This section is going to be rather brief because we won’t dwell on features typical of ordinary computers.
When setting the server up we didn’t find the options to change its name or adjust its network parameters, which was somewhat odd for a network device. You could do all that via a remote desktop connection but having such settings in the standard console would be better.
The TS mini has a Gigabit Ethernet port but supports only one file access protocol, SMB. That's not much compared to other NASes, but quite enough for users of Microsoft OSes. The server doesn't operate with disk volumes or RAID arrays that may be familiar to you by other NASes. The default hard disk is partitioned into a system volume and a data volume. When a new disk is added, it can be used to expand the server’s storage space or store a backup copy of the server. It is only the OS that knows which exactly disk contains user data.
External HDDs can also be added to the server's storage space by formatting them via the console. It's good that you don't have to bother about choosing the right usage mode for your disks and that every operation is transparent for the user – you can even easily merge different-capacity disks into a single storage space. The downside is that the system disk cannot be turned off as it stores the OS. The other disks can be turned off and the server will transfer data from them to the remaining disks (checking out beforehand if this operation is possible considering their capacities).
If you want to use a second disk for backup copies, you don’t have to format it. When you select the appropriate status, the TS mini will show up in the management console so that you could copy its folders to the external disk. To restore your data, you can choose between copying missing files or rewriting everything.
As usual, the access control is based on user names and passwords. The guest account is off by default while passwords are required to be complex. You can change these defaults if you want to. Each new user is given a personal home folder and assigned rights to other folders (no access, read only, read & write). User groups and domains are not supported, but this can hardly matter for home applications. When deleting a user, you can remove all of his personal data or transfer the access rights to another user.
After formatting, standard network folders are created on the disk volume: Public for ordinary files, Music, Photos and Videos for multimedia data, Software for software distributions (including WHS Connector), and MySyncFolder for ASUS’ online storage platform we will discuss below. To offer some fault tolerance, folders may have the option of data duplication so that the OS saved two copies of files on different disks. This option can be turned on or off whenever you want (if there is enough of free disk space for that).
The TS mini has six USB 2.0 and two eSATA ports and you can connect the same peripherals to them as to a regular computer's ports. You only have to make allowances for the limited management options available in the standard console. In fact, the only thing you can do with an external disk is to add it to the server's storage (flash drives cannot be used for that purpose) as described above.
Thus, if you just want to use a printer or set an UPS up, you have to use a remote desktop connection which is less convenient than the default setup tool. Or you will have to look for and install specialized software modules.
ASUS simplified the management of external storage devices somewhat and added the ASUS Xtor Manager module into the TS mini. We’ll describe it below.