QNAP NASes support a special format of plugins, making them easy to install via the web interface. At the moment of my writing this, a few dozen plugins are available, including file download systems, media servers, content management systems, application servers, etc. If necessary, they can interact with the already installed software, e.g. with the web-server.
You can gain console access via telnet or SSH. The access ports can be changed for the sake of security. SFTP is supported.
You can also install the Optware package management system on the NAS in QPKG format and then access it via the console.
I benchmarked my TS-419P II using Western Digital Caviar Black WD5001AALS disks, a PC with an 1.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo and 4 GB of system memory, a Gigabit Ethernet switch, and Intel NASPT 1.7.1 software. I enabled Jumbo Frames for the NAS, created a disk volume, a shared folder and a user account with appropriate access rights. I didn’t change any other default settings. I tested the NAS with a single HDD, with two HDDs in RAID1 mode, and with four HDDs in RAID0, 5 and 6.
In our tests of early Atom-based NASes we could see different types of RAIDs varying greatly in terms of read speed. As for the 2GHz ARM processor in the TS-419P II, it can ensure a read speed of 100 MB/s irrespective of the array type when reading large files. So, such processors seem to be quite competitive as yet. The same goes for many other subtests, the only exception being the speed of writing large files. The software RAID implementation increases the CPU load with RAID5 and 6 whereas the lack of parallel writing into multiple disks affects the performance of the striped and mirror arrays. Anyway, the data-transfer speed is quite high even in this case. It’s only with RAID6 that the write speed is considerably lower than that of the single HDD.
Although the TS-419P II can accommodate as many as four HDDs, you may want to add an external disk to it. So, I benchmarked the performance of an external WD5001AALS disk, connecting it via eSATA and USB 2.0. I checked out two file systems: ext4 for maximum performance and NTFS for Windows compatibility. The results are shown in the next diagram.
The eSATA interface is generally faster than USB 2.0 and almost as fast as the internal SATA interfaces in terms of read speed. Writing is only half as fast, though. This must be due to the use of a processor-integrated disk controller for the external ports. The effect of the file system can be noticed with small files: NTFS is slower than ext4. The maximum speed of USB 2.0 is 30 MB/s at sequential operations. Writing to an ext4 partition is performed faster, though.
The numbers suggest that you should use eSATA and ext4 to achieve maximum performance with your external disks. And if you use an NTFS disk connected via USB for backup purposes, you can accelerate the process by using tools that convert small user files into large backup files in special formats.