Qsan XCubeNAS XN5012RE review: Powerful data protection

The app choice is basic, but this expandable NAS delivers enterprise-level data protection at an SMB price

IT Pro Verdict


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    Impressive performance

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    Comprehensive data protection features

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    Smart web console


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    Only ten apps available

If data protection is your priority, you’ll find that Qsan’s XCubeNAS appliances have plenty to offer. The XN5012RE is the latest to join this burgeoning family, and like all its stablemates, it runs Qsan’s QSM software, which is based on a robust ZOL (ZFS on Linux) architecture.

Snapshot services are excellent, with QSM’s copy-on-write feature offering unlimited snapshots as standard. Data deduplication services are included too, along with real-time data tiering and optional WORM (write once read many) policies for long-term data protection.

Internally, the XN5012RE is powered by a dual-core 2.9GHz Celeron G3930 CPU and comes with 8GB of DDR4 memory (which can be expanded to 64GB). It presents 12 hot-swap SATA drive bays; if you need more, consider stepping up to Qsan’s XN5012R, which adds a rear six-bay SFF drive cage for four standard SSDs and two NVMe drives.

Connection options are good, with four Gigabit Ethernet and four USB 3 connectors at the rear, plus a USB 2 port up front. There are two PCIe slots available too, although these only support Qsan’s own 10GbE, 40GbE, Thunderbolt 3 and SAS adapters.

Installation went without a hitch: we fitted four 16TB Seagate Exos X16 drives, visited the Qsan Finder web portal to install the latest QSM 3.1.7 software and set up a massive 44TB RAID5 storage pool. Next, to test performance, we installed Qsan’s dual-port 10GbE fibre adapter and connected it as a mapped share to a Dell PowerEdge T640 Xeon Scalable server running Windows Server 2019.

With this done, Iometer reported impressive sequential read and write rates of 9.3Gbits/sec and 8.8Gbits/sec, while drag-and-drop copies of a 25GB file completed at average read and write speeds of 7Gbits/sec and 3.7Gbits/sec. The appliance is no slouch when it comes to backup performance, either: our 22.4GB folder of 10,500 small files was copied to the NAS share at a nifty 2.5Gbits/sec. And IP SAN speeds are tops, with a 1TB target delivering read and write rates of 9.2Gbits/sec and 9Gbits/sec.

The tidy QSM web console makes light work of storage management, but it’s short on apps, with just ten on offer. To be fair, though, these cover all the basic requirements, including backup, hardware monitoring, cloud syncing, antivirus, file and media management, VPNs, SQL databases, web services and virtualisation.

The backup app can run on-demand NAS share and iSCSI LUN snapshots, as well as scheduling them as often as every five minutes. Data restoration is swift, and you can easily roll back entire snapshots or browse their contents and restore individual files or folders.

The Xmirror option lets you replicate shared folders or entire volumes to other Qsan appliances; it’s possible to send backup jobs to other Qsan or rsync-compatible appliances too, or to the Alibaba Cloud OSS, Amazon S3 and HiCloud commercial cloud providers.

Virtualisation performance is held back a little by the dual-core CPU, but the XN5012RE can host any OS you fancy, and QSM gives you options to download software directly from the VMware, Bitnami and Turnkey app marketplaces. The Cloud Sync app meanwhile supports Google Drive, OneDrive and Dropbox, with the option to run sync jobs in real-time or periodically.

Lastly, as we mentioned earlier, QSM offers flexible WORM options. A choice of policies can be applied to NAS shares to prevent the deletion of important data: you can enforce a retention period of any length you like, or choose the “WORM forever” option to ensure that shares can never be modified or deleted. (Note that you won’t even be able to remove the volume containing the shares.)

With its basic set of apps, the XN5012RE might not be the most exciting NAS appliance around. However, it does an excellent job of storing and protecting your business data, with great 10GbE performance at a good price.

Qsan XCubeNAS XN5012RE Specifications

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Chassis2U rack
CPUdual-core 2.9GHz Intel Celeron G3930
Storage12 x LFF/SFF hot-swap bays
RAID supportRAID0, 1, 5, 6, 10, Z3, JBOD
Networking4 x Gigabit Ethernet
Ports4 x USB 3, USB 2, HDMI
PCIe slots2 x PCIe
PSUs2 x 250W hotplug PSUs
ManagementWeb-based console
Warranty3yr RTB warranty
Dave Mitchell

Dave is an IT consultant and freelance journalist specialising in hands-on reviews of computer networking products covering all market sectors from small businesses to enterprises. Founder of Binary Testing Ltd – the UK’s premier independent network testing laboratory - Dave has over 45 years of experience in the IT industry.

Dave has produced many thousands of in-depth business networking product reviews from his lab which have been reproduced globally. Writing for ITPro and its sister title, PC Pro, he covers all areas of business IT infrastructure, including servers, storage, network security, data protection, cloud, infrastructure and services.