Thecus YES Box N2100 review
Unlike most of the consumer-level NAS (network attached storage) offerings currently on the market, the YES box is a scaling down of an SME product for domestic or small business use. As a result of that, many higher-end features remain (with the notable exclusion of Active Directory), including an FTP server, along with some more consumer-friendly options such as a built-in iTunes server and UPnP compatibility.
The plastic housing offers two internal 3.5in bays for SATA/SATA 2 hard disks, with Origin supplying us a version equipped with two 500GB Seagate drives and costing £887 inc VAT. JBOD (Just a Bunch of Disks) is supported, or you can opt for a RAID0 (striped) or RAID1 (mirrored) array for speed or data security respectively. That provides enough flexibility for even hard-core video-editing requirements. Installing the disks is a simple matter of removing two screws from the rear of the unit and then accessing the internal cage, which lifts in and out with ease.
The motherboard hosts 256MB of RAM, an Intel IOP 80219 XScale processor and a mini-PCI slot for the optional addition of an 802.11b/g WLAN card. Everything is reassuringly hard-wired or slotted onto the main board: at the rear, two Gigabit Ethernet ports provide the network capabilities, and these are joined by two USB ports to allow for expansion by external hard disk or USB keys. Press the button next to the front-mounted USB port and the contents of the device will be backed up directly to the YES Box. Backups are stored in subfolders by date and time.
A Setup wizard guides you through the discovery and configuration process, after which the YES Box can be administered from the internal web server, which also provides comprehensive status information, including temperatures and fan speeds, as well as emailing alerts. Navigating to its IP address brings you to an interface where public and private folders can be viewed or created. Files accessed in this way can only be browsed, downloaded and uploaded, with private folders requiring a logon. The interface also includes a picture gallery, creating thumbnail pages for subfolders containing images, and a similar option for browsing MP3, AAC or WAV files. User access privileges can be set via SMB/CIFS user and group protocols. Access through Windows Explorer doesn’t require any client software.
Our concerns are few: the unit isn’t entirely silent, with two hard disks and a 35mm fan making sufficient whirring and whining to make the YES Box easily audible in a quiet room. We also found that the black plastic finish on our model (it’s also available in white and silver) scratched incredibly easily, so its sleek looks may not last too long if out on display. The documentation is also poor, with some features not being described at all, and the interface is patchy in places.
With more products appearing at the lower end of the market, the YES Box manages to fill a useful niche between these and higher-end offerings. The level of user access control is impressive and the removable nature of the disks, as well as the ease with which it can be expanded through USB, provides fantastic flexibility. It’s certainly not the cheapest way to get NAS, but if you’re after the scalability it’s a good option.