How to choose a network storage (and why it is needed): Asustor AS3204T review

Many homes have external hard drives. There are stationary, standing above the table, where films and photographs are dumped. There are portable ones - smaller and lighter - that you can carry with you as a "flash drive". Just the day before yesterday, my friend brought me 500 GB of photos on such a disk - in general, the usual thing.

A typical external hard drive capacity is from 2 to 6 TB, less commonly 8-12 TB models. Purely technically it is possible to “overclock” them to more serious sizes, but in this case the risk factor and cost outweigh the advantages. Cheaper, easier and more reliable to make two 8 TB drives than one 16 TB drives. At a minimum, the information will be preserved, since the drive is still relatively fragile, you should not drop it off the table, because information recovery is an unpleasant and sometimes epic procedure in its complexity.

Smaller portable drives - from 500 GB to 2 TB. Their volume is primarily due to the fact that they must be compact and light. We will not talk about them at all, this is a different class of devices.

Now imagine that you need to store a lot of information. A lot of information. RAW photos, draft videos, 3D programs and databases. Do you really have to buy several disks and connect each to a computer separately? Is it really necessary to arrange a mishmash of wires under the table?

The output is network storage with the ability to connect multiple external drives at once. Four 10-terabyte devices can be connected to the AS3204T, receiving a total volume of 40 TB (!), And using this wealth through a single interface. And now let's examine our gadget in more detail, we will understand its pitfalls and understand whether it is worth considering it at all as an alternative to ordinary external hard drives.

What is network storage

Usually in this part of the article I do anboxing, that is, I unpack the device, talk about the inconvenience of the box and complain about the lack of instructions. But here I had to slightly change the review structure, because most users, in principle, are not aware of the existence of such devices (if you already have network storage - congratulations, you are the original, you are few). But in offices and enterprises, such devices are used quite widely. Another thing is that office models are redundant for the home.

Network storage in English is called Network Attached Storage, and therefore the abbreviation NAS is often used in the designation. I will use it to reduce the text and avoid tautologies.

So, firstly, NAS is not a hard drive, but a computer. That is, a control device that can systematize hard drives. The NAS does not have its own memory (more precisely, there is a small one for installing control software). NAS class is determined by the number of cells for hard drives - in stores you can buy storages even with 12 cells, that is, the memory can be constantly expanded by buying new disks of different sizes.

Our four-disk Asustor AS3204T belongs to the second most advanced class (home to power user), although it is the youngest in the class. In general, in the Asustor line at the time of writing, there are 35 different repositories, divided into four levels. Powerful professional business models like the AS-609RS have just up to 12 disk slots and significantly higher speeds. The bonus of all models - from home to professional - is that they support huge 10-terabyte drives, which not every storage can do.

So, the maximum storage capacity is determined by two factors: how many hard drives can be inserted into it and what maximum hard drive capacity the device supports.

As you might guess, the NAS connects to the internal network, for example, through a router, and serves as a repository for information from any devices whose owners know the access password. Computers, smartphones and tablets, televisions, game consoles, media players - all this can read information from the NAS. Access is usually through a browser through a proprietary interface, although fans of digging into the software can install their own access programs.

Here we can conclude that the NAS has two advantages : - firstly, access from any device via Wi-Fi via a home network; - secondly, the ability to use multiple hard drives as a single device.

For example, you can control the NAS from a smartphone using the application.

The second is achieved through the so-called RAID arrays, which stands for redundant array of independent disks ("redundant array of independent disks"). This technology allows you to "virtualize" data, considering independent disks as a single logical element. There are many different specifications and types of array (you can read more about it in the trivial Wikipedia). Asustore uses the RAID 5 specification, considered the most economical and fastest in terms of write speed. In the specifications of RAID 2 and RAID 4, technical data and checksums of operations are written to a separate disk, which does not allow performing several operations in parallel, while in RAID 5, the space of all disks is used for such things - this also contributes to reliability. I won’t dive (after all, we’re not talking about that), it’s not difficult for those interested to find the principles of RAID operation independently.

But for the average user, all these subtleties are secondary. The main thing is that it is a very, very large storage with easy access and expandability. Here from this point of view and see.

External data

In principle, the device is quite compact. It takes up less space than four separate 10-terabyte disks could occupy, because inside they are mounted in a slide and fit snugly together. Well, of course, a small compartment is reserved for the filling of the store itself, for a powerful fan and for fixing the case. In general, the thing is very convenient for transportation.

Everything is done as instinctively and minimalistly, that the instruction is in principle not needed. In paper form, it does not exist either on the attached disk or on the Internet. We take out the device, unscrew the four bolts, remove the case, install the disks, return the case to its place, screw the bolts back. A screwdriver is not needed - the bolt heads are large and corrugated so that you can rotate them with your fingers. The only point is that the case was originally designed, and to remove the cover, you need to put the device on its side. But this is just drawn in the comic book format in the quick installation instructions on disk.

Box Nothing special :)

We open Everything is very tight and neat. The number of various films, sachets and ties after the end of testing exceeded the size of the original box. But it is absolutely reliable.

