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

Like other NAS servers, the NSA-220 offers popular network storage features including FTP server, media server, iTunes server, PC-less download service, and print serving. We tried these out and they worked as intended. The download service lets you download files directly to the NAS server without having to use a computer, which helps save energy, frees up your computer for other tasks, or can just be used for a long download--such as downloading a video overnight. In addition, the NAS also has an interesting feature called "broadcatching" that automatically keeps tab of RSS feeds such as podcasts or news. We tried the feed for the Inside CNET Labs podcast and were impressed by how well it worked. We could, very conveniently, set this up, download all the episodes at once, put them in designated folder, and make them available to other PCs via the iTunes and media servers.

On the other hand, the NSA-220's over-the-Internet access is rather hard to set up and was limited. We had to manually change the settings of the router to make this work, which include mapping the IP of the NAS server and forwarding the port to that IP. The NSA-220 doesn't have a special way to host photos or media files, like the Photo Station feature found in the Synology DS-107+.

We tested the NSA-220 in all the hard-drive configurations it offers, including JBOD, RAID 0, and RAID 1. Other than the sluggish RAID 1 that registered only 34.3Mbps and 35.2Mbps on CNET Labs' write and read tests, respectively, the NSA-220 did above average in the rest of our throughput testing.

In RAID 0 configuration, which is optimized for speed, it scored 49.5Mbps on our write test and 41Mbps on our read test. By comparison, these were significantly faster than the similarly configured VOX V1, while at the same time noticeably slower than Thecus N3200. In JBOD configuration, the NSA-220 scored slightly slower at 47.8Mbps and 39.4Mbps on our write and read tests, respectively.

NAS performance test (in megabits per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Maxtor CentralAxis (Single Volume)
Thecus N3200 (RAID 5)
Zyxel NSA-220 (RAID 0)
Zyxel NSA-220 (JBOB)
Synology Disk Station DS-107+ (Single Volume)
Vox 1TB BlackBox DualBay Gigabit (RAID 0)
HP MediaVault MV2120 (Single Volume)
Thecus N3200 (RAID 0)
Maxtor CentralAxis (Single Volume)

Overall, the Zyxel NSA-220 worked well and was quiet during our testing. We didn't run into any problem getting it to work with our network and test computers.

Service and support
Zyxel backs the NSA-220 up with a two-year warranty. The company's technical support is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT, on weekdays. There's no phone number listed on its Web site, so you will need to fill in a Web-based form and wait to hear back from the support team. At the company's Web site, you will also find a knowledge base and downloads for software, firmware, and other utilities.