QNAP TS-559 Pro II Review (Page 3 of 7)

Page 3 - Configuration and User Interface, Part I

Following the designation of my file server names, the QNAP TS-559 Pro II takes over as the main network attached storage system here at APH Networks. Therefore, it retains the name "Renewal"; used since 2007 -- and the fifth device to carry this name.

Setting up is as simple as it can get. LCD screen equipped units like the TS-559 Pro II permits the user to quickly initialize their NAS -- all without additional software. If you know the LAN IP address of your system, it can be configured for the very first time via the web based wizard as well. Once it is completed, your system is pretty much ready to go. That's about it! When I plugged in three identical disks, it intelligently asked me if I wanted to set up a RAID 5 array too -- just as I have intended. And so it is done.

QNAP also promises that all files and settings can be migrated from one system to the next seamlessly; all you need to do is plug the disks in the same order as your previous NAS, and everything else will be done and ready. To see how 'seamless' it truly is, I took three disks in RAID 5 from my previous TS-559 Pro+, and installed them in the same order in my new TS-559 Pro II. Even though there is a firmware mismatch between the drive and the NAS, all files and settings were transferred without a hitch. It actually delivered 99% of what they have promised -- the 1% boils down to a small MyCloudNAS issue, in which I will cover in just a short moment. Overall, I am extremely impressed.

The LCD screen does a great job and showing system information and status; once it's on, it will show the server name and IP address, as shown above. A secondary screen displays the model number (TS-559 Pro II) and firmware version. Holding the "Enter" button for two seconds reveals a menu for various configuration and maintenance tasks, as well as displays some vital information such as system temperature. The screen will turn off automatically if it is not being used.

Those who have owned previous QNAP devices flashed to the latest system software would immediately feel at home with the TS-559 Pro II. Using firmware version 3.5, I have nothing but good things to say about the company's web UI since QNAP V3 came out. The brilliant QNAP web configuration GUI is powered by a large collection of AJAX based menus; combined with an extremely clean, smooth, and modern user interface. With a powerful NAS device that offers as many features such as the QNAP TS-559 Pro II -- not to mention with tons of new features added in every update -- it is very important that a user friendly graphical user interface is implemented. And thanks to the excellent QNAP V3 web interface, it not only excels in functionality, but also in speed and feel. QNAP's current interface is truly among one of the best I've seen for a network attached storage device. With version 3.5, it also adds on valuable features such as Mac OS X Lion compatibility, LDAP directory service, Syslog server, built-in antivirus, iSCSI LUN snapshot/backup, service binding, RADIUS server, MyCloudNAS 1.1, Windows Live Messenger notifications, external drive encryption, TFTP service, external hard drive backup, and extra camera and router support. Generally speaking, it has all the features you want in a NAS box, yet it doesn't take some sort of post-secondary degree just to get it up and running!

To get started, fire up your web browser of choice, and type in your server's name, or your TS-559 Pro II's LAN IP address. You will be immediately greeted by its main screen, which allows you to slide between its large dock style icons, and select the feature you want to run. For example, if you want to enter the administration panel, simply click "Administration". An AJAX popup will come up, as shown in the screenshot above. Enter your username and password, and you'll have three additional options: Remember user name, remember password, as well as SSL login.

As aforementioned, the layout of its administration panel is absolutely brilliant. The sleek, clean interface is powered by mainly AJAX menus for snappy performance and convenience. At the left is a collapsible menu tree, while a static banner stretches across the top of your screen. The web interface has a search menu bar on the menu tree to allow the user to easily find the setting they want. Four icons are placed in the top right corner as shortcuts to Web File Manager, Multimedia Station, Download Station, and Surveillance Station, respectively. If the service it represents is disabled, it will be grayed out, as seen in our screenshot above. At the bottom is another static bar for QNAP's copyright line, and a drop down menu to select one of three available color schemes.

The main window is placed directly to the right of the interface's navigation bar. The home screen features seven quick shortcuts to its respective labeled function, again, as seen in the screenshot above. Right under it is a section that has three different icons that links directly to QNAP's support form, forum, and wiki, in that order. A news feed shows latest software updates and news applicable to QNAP devices.

While I won't go over every menu, I'll briefly go over most of them -- since most of them are self explanatory anyway. Expanding the first menu item is System Administration. General Settings allows the user to adjust server name and port, date and time syncing options, as well as default language. The Network screen has TCP/IP and DDNS settings. Here you can enable Jumbo Frames and Network Port Trunking (Mine is set on Balance-rr mode with both Gigabit LAN adapters attached to my NETGEAR GS-108 switch). Service Binding is a new feature in QNAP V3.5. Basically, it allows the system administrator to selectively enable services based on the client connection interface. This is especially beneficial for security and network bandwidth optimization. The screenshot above has the Hardware screen shown; permitting the user to configure aspects like disk standby mode and fan speed settings.

Under the Security screen are three tabs: Security Level for IP access filtering, Network Access Protection to prevent brute force password attacks for various services, and Import SSL Security Certificate from a trusted provider. The Notifications screen has four tabs: Configure SMTP Server, Configure IM, Configure SMSC Server, and Alert Notification; used to set your QNAP TS-559 Pro II to alert the administrator via email, Windows Live Messenger, and/or mobile text when an error and/or warning occurs. Windows Live Messenger notifications also allows the administrator to request information directly from the NAS by a set of specific commands using the standard chat interface.

Under Power Management, options are provided to enable or disable Wake On LAN, power state after power failure, and on/off scheduling. You can also shut down or restart your NAS immediately on this screen. The Firmware Update tab allows the user to manually upload an image or check for an update, but if Live Update is enabled, your TS-559 Pro II will do so automatically; and will prompt you to install it upon logging in.

Page Index
1. Introduction and Specifications
2. A Closer Look - Hardware
3. Configuration and User Interface, Part I
4. Configuration and User Interface, Part II
5. Configuration and User Interface, Part III
6. Performance and Power Consumption
7. Final Thoughts and Conclusion