Published on May 7th, 2014 | by Greg0
Thecus N2310 NAS: Inexpensive, Energy Efficient Network Storage
Sharing is caring. And now that we live in a world where data is everything, it’s pretty silly to keep it to yourself. After all, if you work on larger files, download anything via BitTorrent, or simply want to share your items securely, then you can probably ignore Dropbox and it’s cloud brethren- security risks aside, it simply doesn’t work well for larger files and isn’t mean for P2P sharing. Photos, videos, and anything creative you manage with a computer is probably best stored locally, but that doesn’t mean it has to stay on a single computer. After all, you should still have backups, and even better is when your backup system also shares everything across the network.
Instead of leaving files vulnerable, put them on a NAS- a network attached storage device, like the Thecus N2310. Unlike external hard drives, a NAS is basically a tiny computer with a lot of storage space, meant to run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and to help manage your files. Many similar devices come with hard drives pre-installed, but if you already have some extras or simply want to add your own, then this guy is a great option. For starters, it’s one of the least expensive models we’ve seen, and though that does mean there are compromises, the N2310 is still a pretty solid entry-level model for anyone who is looking for a filesharing box on a budget.
Like most, it doesn’t include built-in wireless, and we always suggest using a wired ethernet cable for any NAS. We threw in a couple of new 2TB drives, and tried the Thecus out in both RAID and non-RAID configurations, though had to format them ourselves, out of the box. RAID allows even more peace of mind, creating a duplicate copy of everything automatically in case of a disk failure, but of course it comes at a cost of about half of the total space available. There a few basic applications critical for these boxes- media server capabilities are key, whether it’s iTunes library or UPnP video sharing, and for the most part the N2310 handled these tasks easily, with minimal setup or configuration necessary. Peer-to-peer downloading is handled via Transmission, an excellent BitTorrent client, and we never had trouble. Transfer speeds are fine- impressive really, all things considered.
That said, the user interface is a bit… well, awkward. We’ve seen better from other companies, which include the top-of-the-line Drobo, the solidly prosumer/small business QNAP models, and the friendly Synology. The build quality itself is also definitely on the lower end, with mostly plastic components, and a general lack of polish- the matte black plastic is fine and unassuming, but the hard drive trays for example feel pretty cheap and lack any vibration dampening. The N2310 is also somewhat loud when transferring files or running apps; on the other hand it uses less energy (about 14 watts with dual drives) than almost any other competitor. We didn’t miss the IP/security camera applications, though some folks might, but we did notice some slowness trying to have more than a couple of clients connected.
Small enough to fit just about anywhere, the Thecus N2310 has handy USB 3.0 support for external thumb drives. If you like to tweak every setting, or need sophisticated features from your network storage appliance, then it might not be the best choice. But there haven’t been too many options in this price range, and it’s great to see a solid NAS performer now available online and in stores for under $150 (if you bring your own disks).