The TerraMaster F2-210 NAS server is an affordable alternative to the Synology DS218+. At half the cost, $150 disk-less, it’s quite a deal. To top that off, the new server is fast, has a responsive web user interface, supports 4K transcoding, and includes many add-on features.
But you do get what you pay for. This server trails behind its competitor quite significantly, both in software and design. Its operating system and features lack depth and a certain level of sophistication. The hardware itself seems unnecessarily bulky and is a tad noisy. Also, the support for mobile users is almost non-existent.
That said, if you’re on a budget and looking for a simple, straightforward NAS server, the F2-210 is a decent buy. For a complete and refined experience, however, pick the DS218+ instead.
TerraMaster F2-210 2-Bay NAS Server
- Good hardware, lots of add-on apps
- Fast performance
- Responsive web interface
- Lackluster apps, unrefined OS
- Single network port
- No Active Directory Integration
- Terrible English text in user interface
- Bulky design, a bit noisy
TerraMaster F2-210: Simple, bulky design
The TerraMaster F2-210 is a dual-drive server that can host two standard SATA hard disks with a front-facing drive bay. On the back, it has two USB 3.0 ports to host more storage space and a single Gigabit network port. With no additional network port, the server lacks advanced network features, such as Link Aggregation.
The server is bulky and appears cheap when you look closely. Its thick aluminum body is not consistently smooth, especially at the edges, and its ventilation fan bulges out — kind of an eyesore. By the way, this design turns the server into somewhat of an echo chamber. As a result, during operations, the server’s body magnifies the sound of the hard drives making it noisier than you’d expect.
TerraMaster F2-210: Hardware specifications.
|CPU||Realtek RTD1296 Quad Core 1.4GHz|
|Hardware encryption engine||Yes|
|Hardware transcoding engine||10-bit H.265 (HEVC), MPEG-4 Part 2, MPEG-2, VC-1; maximum resolution: 4K (4096 x 2160); maximum frame rate per second (FPS): 30|
|Compatible drive type||2 x 3.5″ or 2.5” SATA HDDs/SSDs (drives not included)|
|Hot swappable drive||Yes|
|External port||2 x USB 3.0 ports|
|Size (HxWxD)||8.93 x 4.68 x 5.23 in (227 x 119 x 133 mm)|
|Weight||2.97 lbs (1.35 kg)|
|Network Ports||1 x Gigabit (RJ-45)|
|Wake on LAN/WAN||No|
|Scheduled power on/off||Yes|
|AC input power voltage||100V to 240V AC|
|Maximum storage capacity||28 TB (2 x 14TB drives)|
|Maximum local user accounts||128|
|Maximum share folders||128|
|Supported RAID type||Single, JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1|
|Suggested retail price (disk-less)||$150|
Standard setup process
You do need to use a crew-driver to install the hard drives — the server has two drive trays that you can quickly insert or remove from the server. It’s a bit of work, but the server includes everything for you to get the job done. You can set up the drives in RAID 0, RAID 1 or as two individual volumes. The F2-210 doesn’t feature a specifical RAID, like Synology’s SHR.
Once the drives are in place, the process to set up the software was straightforward using the TNAS PC software application. This app detects the NAS in the network and helps launch the server’s web interface. The first time you do this, a wizard will walk you tough the process of downloading and installing the operating system — called TerraMaster Operating System or TOS, currently at version 4.0 — on the server. Then, you’ll need to create user accounts, pick a RAID, and the server is ready. From then on, you can go back to its user interface to make any changes.
One thing to note: In my testing, after the setup, the TNAS PC tool no longer detects the server. That said, make sure you remember to server’s IP address if you want to access its web user interface later. Or you can figure that out via your router’s interface.
Responsive, but quirky user interface
Since TOS is a Linux-based operating system, the F2-210 has a similar interface to that of Synology or Asus NAS servers. There’s a start button, a desktop with app icons, a Control Panel app for managing the server’s settings, and an Application App for adding/removing add-on features.
The interface itself is quite responsive. I could open up multiple apps at a time, and most of them launch instantly with almost no lag.
However, the interface is generic, unrefined with lots of issues. For one, all of the instructional and description texts seem shoddily translated from Chinese. At times, they make no sense. It’s generally hard to find things since there’s no search function. Something as obvious as the NAS server’s model number is nowhere to be found within the interface.
What’s more, the Start button only shows/hide running apps — all of them — and doesn’t do anything else. You can’t rearrange or group the icons on the desktop, either. If you have a lot of installed apps and a low-resolution screen, you won’t be able to see all the apps.
So, despite the fact it’s the 4.0 revision, TOS at times feels like it’s an alpha version of a real NAS operating system.
TerraMaster F2-210: Detail photos
TerraMaster F2-210: A good variety of (mostly) lackluster apps
The F2-210 comes with about thirty apps, which is plenty though not as impressive as more than a hundred apps of the DS218+. And out of those apps, there are just a few popular ones for home users. I tried them out briefly, and all of them work as intended but all lack depth.
Take Transmission, for example; it’s an app for download, similar to the Download Station of Synology. You can’t search for what you need to download with this app. Instead, you have to get the download link or source and enter it into the app itself, making it a pain to use. The server’s Multimedia Server app doesn’t include a mobile app, and some of my network streamers didn’t detect it.
The apps that worked well in my tests are the Snapshot and Backup. The former creates shadow copies of shared folders to keep the content safe from accidental data changes. The latter allows for different types of data backups. (By the way, the server supports RSync backup which enables it to work with NAS servers from other vendors, including Synology.) But, still, both of these apps are not as refined as the Synology counterparts.
Easy remote access, no Active Directory integration
The F2-210 has a remote access setting called TNAS.online — a replica of Synology’s QuickConnect. You first register the server with a unique name, such as DongKnowsTech. After that, point a remote computer to the unique address — TNAS.online/DongKnowsTech in my case —, and you’ll be able to access the server, from anywhere in the world. TerraMaster says there’s a TNAS Online mobile app that takes advantage of the remote access for the mobile user, but I couldn’t find it at any app store at the time of this review.
Speaking of mobile apps, there seems to be just one TNAS File Explorer app available during my review, which only works locally. Overall TerraMaster is behind most other NAS vendors when it comes to supporting mobile devices, and has a lot of work to do if it wants to TOS a real contender of Synology’s DSM.
Business user beware, the F2-210 doesn’t support Active Directory integration. As a result, in an office powered by a Windows server, you can’t manage the NAS server’s shared folders via the domain controller’s user management.
TerraMaster F2-210: Quite fast performance
For throughput performance, I tested the TerraMaster F2-210, with two 6TB WD Red hard drive, both in RAID 1 and RAID 0, and it performed admirably, considering its cost. Keep in mind; it wasn’t in any way the fastest I’ve seen as you can see in the chart below.
It’s important to note that you should use the server in RAID 1 since RAID 0 offers no data protection.
I used the F2-210 for almost a month, and the server proved to be reliable during this time. It was always online and responsive. By the way, like Synology servers, you can program the F2-210 to turn itself on or off automatically based on a schedule.
Thanks to the low price and decent hardware, the TerraMaster F2-210 has a lot of potentials. If you have never used a NAS server from Asus, QNAP or especially Synology before, chances are you’ll be happy with it. However, anyone with prior experience of a more sophisticated server will find the F2-210’s OS sorely lacking. TerraMaster is headed in the right direction, but there’s a long way before it can catch up with other NAS vendors.
Until then, the TerraMaster F2-210 is an OK entry-level server for those who want to dapple into the world of network storage without spending a lot — and, again, they get what they pay for.