IT Pro Verdict
Heaps of apps
Straightforward setup and provisioning
Limited expansion potential
Chinese company TerraMaster has been in the NAS game for over a decade and offers an impressive range of storage appliances, all with a sharp focus on value. The U8-111 on review is a prime example: this 2U rack appliance teams up eight hot-swap LFF/SFF SATA drive bays with dual gigabit plus a high-speed 10GbE copper port and comes at a competitive price.
The appliance is powered by a 1.5GHz quad-core Intel Celeron J3455 CPU. The base 4GB of embedded DDR3L memory can be doubled, but it’s far from easy as the motherboard must be removed to access the spare SODIMM slot underneath. Two USB 3 ports are for connecting external storage devices, but further expansion is limited by the lack of PCIe slots.
Build quality is good, with a steel chassis and equally sturdy metal drive carriers. A feature that will appeal to small offices is the three hot-plug fans which run so quietly that the appliance is almost silent, even with four 16TB Seagate IronWolf disks and dual Micron 1.92GB SSDs fitted.
Installation is simple. The TNAS PC utility discovered the appliance and led us to a browser-based wizard that loaded the latest TOS (TerraMaster OS) 4.2 software and created a RAID5 volume. During this process, we opted for the Btrfs file system rather than EXT4 as it enables snapshot services.
The web console is easy to navigate and we quickly created NAS shares, applied access security, assigned storage quotas and decided whether to encrypt them. A separate app manages on-demand and scheduled NAS share snapshots and recovery but doesn’t currently support iSCSI LUNs.
There are plenty of apps on hand: TerraMaster offers 88, more than eight times that provided by the likes of the Qsan XCubeNAS XN5008T. The Centralized Backup app secures Windows desktops and servers running a local client downloadable from the appliance, file servers using SMB or Rsync and Windows Server Hyper-V VMs, although for the latter each VM requires its own backup job.
Another backup app supports Apple’s Time Machine and secures appliance data to remote Rsync servers, while cloud sync apps extend to Amazon S3, Dropbox, OneDrive, Box and Google Drive. Docker apps can be run onboard in lightweight containers, but avoid the VirtualBox app if you’re running TOS 4.2.28, as it’s incompatible with this version.
Performance is similar to other Celeron J3455-equipped appliances, with a share mapped to a Dell PowerEdge T640 Windows server over 10GbE delivering Iometer sequential read and write rates of 5.3Gbits/sec and 4.4Gbits/sec. Real-world speeds are reasonable, too, with copies of a 25GB test file between the appliance and server averaging read and write rates of 4.4Gbits/sec and 3.3Gbits/sec, while securing 10,500 small files to the appliance returned 1.4Gbits/sec.
IP SAN performance is equally good, with a 500GB iSCSI target returning read and write speeds of 5.3Gbits/sec and 5.1Gbits/sec. We added an SSD cache to the volume containing the target and watched it deliver improvements of 185% and 338% for random read and write IOPS.
Plenty of new features will be available in TOS 5, which is still in beta testing, and we were given access to the latest version. The redesigned web console is much faster than previous TOS versions, the Snapshot app will extend protection to iSCSI LUNs and when the new Centralized Backup app is released, it will be able to secure VMware VMs.
Upgrade options are limited but the U8-111 is a big rack NAS well suited to small budgets. Plenty of business apps are on tap including a good range of data-protection services, and it delivered reasonable performance across our tests.
TerraMaster U8-111 specifications
|Chassis||2U rack chassis|
|CPU||1.5GHz Intel Celeron J3455|
|Memory||4GB DDR3L (max 8GB)|
|Storage||8 x LFF/SFF SATA hot-swap drive bays|
|PSU||250W internal PSU|
|RAID support||Supports RAID0, 1, 5, 6, 10|
|Network||2 x Gigabit, 10GbE Ethernet|
|Other ports||2 x USB 3, HDMI|
|Management||TerraMaster OS 4.2|
|Warranty||1yr hardware warranty|
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.