QNAP Turbo NAS TS-651

 

Introduction

 

QNAP is a Taiwan-based company that specializes in network attached storage (NAS) solutions. They build great hardware, then bundle it with even better software. The enclosure design of the TS-651 is aesthetically pleasing- it has a surprisingly small footprint and easily blends in with my other electronics sitting on the shelf. It measures just 6.89″ high, 10.12″ wide, with a depth of 9.25″. The small design doesn’t sacrifice anything though- this NAS is packing some serious hardware. The front panel has 6 front-facing drive bays and a configurable one-touch-copy front panel USB 3.0 slot for instant flash drive backups. The rear panel has 2 USB 3.0 slots, 2 USB 2.0 slots, 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports, and an HDMI output.

The TS-651 uses DDR3L RAM clocked at 1600 Mhz . There are two memory slots. My unit came with 1GB of RAM installed. It’s easy to upgrade the RAM yourself, and it’s fairly cheap too. You can install up to 8GB of RAM (2 X 4GB) in this NAS.

At center of all this is a CPU with 3-D transistor technology using 22 nanometer process technology. The Intel Celeron J1800 CPU is clocked at 2.41 Ghz (with bursts up to 2.58 Ghz). The CPU maxes out at 10W, and when combined with QNAP’s advanced power management, this results in extremely power efficient hardware. With 6 drives installed it uses about 40W of power. That’s less power than a typical incandescent light bulb uses (60W). In standby mode it uses about 20W of power, and in sleep mode that drops to less than 1W (0.41W). Low power consumption has the added benefit of keeping the noise down during operation, as the fans don’t need to spin up as much to remove excess heat.

The operating system is a rich Linux-based OS that QNAP calls QTS. It’s easy to navigate and use. I didn’t have any problems following the documentation to initially set up the NAS, but it did take a little while to get the feel of QTS itself. The OS boasts a relatively modest number of apps (about 120, of which many are developed by QNAP themselves). To me, this is acceptable, since we’re talking about a NAS and not a full-blown workstation. To improve it’s functionality, QNAP has done an outstanding job of providing cross-platform support- whether it’s baked into the OS or provided through mobile apps. The end result is the same: QTS is compatible with most major client operating systems (Windows, Windows Phone, Linux, Android, macOS, and iOS).

Their hardware and software are top-notch, resulting in a very stable and reliable platform that ensures your data is always available. If you ever do run into problems, QNAP’s North American customer support is more than willing to help.

The newer version of this model is the TS-653A .

 

  • Features
  • Reliability
  • Ease-of-use
  • Price
  • Documentation
  • Developer support

Summary

The QNAP TS-651 Turbo NAS is a feature-packed solution to expanded storage. Whether you're a home user, an avid power user, or a small to medium business, this NAS won't disappoint. It has 6 slots for storage, and can perform online RAID upgrades later on if you decide to change your configuration. This means that you don't have to destroy your data and start over if you want to install bigger hard drives down the road. The NAS runs the Linux-based QTS as its operating system, with available features such as DDNS, VPN, LDAP, DLNA, virtualization, iTunes server, and web server baked right in. The App Center can add even more functionality. QNAP has put substantial effort into the multimedia features, making streaming from the NAS effortless. It supports the myQNAPCloud DDNS service so you can easily access your data, even if your public IP address changes. QNAP delivers this using energy efficient hardware and advanced power management features that use a fraction of the power of a PC server. Mobile hasn't been left out either. QNAP has apps for just about everything you'll find on the NAS- Qmanager, Qsync, Qfile, Qvideo, Qmusic, and Qphoto. Apps are available for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.

4.2

 



Setup

 

QNAP makes the process of setting up a NAS pretty simple. My TS-651 has been going for years now and I have no desire to reinitialize it just to provide a screenshot tutorial.  So this is going to be a little different from most of my other how-to articles.

If you bought a diskless version of the NAS, the first thing you need to do is install your hard drives. The hard drive trays release by lifting up on the latch and slide out from the front. Install each hard drive using the included hardware. All 6 slots will support either an HDD or SSD. Pay attention to the SATA connectors on the backplane and align the drives the same way. If you bought your own RAM, now is the time to install it. Connect the NAS to your network and power it up.

The NAS will require a network connection to complete the setup. There are two different ways to complete setup:

  • Cloud Key. If the NAS is allowed to access the internet, use this method. There will be a label either on the back of the NAS or on the packaging that it came with that has a “Cloud Key” and a QR code. You can scan the QR code with your mobile device or use a browser by going to QNAP’s NAS installation website . Follow the on-screen instructions then enter your Cloud Key.
  • Use Qfinder Pro. If the NAS doesn’t have internet access, use this method from another internet-connected computer on your network. You can download the free utility here . It’s available for Windows and Mac. Install and run it. Qfinder will automatically scan your network to find the NAS, then push the downloaded firmware to it.

QNAP has a video tutorial here detailing the setup process using Qfinder Pro.

What Can It Do?

 

The QNAP TS-651 is sort of a jack-of-all-trades. While it’s marketed as a Turbo NAS, it has the capability to serve in many other non-storage capacities, from server roles to multimedia access.

Let’s explore these key features in more detail.

Storage

 

First and foremost, the TS-651 is a network attached storage device. You have 6 bays available to cram as much storage into it as you can afford. Hard drives can be configured as single disks, JBOD, or RAID 0/1/5/6/10. Additionally, you can assign drives as hot spares.

