I’m sure some of you have experienced losing something important due to a hard drive failing, or a machine going up in flames. A NAS device is like having your own private server, you can get it to run the background processes you don’t want on your main device, you can access it from any of your other devices, and if one of your devices breaks you haven’t lost any of your important data. This is great for keeping your movie library accessible from any device in your house, storing and viewing your security camera footage, automatically keeping backups of your family photos, asking your NAS to download a file for you while you’re away from home and so much more!
It sounds complicated, but setting it up is actually easier than you may think. Let's take a look at two Network Attached Storage units from ASUSTOR, The AS6602T and the AS6604T, also known as Lockerstor 2 and Lockerstor 4.
Before we get into it, for reference, let’s quickly compare the Lockerstor 2 to the closest NAS spec-wise that Synology offers. The DS720+. They both have a Gemini Lake quad-core processor (Intel Celeron J4125), both have 2 drive bays and can support 2x M.2 drives for caching. Awesome! However, while the Synology has 2x 1GBe ports, the Asustor has 2x 2.5GBe ports the Asustor also has double the ram, and a dedicated HDMI out port to connect directly to a monitor, all for $120 less at the time of this review.
On paper, this looks like a great deal, so let’s set one up and see if there’s a catch. Synology is known for its simplicity, using the DiskStation Manager operating system Is easy, giving you a windows desktop-like experience. Asustor uses its own OS called ADM and it’s very similar, but first, we need to install our drives, the housing has a few screws then the lid slides off. On the top, we can install up to 2 M.2 drives, then the bays at the front are for your 3.5 or 2.5” drives.
After installing your drives into the bays and installing the ADM OS you are met with an app screen where you can easily access apps for backing up devices, setting up snapshots, exploring your file system, and checking the overall health of your drives. App Central is where you can download extra software and features depending on what you want to do with your unit. There is software for making your own streaming server, surveillance HQ, but today let’s look at photos. As you may know, google photos is ending its free unlimited storage on July 1, 2021, so let’s make our own photo server that automatically backs up our photo library when we get home.
First we want to head on over to the App Central app and search for Photo gallery 3, and on our device (play store for me) search AiFoto 3. Then all we need to do is type in our NAS server user and password, and it's all done we can now start adding photos and videos. We even get a handy notification on our device when all uploading is complete. Now if you open the photo gallery app on our NAS you can see all the photos we selected have been added, just like that. Easy. If you want this to happen automatically you just click settings on your mobile device, then check "backup from now on" there are also options for photos only, only over wifi and only when my device is charging, very handy.
Now to test, I took a quick photo, plugged my phone in and got the notification. When I checked the server the picture was already uploaded and waiting for me. That's really how easy this whole system is and application central is full of many more bits of software you may want for your own server, whether it is photos, surveillance, backing up video files, or saving snapshots of your PC and important files. Asustor really has a simple and easy to use system with outstanding specs for the price.
The AS6604T works the same as the 2 bay but you get 4 slots for drives, meaning you can fit 4x the storage or you could raid 2 drives to be identical copies of the other two for redundancy. The 4 bay also has a display on the front for easy access to your IP address or any errors. It's handy but not a necessity as you can access all this information through the software, so it really depends on the needs of your storage size.