Network Attached Storage - An Explanation
We have come a very long way since the birth of affordable home computing. A memorable episode of 'The Computer Chronicles' once covered Intel's then-new Pentium 1 processor and how a large data company in the US was harnessing the power of the Pentium to quickly rifle through their... 3.5GB of company data. Back then, this was a staggering amount of data. Nowadays, your average smartphone has more system memory than that. It's been a fairly rapid 26 years, hasn't it?
|File Storage Capacity by Bits and Bytes|
Whilst we are nowhere near the realms of the 'Petabyte' storage drive, it's also safe to say that we left the heady heights of 1TB being the height of PC storage a fairly long time ago. With our hefty demand in storage capabilities, the industry had to constantly adapt and introduce new features in hardware. Forget the data centre for one moment, however, and consider your average home user. The needs of the home-based professional are ever-growing and we are now in an age where a single HDD (albeit a very expensive one) can hold up to 12TB of data. However, your computer case can only fit so many drives and wires, so what's the solution? Well, aside from the Cloud offering services like OneDrive, Dropbox, and iCloud Drive, there is the humble NAS, and that is what we have here today. Effectively a box that contains a cluster of independent or 'linked' (aka. RAID) storage drives, they are a very reliable and functional way of allowing your enterprising home user more storage... 'locally.'
Terra Master F4-220
The unit we have here today is yet another in a seemingly very long line of NAS solutions, and a quick search will let you quickly realize just how big a market this has become. Up to 4x 2.5'' SSDs/HDD's or 4x 3.5'' HDDs can be tied into this unit, and RAIDs including 0, 1, 5, 6, and 10 are all supported. Once you have installed your hardware, your NAS will need to be connected to your network via an ethernet cable or directly to your PC. In my case, it will be going into a TP-Link powerline extender unit, as I do not have access to the router in my residence. Once this is done, a desktop application is installed on all machines that you wish to be able to control/configure the NAS. Once done, the software will search for compatible NAS devices that are on the same network as the local computer. Installation of the Linux GUI (nicknamed TOS, or TerraMaster Operating System) is now done, allowing for actual control of the NAS rather than just general device management. Once done, set a date/time, device name and password, set an IP, and then configure your RAID (if needed). Once this is done, the setup of the device is complete.
Ultimately, the advantages of having a NAS are many, but the relevant ones (for most, I feel) would be:
- Low power solution to extra storage.
- Potential for high capacity, redundant, and easily expandable.
- Affordable (within reason).
- Large feature sets that expand well beyond 'just some extra storage.'
Next, we will give the product an external look over, unbox it, and then get on with the review.