The all-new QTS-Linux combo NAS from QNAP offers a set of unique features made for storage seekers, IoT developers, and SOHO users. By giving support to an open-source platform that Linux is embodying, QNAP has made strides to integrate private servers with smart devices and IoT. Aside from its IoT functionality, the TS-453A is 4-bay server that makes use of every QTS apps. This helps empower users to virtualize their storage processes. Let’s jump into our QNAP TS-453A review and take a look and see just how good this 4 bay NAS really is.
QNAP TS-453A Review – What’s in the Box?
Contents of the package include:
1x QNAP TS-453A
1x SP-ADAPTOR-96W01 AC adapter
2x Ethernet cables
12x Screws (for 2.5″ HDDs)
16x Screws (for 3.5″ HDDs)
1x Power cable
1x RM-IR002 remote control
1x Installation guide
The QNAP TS-453A – Feature Packed and Simple to Use
The TS-453A makes use of the 4-NAS enclosure from QNAP. It has a sticker at the front portion, setting it apart from other QNAP’s other offerings. Drivers can be accessed along the enclosure face as well as a USB 3.0 port and power switch. A digital display with navigation is situated on top of the drive bays. Three LED lights represents the status of the system, connectivity to LAN, and connectivity to USB.
The remaining ports can be found at the rear along with a big fan. A power port, three USB 3.0 ports, four LAN ports, two HDMI ports, and one reset button are laid out along the rear right area of the enclosure.
On top of the fan, two 1/4” audio jacks can be seen. These can be utilized with microphones when paired with QNAP’s own OceanKTV karaoke app. A Kensington lock and 1/8” stereo out audio can also be seen.
The TS-453A is considered to be a server that offers a set of NAS features to Linux. The balanced mix of a comprehensive server along with Linux compatibility has a favorable appeal due to the popularity of IoT technology and the fact that this particular NAS isn’t as widespread compared to other brands.
The manufacturer’s QTS OS offers accessibility to current IoT apps via the QTS App Center. This would come in really handy for businesses that depend on IoT technology usage. An investment on the entertainment functionality of the TS-453A was made by including a video transcoder (with 4k transcoding capability), two HDMI ports, and a karaoke app. The unit makes use of RTRR and rsync protocols for backup creation, and a compatibility to third-party cloud services.
Hot-swappable 3.5″ or 2.5″ SATA 6Gb/s, SATA 3Gb/s hard drive or SSD
4 x Gigabit RJ-45 Ethernet port
4 x USB 3.0 port (Front:1, Rear:3)
2 x HDMI, up to 4K 2160P 30Hz Ultra HD support
2 x 6.3mm microphone jacks (dynamic microphones only)
Line Out Jack (for amplifier or headphone amplifier)
Status, USB, HDD 1-4
Mono-LCD display with backlight
System: Power button, USB one-touch-backup button, Reset button
Using the QNAP TS-453A NAS
Qfinder can to be installed on a desktop PC in the same network as the TS-453A to assist you through with the installation. Qfinder will seek any QNAP server within the network if the unit’s IP address can be found or want to have the unit set up without cloud support. Qfinder can do a check on any firmware updates. It can also map network drives, seek network cameras, shut down/restart the TS-453A, or carry out other essential tasks.
Currently, there are two approaches to setup. The first is by typing “start.qnap.com” in any browser on a PC that’s in the same network as the NAS once the hardware is already ready and the NAS is switched on. A notification will ask for a cloud key. By entering the key, the TS 453-A will be registered through the creation of a myQNAP cloud account. The process can also be started in Qfinder.
This step will let you choose the NAS model that best addresses your needs. Based on the selection made, a set of applications will be installed via the initialization.
A set of quick set-up steps will then be followed:
The critical step is the selection of RAID level of the HDDs installed. Regardless if a bad-block scan needs to be carried out, it will take a bit of time to finish (it’s recommended to take this route).
The last screen of the setup will give a summary of the choices made.
