The Asustor Drivestor 2 provides an overall ideal experience for those getting started with network-attached storage. Whether you’re an absolute beginner or just want an entry-tier NAS to start with, the Drivestor’s balance of power and accessibility allows you to scale up without much expense attached. While there are some performance limitations and minor issues, these do little to diminish the overall package.
- Brand: Asustor
- CPU: Realtek RTD1296 1.4GHz Quad-Core Processor
- Memory: 1GB DDR4 (not expandable)
- Drive Bays: 2
- Expansion: Hardware expansion via AS6004U
- Ports: 2 x USB3.1 Gen-1, 1 x 2.5Gb Ethernet port
- OS: Asustor Disk Manager (ADM)
- Caching: None
- Entry-level NAS with 2.5GbE port
- Good mix of Asustor and third-party app options
- Toolless installation offers increased accessibility
- NAS management and access via desktop and mobile apps
- Dark mode and improved search features
- Non-upgradable 1 GB of RAM
- No SSD caching
- Occasional app bugs and glitches
Asustor Drivestor 2 (AS1102T)
When dealing with network-attached storage, there’s a lot to consider. The Asustor Drivestor 2 (AS1102T) attempts to simplify much of this by honing in on desirable features for a multitude of users. With a tighter focus on home and personal use, a sleek design that won’t look out of place on your shelf, and some seriously fast connectivity, can the inexpensive Drivestor 2 provide what you need?
Asustor Drivestor 2 Design
With the AS1102T, we have Asustor’s entry-level albeit stylish model. At a glance, it’s a two-bay NAS measuring out at H6.5 x W4.02 x D8.58 inches (H165 x W102 x D218mm) while weighing just around 2.5 lbs. For its overall design aesthetic, Asustor has managed to keep it subtle without being too sterile.
The front of the unit features an Asustor logo in rose gold and a faceted design finish. Neither element is too loud; the NAS unit can blend in well with other electronics.
Once powered on, there are four LED indicator lights at the front keeping you aware of the power status, system status, network, and hard drive. For those wanting to keep their NAS more discrete, you can adjust the LED brightness, modify the system buzzer triggers, and also set up LED night mode scheduling.
At both the back and the front, there are USB 3.2 ports for easy external device access. The rear 70mm exhaust fan runs quietly; you can tweak the speed settings if you need though.
Asustor Drivestor 2 Technical Specifications
With the Asustor Drivestor 2, there’s plenty of focus on its red 2.5GbE port, allowing for superfast connectivity if you have the right networking kit to pair with it. If you’re comparing this inclusion to other 2-bay NAS models from the likes of Terramaster, QNAP, and Synology, you’re typically dealing with either a higher price point, link aggregation via two 1GbE ports, or a single 1GbE port only.
But why does it matter? With the Drivestor 2’s red 2.5GbE port, there’s a possible boost to your maximum transfer speeds from a potential 100 MB/s to 250 MB/s.
Rather than gate this feature to higher specced “enterprise” models, Asustor has opted to put it on its entry-level unit.
To help power the Drivestor 2, there’s a Realtek Quad-Core 1.4 GHz CPU and 1 GB DDR4 of memory. To help utilize this memory better, it also comes with a media mode that reserves 512MB of RAM for multimedia tasks. Furthermore, on the entertainment front, you can also transcode, stream and play multimedia in 4K.
Drive Choices for the Asustor Drivestor 2
With the AS1102T, there’s a lot of potential power in both its speed and hardware for your home use. However, you’ll need suitable drives for your network-attached storage. In terms of its listed specifications, the Drivestor 2 supports two 3.5” SATA III hard drives.
But not any drives will do. You should buy reliable NAS-grade drives that can handle the constant workload. For the testing of the Asustor Drivestor 2, we used two Seagate Ironwolf Pro drives. There are a few reasons why these are especially well suited to this Asustor NAS.
First off, Asustor’s Drivestor 2 itself comes with a three-year warranty; if you’re just looking at the regular Ironwolf drives there’s a three-year warranty to match it. With the Ironwolf Pro however, you have a warranty of five years. Plus with both regular and pro variations, there are three years’ worth of data recovery.
In terms of heavy-duty operation, these drives are ready to work 24/7 unlike the regular hard drives in your computer, and they’re prepared to transfer a large amount of data to or from the drives. Standard IronWolf drives are rated to 180TB per year; Ironwolf Pro should be able to handle 300TB per year.
