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I’ve had my ZyXEL NAS now for a couple of months, so I thought it was only fair that I should review it 😉

The device itself was a lot smaller than I was expecting, being not bigger than the hard drive that goes in it. It’s made robustly of metal, with the exception of the plastic front panel. It has rubber feet underneath, but is more sturdily mounted on a the provided plastic cradle – this is a useful addition but cheaply made.

The front panel consists of a number of status lights, a power and sync button and a USB socket.  All other connections are on the back  – SATA, eSATA, Gigabyte Ethernet,  and another USB port.

I had also purchased a 1TB Western Digital Caviar Green – not the quickest, but energy conscious and quiet. Putting the drive in is a case of undoing a screw on the underneath of the front panel, lifting the panel away and then pushing the drive into place.

You turn the NAS on and it takes a few minutes to initialise. First time you use it, however, you have to install the provided (or downloaded) firmware, which you do from your PC. After this is done you access the NAS via a web-based admin. panel.

The administration section is detailed and includes many useful options. A media server is included allowing you access to your videos and music anywhere on the network. Additionally, there are options to set up downloads to your NAS, allowing you, for instance, to kick off a large download at night and turn your PC off.  This includes Torrent options. You can also set up feeds, such as Podcasts, which will download automatically.

To access the NAS data you can map the drive to your PC or access it via a network shortcut. Additional access options available include FTP and  a web publishing feature that allows you to access data from a browser.

The NAS can also be set up with timing options allowing you to dictate times when it will turn itself on and off, and also reboot itself.

Connect a printer to the USB port and configure it via the admin menu and you have a simple, but useful, network printer.

And if all these options aren’t enough, you can download and install, from the admin menu, further tools including WordPress, MySQL and Gallery.

NSA210 Administration Screen

So, what’s it like in use? Excellent. I use few of the more advanced features, I’ll admit. I use my NAS, primarily, as a backup device. A good external hard drive isn’t much less, so I went for a NAS for the networking options that it does give me. Also, because it comes diskless, I know that the disk can be easily replaced – many others come with a disk and firmware built in – you may be able to replace the drive but, often, adding the firmware back on is difficult or even impossible. That’s not the case here – in the case of a drive failure, I simply slot a new one in and re-install the firmware.

PC Pro tests mentioned that it was quite slow, but I’ve not noticed in comparison to my previous Maxtor model. That was particularly slow when trying to access the data, something the ZyXEL doesn’t have a problem with. And that, above basic transfer speed, makes it feel a lot quicker in use.

It’s tucked away, next to my printer and is quiet and efficient in use.

[review]Quiet, excellent value for money and packed full of features. For home users it’s ideal.[/review]
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