Zyxel NSA-220 NAS review: Zyxel NSA-220 NAS

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MSRP: $299.99

The Good Excellent Web-based management; supports USB external storage and printers; RAID configurations; keeps tab of RSS feeds.

The Bad Hard to set up and has limited over-the-Internet access; slow RAID 1 performance; USB ports are on the front.

The Bottom Line If you don't need remote access and can look past sluggish RAID 1 performance, the Zyxel NSA-220 NAS drive offers a useful set of basic features, solid performance, and best-in-class Web-based management.

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7.4 Overall
  • Setup 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 7
  • Support 6

The empty, two-bay Zyxel NSA-220 NAS device has solid overall performance, a good Web interface, and can be found online for a reasonable cost of $220. Aside from an FTP server, media server, iTunes server, and print server, the NSA-220 also has the capability to keep track of RSS feeds for podcasts and news. Its throughput performance wasn't the best. However, its performance was generally above average, except for the RAID 1 configuration where it was at the bottom of our charts, but only by a small margin. The NSA-220 doesn't offer very elaborate over-the-Internet remote data access, either. If you are looking to access your data conveniently over the Internet, we'd recommend the Synology DS-107+ or the HP Media Vault 2120. Otherwise, the Zyxel NSA-220 is a good NAS for local network environments. It costs a bit more than the seemingly similar D-Link DNS-323, but the D-Link is inferior in terms of functions and ease of use.

Design and setup
The Zyxel NSA-220 is a compact, two-bay NAS server that is about the size of the D-Link DNS-323. Unlike the D-Link, however, the Zyxel's drive bays are accessed from behind where the power and network connectors are. This means you will have to unplug it from the power and network before you can install or remove hard drives. This also means it is physically impossible to offer hot swapping for RAID 1 configuration with the NSA-220. However, the NSA-220 is far easier to use and has more features than the DNS-323, more than justifying its slightly higher price.

On the front, the NSA-220 has what looks like a big LCD panel, but it turns out to be just a decoration. It does have two functional USB ports that support printers and external USB storage. There's a copy button that initiates the quick copy function, where the entire content of a USB thumbdrive is copied onto the NAS server's internal storage.

The two USB ports are, unfortunately, both on the front of the NSA-220, making it cluttered if you want to connect a printer or an external hard drive. It would be better to move one to the back to support long-term use of a USB device.

The NSA-220 can house two SATA hard drives, up to 1TB each, giving it a total internal capacity of 2TB. The hard drives can be set up in RAID 1, RAID 0, and JBOD configurations, and we found it easy to switch the hard drives' setup from one configuration to another--it was a matter of a few mouse clicks in the hard-drive setup wizard. It took less than five minutes to set up each configuration, including the RAID building time.

Our test unit came with two 250GB hard drives preconfigured in JBOD; however, you will likely have to get the hard drives and install them on your own as the NSA-220 is sold without hard drives.

It was also easy to set the NSA-220 up with a local network. The device comes bundled with a desktop application that, though unnamed, worked well in detecting the device and launching its Web interface.

The best feature of the NAS-220 is its Web interface. Like most NAS servers and networking products, the NAS-220 lets users access its control panel via a Web browser. Most Web interfaces are static and require a lot of user inputs, but this is not the case with the NAS-220. The device's Web management application is rich, intuitive, and works very much like a desktop application.

Thanks to this, the NSA-220 offers an easy and clear way to manage shared folders and user accounts. You can make a shared folder public, where it can be accessed by anyone in the network, or make it private, where you can set a user's specific right to it including: no access, read-only, or read-write access.