Hit the “Apply” button to wait until the settings have been applied (the process won’t take long unless a RAID level is picked for synchronization).
Wait for the initialization process to finish.
A login page will show after the NAS configuration.
The QTS Operating System
Once the installation has been made, a QTS software can now be seen. The interface is intuitive, visually appealing, and is strikingly similar to that of a Windows operating system. A familiar taskbar with desktop icons be seen. Three modes are also available for switching in between according to the device currently in use for accessing the software.
The feel and appearance of the QTS software is excellent. It goes the distance in making the TS-453A a premium unit. Taking the basics of the NAS like that of network settings, network services, peripheral devices, shared folders, and others is easy and powerful within the QTS software.
The best aspect of software is QNAP’s own App Center. Here, a search can be done in the library, update or remove installed apps, and look into categorized app as well as recommendation from QNAP.
Performance-wise, the TS-453A is potent and is capable of maximizing the Gigabit network connectivity with performance speeds a little over 100MB/s. Looking into the software’s performance on its own, it carried out impressive results through the number of tests done. Office and photo album productivity performance were also strong.
When going through the directory and file results, the TS-453A performed extremely well. Intel even labelled the “From NAS” or its download performance as the most impressive yet.
Based on QNAP, the QTS 4.2 software is more intuitive and improved compared to its previous version. It boasts a pleasing interface. Its design is enhanced and has reduced unneeded interference and clutter. The revamped interface allows novice users to be familiar with the software and its functionality.
Enhanced multi-tasking and improved modal windowing can help improve productivity. Similar to that of a Windows OS, running apps can be minimized to the taskbar in the QTS 4.2 for easy switching in between. A desktop icon can be dragged and dropped on top of another for creating groups (similar to Apple’s iOS).
The QTS comes in three modes: Tab, Window, and Frameless. They allow for efficient utilization of the QTS on whichever device is being used for access. The Tab mode allows for convenient switching tablet screen. The Frameless mode enhances browsing experience within the Photo Station.
When logging into the QTS for the first time, the user will be greeted with a Quick Start. This offers a quick tour that will help the user be familiar with major functions of NAS. If the goal of the user is to explore the capabilities of the NAS, then this tour is highly recommended.
Typically, a firmware update prompt will come up after logging on to the QTS. Firmware installation is simple and swift.
The overall design of the desktop is pleasant and is intended to assist novice users in utilizing QTS more efficiently. The top bar is made to give access to a wide range of settings.
QTS tailors just about everything a user needs. For instance, one can transfer and re-organize desktop icons and gain access to external devices, logs, and admin functions. The interface allows novice users to control NAS servers including that of the TS-453A. It has multi-language support for easy switching from one language to the next.
Such admin options allows a user to make password changes, specify an e-mail address, changing the profile pic, or setting a wallpaper by choosing an available image or uploading another. There are other options made for a user to configure.
The dashboard is nicely made, offering essential data which include system and hard disk drive statistics. The resource monitor is essential since it showcases RAM, bandwidth, and memory usage. Its hardware section keeps track of system and hard disk drive temperatures, and fan speed(s) (if applicable).
The internet user portion shows off currently connected users. If a user wants to block or disconnect a user or an IP address, it’s a matter of clicking on the user and choosing the preferred action. Take note that dashboard widgets can be dragged and dropped on to the desktop. The color of the dashboard will reflect the system’s health — a swift way of determining if all parts within the system are running correctly.
The Control Panel icon can be made to access applications, system settings, network services, and privilege settings.
The Storage Manager keeps track of the status, size, and model all installed hard disk drives. A user can format and check up on hard disk drives or choose the right RAID level to suit the user’s needs. Currently, the TS-453A offers support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 6, and RAID 10. HDDs in JBODs can be configured. This will put all hard disk drives together in a large volume.