With IronWolf Health Management, it’s also incredibly simple to get a detailed inspection of how your drives are doing. After installing this app on your Drivestor 2, you can go into Storage Manager and get a much more detailed health report, whether that’s temperature, status, or a look at their workload over time.
So if you’re looking for a reliable drive to pair with the AS1102T, there’s a variety of capacity options and price tiers to choose from.
Drive Installation for the Asustor Drivestor 2
After choosing what exactly you want in a NAS and what drives you’ll be using, installation can sometimes prove a daunting process. With the Asustor’s Drivestor 2, it’s a fully toolless installation. Both the casing and your drives are held in place via the included thumbscrews for the NAS.
So there’s no false advertisement here. After unscrewing the two thumbscrews from the back and lifting the case off, it’s a matter of sliding in your drives and securing them on each side. It’s a very quick process; if you’re the type that’s anxious about handling drives it can be over before you know it.
Getting Started With the Asustor Drivestor 2
Now if you’re a new NAS user, you may not know what RAID choice to go with. If you go straight in, Asustor’s drive volume settings screen gives some guidance in terms of how many drives are required and whether there’s data protection with that option. However, if you’re unfamiliar with RAID in general it’s best to get a quick rundown on all the different RAID types.
For the Drivestor 2, there’s the option to choose: single drive, RAID 0, RAID 1, or JBOD configuration. Since the AS1102T is just a two-bay NAS, I opted for RAID 1 for its data redundancy (where the same data is stored on the two drives at all times). This comes at the cost of performance but does mean that if a single drive dies, you won’t lose data. RAID 0 will result in higher performance as data is striped across the drives; but with twice the risk, as either drive failing will mean totalidade data loss.
Once you’ve made your choice, you can get the NAS started; it took a little over a day for full drive initialization.
Accessibility With Asustor Data Master (ADM)
Asustor’s Drivestor 2 runs a custom OS called Asustor Data Manager (ADM). However, that doesn’t mean you can’t make it your own. For starters, there’s a dedicated dark mode, custom theme options, and a fully customizable log-in page.
In terms of app management, it’s very similar to what you’d encounter on any mobile device. Apps can be moved around, sorted into folders, or arranged by presets.
Configuring some settings can be less user intuitive, however. Managing your shared folders via the Access Control app, for instance, versus File Explorer, doesn’t make as much sense. Regardless, whether you’re learning how to access things via Asustor College or trial-and-error, a quick search can help you get where you need much faster.
Typically, you can enter a partial keyword and find the app you want on the store. However, if you use some more general terms like sync or DLNA, you may not get the app you’re after. If you don’t get the results you want, you’re better off training yourself to be more exact in your search.
Overall, ADM offers solid performance. I’ve only experienced slowdown and performance dips when overloading too many apps onto the NAS. And this can be avoided by simply disabling apps that you aren’t currently using.
App Choices and Selection with Asustor’s App Medial
So how easy is it to get started with Asustor’s apps? If you’re looking at loading up your NAS and exploring all the options out there, you can go about it via a variety of ways. If you’ve ever used an App Store before, you’ve surely seen the option to sort between top apps or the latest apps.
You can also explore Asustor managed options or browse through tailored categories. Many Asustor apps will give you some pop-up prompts to help get you started or figure out the integration. So there’s a benefit there to choosing them versus third-party apps if you’re unfamiliar.
So how do the apps perform? As one might expect, there’s a plethora of backup, data transfer, and general connectivity options. Plus for home media management, the likes of LooksGood, Photo Gallery 3, and SoundsGood provide guided media management for those looking to stick to Asustor’s own first-party offerings. They can take a moment to synchronize appropriately with the files but afterward they’re very smooth.
For some users, your interest will lie in third-party app support. With the option to run a PLEX server, for instance, you’ll be able to stream your own media or even live TV with a compatible tuner. You can certainly go past the more standard home use and media-centric applications with full support for Docker, Portainer, and NAKIVO as well.
All-in-all, outside minor hiccups or bugs, everything works well. And there’s a lot of satisfaction in the ability to customize things exactly how you want. Whether you’re focused on data storage, media management, or virtualization, there are a plethora of options suited to both beginner and intermediate users.
