task runs while the program is minimized, the task bar simply animates that a backup is in progress then logs the event if you have the log enabled. Initializing a backup manually presents us with a progress bar showing where the backup is going from and the destination folder on the TS-109 Pro. We also have the option to shutdown the machine once the transfer is done which is a nice feature for those users perhaps performing a backup at the end of the day or something along those lines.

For being such a simple little piece of software, the NetBak Replicator really seems to do the job efficiently and provides just enough configuration to make it a powerful addition to the TS-109 Pro. As mentioned, there is a fault and that is the in-ability to have multiple configurations run on a schedule. Even having the ability to run more than one saved configuration at the single scheduled backup time would be nice. Being able to only run a single backup configuration on a schedule is a little bit of a handi-cap for power users.


Other Features:
There are a few other features that I would like to touch on that don't really need their own section as they are kind of minor. The first of which is the ability to directly plug in a USB device such as a card reader and automatically transfer the contents of that USB device to the Qusb folder on the TS-109 Pro.


The process is simple but we did have to push the Copy button a couple times to get the card recognized and the transfer started. We see that it simply dumps the contents and file structure into a folder with the date as the name in the Qusb folder on the TS-109 Pro. My only complaint is that in order to eject the disk, we have to log into the Admin section and click on an effect disk button.

The Print Server is another one of those abilities that really makes this TS-109 Pro a master of its craft. Plugging a Cannon IP3000 into one of the two rear USB ports of the TS-109 Pro immediately made the printer available on the network and ready for action. A simple driver install on each successive machine on the network and each was able to print files on the IP3000 as they should. There are no quirks or issues to report here, just another solid and simple feature that worked flawlessly on the QNAP TS-109 Pro.

We have looked a lot of features and skill sets that the TS-109 Pro possesses and there is plenty more that it can do but the majority of the main features have been covered. We will now have a brief look at the performance of this fully featured file serving NAS device through some


7 - Benchmarks:

Benchmarking a NAS is so open ended that there isn't really any standard to do so, everyone has their own method. I feel that a few synthetic performance numbers as well as some timed real world tests go a long way in describing how well a NAS performs. Here is a quick breakdown of the synthetic tests I will run:

IoZone 3.282 - Read/Write
The IoZone test is a much more thorough and exhaustive test of the network bandwidth and hard drive performance of the NAS devices tested. IoZone can be configured in an endless amount of ways for its testing method. To sum up the command that I have put together, IoZone will be reading and writing files varied from 64KB in small 4KB chunks up to 1GB in 16MB chunks and every combination in-between. This provides us with an extremely complete picture of how the device handles a variety of traffic over the network. The following command was used for the testing:
iozone -Rab ts109pro.wks -i 0 -i 1 -g 1G -f z:\test\001.tmp

Real World Data Transfers
I will also run a couple of transfers over the network and simply time them to give a general idea of how the performance relates to real life use. The typical network transfer that I will exercise on a daily basis will be of a single large file such as a DVD image or multiple smaller files from a digital camera. So I have decided to transfer the 4.32GB ISO image of Company of Heroes and a folder containing all of the RAW image files that I have taken in 2007. This includes 35 folders and over 1300 8MB and 4KB files (6.52GB total). Testing will include transfer too, and transferring from the devices timing each process individually to provide Read and Write performance.

Now let's have a look at the hardware involved with both the computer used for testing and the network that the testing was performed on.

Test Platform:
  • Biostar TP35D3-A7 Deluxe
  • Intel C2D E6600 @ 2.99GHz
  • Rosewill RCX-Z775-EX
  • OCZ 2x1GB PC3-1066 Platinum @ DDR3 1333 7-7-7-12
  • PowerColor HD2600 512MB DDR2
  • OCZ GameXstream 700W
  • 1 x Seagate 7200.9 80GB SATAII 8MB cache
  • Vantec Stealth SF12025L
  • Windows XP SP2 (with recent updates)


Network:
  • Marvell 88E805X-NNC1 Onboard network controller
  • D-Link DGS-1008D 8-port Gigabit Switch
  • 2 x Network Technologies Inc. 28AWG Stranded Cat5e (15ft)

Devices:
  • Plextor PX-EH25L w/ Hitachi Deskstar HDT722525DLAT80 7200RPM 250GB PATA 8MB cache
  • QNAP TS-109 Pro (10/100/1000mbps) w/ Western Digital WD2500 7200RPM 250GB SATAII 16MB cache

Only the TS-109 Pro will be plugged into the switch along with the TP35D3-A7 and there will be no other traffic on the network during the tests. Since the TS-109 Pro has Jumbo Frame MTU options of 4074KB, 7418KB, and 9000KB and the network controller on the Biostar board only offers 4088KB, and 9014KB; we have the choice of either 4000KB or 9000KB that match up well so we will use the 9000KB MTU option on the TS-109 Pro and the 9014KB option on the TP35D3-A7 motherboard. This should provide the best performance between the two devices. By default, Jumbo Frames are disabled on the TS-109 Pro and performance would be drastically reduced without enabling and adjusting the frame size.


