The QuTS hero family of appliances signify a new direction for Qnap as they have a much sharper focus on data integrity and protection. The range currently consists of six models with the TS-h886 on review representing the larger of two desktop appliances.
Whereas the QTS operating system in Qnap’s standard NAS appliances employs the EXT4 file system, all QuTS models run a 128-bit ZFS-based OS. Key features include ZFS copy-on-write for instant NAS and iSCSI LUN snapshots up to a total of 65,535.
Snapshots can be replicated to remote appliances for disaster recovery where QuTS only sends changed blocks for a big reduction in bandwidth usage. It supports inline data deduplication and compression plus end-to-end checksums for transparent self-healing of data corruption.
RAID options get a boost as QuTS supports triple parity RAID to protect against three drive failures and triple mirroring so you can have identical copies on three drives. NAS share data can also be protected from tampering by applying one of two WORM (write once read many) policies.
TS-h886 Hardware features
The TS-h886 is well built and its solid metal chassis presents six LFF SATA hot-swap drive bays at the front along with two SFF carriers above. There’s plenty of power on tap as it sports a quad-core 2.6GHz Intel Xeon D-1622 CPU and the base 16GB of DDR4 memory can be expanded to 128GB.
Networking is a cut above the rest as unlike Synology, Qnap has embraced multi-Gigabit technology and the TS-h886 is endowed with four 2.5GbE ports. If that isn’t enough, you have two PCI-E expansion slots and Qnap’s extensive compatibility list includes plenty of high-speed network adapters plus Fibre Channel (FC) cards.
Internal design is very tidy with the four DIMM slots accessed by removing the CPU fan blower module. Alongside are two NVMe SSD M.2 slots which can be used as a cache or as a standard storage pool.
An issue we should highlight is the CPU fan assembly limits card lengths for the outer PCI-E slot to about 156mm. We wanted to test over 10GbE with an Emulex dual-port 10GBase-T adapter but at 167mm long, it would only fit in the inner PCI-E slot.
Deployment and data protection
The QuTS user manual recommends using SSDs for the system drive pool so we fitted two enterprise-class 1.92TB Micron 5200 Max SATA SSDs in the SFF bays while for general data storage, we loaded four 16TB Seagate IronWolf Pro HDDs in the main bays. Installation is no different to QTS-based appliances as we used the QFinder Pro app to discover the TS-h886 and followed the web browser quick start wizard.
Storage pools are easy to create and we liked the fact that after configuring a 42TB RAID5 pool from our IronWolf Pro drives, it was instantly ready. There’s a lot to play with during NAS share creation as you can enable thick or thin provisioning, encryption, compression, deduplication and WORM.
For WORM, you set a retention period in days, months or years and the Enterprise policy allows a protected folder to be deleted but stops anything in it from being individually modified or removed. The Compliance policy is tougher as the only way to delete the folder is to remove the parent storage pool.
Snapshot creation procedures are the same as for QTS where you choose a folder or iSCSI LUN, apply a schedule and decide how many to retain. Smart snapshots save space as they will only occur if the data has changed since the last one and data can be swiftly restored using the File Station 5 app to browse NAS snapshots.
TS-h886 Performance and data reduction
For performance testing, we called up the lab’s Dell PowerEdge T640 Xeon Scalable tower server running Windows Server 2019. We first tested 2.5GbE speeds and connected the appliance to our Netgear ProSafe MS510TX multi-Gigabit switch.
With a NAS share mapped to the server, we watched Iometer report sequential read and write rates of 2.3Gbits/sec and 2.2Gbits/sec. These held steady for our real world tests with 25GB drag and drop file copies returning read and write averages of 2.3Gbits/sec and 2.1Gbits/sec.
Connecting the server and appliance directly over 10GbE saw sequential speeds ramp up nicely to 9.3Gbits/sec and 9.1Gbits/sec. Real world performance was great with our 25GB test file copied from and to the server at 5.4Gbits/sec and 4.6Gbits/sec.
IP SAN performance over 10GbE was equally good with a 1TB target in our data pool returning Iometer read and write rates of 9.3Gbits/sec and 9Gbits/sec. We increased the pressure with a dual 10GbE MPIO link to the target and watched read and write speeds increase to 18.1Gbits/sec and 12.5Gbits/sec.
With deduplication enabled on our test share, we copied a total of 87GB of data to it from a bunch of Windows 10 clients. A glance at the Storage & Snapshots app report page showed this had been reduced by nearly 35% to 56.7GB.
Great app support
From the QuTS App Center, we counted 97 available apps for the TS-h886 and the only significant ones currently missing are all the surveillance apps. Key backup apps are present and include HBS 3, Qsync Central and HybridMount plus Hyper Data Protector (HDP) which brings data protection to VMware and Hyper-V virtualized environments.
Boxafe provides NAS-based backup services for G Suite and Office 365 cloud accounts while the Malware Remover keeps your on-appliance data safe. The appliance can host virtual machines as the Container Station, Ubuntu Linux Station and Virtualization Station apps are all available.
The TS-h886 has a few protection services of its own as snapshots can be replicated to other QuTS appliances. The SnapSync service is accessed from the Storage & Snapshots app and synchronises snapshots to remote QuTS appliances to a schedule or in real time.
The TS-h886 is a great choice for businesses that place a high priority on data integrity and recovery. It ZFS-based QuTS takes much of the goodness from the tried and trusted QTS software and augments it with an impressive range of enterprise-class data protection and storage saving features.
At $1,549 for a diskless unit, it’s comparatively good value as well, especially when you consider this includes four multi-Gig ports and 16GB of memory. If you’re holding out for a storage hero that delivers the best data protection features then the TS-h886 is highly recommended.
- Quad 2.5GbE ports
- Good multi-Gigabit performance
- Top-notch data protection features
- Integral deduplication
- Big choice of apps
- Space restrictions on outer expansion slot