Thecus N4100PRO review

£432
Price when reviewed

When Thecus launched its N4100 small business NAS appliance it set a few standards in the process but time moves on and it’s looking a tad dated now. The new N4100PRO delivers a number of improvements and is one of the first desktop appliances to use AMD’s new low power Geode processor.

Thecus N4100PRO review

The N4100PRO targets both home and small business users and the latter get the benefit of improved RAID functions as the appliance now offers RAID-6 dual redundant arrays plus mirrored stripes and supports online array expansion. The appliance is reasonably well built although nowhere near as solid as Netgear’s latest ReadyNAS boxes. You have USB ports fore and aft and the two Gigabit ports can be teamed together so if one fails the second will take over.

The web browser interface which hasn’t seen any design improvements for ages and is now looking a tad boring. Nevertheless, RAID arrays are easy enough to create and you have an option to migrate mirrored and striped arrays to RAID-5. Client support extends to Windows, Linux, Unix and Mac systems whilst FTP services are on the menu as well.

Security options include a local user and group database plus support for AD authentication and folder level access control lists. Once arrays have been built a bunch of default folders are created with the Nsync folder used for scheduled appliance-to-appliance backup. Usefully, this can also be used to secure folders on the appliance to an FTP server. A new feature is the option to mount an ISO image and make it available over the network

Performance has seen some improvements but nothing like those delivered by Netgear’s ReadyNAS Pro. CIFS speeds are average at best as copying a 2.52GB video clip between the appliance and a quad-core Xeon Dell PowerEdge 1950 server saw read and write speeds of 38.5MB/sec and 16.5MB/sec. FTP speeds were much better with the FileZilla utility reporting read and write speeds of 51.6MB/sec and 27MB/sec using the same test file.

Thecus now makes a better proposal for workstation backup as the hopelessly inadequate Backup Utility software has been replaced with a copy of FarStone’s DriveClone Pro. This is far superior as it can secure selected files and folders at scheduled intervals, has a snapshot service for disaster recovery and offers drive and partition cloning as well.

The appliance can also be updated with modules and the latest adds IP camera support allowing the appliance to function as a recording system. Note that unlike Synology’s Surveillance Station, you can’t view live feeds and can only take scheduled snapshots from multiple cameras and store them on the appliance. We tested this with an Axis PTZ camera and were able to take snapshots from its live feed at intervals of between a half second and sixty seconds. If you want to disable a recording make sure you copy the snapshots elsewhere first as we found this action automatically deleted the folder on the appliance.

The N4100PRO has benefitted from the extra features and its low cost makes it good value. However, Thecus isn’t keeping up with the fast development pace in this market and similar products from the likes of Synology and Netgear offer a more sophisticated feature set that we think is worth the extra outlay.

Basic specifications

CapacityN/A
Cost per gigabyteN/A
RAID capabilityyes
Wired adapter speed1,000Mbits/sec

Services

FTP server?yes

Connections

Ethernet ports2
USB connection?yes
eSATA interfaceno

Security and administration

Admin support for usersyes
Admin support for groupsyes
Admin support for disk quotasyes
Email alertsyes

Software

Software suppliedFarStone DriveClone Pro

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