Editors Choice

Qnap TES-1885U Review

Qnap’s latest enterprise NAS appliances want to give you two of everything. It offers models with dual controllers plus others with two CPUs and now the TES-x85 series supports two operating systems.

If data protection is uppermost in your mind you can install Qnap’s FreeBSD-based QES. First introduced with its ES1640dc dual-controller appliances, this supports virtually unlimited ZFS share and LUN snapshots plus many other business-class features such as compression, thin provisioning and deduplication.

For the NAS purists, there’s its all-encompassing QTS software which can run any of Qnap’s myriad business apps. Deduplication is off the menu but QTS makes up for this as it also supports snapshots and brings the QTier app and its storage optimization into play.

The family comprises seven models each offering either a 4-core D-1521 or 6-core D-1531 Xeon CPU and a choice of memory capacities. On review we have the flagship TES-1885U-D1531-128GR which comes with a massive 128GB of memory.

TES-1885U rear

QTS or QES – the choice is yours as the TES-1885U can run either of them

QTS or QES – the choice is yours as the TES-1885U can run either of them

Storage decisions

The twelve LFF drive bays at the front are linked directly to the motherboard’s 12Gbps SAS3 controller and support SAS and SATA HDDs and SSDs. At the back are two cages each with three SFF bays which plug directly into sockets on the motherboard and support SATA HDDs and SSDs.

If eighteen drive bays aren’t enough you can expand outside the box using Qnap’s optional dual-port SAS3 PCI-Express card which costs $399. This allows up to eight Qnap 12-bay or 16-bay disk shelves to be daisy-chained for a total of 140 drives.

If you choose QES you must install its system drives or SSDs in the bays with their carriers marked with orange stripes. These can be any of the lower four at the front or the first four at the back and you should use at least two to provide mirrored redundancy.

QES configuration

To receive QES, we used a pair of SSDs in two of the rear SFF bays. The QFinder app discovered the appliance and took us to its web interface where we were offered a choice of QES or QTS.

After selecting QES, it picked up to the two SSDs and loaded the OS in around thirty minutes. The QES web interface is very similar to QTS and uses the same Storage Manager app to handle all pools, NAS shares, iSCSI LUNs and snapshots.

We created a new RAID5 storage pool from a quartet of 15K SAS SFF drives loaded up front. QES offers more RAID options that QTS with RAID50 and 60, RAIDTP and Triple Mirror options also on its menu.

NAS shares and iSCSI LUNs are created within selected storage pools and we could enable features such as compression, thin provisioning and folder encryption. Deduplication is available for both shares and LUNs and you can choose from SHA256, SHA512 and Skein hashing algorithms.

The manual comes in for criticism as it’s actually for Qnap’s QES-based dual controller appliances. The sections on hardware failover are irrelevant and some options, including the deduplication algorithms, get scant attention.

Good performance and data recovery

The SnapSync app in QES can replicate snapshots to local and remote destinations

The SnapSync app in QES can replicate snapshots to local and remote destinations

For 10GbE performance testing, we called up a Lenovo System x3550 M5 dual E5-2600 v4 Windows server equipped with an Emulex 10GbE SFP+ card. NAS speeds are excellent with a mapped share returning fast Iometer read and write speeds of 8.8Gbits/sec and 9.1Gbits/sec.

Shares with compression enabled deliver the best real world speeds with copies of our 25GB test file delivering sustained read and write speeds of 8.7Gbits/sec. IP SAN performance is nothing to sniff at either with a 500GB target mustering read and write speeds of 8Gbits/sec and 9.1Gbits/sec.

Snapshots are a cinch to create for NAS shares and iSCSI LUNs and can be run on-demand or scheduled for hourly, daily, weekly and monthly intervals. Snapshots can also be replicated to local and remote locations using the SnapSync feature which can run them every five minutes for close protection.

We found share recovery very easy as the Snapshot Manager app allowed us to browse the contents of snapshots and restore files and folders directly to their original location or download them to the host running the web browser. LUN snapshots can only be reverted once the target is disconnected and disabled from Storage Manager – something the manual fails to mention.

Choose QTS for the best backup, sync and cloud features

Choose QTS for the best backup, sync and cloud features

QES to QTS

You can swap from QES to QTS by selecting the ‘Reinitialize QTS’ button in the factory defaults section of the Control Panel app (which isn’t mentioned in the manual). This totally wiped the system and took us to a new web browser wizard which loaded QTS for us and had the appliance ready for action in only 15 minutes.

QTS doesn’t require dedicated systems disks so all the drives and SSDs from our previous QES tests were available for use in storage pools. Our SSDs could be used as read/write caches as opposed to QES which only supports read caches.

Being a 64-bit system, the TES-1885U can run all Qnap’s latest business apps including the slick Virtualization, Container and Surveillance Stations, the Network and Virtual Switch app and the myriad cloud backup and file syncing apps. There’s nothing to separate the two OSes for performance as we found 10GbE speeds for QTS shares and iSCSI targets were in the same ball-park as our results from QES.

 Conclusion

Qnap’s TES-x85U family is quite unique as no other NAS appliances offer the opportunity to play with two different operating systems and at no extra cost. The TES-1885U delivers a powerful hardware package at a good price, performs well over 10GbE and is a good choice for businesses that want a storage platform that stays with them when their demands change.

8.6 Total Score
A little bit of everything

Qnap’s TES-x85U family is quite unique as no other NAS appliances offer the opportunity to play with two different operating systems and at no extra cost. The TES-1885U delivers a powerful hardware package at a good price, performs well over 10GbE and is a good choice for businesses that want a storage platform that stays with them when their demands change.

Performance
8.5
Features
9.5
Build Quality
9
Usability
7
Value
9
PROS
  • Choice of QES or QTS
  • Good value
  • 10GbE-ready
  • Potent hardware package
  • Extensive snapshot features
  • SAS3 support
CONS
  • Full system reset required to swap OS
  • Poor QES documentation and online help
User Rating: 3.53 (6 votes)

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