A preferred option is the RAID 5 since it can handle a single hard disk drive failure as well as RAID 6 (or two failed hard disk drives). The Storage Manager can be used for building iSCSI store collections and include iSCSI targets of other QNAP NAS or storage server to the NAS as virtual disks for the purpose of storage-expansion.
By sacrificing one bay through an SSD installation, a user can go for the cache-acceleration option. It’ll utilize the speed of SSD in enhancing network transfer speeds going to and from the NAS.
Another new feature added to the QTS 4.2 is the Snapshot. The Snapshot can be utilized with volumes and iSCSI LUNs volumes. As much as 256 snapshots can be supported for every LUN or volume. A maximum of 1,024 snapshots can be supported for an entire system. At present, it offers two kinds of snapshots: local and remote.
One big advantage of a Snapshot compared to typical file backups is the ability to recover a file within a folder or the whole folder itself in just a matter of clicks as opposed to recovering an entire data set for a single or multiple files. The snapshot function QNAP offers the necessary tools needed to seek files required for recovery.
It’s easy to look into folders and files in a snapshot and navigating through them in each order. Files with a snapshot can directly be edited by other users. A snapshot replica lets a user replicate LUNs and volumes from remote servers right away or by scheduling them in advanced.
QNAP recommends to utilize 4GB of RAM (at the very least) for the snapshot to properly function.
It’s simple to build an iSCSI Target with a mapped LUN. It’s a matter of following through the steps provided by the installation wizard.
The new Network Settings group is no longer in the Control Panel. Currently, it’s a dedicated app labelled as “Network & Virtual Switch.’ The manufacturer announced the app is capable of integrating all manager options for Thunderbolt, Wi-Fi, IPv6, and IPv4 via a virtual switch.
Essentially, the Network & Virtual Switch offers a central location for building, configuring, and managing network connectivity. This allows the user to connect any smart device to remote and local networks.
The user will also be able to join all Ethernet ports as one to enhance transfer speeds. But a switch with an IEEE 802.1AX-2008 compatibility standard is needed in order to do so.
One powerful functionality with QNAP’s network attached storage systems is the use of personal cloud. Their myQNAPcloud service is a combination of a built-in dynamic DNS service and a wizard set-up that allows for online services. It’ll be easier to configure the TS-453A anywhere in the globe (as long as internet connection is present).
A user can create a QNAP account to manage all devices. That means full control on any device directly associated to the user. Before, no user account was available so creating a device was made out of thin air. Fortunately, the service has matured over the years to include an account for device management.
Users with UPnP routers can set up port forwarding in a few clicks. CloudLink is a remote access service from QNAP. A user can link to the device and access all files via the myQNAPcloud site without configuring port settings. In addition, it welcomes access from QNAP app straight to the user’s network-attached storage system. An SSL certificate to a NAS is optional if enhanced security is needed.
Qsync Central Station 2.0 is one feature that lets the user sync all files across systems by means of file exchange or file sharing options. This frequently involves shared folders, shared file links, and a team folder. The latest Qsync version give access configuration rights to users and the ability to see the connection status of devices.
Client policies can be made so anyone configure client utilities. In Central Mode, everyone will have the same configuration as that of the admin.
Version Controls lets a user enable or disable the monitoring of file revisions, setting of a target folder, and manipulating the amount of retained version. Qsync is an important feature as people today nowadays are using multiple computers and other smart devices for syncing information.
QNAP is constantly promoting the virtualization capabilities of their network-attached storage systems as of late. The TS-453A operating on QTS 4.2.1. is more than capable in this area. The addition of a Container Station makes it the only NAS brand that can integrate technologies from both Docker and LXC in a single system.
LXC is intended for OS-level virtualization. Docker, on the other hand, is made for application-level virtualization. Through this, a user can build containers whether it’s a complete installation of Ubuntu on LXC or deploying WordPress as a standalone app.
The QNAP TS-453A Offers One of the Best Surveillance Systems Available
The TS-453A’s Surveillance Station is a professional Video Management System (VMS). As one of NAS’ applications, the Surveillance Station is activated via the QTS App Center. This activates the unit for live monitoring, playback, recording, alarms, Intelligent Video Analytics, and IP camera support management.
