ZyXEL NSA210 review
The argument for centralising storage at home is a convincing one. Add a NAS drive to your home network and your files will be accessible 24/7, without you having to keep a noisy, power-hungry PC running. But they can be pricey, a failing ZyXEL aims to exploit with the NSA210.
It’s sold diskless, which makes it ideal for inveterate upgraders with unused SATA hard disks lying around, and for those who don’t have spare storage the £60 exc VAT isn’t too extortionate. With hard disks so cheap these days you can install a new 1TB disk for only £50 more.
Adding a drive is simplicity itself: undo a screw to remove the front panel, slide the disk into the slot and close it up again; then run the starter utility supplied on CD and let the NSA210 do the rest. Despite the budget price, the resulting drive is surprisingly capable.
Log into the NSA210’s admin pages and you’ll discover a cornucopia of tools and utilities. For media, it boasts UPnP and iTunes servers, plus a couple of special tools for uploading files automatically to Flickr and YouTube.
One USB port at the front allows backup to an external drive, while another at the rear lets you connect printers, IP cameras and external storage devices to share. There’s an eSATA port at the rear too, which allows RAID1 mirroring to an external drive. Other useful features include on/off scheduling, a BitTorrent client and an automated FTP uploader.
In addition to all this, the NSA is extendible. Using the drive’s Package Manager tool, you can download and install all sorts of extra applications, from SlimServer to web hosting tools for PHP and MySQL-based sites. It’s a quiet box too, quiet enough that when we installed it on a bedroom shelf we had to strain to hear it from 3m away.
The ZyXEL isn’t particularly quick. Using a 500GB Western Digital hard drive, our read and write tests hit a maximum 15.4MB/sec and 13.5MB/sec respectively for large files and 5MB/sec and 1.9MB/sec respectively for small files. That’s considerably slower than the Buffalo LinkStation Pro LS-XHTL, which transfers files at more than twice this rate.
Neither does it provide the whizzy, slick, consumer experience that the Netgear Stora MS2110 does. What the ZyXEL NSA210 does do is provide a comprehensive set of features in a compact, quiet chassis, at a reasonable price. For those reasons alone, it’s well worth considering.
|Cost per gigabyte||N/A|
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|Default filing system||XFS|
|UPnP media server?||yes|
|Other media servers||iTunes, Squeeze Center|
|HIbernate on idle?||yes|
|Idle power consumption||10W|
|Peak power consumption||26W|
|Dimensions||58 x 196 x 130mm (WDH)|
Security and administration
|Admin support for users||yes|
|Admin support for groups||yes|
|Admin support for disk quotas||yes|
|Software supplied||Memeo backup|