Review: Thecus N7710G--A Versatile Solution


Thecus

Resellers in need of a low-cost network storage solution for Linux, Mac OSX and Windows systems that includes backup utilities and anti-virus software should consider the N7710-G from Thecus Technology. Starting at $1199 without drives, this VMware-certified device delivers a 10 Gb Ethernet port, seven 3.5-inch SATA hot-swap drive bays with support for RAID or JBOD configurations and offers versatile, GUI-based remote management capabilities.

The N7710-G is built around an Intel Pentium G850 dual core 2.9 GHz processor running the Linux-based ThecusOS on 4 GB of DDR3 error correcting memory. It supports EXT3, EXT4 and XFS file systems in any combination across multiple RAIDs as well as block-level storage for servicing iSCSI connections with support for thin provisioning. It supports CIFS, SMB, AFP, NFS, HTTP/S and FTP protocols and authentication through Microsoft Active Directory, LDAP and IP address filtering.

The 7710 maximizes backup options with six USB 2.0 ports (two on the front), a pair of USB 3.0 ports plus an eSATA port. It supports RAID 0 through 50 with AES 256-bit encryption and hot-spare option. Its multiple network ports allow for aggregation, failover and various balancing and broadcast scenarios. It's all administered through a browser-based GUI.

[Related: Review: Zero-Config Storage Arrays from Drobo, Exablox]

Setting up the 7720 took us back a bit; most \devices we've tested DHCP and caddyless design for quicker start-ups and maintenance. Though it supports DHCP, the 7710 is set by default for a static IP address, which forced us to the unit's two-line LCD. This automatically pages through network status and other vital data. When a setting to be edited appears, pressing the Enter button on the front panel opens that setting for editing with the up-down controls. Once the desired settings are in place, long-press the enter button to save; settings are lost otherwise. 

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To test the performance, we put four hard drives of varying brands into the 7710 and configured them as a RAID 1 array. Drag-copying a 1 GB digital file from a laptop with a 1 Gb Ethernet port to the RAID took 1:26. The same activity was repeated while streaming a digital file; the file copied in the same minute and a half and the media continued to play, skipping just a few times. Removing any single drive from this mirrored array had no effect on data availability.

For administrators, the 7710 offers numerous points of access. To see a command line, admins can establish a remote connection with SSH, or physically connect a monitor to either the VGA or HDMI ports (or both) and input commands using a USB keyboard. There's also the T-Dashboard admin app for Android, T-OnTheGo for Android file storage and access, and ThecusShare for iOS to storing files and streaming media. These remote-device apps require a module to be running on the NAS.

The 7710 offers numerous means of backing up customer data. For client-side incremental data backup and recovery, Thecus includes the Acronis True Image, supports Apple Time Machine for systems running Mac OS X, and provides additional backup software of its own for Mac OS X and Windows machines. Data stored on the NAS can be replicated to DropBox and systems implemented in Amazon S3-based clouds. The 7710 also can provide services for iTunes, Piczza and Microsoft Media Server. The solution also includes McAfee virus scanning software.

For service providers seeking an all-around solution that's versatile enough for nearly any office sharing and backup scenario but won't break the bank, the CRN Test Center recommends the Thecus N7710-G