Powerful, but expensive, dual-bay network hard disk enclosure
The easiest way to add shared folders to a home network is to use a network attached storage (Nas) device containing one or more hard disks. These are sold either with the hard disks already installed or, like the Qnap TS-219P-II, as an empty box requiring the hard disks to be bought separately.
The TS-219P-II can take two 3.5in or 2.5in Sata hard disks of up to 3TB (terabytes) each, which are easily installed in two quick-release plastic holders at the front of the all-plastic box. Hard disks can be removed or replaced without turning it off. Also at the front are the status lights, power button, a USB2 port and a quick-copy button that copies the contents of a USB storage device to the Nas. At the rear is the network connector, two further USB ports and two eSata ports for connecting external hard disks.
The setup wizard detected the Nas and guided us through the configuration process, which was fairly straightforward. When complete, other features can be configured via a browser-based configuration interface. This is quite complicated in places, although there are wizards for basic tasks such as creating shared folders and adding users.
The TS-219P-II has masses of advanced features, which can be expanded by installing free software modules called Qpkg plugins. Some of the most useful ones for home users include the media server for streaming media files and the Download Station for downloading files without using a computer. Some of these are not that easy to set up, and others, such as the Multimedia Station (which allows remote web access to media files) have poorly designed web interfaces.
A free service lets users securely access web-enabled features (such as the Multimedia Station) via the Mycloudnas.com website. Smartphone owners can instead use the free iPhone and Android apps for accessing the TS-219P-II's media files from anywhere.
The Qnap TS-219P-II has quite similar features and specifications to the Synology DS411j, but that Nas is easier to configure and can take more hard disks. Experienced users will find everything they need, but for just sharing network folders there are much cheaper alternatives.
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Lots of features and easy-to-access disks, but spoiled by the high price and an interface that isn't very user-friendly
Quick-release hard disk holders; expandable features; quiet; remote access via free Mycloudnas web service
Expensive; interface is quite complicated
Phone no UK number available
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