The Thecus N2560 Network Attached Storage unit is an affordable two drive device that is aimed squarely at Geeks like ourselves who want to explore the concept of the Home Cloud. Today we take a quick look at what Thecus brings to the table with the N2560 and what features and specifications it offers, with a view to a full review in a few weeks’ time. Firstly, let explore the idea of building your own Home Cloud:
The Home Cloud
The home cloud concept is a very attractive one for a Mobile Geek. It means that we get to manage all of our digital content on a much more personal and local level. It needs a good balance of security and ease-of-access for every document you care about, be it an .mp3, .doc, .jpeg, .mkv or .psd file, a good home cloud setup keeps it safe, while also letting you access it any time and even, anywhere.
The idea has been with us for a while, and stands as alternative to our to the classic cloud computing model where all you digital possessions are uploaded and secured on a server somewhere, typically one owned by Google, Microsoft or others such as DropBox. The difference with a home cloud is that you and you alone are responsible for the data, meaning there are fewer privacy issues, plus you typically get to store and secure physically larger data sets including things like HD video.
Today’s home cloud solutions have evolved, improved and become significantly more affordable in recent years and the features on offer have also improved in tandem. End users want the best possible mix of access and security. They want their stuff to be safe from theft and system failure, but they want to access it from anywhere, and from any online device, on any platform. So to be fair to companies like Thecus and others in this segment, the needs of the end user have become more sophisticated and touch more difficult to deliver. The Internet has evolved massively, and so has the sheer quantity of digital content that we now possess, exponentially exploding beyond just a few holiday snaps on a disk somewhere.
For many of us, the solution is to install and manage our own storage solution at home. One that can tie together all our devices and all our digital content, either as a home NAS for the whole family, or for a small office. I admit that I have never setup up or maintained my NAS before, so we can consider this project and product review to a be a genuine first time user experience perspective.
The Thecus N2560 Network Attached Server
So what the hell is a NAS? A Network Attached Storage unit is a basically small server or computer that has its own operating system, processor and system memory with usually a RAID storage setup, attached to several other computers or clients over a network. The idea is that any connected device can read or write data to the NAS, so if you are in the bedroom, you can access your movies from the NAS using your tablet, or if you want your photos backed up from your mobile phone you simply open an app, and request back up – or maybe just have it all automatically configured to do so as you walk in the door.
The Thecus N2560 is an example of a NAS that is marketed at people exactly like me. I do a lot of work from my home office and I also have many TBs of content that I also want to manage. The N2560 is described as a SOHO (Small Office / Home Office) device, and at just under $200 it fits into my budget needs fairly tidily too.
The brain of the system is a specialized Intel Atom system-on-chip that offers good media streaming performance, fast Gigabit Ethernet networking and more, all in a very lower power envelope that means you probably won’t mind the Thecus being left on all day – Thecus reckon the N2560 in total pulls only 9 watts when idle. Probably a lot less than your average fridge.
The Intel Atom CE5335 is a dual core SoC clocked at 1.6GHz, and is accompanied by 2GB of DDR3. Around the back you get a HDMI port, SPDIF, Gigabit Ethernet port, plus two USB 2.0 ports and the devices’ power socket. The front panel features a larger prominent power button, a USB 3.0 port plus a quick copy button that automatically copies data from the USB 3.0 port to NAS. There are also indicator LEDs for network activity, USB port activity and general information.
Thecus N2560 Software
Hardware is only part of the story when it comes to building any secure, user-friendly network, so of course one area we will scrutinizing in some detail is just how well the Thecus software behaves. This includes setting up the device initially (Thecus claim you can setup and configure the device in 5 mins, surely this would spoil the fun, no?), how easy it is to implement solid security, and just how well the device plays with our array of Android devices.
Thecus offer the T-OnTheGo smartphone app which allows streaming, copying, editing of data files between your mobile device and the NAS. I look forward to seeing just how slick and well thought out the software side looks. The machine also comes with pre-installed apps that include McAfee anti-virus, Piczza photo server and the Transmission BitTorrent client.
Without even mentioning RAID creation, Dynamic DNS setup, security protocols and other deeper technical aspects that await us, you can see that this is going to be an interesting journey. Be sure to follow us up on the full review.