QNAP, along with Synology, has carved out a little niche when it comes to making prosumer storage devices.
The TS-879 follows the same design language as pretty much everything else in QNAP's stable, offering eight drive bays with new secure clasps. Those who are security conscious should note that individual bays are not lockable by key, nor is any sort of fascia.
A status display is present on the front, as is a USB 2.0 port, a copy button (that the user can set to automatically copy into a folder on the NAS, or from the NAS into a set folder on the USB drive) and the power button. Apart from status lights on both the device and individual drives, the front is kept minimal, but it still gives you all the information you'll need.
Flip to the back, and you have VGA and HDMI outputs for diagnostics, four USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port, two eSATA ports and two gigabit Ethernet ports.
QNAP's UI is still good, managing to fit a huge number of features into a reasonably coherent interface. It seems that we're losing our battle to get the NAS vendors to remove the pointless application chooser when you load the web interface — from here, you can choose whether to go into NAS administration or other modules, like the web file manager.
The administration page is displayed with a tree view down the left, and a main pane on the right. As usual, the thing is packed with more features than should really be contained in a couple of paragraphs, but beggars can't be choosers.
RAID levels up to six are permitted, with the volumes able to be formatted in EXT3 or EXT4. CIFS, AFP, NFS, Bonjour and IPv6 protocols are supported; telnet/SSH, RSync, RADIUS FTP and web (PHP+MySQL) servers are on-board, too. There's a web-based file manager, you can plug IP cams in and there's also something that we haven't seen in a NAS before: ClamAV is bundled in to run antivirus checks on your storage.
Back-up support is good, allowing Time Machine back-ups, the aforementioned RSync and back-up to Amazon S3 servers or external drives.
If you'd prefer it to be on a wireless network (madness!), then you can plug in a compatible USB dongle. USB ports can also be used to manage UPS and printers, although, just like everything with these things, it's worth checking the compatibility lists first.
Support for DDNS services is in there, plus encrypted file systems, iSCSI, virtual disks, domain/user/group management and a heck of a lot more. If that's not enough for you, then you can even expand capability through QNAP's QPKG format.
As a final carrot, QNAP offers something that it calls MyCloudNAS, letting you set up a dynamic DNS address at mycloudnas.com, and then access it from outside your local network. QNAP also supplies an Android and iPhone app for accessing media on its NAS, but when we tested the Android application, it could find the NAS, but not connect — not a good thing, considering our previous good experiences with the app.
Copying a 6GB file from a client to a RAID 5, five-disk array resulted in a 100MBps transfer speed average, while copying back averaged 110MBps.
QNAP's NAS products are still excellent and incredibly flexible devices. If you're in the market for an eight-bay NAS, then put this one on your list.