  • Single disk mode. Each drive operates independently. If the drive crashes, you lose all data on that disk. The total capacity of the hard drives can be used.
  • JBOD. JBOD stands for “just a bunch of disks”. It’s simply a collection of disks that looks like one hard drive to the operating system. There is no redundancy. The total capacity of the hard drives can be used.

*RAID will always use the size of the smallest disk in the array. So if you have a 3TB drive and a 4TB drive, RAID will treat them as both being 3TB in capacity.

  • RAID 0. Referred to as striping, it’s mostly used for increased performance. Requires at least 2 disks. There is no redundancy. The total capacity is equal to (the smallest disk size) × (the number of hard drives).
  • RAID 1. Referred to as mirroring, it’s used to duplicate data between two drives. Requires at least 2 disks. This provides redundancy. The total capacity of the array is equal to the capacity of the smallest drive.
  • RAID 5. Referred to a striping with parity. Requires at least 3 disks. Parity (data duplication) is distributed across all drives, so if one drive fails, the other disks can rebuild the array when a new disk is installed. Read performance is great, but write performance takes a hit due to the parity overhead. Provides redundancy against a single drive failure. If all drives are the same size, you’ll lose one drive’s worth of storage space. Otherwise, the total capacity of the array is equal to the (smallest disk size) × (the number of hard drives  1).
  • RAID 6. Referred to as striping with double parity. Requires at least 4 disks. Double parity is distributed across all drives, meaning you can lose 2 hard drives and still have the ability to rebuild the array once those drives are replaced. Slower write performance than RAID 5. If all drives are the same size, you’ll lose two drive’s worth of storage space. Otherwise, the total capacity of the array is equal to (the smallest disk size) × (the number of hard drives − 2).
  • RAID 10. Sometimes called RAID1+0, it’s a combination of RAID 1 and RAID 0 (striping of mirrored drives). Requires at least 4 disks. Provides better performance than RAID5. Redundancy depends. You can lose one drive from each mirror and still be ok. If you lose two drives from a single mirror, then the array will fail. If all drives are the same size, you lose half your storage space. Otherwise, the total capacity of the array is equal to (the smallest disk size) × (the number of hard drives ÷ 2).
  • Hot spares. A hot spare is a designated drive that is inserted into the NAS, but it’s not used for storage. If a RAID 5/6/10 configuration fails, the hot spare will be added to that RAID configuration automatically and allow the rebuilding process to start.

I use 6 3TB Western Digital Red drives in a RAID 5 array, giving me a total capacity of 15TB that are usable (13.6TB after formatting). What if I wanted to upgrade the size of my disks to 6TB each? No problem, the TS-651 is capable of online RAID expansion. What if I wanted to change my RAID configuration after I upgraded my disks? That’s not a problem either. QTS allows for online RAID level migration too.

Having more storage available is always nice, but it’s expensive too. But realistically, what works today may not work 5 years down the road. The flexibility a QNAP NAS offers can help you get the most out of your investment. Buy a little more storage than you need right now, then upgrade later on without having to destroy your data in the process. The price of costly high-capacity hard drives typically decline over time. The 3TB drives I bought 3½ years ago have seen a 21% reduction in price.

There are other ways you could expand storage too. Of course, you could always add another NAS to the network. QNAP also sells USB-connected expansion enclosures like this one .


The NAS gives you 6 bays of storage space to configure however you want.




With online storage comes administration. You will need to set up users and folder/file permissions. For people who plan on using the NAS at home, this kind of administration is pretty simple. You log into the web interface using the built-in admin account, create some users, then pick which folders each user will be able to access.



If you can check a box, you can set user permissions in QTS.




Once you’re done setting up the admin side of things, you’ll find yourself with this massive amount of storage on the network. Great! You’ll probably drag and drop some important documents to a shared folder using Windows File Explorer, maybe start backing up some photos the same way. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

But wait! This NAS is so much more than a few folders on the network. QNAP provides some great storage-related utilities.

Qsync is by far my favorite. Qsync functions a lot like Microsoft’s OneDrive. It’s a folder on your hard drive and whatever you put in there, gets transferred to the NAS. If you install Qsync on a second client, it will sync with the NAS too. So you can always be sure you’ll have your data when you need it, even offline. This works great for desktop/laptop file synchronization. Along with Qsync comes the management interface on the NAS- Qsync Central. Here an administrator can control Qsync access to shared folders, create team folders, share folders and links, and restore deleted files or previous versions of files. You can choose to let users customize their own Qsync clients or apply global settings from the NAS.

Another nice Windows utility is NetBak Replicator.  You can easily backup PCs to your NAS with real-time synchronization and scheduled backups of your drives. Never worry about data loss again.

QFile is the mobile app for accessing your files on the go.


 

Server Functions

 

Although it’s a NAS, it’s not just  a NAS. It’s really more like a mini server. In fact, this NAS can fulfill many roles that are usually assigned to dedicated servers. Besides being a file server, the NAS could also be:

  • a VPN server
  • a proxy server
  • a web server
  • an LDAP server
  • a backup server
  • a RADIUS server
  • an iTunes server
  • a print server
  • a DLNA media server
  • a Plex media server
  • a camera server/security DVR
  • a virtual machine server
  • a download server
  • a time server

It can also act as a domain controller, or be joined to a domain. It has domain authentication integration, including Microsoft Active Directory. Whether you plan on using the NAS at home or for a business, QNAP has included a multitude of useful features that can serve a wide audience.

