Asustor AS6404T: Four bays, no waiting
Still a brilliant powerhouse NAS, albeit for a chunky price
Asustor's 4-bay NAS won our hearts when we first tested it and is still a contender nearly one year on, combining a powerful spec with some extremely versatile software. The move up from the two-bay AS6302T takes you from the dual-core Celeron J3355 to a quad-core J3455, while RAM leaps from 2GB to 8GB.
This gives you scope to run a more demanding set of apps, including virtual servers through VirtualBox and a full Linux desktop with Asus's Linux Centre app. Connect a display to the HDMI port, and a mouse and keyboard via USB, and your NAS can moonlight as a working PC.
Moving up the Asustor line-up also nets you a two-line LCD status display along with four navigation buttons, enabling you to check and configure the network connectivity, change server names, initialise, shut down and restart the NAS, without firing up the browser-based control panel.
Otherwise, the AS6404T has the same physical strengths as its baby brother: rock-solid build quality and excellent connectivity, complete with a USB-C port. Having to screw the hard drives into their slide-and-lock caddies is fiddly but a minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things.
Asustor could do a little work on the initial setup. You can set up Synology or Qnap's units purely through a browser, without downloading a specific configuration tool. Plus, we had issues getting Asus's preferred Universal Media Server app up and running, and the media folders accessible, until we reconfigured the network connection, by pure coincidence, to use Link Aggregation.
Beyond that, however, the ADM OS works smoothly, delivering a platform for a huge range of apps, covering cloud-sync backup through Google Drive, OneDrive and Dropbox, media playback through Plex and Twonky and even business apps through LibreOffice, SugarCRM and WorldCard. What's more, the AS6404T can still function as a powerful, 4K-capable media player through the Asus Portal app, running Kodi or streaming video from Amazon Prime.
Remote access is handled by Asustor's own Cloud Connect service, while the Surveillance Centre app will monitor up to four IP cameras for free. NAS backup services are provided courtesy of Crashplan and ElephantDrive - naturally these are chargeable, but if you care enough about your data to invest in a NAS appliance, you shouldn't be skimping on offsite backup. There's also support for rsync, to automatically replicate your data to a remote NAS appliance of your own.
One small but noteworthy strength of ADM is its versatile approach to encryption. Most NAS systems can encrypt entire volumes at the time of creation, but offer no easy way to retroactively apply encryption later on. Asustor's software lets you encrypt and decrypt individual folders at any time - handy if you take on a sensitive project that you didn't originally foresee.
In terms of file-transfer performance, the 4-bay Asustor sits somewhere in the middle of the competition, beneath speed demons such as the Buffalo TeraStation 5210DN and Netgear ReadyNAS 212 but well clear of slower units. The only sticking point is the price. Given what the Asus offers it's still good value, but the Synology DS918+ and Thecus N4810 offer similar features for less.
he AS6404T’s standalone capabilities and powerful internals mean there’s bags of headroom for it to take on new roles and services as your needs evolve. So long as four bays and two gigabit Ethernet ports are sufficient for your needs, it will be an extremely long time before you outgrow the Asustor AS6404T.
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