8 - Benchmark results:

If you are un-familiar with the IO Zone benchmark, I will do my best to explain the complex looking graphs. Let's take a look first at the Write performance of the QNAP TS-109 Pro:


The bandwidth numbers put up by the TS-109 Pro on the gigabit test network is exactly what one should expect from a completely gigabit network. The absolute highest throughput reached was just over 30,000KB/s (234mbps or 29MB/s) shown by the teal peaks of the mountain. The majority of the larger file sizes stay hovering between 22,000KB/s and 25,000KB/s. All of the results from file sizes of 64KB up to 1GB are very respectable and would hold their own against any server without a RAID setup. The read numbers should be a little bit higher so let's take a peek.


The read mountain climbs up to a sliver below 50,000KB/s (390mbps or 48MB/s) which is extremely impressive since this drive connected directly to a typical onboard SATAII controller will only provide about 55MB/s of read bandwidth. That means that the overhead running in the QNAP TS-109 Pro is negligible. When we factor in the consumer level switch the numbers we have seen so far are even more impressive. In comparison, a 10/100mbps network would only provide about 10,000KB/s ~ 15,000KB/s.

The next topic of discussion will be to see how the IO Zone benchmarks relate to a real world performance comparison through some typical type of file transfers that would be similar to everyday use. There are no fancy benchmarks presented in the chart below, just old fashioned stop watch action. Remember, the Large File transfer consists of a single 4.32GB ISO file transferred from the system (C:\) to a mapped network drive on each device (Z:\) then transferred in reverse order to simulate Read and Write performance. The Small File transfer consists of 1300 8MB and 4KB files (6.52GB Total) and will be moved in the same fashion. We have tossed in the results from the same transfer with a 10/100 based NAS device to demonstrate the difference between 100mbps hardware and 1000mbps hardware like the TS-109 pro.


It is evident that there is no competition between the 100mbps Plextor NAS and the 1000mbps QNAP TS-109 Pro. These results aren't just from a meaningless benchmark but actual times from a simple file transfer that will be seen daily on a device like this. Many home users are not making the jump to a gigabit network but prices of routers and switches have come down so much that it is definitely worth it to make the jump. I certainly know that the time saved in daily operations with results as seen above make the upgrade worth it and there isn't a more fully featured NAS device out there than the QNAP TS-109 Pro that is within the price range of most home users.

At this time we have no consistent means to test the web serving performance of the TS-109 Pro over a Wide Area Network so this will be all for performance numbers at this time. If in the future that changes, you can be assured that this section will be updated.


9 - Conclusion:

What else is there to say? The QNAP TS-109 Pro looks good on paper, looks great in person as seen in the photos above, and performs incredibly well with top notch bandwidth over a gigabit network to boot. The immense feature list did not disappoint in providing everything that was promised and the configuration of those features was simple enough for even the most basic user. The TS-109 Pro is designed for the small office but with so many home users with a network once previously only seen in the work place, it would be a mistake to discount the TS-109 Pro as only a device welcome in the office.

With all of this praise, there are of course a couple items I would like to see addressed. The first and most pressing was my inability to setup any sort of MySQL database administration. I honestly was not pleased to find out that the end-user is responsible for setting up PHPMyAdmin in order to administer a MySQL database. Adding this as a built in feature should be on the top of QNAPs list for the TS-109 series. The manual and QNAP web site did not offer much in the way to assist me in getting this issue sorted which was a bit of a letdown as well. Yes both of these complaints center around a single feature but the MySQL support was a major selling point for me with the TS-109 Pro but can be easily overlooked.

There is very little else that I would change on the TS-109 Pro or the software that accompanies it. The web based interface is stellar compared to any other NAS device I have used and it never once let me down in all the hours that I spent configuring the TS-109 Pro. QNAP clearly has their game on point and would be perennial fans choice all-stars in the NAS league.

Pros:
  • There are so many features, it is hard to even list them all.
  • Silent, small foot print, cool operation, and extremely easy to setup most features.
  • Performance is extremely strong with zero reliability issues.
  • The TS-109 Pro can replace a server in almost any small office.

Cons:
  • MySQL database management should be built in.
  • Multiple schedules with the NetBak software would be nice.
  • The TS-109 Pro is a rather pricey unit for home users and may put it just out of reach for many.
  • The PDF manual and web site support were a little bit lacking in some more technical areas.




Discussion thread for QNAP TS-109 Pro


Review by: Jody Bailey