Thecus N4200Eco review

£702
Price when reviewed

Despite its model name, the latest N4200Eco from Thecus is more concerned about improving performance and value than it is about saving the planet. It takes the same chassis as the older N4200Pro model, but replaces its 1.66GHz Atom D510 with a 1.8GHz dual-core D525 processor and beefs up memory to 1GB of faster DDR3.

The N4200Eco is easy on the pocket: a diskless unit costs £349, while the 4TB model on review comes in at a very reasonable £585 exc VAT. The N4200Eco doesn’t support the battery backup module available with the N4200Pro, nor does it have the dual-DOM.

The front panel sports Thecus’ slick OLED panel and the keypad below is for manual RAID and network configuration. A colourful display at the side has status icons for the disks, Gigabit ports and USB copy function.

The setup wizard finds the appliance on the network and provides quick access to the main web console. The smart Ajax-based interface has been improved with a firmware upgrade and is simple to use.

RAID support is good, and for testing we put all four 1TB drives into a RAID5 array that took around six hours to build. The N4200Eco supports IP SANs, and you decide during volume creation the amount of space to set aside for targets, which are also simple to create.

Thecus N4200Eco

Along with extensive client support you have secure FTP services, while access security extends to a local user database plus AD authentication. Thecus also provides a wide range of free update modules with the IP Cam option, adding basic surveillance.

Synology and Qnap are better at this since they both support motion detection and live feeds. The N4200Eco can store only scheduled JPEG snapshots from up to five IP cameras at intervals of between one and 60 seconds.

The download station module can be used by the appliance to retrieve files via BitTorrent, HTTP, FTP or eMule. Along with web server and bi-directional USB copy options, Thecus offers a mail server module that loads PHPXmail.

Thecus includes Acronis’ True Image Personal, which doesn’t support Windows Server. It runs manual backups of files and folders or entire drives as images to the appliance and can create a bootable disaster recovery disk. However, the Personal version is lacking in features so, if you want job scheduling, disk cloning, incremental backups and much more, you’ll have to upgrade.

The faster processor and memory made their presence felt in our real-world speed tests with drag-and-drop copies of a large video clip over Gigabit returning read and write speeds of 81MB/sec and 72MB/sec. FTP operations were slightly faster, with the FileZilla client reporting speeds of 86MB/sec and 76MB/sec. IP SANs were on the money – Iometer showed a high raw read speed of 110MB/sec for a 50GB target.

The N4200Eco is a well-specified, quiet NAS appliance at a low price, and a top performer as well. Businesses won’t be impressed with the backup software, but the list of storage features available goes a long way to make up for this.

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