Category: Computer Hardware

NAS (Network Attached Storage) – QNAP Brand

Over recent months I have installed a number of 2 Bay QNAP branded NAS devices.

This is like having your own personal cloud storage (Like Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive), except you control the environment and access.

There are many benefits of having such a device.

  • You can set it up to have a large storage pool.
  • It is run independent of the computer. (Access from your phone)
  • Works from Mac and PC
  • Can be accessed from any device on your home network or if configured to allow it, access from a remote location via the internet.
  • If the computer were to crash or be replaced, then we have all your data securely stored externally.
  • The device has built in redundancy (Two drives always mirroring each other)
  • You can send images or videos directly from your phone to your folder on the NAS.
  • You can setup shared access to images or folders to others.
  • You can have user restricted access to folders on the NAS.  Keep individuals data on the NAS Private.  Each office member can have their own private folder for storing data).
  • Mac laptop/desktop can also use this to perform it’s time machine backup.

There are two parts to it.

  1. The NAS box itself.  Which is about the size of a small shoe box.
  2. The two hard drives that you decide to install in the box.  This is where you can decide what size(Capacity) drives you want in the box.

I have been implementing the brand QNAP 2-Bay Units for a NAS and Seagate Ironwolf Pro Drives (Better Quality and Warranty).

To give you an idea on costs.

A Two Bay NAS Box (Diskless) will cost from around $250 through to the better faster 2 bay unit at around $750-800  .

The better units are faster to process data.

Then to get a standard NAS Hard Drive of which you will need two matching drives, can cost from $100 per 1TB drive to $1000 per 16TB drive .

I have found a number of software utilities that can run on either windows or mac computers to assist with NAS configuration, Data Synchronization, NAS Monitoring.

Qfinder Pro (available for Windows, Mac and Ubuntu) allows you to quickly find and easily access all of the QNAP NAS on the same LAN. The Windows version provides “Storage Plug & Connect” functionality, allowing the QNAP NAS to be used as a PC network drive or virtual disk for convenient data storage. You can also use the “Media Upload” feature to save NAS system resources by performing media file transcoding on your local PC before uploading them to the NAS. Chromebook users can download Qfinder Pro from the Chrome Web Store to enjoy seamless connectivity to the QNAP NAS.

QNAPFINDERPRO

QSYNC : Qsync enables automatic file synchronization across different devices. Simply drag and drop files in the “Qsync folder,” data on devices linked with the NAS is updated simultaneously when changes are made. Additional sync modes, such as Smart Sync or Advanced Selective Sync, allow users to only sync selective data or folders. You can also create download links to share files with others without them having to create a user account for download.

qsync

NetBak Replicator: (Windows Only)        QNAP NetBak Replicator features real-time synchronization, scheduled and auto backup of the entire disk drives, documents, multimedia files and e-mails from multiple Windows PCs to QNAP NAS. It also supports backing up to a remote server via FTP and WebDAV over the Internet.

Notes Station 3 Clipper : The Notes Station 3 Clipper for Google Chrome™ assists in collecting online information by saving web content (including web pages, articles, and images) as notes in Notes Station 3 for quick and easy access. Simply add this Chrome extension to start clipping online content to Notes Station 3.

Note: The Notes Station 3 Clipper requires Notes Station 3 to be installed on your NAS.

Qsirch:  Qsirch is a fast, full-text search engine that enables you to search for files based on names, content, and metadata. You can choose from a variety of elaborate search options to quickly find documents, images, videos, emails, and much more stored on your QNAP NAS. You can also search through web, mobile app, browser extension, and Mac Finder. With Qsirch, you can easily find movies, songs or photos at home or increase your productivity and efficiency for your business.

QPhoto: Here is an app that many might find useful.  Managing your photo and backing them up directly to the NAS.

qphoto        qphoto app

 

System Requirements

  • QNAP NAS: QTS 4.1 (or later) with Photo Station installed and enabled. Note that you need a NAS account that has the permission to access Photo Station.
  • Mobile device: Android 4.0 (or later) or iOS 9.0 (or later).

 

Link for more information on Qphoto

 

There is also an app called Qvideo but this requires Video Station to be installed on the NAS is the App Center.

Mobile Phone App

Qvideo_6 - Copy

App on the NAS

Qvideo_1

Other apps

apps

I have only discussed the 2 bay NAS devices but they come in larger configurations.

nas bays

Call me if you want to discuss options.

 

 

 

Image Backup saved client.

On February 13th I went to a client who had issues with one of her 2 laptops.  I provided a workaround solution to the issue that was being experienced at the time and also put in place a permanent solution that would be implemented a few weeks later.  While onsite I asked about backups and noted that no backups had been run for over a year on either laptop.

So, we installed the latest backup software from Acronis (3 device License) and installed copies of the software on her 2 laptops.  A full image backup was run on each device.

Great, we now had a snapshot of everything that each laptop had installed including the Operating System, all additional software and all data and settings.