Foamed polyethylene Personally, I like it more than foam, because it does not crumble and leaves no residue. At the same time, it is also reliable.

The NAS is compatible with most HGST, Seagate, Toshiba and Western Digital drives, so if you do not plan to use anything super-exotic, then there will be no problems. We use the Seagate IronWolf ST10000VN0004 3.5 '' SATA III Hard Drive 10 TB NAS model, the oldest of the Seagate line of “unprofessional” drives.

Then the control program is installed from the same disk, and everything works. In general, if you recall the difficulties during installation that tormented users of various devices as early as 10-15 years ago, it’s amazing how easy it is today.

But there are pitfalls. For the NAS to work, it must be connected by cable to a device that distributes the Internet, that is, to a router. And I have a router, like many, on a shelf under the very ceiling in the hallway. Shelf had to be redone to put next to the NAS, plus he, like the router, needs a separate outlet. In general, the installation caused some difficulties - but purely mechanical, with a saw and a drill. If your router is standing on a table or under a table next to a computer, there will be no problems, just "stick" the storage somewhere nearby.

Completeness (not counting the unit itself)
A cable for connecting to a network, a cable for connecting to a network with a British plug, a power supply, a network cable, a control panel, 16 screws for attaching hard drives. There is also a disk with instructions and a piece of paper that says that you need to use the disk. I’m even afraid to imagine what I would do without her.

Power Supply Completely standard from Delta Electronics. You can read the data on the block itself by enlarging the illustration.

Remote control To be honest, a little useful thing. Theoretically, it is necessary in order, for example, to play video on a TV or to stop / start a song played from a device on a network speaker. But in reality, all control is easier to carry out directly from the gadgets to which the NAS connects.

And again, the remote control also requires two AAA batteries.

16 screws for mounting discs (4 per disc)
They are convenient in that they do not require a screwdriver and are screwed with fingers. However, perfectionists can fix tightly with a screwdriver - a recess for the cross is provided.

Network cable Nothing special, just a quality meter-long cable.

The British plug is so harsh that during transportation it requires a plastic protective nozzle.

The second pitfall is the black lacquered case of the device. Of course, design, beauty, I understand everything. But on the other hand, a NAS is a gadget that, in theory, should stand in one place for years, and it should not be touched by a person’s hand (unless you want to expand the memory by installing an additional disk). A black lacquered surface, as you might guess, is an ideal dust collector. Two hours later, it was already covered with a thin whitish layer, regardless of the degree of cleanliness of the apartment, and I could not completely erase the dust from it. This does not interfere at all (the device is well insulated, at least it gets inside), but if the store is constantly looming before your eyes, and you are a perfectionist, then the dust can be annoying.

And the last pitfall of the installation. Although the AS3204T is compatible with a large number of different drives, with different parameters and form factors, the mounting sockets can be located in different places. “Sigeyte” 10-terabytes with four screws to the sled cannot be screwed - only two, because two more sockets are located outside the sled. This again, there is nothing to worry about, the two screws hold no worse, but this must be borne in mind.

Now let's move on to operation.

General view Just a black cube with a designer front panel. It is with all its aesthetic appeal that it collects the most dust.

Cooler Diameter - 120 mm.

Front panel indicators From top to bottom: power, system status, network status, status / activity of the hard drive. In principle, according to the data received from these four indicators, you can find out everything - what process is currently happening, what mode is on, is everything normal with the cooling system, and so on. The encoding is in the PDF instructions.

Rear panel ports From top to bottom: a power button (not visible, above the frame), a reset, two USB 3.0 ports (the third on the front panel), an HDMI port, an RJ45 port (network), a socket for a power plug.

Leg Perfect rubber box. It is steady.

Interface and more

As mentioned above, technically everything is extremely simple. After the NAS is connected, proprietary software is installed. One part of it “takes” you through the entire process of installing the disk (that is, it connects it to the network, asks for a password, set parameters), and the second is a “management” software - it automatically searches and recognizes all Asustore devices in the availability zone, allows you to record information and read it.

The interface of the ADM 2.6 Onwards OS, which is controlled by the gadget, resembles Windows Explorer, it only works inside the browser. You can create separate folders, set access passwords on files, and so on - in general, everything is as usual. Still, the NAS is a computer, and you can install programs and applications on it.

Appearance with the body removed
To do this, put the device on the right side.

Contact ports Disks are placed on a slide and slide into the device. Ports connect easily, no effort is required.

“Brains” ... devices are located inside the right panel (in a lying state it is at the bottom).

With a disk inside We were given one disk for a test. All in this way you can set four.

This particular Seagate 10 Tb had to be attached with just one pair of screws. Pay attention to the mismatch of the screw holes on the slide and on the disk. This is not a big deal, perhaps in future models it will be fixed by extending the slide.

Cover removed A very valuable photograph containing the maximum possible information.

What features does this particular model have?