Improving NAS Access and Management via Apps
With the AS1102T, there’s also a variety of desktop software and smartphone apps for further ease of use. Still, there are some downsides to these depending on what OS you use. For macOS users, for instance, there are limited desktop apps available (only Control Center and Download Assistant). The mobile apps don’t have these gated restrictions.
Asustor EZ Connect and EZ Sync deserve special note. WIth EZ Connect, it’s incredibly easy to access your NAS from anywhere using a Cloud ID. Whereas, EZ Sync makes back-up to create a continuous backup folder by following a few simple prompts.
In all cases, the apps largely simplify the process. You’ll still run into some occasional bugs and glitches with these; you can avoid a lot of headaches as a beginner by letting these automate your connectivity or NAS procedures.
Utilizing the 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet Port
With Asustor, there’s a general push for a more accessible 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet ecosystem for your home network.
The usual CAT5E and CAT6 cables you already have at home support 2.5Gb Ethernet. So there’s no rewiring or anything needlessly complicated. Instead, it’s just matter of using accessories to unlock that potential as needed for your set-up.
If your motherboard doesn’t have a 2.5GbE port built-in, or perhaps you’re using a laptop that can’t be upgraded via a PCIe card, you’re not out of luck. Asustor has made it easy to circumvent this via its inexpensive AS-U2.5G2 2.5Gb Ethernet USB adapter. This upgrades your Ethernet to 2.5Gb speeds using USB Type-C or the included USB Type A adapter.
Now while you can use this to directly connect your computer or laptop to your NAS for upgraded speeds, there are some limitations and it’s a little awkward to set up properly.
So this is why you should also look at a 2.5Gb Ethernet switch. Asustor has released the ASW205T (“Switch’nstor”) as an inexpensive entry-level unmanaged switch with no less than five 2.5GbE ports. So whether you’re looking to keep that faster connectivity across multiple NAS units or to improve things like the AS1102T’s download speed, it’s an easy upgrade that’s as simple as plug and play.
When comparing switches, the Switch’nstor typically runs cheaper than QNAP’s unmanaged switch. And if you’re using the AS-U2.5G2 USB adapter in conjunction, It’s very easy to note your connectivity at every step of your set-up by the uniform LED indicator lights. Rather than having to check your network connection on your NAS, you can tell at a glance whether you’re connected at standard gigabit or 2.5-gigabit speeds.
Performance Testing with the Asustor Drivestor 2
With all this talk, let’s touch a little on performance results after upgrading our network to take advantage of the 2.5-gigabit speeds.
To test this, I copied files to two separately mapped network drives. In both cases, I achieved a little above standard gigabit Ethernet speeds. It wasn’t as good as the performance figures touted by Asustor with the 215 MB/s read and 270 MB/S write; but those are performed under ideal lab conditions.
Secondly, I used AJA System Test and Blackmagic Disk Speed Test to do read and write tests for a 1 GB file of variable resolutions.
Performance results here should be kept in mind that it’s performed under a safety set-up with RAID 1 with NAS-grade 7200RPM spinning HDDs, so those are the limiting factor rather than the network.
To really take advantage of that added network speed and achieve closer to Asustor’s claimed results, you’ll either need to use solid-state drives (SSDs) for RAID 1, or combine two regular HDDs in a RAID 0 configuration (striped for effectively double the performance compared to operating individually).
Should You Buy the Asustor Drivestor 2
For whether you purchase the AS1102T, it boils down to what you’re expecting in terms of performance. For instance, there’s no option to upgrade the included 1 GB of RAM on the device, so your ability to run virtual machines or multiple Docker containers will be limited. I typically viewed the NAS hovering between 50-80% memory usage with a normal amount of apps installed.
Similarly, there’s no option for things such as SSD caching. You can get better performance by using SSDs as the main storage drives, but in general, if you’re an enthusiast or creator that already knows you need more performance or wants more RAID options from the go, you may wish to look across Asustor’s other selections or use their NAS selector tool.
If you are someone wanting to take advantage of network-attached storage without spending a great deal, the Drivestor 2 stands out for being almost considerably cheaper than Synology’s two-bay Diskstation. If you’re wanting a beginner NAS that will help you learn how to utilize its apps and create a faster, easier-to-access file environment for personal use or collaboration there’s a lot of value in the AS1102T.
With a tagline that “it’s the little NAS that can”—this is true in most cases. If you have realistic expectations of the Drivestor 2, there’s plenty to celebrate.
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