Terra Master F4-220 4 bay NAS
A NAS ideal for the self-starter?
Today, we have Terra Master's F4-220 4 bay NAS solution in for review. Terra Master is a company that specializes in network storage solutions, ranging all the way from simple 2 bay products all the way to products nearing the $10k USD range, namely their 16 bay enterprise-grade storage arrays. For the home user, however, this unit is coming in at a MSRP of $500 (499 to be exact). There is a slightly higher unit in the F4-420, offering double the memory (4GB vs. 2GB) and a quad-core 2.0Ghz Intel Celeron CPU vs. the dual-core housed in the unit in front of me.
There is, here, a fairly major disclaimer. Whereas TerraMaster's site has the unit listed for 500 USD/GBP, the unit can in fact be found on Amazon US for significantly less, at around $289.99. This, as you will see later, makes a lot more sense when you consider the hardware specifications on offer vs something at the higher end of the scale. In addition, the unit is available on Amazon UK for £299.99 and Amazon DE for 319.99. I am unsure as to why there is such a price differential. I suspect either Terra Master's site hasn't been updated since the product's 2017 launch, or it's just Amazon taking some small liberties.
So what do we have? First of all, it can support a total of 48TB of storage, which - to my mind - would suffice even for some smaller end businesses. For the home user, content creator, or creative professional at home, I cannot see this ever being a limiting factor. The device also supports multiple styles of RAID. Terra Master does encourage you to use the same types of HDDs/SSDs if you are attempting to set up a RAID array, but I feel as though this is just pure common sense. Most of us likely just see these kinds of products as file storage, but the reality is that they can be so much more, and the sky really is the limit (up to a point, naturally) with what you want to do. File storage, mail/web server, media/streaming server, FTP, and even MySQL are all supported by the F4-220. Of all of those, I can certainly see all but MySQL (a slightly more specialized application) being very useful to the tech-savvy home user in need of a storage solution.
Naturally, the NAS is controlled via desktop applications (available to both Mac and PC) in which a Linux based GUI is accessed. Android and iOS applications are also available if you wish to monitor your NAS. All of that functionality, therefore, is not to be sniffed at. I am testing this unit with a certainly non-ideal WD Black 2TB HDD. Terra Master does list a series of drives from various vendors that are ideal for use in a NAS environment and the WD Black series certainly isn't one of them. That aside, the unit powered on without a fuss and, after the initial (and oddly comforting... just me?) spin up of the 2TB drive inside the leftmost bay, the 220 was entirely silent. More on this later. Terra Master's site also claims a 10-minute 'duty cycle' functionality, meaning the drives inside the NAS will automatically go to sleep if not subject to a data request in 10 minutes. This reduces power consumption, noise and - crucially - the longevity of your presumably fairly expensive NAS ready drives.
In fact, the 220 offers a quite staggering array of functions, even beyond what I have already mentioned. File permissions inside the NAS are handled by a combination of Role Based Access Control (RBAC) and Windows ACL, in order to ensure that files on the server are accessed only by whom you wish. A large number of file transfer protocols are also supported, meaning that FTP, SMB, and ICSCI are all supported as means of sending files around the network. Cloud storage is also an option with the F4-220, allowing remote management and access of your files via TNAS, online and DDNS. Users can set up devices as personal cloud storage and remotely log in using either a computer or mobile (via the aforementioned application). The 220 can even integrate with Dropbox, making syncing files both on your local PC, NAS and online (proper, for lack of a better term) cloud storage even easier.
So, depending on what you may need a NAS for, it's safe to say this unit offers stacks of functionality in a very small and - to my mind - reasonably priced package. Naturally, I write this segment of the review much as you are reading it. I have the product but have not used it yet, but initial impressions of the functionality, usability and attached software suites seem very solid.