Asustor is a newcomer to the SMB NAS market and its AS-606T lays down a challenge to the establishment. Should they be worried?
Asustor is a newly formed division of the Asus empire and aims to muscle in on a crowded SMB market with a family of six desktop and rack mount models.
In this review we look at the 6-bay AS-606T but Asustor also offers 2-, 4- and 8-bay desktop models along with two rack mount appliances. Hardware choices have been simplified as the entire family all use a 2.13GHz Atom CPU partnered by 1GB of DDR3 memory which can be upgraded to 3GB.
The AS-606T is nicely built and bears more than a passing resemblance to Qnap’s TS-669 Pro desktop appliances in terms of specs. The AS-606T isn’t found wanting for port choices as along with dual Gigabit, it has two USB3, four USB2 and two eSATA ports.
The LCD panel displays a raft of useful information and its menu is easy to control using the group of four buttons alongside. Chassis and drive cooling are handled by a single 12cms diameter fan which we found to be whisper quiet.
Asustor’s Control Center auto-discovers the appliance and provides a setup wizard
Asustor’s Control Center tool makes light work of installation and offers a wizard to help get your drives configured. For testing we fitted a triplet of 2GB WD Enterprise SATA hard disks and created a RAID-5 array which took a shade over six hours to build.
Further management is simplified with Asustor’s well designed Data Master (ADM) web interface. Its home page opens with a set of chunky icons providing quick access to all key functions.
Disks are configured from the Storage Manager which is very similar to its namesake found in Synology’s Disk Station Manager interface. All Asustor appliances support IP SANs and you can create thick or thinly provisioned targets, apply CHAP authentication and define access rights for specific initiators.
The Data Master web interface and its chunky icons provide easy access to all storage features
Let me entertain you
The rear HDMI port can be used to attach a monitor, TV or home AV system for streaming audio and video. With the free Boxee app loaded from App Central we could access a local menu on our Samsung HDMI monitor, browse movies, Internet TV and local media folders and play them on the monitor.
There are plenty of other multimedia toys to get in the way of staff productivity. These include servers for iTunes, UPnP Media or DBVLink TV and all can be quickly loaded and enabled from App Central.
On a more practical level many of Asustor’s apps have a business use-case. We loaded up the Dropbox app and had no problems linking it to our account for file synchronisation and remote access.
And then there’s Asustor’s Surveillance Center which provides a similar feature set to Synology’s Surveillance Station but minus motion detection and eMap functions. Camera deployment is trickier as although our Axis Q1755 and 216FD models are UPnP compliant, Asustor failed to auto-discover them.
The Q1755 was added manually but Asustor wouldn’t play with the 216FD at all. Using the Q1755, we could monitor its feed from the Live View screen and control its motorised zoom, create recording schedules and view stored recordings.
The App Central allows you to browse through available apps and install them with a single click
Backup and cloud features
From the Backup & Restore icon you can run backups to and from Rsync and FTP servers and external USB or eSATA devices. You can also link the One-Touch Backup button on the appliance with one job that will copy data to or from a device in the front USB3 port.
Asustor’s Backup Plan tool may look basic but it is versatile. Testing on both Windows 7 and Server 2012 systems, we could run scheduled backups or synchronisations of local folders to the appliance, any FTP server, a local destination or another network share.
Only Amazon’s S3 service is supported for cloud backup but, as previously mentioned, you do have the Dropbox app as well. Asustor’s Cloud Connect offers precisely the same services as Qnap’s MyCloudNAS and Synology’s EzCloud and allows remote users to log in to the appliance from a web browser and securely access selected apps and shares.
Asustor’s Backup Plan may be basic but it proved to be a very useful data backup and restore tool
For performance testing we used a Dell PowerEdge R515 server loaded with Windows Server 2012. Drag and drop copies of a 2.52GB video clip returned fast read and write speeds of 103MB/sec and 95MB/sec.
Backups of large data sets were quick with our 22.4GB test folder and its 10,500 small files copied to the appliance at an average of 65MB/sec. Even Asustor’s Backup Plan didn’t slow the proceedings down as this secured the test folder to the appliance at the same rate.
IP SAN performance is just as good. Although the appliance took 75 minutes to create a 500GB thick target we saw Iometer report a very high raw read throughput of 113MB/sec.
Asustor hasn’t fumbled its entry into the NAS market as the AS-606T is an impressive appliance. It offers plenty of useful features including decent backup services and it’s fast as well. It’s also good value as its closest competitor – the Qnap TS-669 Pro – costs nearly £100 more.
CPU: 2.13GHz D2700 Atom
Memory: 1GB DDR3 expandable to 3GB
Storage: 6 x 3.5in.or 2.5in hot-swap SATA hard disk bays
RAID: Software managed
Array support: RAID0, 1, 5, 6, 10, JBOD
Network: 2 x Gigabit
Other ports: 2 x USB3, 4 x USB2, 2 x eSATA, HDMI
Management: Web browser
Software: Asustor Control Center, Download Assistant and Backup Plan
Warranty: 2yr RTB