Multimedia

 

QNAP heavily advertises the multimedia features of QTS to entice home users to “create their own personal cloud”. Why trust Google, Microsoft, Apple, or Amazon to protect your personal data when you can store it locally on your own network but still have access to it from anywhere in the world? This might have been fine had QNAP pioneered the idea of online, always accessible storage. But services with ever-expanding free storage limits (and modest pricing plans if you need more), like Google Drive and Dropbox, have already been engrained into society. The personal cloud idea alone may be a tough sell at the price point of a NAS.

However, many users who bought a NAS because they needed massive storage space (myself included) welcome the provided multimedia features. Photo Station, Video Station, and Music Station are QNAP’s solution to multimedia consumption. Each has an app available for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone for mobile streaming.

  • Photo Station. Photo Station gives users a way to manage their digital photo collections. It has some nifty features, such as Smart Album and facial recognition. There are two different views: Gallery and Manage. Gallery allows you to easily view photos and share them to social media, while Manage is geared more toward sorting them into albums and collections.

  • Video Station. Video Station is all about organizing your videos into collections such as Movies, TV Shows, Music Videos, Home Videos, or Karaoke. There’s also Uncategorized for everything else.

  • Music Station. Music Station has two different views as well: Spotlight and Manage. Spotlight gives you generic categories such as Random 100, Recently Added, Frequently Played, Top Rated, and Never Played. Manage lets you break down your music collection into more traditional categories: Songs, Artist, Album, and Genre. You can search folders and create private collections from this view, as well as add internet radio stations by URL or by browsing TuneIn stations.

For videos, the TS-651 is capable of on-the-fly transcoding to maximize device compatibility. On-the-fly transcoding allows you to convert and stream a movie at the same time. The NAS is capable of hardware acceleration to assist in the transcode process. The NAS also supports offline transcoding, either manually or by setting up an automatic transcoding folder for a hands-off approach.

Note: Plex is available in the App Center! It will work fine if you transcode your videos ahead of time. Plex uses a software implementation of on-the-fly transcoding that needs a lot of CPU horsepower. A Celeron processor isn’t the best choice if that’s what you’re looking to do with this NAS.

If you find that you don’t have the option to stream transcoded video (240p, 360p, 480p, 720p, 1080p menu missing) in the Qvideo app, you need to apply the correct user permissions in Video Station (see this post for more information).

Photo Station lets you tag photos using facial recognition. To set up facial recognition, click here.

You’ll get a prompt to install the Photo Station Extension app. Click the link.

You’ll go to the Media Add-on tab of Multimedia Management. Click the Install button.

Once it’s installed, if you go back to Photo Station and try to click the Facial Recognition icon again, you will see this message.

Switch to Manage view. Click the menu (3 dots), then select Settings.

Go to the Face Detection tab. Select a folder to store the face tags, then click Save.

QTS will start scanning your photos for faces! You may have to manually tag the photos if the software can’t find a face match.

Gallery mode won’t let you tag faces (you can only view the tags here). Go to Manage view to add the tags to the photos.

One other multimedia feature is what QNAP calls HybridDesk (HD) Station. HD Station allows you to use an HDMI cable to hook the NAS up to an HDTV or HDMI-compatible computer monitor. This means you could easily make the NAS your home theater PC too. In fact, the popular Kodi is available as an HD Station application! QNAP’s vision for HD Station doesn’t appear to be limited to just multimedia either. QNAP is also marketing HD Station as a way to convert the NAS into a desktop/workstation with applications such as Chrome, Firefox, Facebook, and Libre Office.

Other Features

 

Built-in DDNS (QNAP’s myQNAPCloud service) always makes sure your NAS is accessible by keeping track of your public IP address and linking it to your QNAP domain (my-NAS-Name.myqnapcloud.com). This also allows you to access other resources on your network that have been port forwarded through your router.

Virtualization Station allows you to create, import, and export Unix, Linux, Android, and Windows virtual machines. It provides a centralized management interface to manage all of your VMs, making snapshots, backups, and restoration very easy. The Celeron-powered NAS does struggle running Windows 10 Pro (haven’t tried Unix, Linux or Android), so you definitely wouldn’t want to run any high-demand programs on it. But it would be the perfect solution for developers who need to test their applications against various operating systems or make sure their websites are compatible with a different OS’s browser.





Surveillance Station lets you turn your NAS into a security camera DVR. Although this works for just a couple cameras, it quickly bogs down the TS-651 as you add more high-definition cameras, especially recording at high frame rates. Additionally, you need to have a license for each camera. Two licenses are included for free, but the cost for additional cameras quickly adds up. Each additional license costs $59.99! For this reason, I highly recommend Blue Iris.

The App Center lets you extend the functionality of your NAS with apps like Plex, IFTTT Agent, and even WordPress! HD Station contains its own apps- they must be installed and updated from within HD Station (there’s even separate applications for Photo Station, Video Station, and Music Station).

