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Asustor AS-604T review

AS-604TCompetition in the SMB NAS space is now so hot you have to wonder whether there’s room for another vendor. Asustor, a division of Taiwanese PC giant Asus, thinks so, and makes its entrance with a family of six desktop and rack-mount appliances.

On review is the four-bay AS-604T, which sports a 2.13GHz Atom CPU and 1GB of DDR3 memory. The latter can be boosted to 3GB with an extra SODIMM.

Build quality is good, and the appliance is very quiet. Port choices are up there with the best, with dual USB 3 and four USB 2 ports, plus pairs of eSATA and Gigabit Ethernet sockets. There’s also an HDMI port, which the embedded Boxee app uses to stream video and audio to a TV.

Installation is helped along by Asustor’s Control Center utility. For testing, we installed a quartet of 3TB WD Red SATA drives and created a RAID5 array, which took around nine hours to complete. Storage Manager makes light work of volume creation and expansion, while, for IP SANs, you can create thickly or thinly provisioned iSCSI targets.

The star of the show is the slick Asustor Data Master, which bears more than a passing resemblance to Synology’s DiskStation Manager. It’s brimming with features but isn’t overloaded, and Asustor allows you to strictly control which extras you want to run. Its App Central tool provides a place where all available Asustor packages can be viewed and installed with a single click.

Cloud services include Amazon’s S3 and a separate app for Dropbox. Backup features are extensive, with support for rsync, FTP servers and externally attached devices, plus an option to link these with the Backup button on the front.

Also included is Asustor’s Backup Plan utility, which we tested on Windows 7 and Server 2012 systems. It’s simple to use, and can run scheduled backups or synchronisations of local folders, any FTP server, a local destination or another network share.

Asustor’s Cloud Connect offers the same features as Qnap’s MyCloudNAS and Synology’s ezCloud, and it automatically set up port forwarding with our UPnP-enabled Cisco router. This allows users to remotely connect to services on the appliance using Asustor’s hosted DDNS service.

The AS-604T’s performance doesn’t disappoint. Drag-and-drop copies of a 2.52GB video clip between the appliance and a Windows Server 2012 system returned fast read and write speeds of 103MB/sec and 95MB/sec. Large datasets were handled well, too: our 22.4GB test folder and its 10,500 small files copied to a share at an average of 66MB/sec. We also used Backup Plan to secure the same test data to the appliance and saw similar speeds.

There’s plenty of competition in the four-bay NAS market right now, but we’ve seen no other product that can match the Asustor AS-604T’s all-round appeal. It delivers a fine combination of features, performance, build quality and value, and it makes an excellent choice for small businesses.

 

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