Through the Surveillance Station, the user can look into and organize IP cameras in real-time via web browsers while getting immediate status on corner monitors.
The Surveillance Station has monitoring modes that allow multiple channels to be displayed in one screen. A user can decide which channel(s) should be displayed or make use of the dual display function for a wide angle view.
With QvPC Technology support, a user can have direct control on a surveillance infrastructure by means of a Local Display Surveillance functionality. This ensures video local display and playback support on a bigger screen via an HDMI output
The PTZ can be adjusted directly on the Surveillance Station Web UI. This helps enhance the convenience of remote monitoring of area corners
TS-453A’s Surveillance Station has support for a majority of today’s web browsers including Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer. The QNAP Surveillance Client for Mac allows users to enjoy the same benefits in their Mac PCs.
The station offers a number of options for IP camera recording. These options include adjustments in video frame rates, smart recording, scheduling, and frame rates. It offers MxPEG, H.264, and MPEG-4 support to ensure high video recording quality in case of future reference or playback.
Smart Recording automatically records resolution-standard videos in regular recording and switching it to high resolution in case alarms are triggered. This is significant in saving hard drive costs and while providing video evidence in high resolution.
The Surveillance Station offers a number of ways in searching and analyzing recordings for easy scanning of certain events.
Intelligent Video Analytics (IVA) is an advanced method for seeking videos that correspond to certain modes. This approach saves effort and time in screening matching videos manually.
Digital Watermarking supports proves that that the user’s snapshots and video recordings are thoroughly genuine (without digital falsifications). Its Waterproof Utility was designed to verify the credibility of the snapshots and videos taken by showcasing the precise time and date of the recording, name(s) and model(s) of the camera(s), and the QNAP TS-453A unit. This serves a purpose if videos are needed as evidence material in pending court case or investigation.
Camera Compatibility and Functionality
At present, the Surveillance Station is compatible to more than 2,000 IP camera models. These include support for advanced functionality including fisheye warping and multiple streaming. The station comes with a single free IP camera license by default. This can be expanded based on a user’s surveillance needs by purchasing more licenses. It’s a cost-effective approach in scaling a user’s surveillance requirements.
As much as 32 accounts can be created within the Surveillance Station. The can be assigned to different user groups with varying rights in video playback, PTZ control, monitoring, and audio tracking.
The Surveillance Station lets a user configures several even types. Among these are alarm input, connection failure, motion detection, user-defined scenarios, and failed recording. Each event can be assigned to several event actions including SMS alarm, buzzer notifications, video/audio recording, and PTZ control.
Using the Surveillance Station:
Here are the steps needed to begin using the Surveillance Station:
Download and install the Surveillance Station (found in QNAP’s App center) as it doesn’t come pre-installed with the device.
After user credentials are entered, the system will lead to the Surveillance Station’s web interface.
The web panel can be used to set up IP cameras. Keep in mind to install compatible wired/wireless IP cameras supported by the Surveillance Station.
After camera setup, make the necessary configurations.
Configure alarms according to certain events (either via advanced or traditional mode). Advanced mode offers additional options.
Under System Settings, set the full length per file recorded.
Define how the system will react once storage space of recordings reaches a certain threshold; the certain number of days specified for alarm-triggered or non-triggered recordings; configuration of alarm-recorded functions; setting access permission to NAS-controlled cameras; and RTP port range setup.
To utilize Chrome’s monitoring functionality, pre-install the QVR app.
The Virtualization Station lets a user host virtual machines on the TS-453A and accessing them by VNC or a web browser. It offers support to numerous operating systems, virtual machine creation, restoration and backup, virtual machine import and export, snapshots, and virtual machine device management.
The Virtualization Station makes use of Software-defined Networks. It lets the TS-453A and virtual machines share the same LAN port. Without any physical network performance constraints, virtual switches operating at high speeds enhances data movement between virtual machines, and virtual machines and NAS via an internal interface.