Notifications can keep you up-to-date on the status of your NAS. You can even subscribe to an SMS service such as Clickatell to receive alerts on your cell phone. If you don’t want to pay for SMS/MMS alerts, most major carriers in the U.S. provide an email as a text service. Just send an email to the appropriate address (assuming your cell number is 123-456-1111):

  • T-Mobile: 1234561111@tmomail.net
  • Virgin Mobile: 1234561111@vmobl.com
  • Sprint: 1234561111@messaging.sprintpcs.com
  • Verizon: 1234561111@vtext.com
  • U.S. Cellular: 1234561111@email.uscc.net
  • AT&T: 1234561111@txt.att.net
  • AT&T MMS: 1234561111@mms.att.net




Data Protection

 

The NAS provides easy backup solutions to ensure you are always protected against loss of data. Whether you need to backup the TS-651 itself, a Windows PC, or a Mac, QNAP has you covered. Mobile apps give you the power to extend some backup functionality to your mobile devices too. The following data protection options are found in Backup Station unless otherwise stated:

  • Backup system settings. You can use the Backup/Restore feature in Control Panel to protect your NAS user accounts, network configuration, and other system settings (this does not backup hard drive data). This is the only option that backs up the firmware itself.
  • Snapshot. Creates a metadata image of a NAS volume or LUN. Allows you to restore the entire system or individual files and folders. Access snapshots from Control Panel → Storage Manager → Snapshot. A nifty (and useful) feature of Snapshot is that it allows Windows users to restore previous versions directly from File Explorer by right-clicking on the file!
  • Snapshot Replica. You can replicate a volume or LUN to a remote QNAP NAS Snapshot Vault, as long as the remote NAS supports snapshots. Snapshots can then be cloned and used as data drives on the remote NAS.
  • Rsync. Provides scheduled remote data replication from the NAS to an offsite Rsync server. You can choose to replicate any shared folder(s) that you have access to. The NAS can also function as an Rsync server. Rsync only copies files if they’ve changed. You can use this for NAS to NAS backups. If you use a Windows Rsync client such as Acrosync or Delta Copy, you can use Rsync to backup from a Windows PC to the NAS.
  • NAS to NAS. QNAP-specific implementation of Rsync. You’ll need to have one NAS set up as an Rsync server. Copies all files, whether they’ve changed or not. Only works with QNAP devices.
  • RTRR. RTRR is “real-time remote replication”. You can backup the NAS to a remote server, or backup a remote server to the NAS. RTRR also supports 2-way synchronization between folder pairs. This is a great option for NAS to NAS backup. RTRR also works over FTP, which means you can set up an FTP server on a Windows PC and use it for replication too.
  • NetBak Replicator.  QNAP’s Windows utility. It supports network backup from a PC to the NAS. You can backup or synchronize drives and folders. It supports Instant Backup (real-time synchronization), Automatic Backup (real-time synchronization using incremental backup), and Scheduled Backup (runs a backup hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly, according to your settings).
  • Time Machine Backup. QTS has native support for backing up Macs. Time Machine must be enabled before the Mac can be set up.
  • Cloud Backup. QNAP supports backing up to Microsoft Azure, Amazon S3, Google Drive, Dropbox, and many more.
  • External Drive. Although most people probably chose a NAS over an external drive for extreme storage space and reliability, QNAP still gives you the option to backup to an external drive, or backup an external drive to the NAS. You can backup volumes or folder pairs using this option.
  • USB One-Touch-Copy. The front panel USB of the TS-651 can be configured as a regular USB 3.0 port, or used as a one-touch-copy port. This can be from the USB device to the NAS, or the NAS to the USB device. Once configured, insert a flash drive, press the copy button, and wait for the operation to complete.
  • Qfile. I use the Android Qfile app to automatically backup my photos from a Samsung S7 Edge to my NAS. This works extremely well, both on WiFi and cellular data. There’s an option to choose just WiFi.
  • Other Software. There’s tons of paid and open-source software out there for managing folder pairs and syncing data between two devices. VVEngine is good one.


Home Screen

 

The first thing you see when you log in is a customizable home screen. Each user has their own home screen, just like on a Windows desktop. You can drag and drop apps onto the home screen, as well as rearrange them. You can customize the wallpaper, change user properties, and view overall system health with the click of a button. See the slideshow below for more information:


Slideshow- Tap or click to view

Click the menu icon in the upper-left. This allows for quick navigation to commonly used features, or you can drag and drop any of the apps or applets to the home screen.

Click the person icon to open the Options menu for the logged in user. You can edit the user’s Profile by adding an E-mail address and phone number.

Wallpaper lets you customize the background.

If you enable 2-step Verification, you’ll need to scan a QR code and add it to your authenticator app. Google and Microsoft authenticator apps are supported.

Easily change your password from the home screen.

Quickly add your email account for notifications.

Miscellaneous gives you several more options to customize your QTS experience.



Control Panel

 

To get a better idea of what the NAS is capable of, I’ve broken up walkthroughs of the Control Panel into the same categories QTS uses: System, Privilege, Network & File Services, and Applications.

System

 

System lets you change the settings for web interface ports, time & language, RAID & snapshot configuration, NAS security, power management, notifications, firmware updates,  firmware backup/restore, and USB printers & connected UPS. You can also view system status information, system logs, and resource monitor here.


Slideshow- Tap or click to view

We’ll start with System and General Settings.

On the System Administration tab you can set your server name as well as the ports for web access. If you’re already using a port on your network, such as 443 (HTTPS), QNAP makes it easy to reconfigure the NAS to use another port.

You can set your time zone, date/time format, and time synchronization settings here.

Enable/disable daylight saving time.

Select your language for FTP and file access for operating systems and programs that don’t support Unicode.

The Login Screen tab allows you to customize the web-based login page.

Click on Storage Manager.

You’ll see a new window open and Overview will be selected under the Dashboard heading. QNAP gives you a lot of system information in graphical format. Each hard drive can be selected for detailed information. We’ll click hard drive 1.

The Summary tab shows basic (but useful) information such as hard drive model number, capacity, and runtime hours.

