Revamping my Business Storage! Part 1 – QNAP TS-451A NAS Review

As a YouTuber, video editor, photographer,
aspiring voice over artist, data hoarder, and general content creator – I use a lot
of hard drive space. A LOOOOT of drive space. Video footage of ongoing project, archived
video footage from important projects, family photos, professional photos, raw WAVs of voice
recordings, movies, TV shows – terabytes upon terabytes of data. Following me filling pretty much every drive
I had earlier this year, my main YouTube storage array – a foolish leftover Raid0 array – crashed. I lost a ton of footage, about a month or
two worth of work, along with about a month of downtime trying to fix everything and get
set back up. It was time for an upgrade. Enter part 1 of me getting serious about file
storage – my QNAP TS-451A. This thing is a boss. QNAP reached out and offered to send it over
for review, so I went ahead and grabbed some refurbished 2TB drives from Newegg on eBay. Loaded it up into a basic JBOD array, copied
over some files and fell in love with the performance. So much so, that I wound up deleting some
of the footage I had stored on the device just in time for my unit to die. The 4th drive slot kept dropping out, sending
the unit into very loud beeping and continuously unmounting and re-mounting my array. QNAP quickly replaced my unit and the new
one has worked perfectly since, so I’ll write that up to bad luck – but still worth
noting that this happened. The TS-451A (these NAS units always have such
lovely names) features a dual core Intel Celeron CPU with a base clock of 1.6 GHz, and 2GB
or 4GB of RAM. Mine has 4GB. Taking a tour of the front, we have indicator
LEDs for… just about everything, a SD card slot, a power button, a button to automatically
copy footage from the SD card – something I’d use more if I didn’t need ALL of the
storage on the unit for archives already, I’ll work on this during future upgrade
videos – and a USB 3.0 port for connecting external hard drives. Below that, there’s also a micro USB female
end as well for their “Direct access” connectivity – more on that later. We’re also greeted with the 4 drive bays. These are easy to install and remove, and
overall setup was a breeze with tool-less hard drive mounting. The sides and top are barren, with the bottom
containing 4 great rubber feet. Around back, we have a lot of fun stuff. There’s a big, but quiet cooling fan, kensington
lock, reset button and maintenance port – oh wait, that’s not the fun stuff. There’s two gigabit ethernet ports – which
can come in quite handy for the plethora of features available to this thing – HDMI video
out, 3.5mm audio out and audio in, two more USB 3.0 ports, and the DC power input. That’s a lot of I/O for this thing. Compared to the little single-drive WD NAS
units I used to use, this thing is awesome, and basically a computer. Oh yeah, it also has an IR receiver and a
freaking remote control for the media center functionality of it. Not bad. Load it up with some hard drives and connect
it to your network and it’s time to dive into the software. I do want to go ahead and re-iterate that
this is, essentially, a computer. The capabilities and functionality built into
the software are a lot more than I could ever fully explore in one video, or just in my
own usage of the device. The base software is a web-accessible OS that
reminds me a lot of Android. Intuitive and easy to use. Then you have a variety of different “Stations”
for using the device, and a plethora of “apps” to download and install to do even more with
the NAS. There’s stations for streaming media over
the network to watch your movies and TV shows, to stream music as an iTunes server, to backup
computers in your home, to be a cloud drive accessible anywhere, manage surveillance cameras
in your home, and even run virtual machines! It’s pretty crazy. Diving into the App Center, there’s email
servers, real-time antivirus scanning, Google Apps management, Azure storage, the ever-popular
Plex, lots of syncing and backup apps, web server apps, WordPress, bittorrent clients,
games – more than I’ll ever be able to fully explore. It’s pretty crazy. When I first got the unit set up, I went nuts
and installed everything I thought I could have fun with, but my current, ongoing configuration
is much more simple. I mainly just utilize the normal file system
– accessible on my computers over the network, I have mounted network shares and network
drives – the antivirus app for occasional scans, Transmission for testing torrent downloads,
JsTetris (because Tetris), and then the Linux Station for running VMs. I also use the “Connect to Cloud Drive”
app, which allows me to easily connect to my Dropbox, Google Drive, and Amazon Cloud
Drive to back up files. Since I use this NAS primarily as my footage
and YouTube archive, this makes it relatively easy to back up my footage to Amazon. There’s some issues copying files sometimes,
but it’s very handy. I’m still in the early stages of tinkering
with the Linux Station & Virtualization Station VM managers, and I want to do a dedicated
video on them – but I will say that it’s quite easy to set up and manage VMs, and you
can connect to them through your web browser or a VNC client. I’m really looking forward to utilizing
this for future videos. This is where, to me, the dual ethernet ports
come in really handy: You can have one set of functions, like normal file copying, go
over the first ethernet port while your VM connects over the second and isn’t impacted
as much by network performance. I love it, I just wish I had more gigabit
switches, or just a bigger one. Running a graphical OS like ElementaryOS on
Virtualization Station resulted in a fairly laggy experience, whereas running in the Linux
Manager app was much more responsive and the display outputted over the device’s HDMI,
which is pretty neat. As far as Plex goes – I wasn’t super worried
about this since I didn’t have the extra space to put my media library on this specific
device anyway, and I already have a Plex server running on my video render server – video
on that soon. To test it, I did set up a library of my YouTube
upload original files and tried playing a few. It has 0 problems streaming the original files
over the network whatsoever, though it does eat up some CPU usage. Transcoding to a different resolution and
compression, however, has never seemed to work. It just loads for a long time and then eventually
tells me that the video cannot be played. The “Video Station” app on the other hand
does a lot better job with actually transcoding and playing the media, but is a lot harder
to use and set up. Frankly, it was much easier to just play the
direct files over the network. Performance on the whole holds up well – running
Plex and a VM pegs CPU usage in the 90 percent range, but things remain fairly responsive
throughout. Playing a game like JsTetris seems to have
virtually no performance impact, which is cool. There’s a great little Dashboard pop up
tool that shows you a lot of information – uptime, disk status, connected users, network traffic,
CPU and RAM usage, disk space allocation, and so on. I use it a lot. The unit remains fairly quiet, too, especially
hidden under my desk on top of a PC tower. Also, did I mention you can occupy all 3 USB
3.0 ports with external hard drives and share them over the network, too? I can’t get enough network storage, and
that will come up in future storage upgrade videos. Lastly, I guess I would be remiss if I didn’t
discuss the main gimmicky feature for this NAS unit – the “direct connection” USB
3.0 connection on the device. Since this is a full computer and NAS, the
ability to hook it up just as an external hard drive can’t really be done. Instead, the software for it creates a virtual
network connection to the NAS over the USB bus. This is good if you can’t set up a wired
network connection for some reason, but won’t give you full USB 3.0 speeds like a normal
external hard drive. This isn’t something I’m ever really going
to use – so I will instead point you to a video by Lon Seidman, who reviewed the 2-bay
model of this device and showed just how this functionality works. On the whole, I’m very happy with this NAS. My only limitations are my upload speed for
backing up files, and my financial ability to buy bigger hard drives for it. The kind of mass storage I need is way too
expensive for my wallet, whereas just a few TB for an average home or enthusiast user
is totally affordable. The problem, then, comes from the price of
this device itself – almost $500 from what I’m seeing online. That’s quite expensive for something you
still have to populate with hard drives, at least to me. NAS units are at this weird point where the
whole setup is too expensive for the average user, despite being a useful home tool for
just about anyone. They do have expansion bays that you can hook
up to it, as well, which I hope I can look into at some point. This concludes part 1 of my storage upgrade
series, and my review of the QNAP TS-451A NAS. My important footage archive and YouTube upload
archive both rest comfortably within the 8TB I loaded up into the NAS, and it’s backing
up to Amazon Cloud Drive almost constantly. I’m pretty happy with it, and maybe you
will be, too. If you enjoyed this video, smash the like
button, get subscribed for more tech videos, and I’ll see you next time.

