Server distributions for small businesses tested

Are You Being Served?


As an alternative to server solutions, the test team also took a closer look at the TVS-471 NAS system by QNAP [7]; you can purchase this from popular online stores for less than $1,000 without storage media, which can be any commercially available SATA SSDs and hard disks; however, you do need to purchase them separately.

Because the computational performance of professional NAS systems is now similar to dedicated computer systems, many vendors offer firmware variants that also provide typical server-based services, as the test candidate did.

The box – equipped with four slots for storage devices – is factory-equipped with a Pentium G3250 or Core i3 CPU. Both variants have 4GB of RAM, which you can expand to 16GB. The operating system is the Linux-based QTS 4.2 with an optimized kernel.

The distribution, maintained by QNAP, offers a visually appealing, clear-cut management interface (Figure 13) and an App Center that lets users install server-based services retroactively. Thanks to a modular collection of software, the QNAP TVS-471 can also be used as a home movie, music, and photo center.

Figure 13: The developers did a good job with the QNAP Manager; system administrators will quickly find a way around the graphical user interface.

To access the web interface in the browser, type the IP address of the NAS system followed by the port number 8080. When you first login, type admin as a username and password. You want to change these access credentials immediately using the menu system at the top.

External Helpers

The System Settings menu is where you can configure the most important elements, including network connections, security settings, and hardware parameters. If you want to use the device's uninterruptible power supply and eSATA interfaces to connect external mass storage devices, printers, or a UPS, you need to go to the External Device option.

The NAS system is preconfigured out of the box to a great extent; administrators typically only need to create users, groups, and shares. You can handle all of these tasks conveniently in the Privilege Settings menu item, where you also assign rights to users and groups or explicitly share directories and files. A number of apps extend the NAS. In the integrated store, you will notice the categories Education , Home Automation , Surveillance , and Entertainment , which the other test candidates do not offer. Additionally, you will find popular server-based services (mail, web, etc.), as well as virtualization solutions.

The vendor groups many additional offerings, from ERP systems through an e-commerce solution up to presentation apps in the Business section. Because all of the applications are web based, no additional software installation is required on the client side.


If you are looking for a way to update the existing software, you will find it in the Control Panel | System Settings group below Firmware Update . In the dialog that appears, administrators can specify that the system should look for updates automatically after login (Figure 14).

Figure 14: A firmware upgrade installs the latest software on the NAS system.

Additionally, you can trigger updates manually. If new firmware versions are available as ZIP archives, you do need to unpack them on a different computer first before installing them on the NAS with the aid of a shell script.

QNAP provides a number of proprietary tools for system maintenance. For example, admins can go to System Settings | System Logs to view various logfiles and thus identify potential sources of problems. And the General Settings | System Administration menu also offers a variety of details relating to the network status and system services. The Storage Manager not only shows the load but also tests connected mass media capable of using self-monitoring analysis and reporting technology (S.M.A.R.T.) to deliver details of mechanical hard disk wear.

The Backup Station offers backup functions, including NAS-to-NAS backups, network backups on remote storage media, and backups on storage devices connected to the NAS. If these options are not enough, you also get help creating backups in the Amazon cloud.

Buy this article as PDF

Express-Checkout as PDF
Price $2.95
(incl. VAT)

Buy ADMIN Magazine

Get it on Google Play

US / Canada

Get it on Google Play

UK / Australia

Related content

  • Zentyal Server 3.5
    Some users may struggle when setting up various services, such as web servers, email servers, firewalls, and the like. Zentyal simplifies configuration of all those things, thanks to its intuitive user interface.
  • ClearOS 7 Community Edition and Kali Linux
    ClearOS provides a simple and easy-to-use platform for all layers of the IT environment. Offensive Security bills Kali Linux 2017.1 as their “most
    advanced penetration testing distribution, ever”.
  • openSUSE LEAP 42.1 and ClearOS 7.2
    The openSUSE community offers the "first Linux hybrid distro," which combines source from SUSE Linux Enterprise (SLE) with community contributions in an effort to provide a balance between innovation and maturity. ClearOS, also known as the Next-Generation Small Business Server, is an IT solution for homes, small to medium-sized businesses, and distributed environments.
  • Zentyal Server 3.5 Community Edition, 64-bit
    Zentyal bills itself as "a drop-in replacement for Microsoft Small Business Server and Microsoft Exchange Server that you can set up in less than 30 minutes."
  • Making Small Business Server 2011 fit for 2014
    Never change a running system: If you are happy with your Small Business Server, you don't need to upgrade to the latest Windows server, but you should stay up-to-date. We show the pitfalls of installing updates.
comments powered by Disqus