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Thecus N4520 Diskless System Network Storage

  • 4-Bay
  • Diskless System
  • Intel Atom CE5315 Dual Core 1.2GHz Processor
  • 1 x 10/100/1000 BASE-TX Auto MDI/MDI-X WOL supported
  • 1 x USB3.0 + 2 x USB2.0
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Learn more about the Thecus N4520

Quick Info

Warranty

  • Limited Warranty period (parts): 1 year
  • Limited Warranty period (labor): 1 year


Customer Reviews of the Thecus N4520

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  • Brandon G.
  • 4/29/2014 9:00:33 PM
  • Tech Level: High
  • Ownership: 1 month to 1 year
  • Verified Owner

3 out of 5 eggsWorks Well, Only At Serving Files Though

Pros: If you only want to use it as NAS it's great, it has a bunch of built in tools for permissions and sharing, many protocols are included. RAID setup was also really easy: just stick the drives in and boot it up! Also doesn't consume a lot of power, only about 1.25 Kilowatt hours over the course of 25 hours.

Cons: No RAID selection that I can think of, maybe you can do it after it has already initialized the array and installed everything to the HDDs (The NAS OS resides on the disks as three separate arrays, in addition to your main storage array. The basic firmware is stored on 2 GB of flash memory though). I put 4 identical disks in and it defaulted to RAID 5.

No easily updated package management system: What's odd is there are two different sections for Apps (or modules as they call them), one section is for officially installed apps, which are easily upgradeable. Then you have the section for third party modules...for these you have to go to the Thecus website, check to see if there's an update, download it to your PC, upload it to the NAS, which could take 15-20 minutes because some of the mods are 500 GB (Apache with PHP), then it has to unzip it and install it, which could take another 15-20 minutes. If it fails then you just wasted 30-60 minutes. For something like Plex you have to move your data folder (Which could be a few gigabytes, and has to be done over SSH since you can't really get to the files any other way) to a new place if you already had it installed, remove plex, retrieve the new module, upload it to the NAS, and wait for it to install it. It also wasn't powerful enough to quickly transcode stuff from Plex, which is one of the things that makes Plex so flexible.

The HDMI out works, but only for XBMC, and it didn't work out of the box for me. First I had to update the NAS' firmware and even after that it was just scrambled colors. I forgot what I finally did to get it to work. Even then it would lag a little on 720P videos, 1080P videos were almost unwatchable.

The filesystem is RIDICULOUSLY convoluted: there are symlinks all over the place, it's insane. There's even recursive symlinks, for what reason I don't know, but if you delete them it screws stuff up. The RAID array is mount at /RAID0 but there is a symlink to it at /RAID, your data is stored at /RAID0/data/ and all the modules are also stored under that, in exact copies of the linux file tree. If you want to manually edit the config file of a third party module, good luck finding it!

If you SSH into the NAS and want to edit somethings via the console, you'll have to use VIM because they only have busybox (a limited set of Linux tools) installed.

I also wiped the OS because I messed up a few things while trying to get XBMC to work. I read that it was non-destructive to the data on the Thecus website. I followed their upgrade procedure which said it noticed that it already had data on the array and asked me if I wanted to shut down and save the data or continue and erase the data. I hit shut down.....but it erased the data anyway. 4 TB of data gone!

Other Thoughts: My experience with their customer support sucks. I tried to register on their message board but the activation emails never got sent, I used three different email accounts but never got one email. I tried to email customer support but the only site that I could enter was China (even though they have offices in the USA and Europe, there were no email addresses for those sites), the guy I was talking to didn't understand what I was asking and when he finally did (about the 5th time I told him) he said he couldn't help me because the forum was on a different server that he didn't have access to. This conversation lasted about two weeks, it would be about 2-3 days between communications.

I gave up trying to get in and about 4 months later I got an automatic notification that I had three active accounts but they had never been verified and FINALLY got the activation emails. When I finally activated my account, I saw the guy that I was talking to through all the tickets regularly posting on the message boards! There was also a pinned thread buried deep in the board warning of this exact problem.....FROM 2010. You would have thought that they would have fixed a huge problem like this in 4 years!


After all this, I decided to see if I could take the software RAID array contained within the NAS and plug it into my desktop PC running Arch Linux, to my surprise it worked perfectly! I am now in the process of selling it.



So if you need just simple file storage, it works well, if you need anything more, look elsewhere or you're going to be disappointed and frustrated.

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