Disk Information gives you more detailed drive information, including serial number, in case you need it for a warranty claim. No need to eject the drive!

SMART Information will show exactly why your drive is alarming. Again, useful for working with the manufacturer for a warranty claim.

If you’re having trouble with a drive, you have two options to test it- rapid test (spot-checking the disk) and complete test (full surface scan of the disk).

Settings gives you the option of reporting temperature alarms and scheduling regular disk scans. There is a separate schedule for the rapid test…

…and another for the complete test. You can choose to enable one or both schedules for each independent disk based on a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule.

Utilization tracks disk usage over a period of time. You can view by volume…

…or by storage pool.

You also have the option to change the timeline’s view for accurate storage capacity tracking over time.

Next is Disks/VJBOD under the Storage heading. Click Disk Info.

You’ll see some of the same information we saw earlier.

Clicking Disk Health also opens the same screen we saw earlier.

You can either click on the list on the left or on the drive bay graphic to select another disk.

The Action dropdown allows you to scan the disk or to flash an LED to help you locate the drive.

The RAID Group dropdown shows which RAID Group each drive is assigned and will give you more information about the RAID itself- capacity, type, disk members, etc.

VJBOD gives you the option to add an iSCSI LUN from another QNAP NAS and use it like it’s a local disk.

Storage Space gives you an overview of your storage pool(s) as well as any volume(s) within it. Click on Manage.

Here you’ll see an overview of your storage pool as well as a graphical view. This is extremely useful information if your NAS alarms on storage capacity.

If you continue scrolling down, you’ll see your RAID group for this storage pool.

Click the Manage dropdown. The first option is to Replace Disks One by One. This allows you to increase the capacity of your RAID (by adding larger drives) without having to rebuild the entire RAID. This is an online upgrade and data will still be accessible!

Enable Bitmap will result in a small performance degradation under normal RAID operations, but it increases the performance of a RAID rebuild, making the rebuild process faster.

RAID Scrubbing verifies data integrity for RAIDs 5 and 6, lowering the chances of data corruption.

Click the Actions dropdown and select Set Threshold.

This is the alarm setpoint for the storage pool’s capacity. Once the threshold is met, the NAS will sound an audible alarm. Click Apply or Cancel to go back to the previous screen.

Next is Set Snapshot Reserved.

Snapshots are a block-based backup method that allows for quick and easy restoration of files, folders, or system state. You can set the reserved space to 5%, 10%, or disable it to use all unallocated space for snapshots.

Cache Acceleration gives you the option of using one or more SSDs to increase storage read/write performance.

Next is Snapshot settings. Here you’ll get a quick overview of your data volume and any existing snapshots, as well as the currently selected schedule.

Selecting your data volume will enable the buttons to perform an action.

Click Snapshot Manager.

On the left you’ll see a timeline of any snapshots recently taken. You have granular controls to select which folders you want to restore, or you can restore the entire snapshot.

Click the gear icon for the global snapshot settings.

This option will allow you to see each shared folder’s snapshot contents in File Station, Windows Explorer, etc. This will allow you manipulate the files or folders in the snapshot.

Now’s a good time to discuss Storage Manager’s global options.

Click on Edit for Disk Health.

Disk Health global settings. Here you have various options that you can apply to all hard drives.

Snapshot global settings. Choose to overwrite old data or stop performing snapshots.

Space Reclamation and SSD Trim global settings for SSD drives.

RAID Scrubbing global settings. Disable RAID scrubbing or adjust the schedule.

If you have any USB-connected external drives, USB printers, or a USB-connected UPS, they will show up here under External Device.

The iSCSI service is disabled by default. To set an iSCSI target, you will need to enable the service, point to the target, then configure it.

Remote Disk allows you to access iSCSI targets on the network as a virtual disk.

Go back to Control Panel and click on Security. Security Level uses an IP-based list to allow or deny connections to the NAS. You can set single IP addresses or a range.

Enable Network Access Protection helps mitigate intrusions by allowing you block an IP for a set period of time (or forever) in the event of repeated unsuccessful login attempts.

Manage your NAS’ certificates for verifying your server when connecting over SSL.

Password Policy forces users to use a specific combination of characters for passwords and prevents them from using their user name. This helps to enhance password security.

You can also force the user to change their password on a regular basis.

Select Hardware and the General tab. You have various hardware options here. One important setting to note is Enable configuration reset switch if you have small children that like to press buttons. This can wipe your NAS users and settings if left enabled.

Choose the conditions that will cause an audible alert.

You can allow the system to control the fan or simply set a temperature range.

Go to Power settings. When EuP Mode Configuration is enabled, it disables Wake-on-Lan, AC power resumption, and power schedule settings. It’s disabled by default.

Wake-on-LAN allows you to remotely power on the server from a shutdown state using a magic packet.

Power Recovery lets you choose how the server responds to a power outage.

You can enable a schedule to turn your NAS on and off, put it to sleep, or restart it.

Notification allows you to set up E-mail alerts for Warnings, Errors, and Firmware Updates. There’s a wizard that will walk you through the SMTP Server setup (at least for the Gmail option).

You can send alerts to two E-mail recipients.

You can also send yourself a text alert, although you’ll need a paid SMS service-provider.

You’ll need to input your country code and cell phone number too.

If you have an iPhone or Android phone, you can also install the app to receive push alerts.

Choose your alert type. You can also manage your devices from here too.

