NAS or network-attached storage devices are getting more popular these days and are also very convenient. Having all the data in one central location in a redundant format accessible by any computer on the network offers both security and flexibility. Today we're looking at our first NAS device from Thecus offering five storage bays, web client, and many RAID modes in one small package.
The Thecus N5200 can support up to five SATA hard drives and can be raided in configures of 0, 1, 5, 6, and 10 with JBOD support or just a bunch of disks. Let's take a look at the box first. The N5200 isn't anything fancy to look at. Each of the five bays has a switch that locks the compartment in place. You can also key lock as well. To the left of the bays are some LED indicators letting you know what's currently going on with the unit. Below the drive bays is an LCD display that can show you some pertinent information in English. Overall, the size of the unit is pretty small and you can easily hide it somewhere because of its relative small size.
Externally, there are 2 USB ports on the back and one in the front. An extra eSATA port is also on the back. Two Gigabit ports will let you connect and transfer at crazy fast speeds provided you have Gigabit switches, which I thankfully did in my test area. If you can’t wire up the network connection, the N5200 supports a few wireless USB adapters based on the ZyDAS ZD1211 chip.
Using one of the USB ports, you can plug in an external hard drive and back up the NAS as well without having to go into the web admin. The front buttons and LCD screen are enough to guide you through the process so for those that make backups that are stored off site, this is an easy way to do it. The USB port isn't just for attaching storage solutions as you can also plug in a printer and setup sharing amongst other computers through the N5200 as well.
The LCD display will cycle through some specifics about the system and you can also use the buttons underneath to perform some operations. Most of what you want to do will be done via the web interface but for simple things like changing the IP address of the N5200, you can do all this through the four buttons if you can’t login to the unit.
One thing I didn't like about the drive bays of the N5200 is that you have to secure the drives in by four screws underneath. I'd rather have seem some screwless scheme to hold the hard drives in but you're forced to use a screwdriver to secure them in place. After putting in the drives, the trays slide easily in and lock into place connecting the power and data portions of the SATA connections.
The Thecus N5200 is powered by an Intel Celeron M processor running at 600MHz with 512KB of cache. Ram consists of 256MB DDR and is powered by a 200W Seasonic PSU. For the OS, there’s an onboard 64MB flash microdisc. Since it's such a small power supply, you can bet that it's not going to suck up a lot of juice compared to a full size server.
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