When I explain what a NAS is to family and friends everyone's ears perk up, that is until they hear the price. To be honest, I'm not all that comfortable with reviewing these products. The reviews already take a very long time to write, and the tests take quite a while as well. Even though we have 14 pages dedicated to the QNAP TS-669L we've covered maybe 15% of the features in the text. I'd estimate 100% coverage would take roughly six months with other product reviews happening at the same time. That could be reduced to a month by focusing exclusively on one product, but one review a month doesn't pay the bills.
How do you really define a NAS today? Is it a redundant storage device that just so happens to do 60 other tasks as well? The truth is, it is a redundant storage device that's been turned into a media center, cloud storage, database server, download station and at least 54 other devices including (with a little work) a desktop computer.
In the image above, we see the LAN side of the NAS, connecting your digital world on one side of the internet.
On the other side of the router, the cloud side you have many of the same functions without being secured to a physical location.
QNAP has redefined what a NAS is and did in a very short period of time. The first NAS I ever reviewed came from a company called Anthology Solutions and the unit was a Yellow Machine. The NAS held four HDDs that weren't hot swap capable and had very few features outside of storing data. It really wasn't that long ago, but the leap in features and technology between Ol' Yellow and the QNAP TS-669L is like the difference between living in Antarctica and on the equator.
The one area that hasn't changed much over the last eight years is the one thing holding the technology back from mass adaption in the home - the price. The Yellow Machine cost $1299 in 2005 with four 250GB HDDs, 1TB of total capacity. The QNAP TS-669L with six 1TB Western Digital Red HDDs would comes in at $1260 (estimated WD RED 1TB price at $80). The feature list over the last eight years has increased by an immeasurable amount, but price has remained steady.
When looking at the large upfront investment, it's a tough bill to swallow. What most people don't realize is that NAS products live for a very long time. Even the HDDs inside last a long time since your NAS doesn't go through start and stop procedures, as often as desktops or notebooks. The Anthology Yellow Machine is still alive with three of the four original HDDs in daily use at Zac O'Vadka's parents house (our PSU reviewer). Although the initial hit to the wallet is quite high in computer component terms, the long life span mitigates the cost. I've always suggested starting out with three HDDs and build your NAS through the migration feature when more capacity is needed. With today's 3TB and 4TB drives, it may take you quite a while to need more storage space, but the incremental increase in capacity is also larger, and that also helps to reduce the total cost over time.
The QNAP TS-669L is a solid product that should be looked at as an investment that will give you several years of service. QNAP products evolve as software features come to market, another nice addition that strengthens the long-term investment theory. The TS-669L is one of the best starting points on the market today for users looking to reduce the initial cost of ownership. The throughput performance is down a bit to some of the competition, but that is an issue that's just a firmware away, if QNAP addresses the issue.