Its functions are “sharpened” to play directly from the device 4K-video without brakes. A very convenient ability - movies can be kept in storage, and watched - from any gadget at home, from a smartphone to a home theater. Moreover, the device has a huge number of codecs for playing almost any format and type of recordings (full list). The speed of reading data is high - 110 Mb / s, there should be no “brakes” (more precisely, they may be due to problems with your wi-fi network, but there is nothing to do with storage).

There are many different “features” in the system’s memory: built-in photo viewers, anti-virus, audio players - and so on. In general, the full specification is easier to read on the official website. But in general, describing the interface would be rather strange - if you have learned to use Android on your smartphone, then you will master ADM in a matter of minutes. It's just an OS, nothing special.

Installation Disk Interface
You see this by inserting it into the drive. Or by running the program downloaded from the official site.

Control program interface
There is only one device in the list (because we only have one). If there are several, here you can choose which one to work with at the moment.

The installation process is very simple. In fact, you don’t need to click anything but “continue”.

The installation process ... is laid out on a number of points. Everything is very clear.

An important function for such a unit is energy consumption, especially in the "sleep" mode. During direct work with files, the device consumes 27 watts, at the time of operation when the disk is on, but without operations currently being performed, it is 11.4 watts, in “sleep mode” - 0.79 watts. So, in principle, all this is much smaller than any energy-saving light bulb. It’s not worth worrying about bills.

Regarding reliability ... Asus gives a three-year guarantee (which already sounds serious), but in general, the rules for handling NAS do not differ from those in relation to any computer. There is no need to drop it, toss and drown, and it will serve you long and true.

To summarize

The main question when buying a network storage is not even what to take, but whether you need it as such. If the information that you operate on does not exceed 10 TB, and you use it alone, it is better to take a regular external hard drive and not steam up. It makes sense to buy a NAS under the following conditions: - if you are constantly operating with information exceeding 10-12 TB in volume, and at the same time you should have constant access to it; - you want to have access to information from various devices - computers, tablets, televisions, and so on; this may be necessary if several people use the store in the house or if you constantly access it through various gadgets; - you assume that in the future you will need to expand the storage of information - in this case it is more convenient to buy disks to the NAS, rather than buying separate external ones.

Desktop Opens right inside the browser. And then - like on a regular computer or smartphone.

Explorer Explorer interface, as in Windows. I upload trial files. The speed indicator, by the way, is somehow unrealistically low - in my opinion, it is lying, in reality the speed is several times higher. Although, of course, it is half cut by a router, here anyway. I want maximum - connect the cable directly.

Another desktop This is already taken from the official site, not my screenshot. You can put any background.

Would I buy a similar gadget? Not sure - for now, a 4-terabyte Seigate disk was enough for me. But I don’t watch movies in 4K, I don’t work with videos and illustrations, so I’m just not quite the target audience of network storage. My wife, who takes a lot of pictures and stores files in RAW, for example, said she was very much in favor of buying a NAS.

Last moment: NAS is not an expensive thing. Each 10-terabyte drive individually costs about 30 thousand rubles plus the storage itself - the same amount. Therefore, it hardly makes sense to buy storage on the principle of “what was”. Но если оно вам объективно нужно по совокупности параметров — то да, вещь незаменимая, и данная конкретная модель, Asustor AS3204T, нам понравилась.

Advantages and disadvantages

+ удобство монтажа и установки, компактность + высокая скорость работы + удобный интерфейс + низкое энергопотребление + совместимость с большим количеством дисков

— притягивающая пыль поверхность

Основные параметры Asustor AS3204T

Процессор : Intel Celeron 1.6GHz Quad Core Совместимость с дисками : смотрите таблицу Максимальная ёмкость : 40 TB (10 TB HDD X 4) Операционная система : ADM 2.6 Onwards Поддерживаемые ОС : Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10, Server 2003, Server 2008, Server 2012, Mac OS X 10.6 Onwards, UNIX, Linux, and BSD Поддерживаемые браузеры : Internet Explore 11 Onwards, FireFox, Chrome, Safari, Microsoft Edge (тут замечу, что с «Оперой» я тестировал, и всё тоже работает без проблем)

Полная спецификация


Диск Seagate IronWolf . Два слова стоит сказать о диске, который использовался для теста. Как я уже писал выше, это мощный 10-терабайтный Seagate IronWolf ST10000VN0004 3.5'' SATA III Hard Drive. Правда, мы должны понимать, что «номинал» 10 Тб на деле чуть больше реальной ёмкости, поскольку производители жестких дисков измеряют объем в десятичной системе измерения, а операционная система считает в двоичной. Иначе говоря, в первом случае 1 килобайт равен 1000, а в другом — 1024 байта. Но это вечный «трюк» всех дисков. Иначе просто не бывает.

Диск весит 0, 641 кг (не взвешивал, поверил ТТХ) и в принципе практически не греется — это связано и с мощным вентилятором Asustor, и с высоким качеством самого диска, при том что диапазон рабочих температур колеблется от 5 до 70 градусов, . Включается диск примерно за 20 секунд (средний показатель, ничего особенного), работает довольно тихо, проблем с чтением нет. Сложно придумать какие-то особенные комплименты для HDD. Это просто очень большой диск хорошо зарекомендовавшего себя бренда.


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