Virtual Machines can be downloaded from internet-based virtual machine markets and imported to the TS-453A directly.
The TS-453A boasts a container technology for server virtualization. The QNAP Container Station is capable of integrating Docker and LXC virtualization technologies. This allows for operation of multi-isolated Linux system on the unit including the ability to download apps within the pre-installed Hub Registry.
Container Station for Online Document app support, which lets a user store, edit, and view files in the NAS. These files may include texts, images, and documents.
The Surveillance Station offers a wide range of options for setting up a customized surveillance system.
The TS-453A’s HybridDesk Station lets a user make app installations required for reproducing multimedia files housed within NAS while doing other activities such as internet browsing, IP surveillance camera manipulation, and playing audio tracks.
According to the manufacturer, the Hybrid Desk Station is platform where the Kodi app, Google Chrome, and other tools can be set up for web browsing or content playback via a TV (through a NAS connection via the unit’s HDMI port).
Users at home will appreciate this feature since it’ll make HTPCs and multimedia players non-existent. With that in mind, the HybridDesk Station plays a critical role in business scenarios as it make NAS server’s admin interface access possible without client presence.
QNAP states that there are only three ways to gain full control of the Hybrid Desk Station:
By means of a USB-based mouse and/or keyboard.
By means of a Qremote (exclusively made for the HybridDesk Station — ideal for any Android or iOS smart device).
By means of the packaged IR control.
Resolution support for the HybridDesk Station will largely depend on which monitor or TV is made to connect to the NAS. Newer HDMI 2.0 version can support refresh rates of 60Hz with a resolution of 4096 x 2160.
Another feature seen in TS-453A’s QTS 4.2.1. is the Linux Station. The Linux Station provides an installation of a pre-configured Ubuntu distribution, which makes for a simpler installation. Basically, the station is a Virtualization Station with an already-configured installation. Even if the user is only capable of installing Ubuntu, an option for utilizing Virtualization station is available for installing another Linux distribution.
In just a matter of clicks, a user can convert the QNAP TS-453A into a computer with Ubuntu-Linux distribution.
Manage Your Media with Plex
One of the best capabilities of the QNAP TS-453A is it’s ability to fit right in to your home entertainment setup, allowing you to expand on your media library. The QTS software allows you to install a large number of apps in order to add more functionality to the NAS and one such app available is Plex.
Plex is a great piece of software that allows you to organise and watch your local and streamed media on a wide ranges of devices. It is very similar to Kodi in regards to what it offers however Plex acts as a media server rather than a client as Kodi does. Previously, in order to use Plex you were required to install the Plex server software on a computer and then install the Plex client on your media player or smart device. The issue with this was that in order to use Plex you had to have your computer running. Thankfully, QNAP has made this process much more simpler by allowing you to install Plex on the NAS itself rather than on a separate computer. Simply install the Plex app on the NAS and configure it. Once installed you are able to install the Plex client on your other devices and then connect to the TS-453A and stream your content from there.
Plex offers a wide range of features to further enhance your home entertainment experience which you can see over on the official Plex website.
File Transfer Speed
The file transfer speed of the QNAP TS-453A was great when both sending a file to the NAS and downloading it from the NAS. Sending a 10GB file to the NAS it achieved an average transfer rate of 112MB/s. Downloading the same file from the NAS it saw an average speed of 107MB/s.
Where to Buy
If you are interested in picking up a NAS and the QNAP TS-453A takes your fancy, you can pick one up for around $699AUD from your local computer retailer.
As a 4-bay server, the TS-453A has a suite of NAS features made for Linux. Its combination of Linux compatibility and as an extensive server makes it very appealing for users since IoT is becoming widespread. Through TS-453A’s integration of its QTS environment with IoT and Linux support, QNAP is capable of delivering a storage solution intended for forward-thinking SOHO users.