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9 thoughts on “Revamping my Business Storage! Part 1 – QNAP TS-451A NAS Review

  1. Today I'm reviewing the QNAP TS-451A NAS – this is a 4-bay NAS with 4GB of RAM. I have 4 2TB drives in it.
    2GB Model:
    USA –
    CA –
    UK –

    4GB Model:
    USA –
    CA –
    UK –

    Lon Seidman's video on the direct link USB connection:

    Product sent free for review.

  2. sometime I wonder how people could spend so much money for object instead of giving poor people money to get a bit meal. nice video anyways.

  3. Hmmm, me thinks you would have been WAY happier with an unRAID box. My VM's run accelerated..meaning my games can be run from the unRAID box at full speed. I am curious as to the transfer speeds? I am doing almost 100% 4K+ footage now. The system can sustain transfers at 112MB/s. It also runs plex, resilio sync (so it freshens my backups and folders), Crashplan for offsite backup, etc. Transcoding is done in ram so that isn't a problem as well. If you decide to go that way, I would be happy to help/collab on a video with you!

  4. Ok dude….you should know better…..this is a neat unit, but a toy compared to what I would imagine you really need…..Quit pissing around and build yourself a true server/hom media center…..Using Ubuntu, CentOS or Mint…….An AMD 880K and a cheese Graphics card for quick inspections, and there are MB's out there for well under $100. Just add 3 or 4 TB Drives to expand as needed…..My set up will do everything this little unit will do and more…..and do it for less in the long run….as you expand and grow, you really need to consider this over a simple Storage solution with addons that will slow down overall performance……if you intend to stay with the Storage solution…..Hook uop that second Hardwire for your Cat 6….it will improve speeds across your local network

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