Firmware Update allows you to automatically check for updates. If this option is selected you’ll be nagged every time you login that a firmware update is available. You can also use the Check for Update button to manually check for newer firmware.

If you prefer even more manual labor, you can download and apply the firmware updates yourself from an image file.

Use Backup/Restore to, well, backup and restore NAS system settings.

If something has gone completely wrong or you just want to start over reconfiguring your NAS, you have several options.

Options for configuring External Devices. If you have a USB printer attached, you can configure it here.

If your NAS is connected to a UPS, you can configure the settings here.

Additionally, the following fields will populate containing useful UPS info, including battery capacity and estimated run time.

Next click on System Status.

A new window will open up. System Information gives you a lot of useful info about your system.

Network Status will give you typical IP configuration information.

System Service uses “LEDs” to easily show you which services are enabled.

Finally, Hardware Information will give you usable information about your NAS’ specs and overall health.

Click on System Logs.

Again, a new window will open up. System Event Logs will show you all system events (information, warnings, and errors) that the NAS recorded (antivirus scans, media library events, app events, shared folder events, etc). You can filter this view for easier record management.

System Connection Logs will show login/logout events, and even certain file access events.

Online Users will show currently logged in users and their device’s IP address.

If you really want to keep long-term records, you can enable the syslog server to save the events to a remote server. Probably overkill in a home environment, but may be useful for SOHO or SMB.

The final System setting is Resource Monitor.

Another window will pop up. You start on the Overview tab. QNAP gives you so much information in graphical form it’s hard not to be impressed.

System Resource shows trends for CPU, Memory, and Network.

Memory tab.

Network tab.

Storage Resource. Volume/LUN Activity has two dropdowns for even more information (IOPS/Latency and Throughput, as well as selecting between Volumes and LUNs).

Pool Activity. Useful if you have more than one volume in your storage pool.

RAID Activity.

Disk Activity. Allows you trend and monitor individual disks.

Storage Space breaks down what’s eating up space in the volume, shows how much volume space has been used, and the total capacity.

Processes breaks down each process, showing whether it’s active, how much memory it’s using, and who’s using it.



Privilege

 

Privilege lets you administer users, user groups, shared folders, and configure domain-related functions.


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The next icon opens the Edit Account Profile window.

There’s several editable fields. The Disable this account won’t be active if you’re logged as the user you are editing.

Next is Edit User Group.

This is about as simple as it gets, but more complex setups will probably need more user groups.

The next icon is Edit Shared Folder Permission.

This is about as simple as a UI can get for assigning user permissions. It’s very easy to add and remove permissions for individual shared folders.

Last you have Edit Application Privilege.

As with user permissions, you can see how simple it is to grant or revoke access to services and applications.

Creating a new user is easy too.

Click the Create button and select Create a User from the dropdown.

Name and password are the only required fields. Minimum password length must be 6 characters and conform to your password policy. You can also add a user’s photo, phone number, and email.

You can also assign the user group from this screen, as well as shared folder permissions. It’s very easy to manage users in QTS.

Assign the user’s services and application privileges if you want to, then click Create to finalize the new user.

User Groups have already been covered, so moving on to Shared Folders. Under the Shared Folder tab, you’ll see a listing of all shared folders on the NAS with several Action buttons. The first icon is the Edit Properties action.

You can easily set or remove each shared folder as a Media Folder. This means it will be part of the Media Library (more on that later). If multiple users will be accessing files in the shared folder, uncheck Lock File (Oplocks). If you want to use the folder with Qsync, ensure Enable sync on this shared folder is checked.

The next icon opens the Edit Shared Folder Permission window.

Here you can go through the list of shared folders on the left and edit user permissions (Read Only, Read/Write, Deny Access). You can also add or remove user access as needed. Also notice there’s a Guest Access Right dropdown. The default is Deny access, but there are also Read only and Full access options if you need them.

If you needed to update the table, click the Refresh button.

If you need more granular control, you can enable Advanced Folder Permissions. This will allow you to assign individual access rights to subfolders based on user or user group assignments. If you check Enable Windows ACL support, you can add, modify, and remove permissions from Windows Explorer.

Folder Aggregation is enabled by default. If you have more than one NAS, you can create a Portal Folder on a single NAS that will contain all of the shared folders from the other machines too. This helps simplify administration.

A quota is a limit on how much disk space each user is allotted. It’s disabled by default.

More for business environments, this NAS can function in a variety of roles. It can be joined to an AD domain or act as an LDAP server, or it can function as a domain controller for creating users and user authentication.

To use the NAS as a domain controller, it must be enabled here. The first NAS that creates the domain becomes the domain controller.

The Backup/Restore function here backs up the domain controller settings and associated database.



Network & File Services

 

Network allows you to configure IP address/subnet mask/default gateway, DHCP server, virtualization of network adapters, external proxy & DDNS, network file services, Telnet/SSH access, SNMP, service discovery protocols, FTP, and the network recycle bin.


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A new window will open to the Overview settings, showing a graphical representation of how the network adapters are set to function.

Interfaces let’s you configure your network adapters the way you need them. Click the information icon.

You’ll see an overview of that network adapter’s configuration.

Click the edit icon to open the adapter’s network settings.

The IPv4 tab may look familiar since these are necessary settings for any network adapter to function. If you enable Obtain IP address settings automatically via DHCP, your IP address will change. Unless you use DHCP reservation or DHCP static mappings, choose a static IP address.

You can also configure the NAS to be part of a VLAN.

Click on DNS Server.

