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QNAP has traditionally focused on home and SOHO users but its latest TS-409 Turbo NAS appliances move its aim further up into the SMB sphere. There are two members of this new family and on review we have the base TS-409 Turbo NAS. To be honest the differences between this and the Pro version are minimal as the latter only adds support for NFS for Linux clients and AD authentication.
The appliance supports stripes, mirrors, RAID-5, hot-standby and hot-swap and along with these you now get RAID-6 as well, although this will be a costly option for a four-drive appliance. Designed to provide dual-drive redundancy, RAID-6 arrays require a minimum of four drives to function and can survive the loss of two. The drawback is it'll set you back to the tune of fifty per cent of raw capacity.
Of more use are the capacity expansion and RAID migration features. The former is very similar to that offered by Netgear's tasty ReadyNAS NV+ and allows you to add more drives and upgrade on the fly to larger drives. All you do is swap each one out with a new drive and let the appliance rebuild the array each time. The latter feature allows you to migrate from single drive to a mirror and then on to RAID-5 or -6 as required with no downtime incurred.
Fitting hard disks is a simple affair. Just pull out the relevant hot-swap carriers, secure your drives with the supplied screws and slip them back into place. The bundled Finder software hunts down the appliance on the network and, with new drives loaded, will run through an automated process which sets up network parameters, initialises the hard disks as the chosen array and downloads the firmware. For testing we slotted in a pair of 150GB Western Digital Raptor 1500ADFD drives which we configured as a RAID-1 mirror.
The tidy web interface is common across all QNAP appliances and provides easy access to the myriad features. We kicked off with a RAID migration test and added a third Raptor drive. Using the RAID migration option you select the new drive, pick the array type you want to move up to and leave the appliance to get on with it. Migrating from a RAID-1 mirror to a RAID-5 array took 90 minutes to complete although obviously this will take a lot longer if you're using the latest high-capacity drives.