Then  early in the afternoon on the 20th of February, I received an alarming SMS with a image of the Asus laptops (BIOS)  screen.  This screen is normally not displayed unless you press the key to go into this BIOS area or something has gone wrong. NOTE Port 0 does not have an entry.  This is where the main hard drive information should be displayed.  The laptop had 2 drives.  a 256GIG SSD and a 1TB conventional drive, plus a CDROM Drive.  Only 2 of the 3 were being found.  Drive died or had become disconnected.

asus1

I took the laptop, backup drive, power supply back to my office to investigate.  When I opened the drive cover I checked it was securely connected and then removed the SSD drive.  I checked if I could connect to drive from another computer via a docking station.  No Joy!!  DEAD DRIVE..

asus12

Left Side bay is where SDD drive was installed..

After resolving a number of other issues including upgrading the BIOS software version from 205 to the latest 211 version,  I installed a 480gig SSD drive asus10and then proceeded to restore the backup from the 13th to the new disk.  Once this completed, the laptop was restored back to how it looked on the 13th but now had a larger SSD drive.

Without this image backup the laptop would have had to be completely reinstalled including Windows 10 since the laptop was originally supplied with windows 8.1 and whet through the Windows 10 upgrade path (So no Windows 10 Install media available).

Then Office, antivirus, etc etc would also need to be installed and all accounts reconfigured.  This would have been a very time consuming task on top of the time to replace the SSD drive.  Restore time once everything was stable took around 30 minutes and I then returned the laptop to a relieved client.

Here we then performed a number of updates including Antivirus, Nvidea etc and then took another full image backup.

RUN YOUR BACKUPS and contact me if you need help.

 

Swapping your conventional Hard Disk Drive (HDD) to a new Solid State Drive (SSD)

I recently received a call from one of my customers that one of their computers in their office was performing very slowly.  It was an older computer which was using a conventional Hard Drive with a capacity of 500GIG.

Option 1:  Replace the computer with a new computer which would come with a SSD drive installed.  The cost of such a machine could be between $1100 and $1600.  On top of this we would have to setup the machine to work in the office by adding networked printers, mapped network drives, configure standard antivirus software, install Office 2013 again etc.  All this will take a few hours and add to the overall cost.

Option 2:  Clone the contents of the existing drive onto a new SSD drive of the same size and and then unplug the old drive and connect the new.  Under the covers there is a change to the drive, but nothing appears to have changed on the PC except for the boost in performance.  Cost here would be 1-2 hours in labour plus the cost of the drive.  Drives vary in cost depending on the brand, quality and capacity of the drive in GIGABYTES.  It is always recommended to cleanup the drive and remove all unnecessary data to speed up the cloning process.

SSD drive are 2.5″ drive sizes which are normally the size put into laptops.  The capacity of the drives start as small as 120GIG and go up to 1 Terabyte or 1000GIG and can cost from around $100 up to $500.

I finished cloning of the drive and the computer performance was as the customer put in  and I quote “computer booted-up ‘like lightening’…thanks”

The drive rating using the Windows Experience Index went from a 5.9 to a 7.4 out of a possible 7.9.  Vast improvement.

UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) and Laser Printers

UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) and Laser Printers

I found out an interesting bit of information today about UPS devices.  UPS is Uninterruptible Power Supply.

 

I installed a 850Watt Eaton device at a client and connected a HP Desktop all-in-one  and a Multi-function Laser Printer.  That’s all.  Well after charging the unit for the prescribed 6 hours, I turned off the computer, and then plugged it and the Printer into the UPS.  I turned on the UPS and after a short while, a loud continuous beep sounded and did not stop.  I checked the manual (2 page document) and the only mention was the beep could be caused by a fault in the UPS.  I went back to my supplier who stated that he would loan me another unit to test to see if it was the UPS at fault.  It also had the same issue.

After calling the Australian Supplier of these units, I was asked if I was connecting a Laser Printer.  I told them that I was.  He said that I should try not to connect the printer, but to only connect the PC.  I returned and did this, and the unit did not beep.    Very strange!  Well I researched this a little further and found the following article in http://superuser.com/questions/466642/why-shouldnt-i-attach-laser-printers-or-scanners-to-a-ups/466645

In summary it states that one should never connect a laser printer to a UPS.  I guess that should be in the manual in bold lettering!!

When turned on, Laser printers draw a high current to heat up their fuser roller.

A typical UPS cannot cope with such a spike.

Descriptions of the problem by UPS manufacturers do not go into details.

The problem may be one or other of

  • The initial inrush current at start-up, This can be seven or more times the average operating current of the printer.
  • Initial power-on when the fuser is heated to the temperature needed to fuse toner. Subsequent re-heating of the fuser may be periodic or may occur when the printer switches from and idle state to full-power to satisfy a print request after a period of inactivity.

Fuser temperature is up to 200 °C (392 °F).