You have the option of either automatically obtaining your DNS servers or manually setting them. If you enabled Obtain IP address settings automatically via DHCP in the adapter settings, you will also have the option to Obtain DNS server address automatically.

Port Trunking combines two or more network adapters, and depending on the mode, will attempt to balance them to maximize throughput. It also provides for fault tolerance in case one adapter fails.

Click Add.

To use port trunking, you will need a minimum of two network adapters. Select them both if you only have two. You also have the option to enable Warn me if a network cable is disconnected from the trunking group. Click Next.

Balance-rr (Round Robin): Transmits packets in sequential order, but may cause network congestion by needing to retransmit out of order packets. Needs a switch that supports static trunking. Provides both load balancing and fault tolerance.

Active Backup: Fault tolerance only (failover), no load balancing. It only uses one interface at a time. If one fails, the other takes over. No special switch required.

Balance-tlb (Adaptive Transmit Load Balancing): Outgoing traffic is distributed by the current load on each interface, incoming traffic is received by the active interface. Provides fault tolerance and load balancing. No special switch required.

Balance-alb (Adaptive load balancing): Same as balance-tlb, but also balances incoming traffic. Provides fault tolerance and load balancing. No special switch required.

Select your connection type, then click Next.

Select your method of port trunking, then click Apply.

IPv6 is disabled by default. To enable it, click the IPv6 button.

Check the box to enable it.

If you use a USB Wi-Fi adapter, you can configure it on this tab.

Click on Virtual Switch. QNAP has put together a nice presentation about why you might want to use it and can explain it far better than I.

OK. Now you have an idea of why you might want to use a virtual switch. Realistically, most home users will want to use a virtual switch to provide networking for a virtual machine (VM). Given this Turbo NAS only has an Intel Celeron processor, it’s possible to run a Windows 10 Pro VM, but it gets extremely slow with any kind of heavy load on it.

I already had this adapter set up from messing around with Virtualization Station. If you click the Add button and choose Advanced Mode, the settings will be similar. I’m just going to click Edit here.

First you will need to choose an adapter. This adapter will then be reserved for Virtualization Station.

Select how the virtual switch will get its IP address. Click Next.

Choose your settings. In this example the virtual switch will have direct access to my network’s router to provide connectivity for the VM, so I don’t want either option.

Once you are satisfied with your settings, click Apply. That’s it. You now have a configured virtual switch that can be used to run a VM.

This NAS can also function as a DHCP server. Click the Add button.

Choose an adapter then click Next.

Be careful here. It’s generally not a good idea to have two DHCP servers running on the same network. For home use, your router will probably be the DHCP server for your network. If you know what you’re doing and want your NAS to be your DHCP server for whatever reason, then proceed. Click Next after making a selection.

Max lease time is 30 days. Click More Settings.

You probably won’t need any of these settings in a home environment but small businesses might. Click Apply to create the DHCP server.

If you plan on directly connecting the NAS to the internet, you can configure the system default gateway here.

Select Network Access. Service Binding allows you select which network service or application runs on which network adapter.

Proxy allows you connect the NAS to a proxy server. This does NOT make the NAS a proxy server. You will need the Proxy Server app for that.

DDNS lets you configure an external DDNS account. Fill out the fields using the information your provider gave you when you signed up.

Next click on Win/Mac/NFS. Here you can enable/disable file services needed for a Windows PC to connect to the NAS. Click on Advanced Options.

Home users probably won’t need to worry about any of these options, but they are available if you need them.

Allows Macs to connect to the NAS.

NFS is generally found in Unix and some Linux distributions. Windows/Mac users don’t need to worry about NFS.

Telnet is an insecure plaintext protocol and is disabled by default. SSH is encrypted and is highly recommended. Only administrators can remotely login using SSH.

If you need SNMP you can enable it here.

uPnP Discovery Service allows Windows and Android devices to discover your NAS over the network.

Bonjour is a network discovery protocol for Mac and iOS devices.

FTP allows you to connect an FTP client, such as FileZilla, to the NAS.

FTP continued. You can set the max number of connections and monitor any current FTP sessions.

Advanced gives you a few more FTP options.

Network Recycle Bin creates an @Recycle folder in each shared folder. If you delete something, it goes in the @Recycle folder for the period of time you specify here. Common temp file extensions are excluded and will be permanently deleted.



Applications

 

Applications lets you choose options for HybridDesk Station, multimedia access, and antivirus. You can also set up other optional features such as an iTunes server, DLNA media server, web server, LDAP server, SQL server, syslog server, RADIUS server, TFTP server, and NTP server.


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HD Station has its own applications that must be installed if you want to use them.

To install an application, find the one you want and click on the Install link.

iTunes Server allows you to stream your music collection locally on the network. You can also port forward the iTunes server port on your router and connect to your music collection while away from home. Click the link.

The iTunes server is powered by Firefly. The server status page allows you to start/stop the service as well as perform a scan of the Multimedia folder for music.

smart playlists will show you any available playlists and how many songs have been added to each.

The configuration is pretty much already set up, unless you want to change your music folder. The admin password will be shown in clear text. Click Show advanced config.

You’ll instantly notice that you have a lot more options now. The most important thing here is if you want to change the port number.

Show advanced config settings continued.

Once you’re done changing the settings, click Save to apply them. iOS can natively connect to the iTunes server using the Home Sharing option, but Android users will need to download an app such as DAAP in the Play Store.

DLNA Media Server lets you stream to DLNA-compliant devices such as A/V receivers, Blu-Ray players, and computer media players. You must have the Media Library enabled to use this feature. Click the link.

You’ll be taken to the Media Library tab in Multimedia Management. If you see Deactivate Media Library the media library is already enabled.

To view the Advanced Settings you will need the media streaming add-on. You should get a prompt to install it when you enable the DLNA server.

A new web page will open. Here you can change the default port. Click Apply All to save.

Choose your default display settings for photos, music, and videos.

To allow new devices on your network to access the DLNA server, ensure Enable sharing for new media receivers automatically is checked. Note you can set the default menu style and user profile for each device.

Again, you will need the Media Streaming add-on to stream to networked devices. DLNA will not work correctly without this app.

In Windows File Explorer, click on Network. Under Media Devices, you should see your NAS. Right-click and select Open Media Player.

Windows Media Player will open. Under Other Libraries you should see your NAS.

If the Media Streaming add-on service is not running or the app is not installed, you won’t see your NAS and won’t be able to stream media through the network. Keep in mind this only affects streaming media over the network, not file access.

The Overview tab in Multimedia Management gives you a quick rundown of what the media library can do.

We’ve already seen the Media Library tab to verify the media library is enabled, but you can also see the status and change the scan settings too.

Media Folder allows you to select which types of media each folder will display in Photo Station, Music Station, and Video Station. Note that if you elected to make a shared folder a media folder under Edit Properties in Privilege → Shared Folders, you won’t be able to uncheck all 3 boxes (you will need to remove the shared folder as a media folder).

Media Add-on allows you to extend the functionality of the media library. For instance, the Photo Station Extension is required for facial recognition features in Photo Station.

On-the-fly Transcoding allows to convert and stream movies at the same time so you don’t need to convert movies separately for TVs, phones, tablets, etc. You will need to assign user permissions in Video Station.

Background Transcoding allows you to convert videos ahead of time to limit high CPU usage if multiple users will be accessing the same files.

Finally, you can add media folders to an Auto Transcoding Folder to automatically transcode video files as you add them.

You can run your own website from the NAS using the built-in Web Server functionality.

Additional Web Server settings.

Virtual Host allows you to host multiple websites. Each website will get its own folder.

WebDAV is an extension of HTTP that allows you to remotely access and manage shared folders. You will need to set up WebDAV permissions in Privilege → Shared Folders before connecting.

Go to Privilege → Shared Folders → Edit Shared Folder Permission. Use the Select permission type: dropdown and select WebDAV access to set a user’s permissions.

LDAP Server will let you create a directory for user and group management and can be used with Active Directory. You can use it to simplify logging in to multiple NAS devices on your network.

If you plan on using the NAS for a website, the TS-651 also has built-in support for SQL Server. Note the variant used is MariaDB.

If you need to receive system logs from a remote NAS/computer, you can enable the syslog server. Don’t forget to enable the remote QNAP NAS as a syslog client under System → System Logs → Syslog Client Management.

Allows you to apply filters to make sifting through system logs easier.

A web-based viewer for viewing logs.

QTS provides antivirus protection using ClamAV. Overview allows you to enable/disable this protection.

Additionally, you can change the update frequency or manually update the virus definitions yourself. Any quarantined viruses will show up at the bottom.

Any jobs in progress will show up here. This is also where you can edit the antivirus scans.

To do so, stop the scan if it’s in progress.

Click the Edit icon.

Folders lets you give the scan job a name and select which folders on the NAS you want to scan.

Schedule lets you control how often an antivirus scan occurs.

If you don’t want to perform a full scan every time, use Filter to perform a quick scan or exclude files and folders you don’t want to include in the scan.

Options lets you set the maximum file size to be scanned.

Actions lets you choose what to do if the scan does find a virus. You can also configure email alerts here. click OK to save your changes.

Reports gives you the option of how long to keep the scan logs. If you want to keep archived logs for a longer time, enable Archive logs after expiration and choose the folder to save them in. If you have any infected files, you can download the report to view it.

Quarantine lets you decide how to handle infected files by either restoring or deleting them.

A RADIUS Server allows you to improve wireless security by providing encryption from a device to your wireless router using WPA/WPA2 Enterprise security. This may be overkill for a home environment.

If you decide to use RADIUS, you’ll need to add your wireless router as a client. The router needs to be set up to use WPA/WPA2 Enterprise security. Enter the shared secret and the router’s IP address.

Next, create a user and assign a username/password. You’ll need to configure the wireless client’s SSID properties to use WPA/WPA2 Enterprise.

A TFTP Server is supported. This probably won’t be used by many home users.

If you want the devices on your network to get their time from the NAS instead of the internet, you can enable the NTP server.



Conclusion

 

The QNAP TS-651 Turbo NAS is quite the little machine. It’s been a solid file server for 3 years now. Its primary purpose is to back up my WHS 2011 home server, but I’ve since grown accustomed to the remote access features and being able to instantly backup photos from my phone.

Its flexible storage upgrade features have the potential to stave off obsolence for quite some time.  Plus, no need to destroy your data just to add more storage capacity! With so many ways to backup data on your network, you can rest easy knowing your data is always safe.

QTS continues to get better, with more and more features being added every year. Being able to use it as a multimedia hub is a plus. It’s not the most powerful media server, but it does its job. Just keep in mind that it is powered by an Intel Celeron, not a Core i7, so if you’re expecting a Plex powerhouse you’re going to be disappointed.

All in all, I would definitely recommend this product to anyone in the market for a NAS.

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