Improve NAS Performance: Reset QNAP NAS

July 25, 2021

Written by: Jeff Baygents

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Why Reset? To Improve Performance and Fix Lingering Issues!

After I had my NAS for about a year or two in my home office, I had a need to fix some issues and I really needed to improve its performance. I had installed and uninstalled so many apps, changed my settings, storage, and network so many times, I began noticing a few more frequent anomalies, some aspects running more slowly, and some areas within apps not working well any more. It was time for a complete refresh. I’ve performed a re-initialization several times over the years and I began to take notes as I noticed it was far more productive and safer if I did things in a certain order. So, here’s that sequential order of the steps I took, as an example for you. I hope it helps…

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Overview

This guide is an example of how to perform a complete re-initialization of a QNAP® NAS with a specific model and specs referenced. Hopefully, it will assist anyone, in full or in part, for planning ahead or for proceeding through this long, tedious process. Everyone’s experiences may differ for many reasons (e.g., various version differences, different models, power surges, router Wi-Fi permissions, firewall settings, work or home office, etc.). This guide covers a base installation. The remaining configurations will cover establishing a Storage Pool with an empty Data Volume, SMTP setup, and Alert Notifications. This example guide does not cover the scope of restoring users, databases, certificates, and other systems.

Base Example Device Specs Listing

  • QTS Firmware version:  QTS 4.5.4.1723
  • QNAP® NAS Model TS-563, AMD 2.0 GHz
    • Count of Drive Bays:  5
    • RAM: 16Gb, DDR3
    • HDD:  WD Reds, 6 Gb/s (SATA3)
    • 2 NICs (using 1 in this guide)
  • For Backups off of NAS:  External USB Hard Drive in a dual hard drive Dock
  • Windows 10 Laptop on the same LAN (used for the browser to access the NAS for setup and configurations)
Improve NAS Performance on the TS-563
Improve NAS Performance: Reset QNAP NAS 20

Starting Over Begins HERE! (Backup your files, databases, & systems first!!!)

  • Ensure all data (files, databases, users, systems, virtual images, etc.) were backed up from the NAS.
  • Ensure any sync’ing on any clients is paused.  I have experienced the client deleting files and folders if the NAS files weren’t fully restored yet.
  • Reset the NAS using this method:
    1. Shutdown the NAS.  Leave it plugged into power and connected to the Internet (e.g., via the router).
    2. Remove/Eject the hard drives.  If you’re NOT performing a complete reset of this system, you’ll need to mark each drive so you can later re-insert them in the exact order as before.  Otherwise, the order doesn’t matter.  This guide focuses on a complete reset.
Remove Drives by first pulling lever.
Remove Drives by first pulling lever.
Then, pull drive out partially (or fully).
Then, pull drive out partially (or fully).
All drives shown pulled partially (or can be fully removed).
All drives shown pulled partially (or can be fully removed).
  1. Then, startup the NAS, ensuring it has a network connection to the Internet.  Your Windows computer (for connecting to and configuring the NAS) can be connected via Wi-Fi using the same network router. 
    • Note:  Your computer’s Wi-Fi or LAN connection must be such that your computer is visible to see other devices on your network. If using Wi-Fi, you can check/edit your Wi-Fi properties in Windows to ensure it’s showing as a “private” connection and not a “public” connection.
Push the power button to start up the NAS.

Start up the NAS.

  1. After about 3-5 minutes, you’ll potentially hear a double-beep.
  2. You should then insert the hard drives you want to use (min 4 for RAID 10).  This example uses a total of 5 hard drives (1 spare + 4 for RAID 10).
  3. You can now start the NAS setup or its reinitialization, depending on how you proceed through the various screens and prompts.
  4. Using your computer that’s on the same network as your NAS, you can continue to follow these next steps. 

Install Qfinder Pro App

  • Install the Qfinder Pro app (using default settings).   The app is located on the QNAP.com site under Support | Utilities or directly here: (https://www.qnap.com/en-us/utilities/essentials).   When started, respond to the prompt for your region, e.g., “Global”.  After confirming that selection, it will automatically search the network your laptop is on and should identify your NAS current IP address. 
  • Respond <Yes> when asked about the NAS Server to be initialized.   
image
  • To continue, click <Yes> to choose to start the Smart Installation Guide. You’re on your starting path to improving your NAS performance.
  • It will utilize your default browser moving forward.  It may prompt to check your warranty, which is an option.  You can opt to close the screen by clicking the small ‘x’ in the upper right-hand corner of that popup message.
  • Close the Qfinder Pro app and continue following just your browser screens.
  • You will see the starting screen similar to here.  It will show your QTS firmware version on the upper left and your model in the upper right:
Smart Installation Guide wizard begins.
  • You can continue by clicking on the button “Start Smart Installation”.

Start Smart Installation

  • Your next screen will offer a check for availability of a firmware version upgrade.  You can opt to check for an update and follow that process to upgrade if desired; however, you’ll need to perform the hard drive removal process again by starting over with this guide.
  • This example presumes your version is current or that you won’t be upgrading it yet, and you click the button <Next>.
  • The next screen portion shows the option to perform a complete initialization or just a reset to factory settings. 
Re-initializing is the first step to improve NAS performance.
  • This guide’s example is choosing to now click <Initialize System>, which will erase all data and files, and will format the drives.
    • Note:  If you chose to only ‘restore factory settings’ (to retain files):  You will need to decide which of the upcoming steps and categories to ignore and skip over because of that choice.
  • Follow the next steps which represent a variety of topics you’ll be experiencing to choose some settings for each.

Populate Settings to Use During the Initialization

  • NAME/PASSWORD Screen:  You can re-use previous or use new settings identifications and credentials. 
    • Assign a NAS Name, e.g., “Baygents”, and change the password now.  Then, click <Next>.  Note:  the starting default login credentials were “admin” & pwd of “admin”.
    • Important:  Update your passwords list (e.g., via your password management system) and consider using part of the naming and/or labeling of “QNAP” for a future easily found search.
    • Click <Next>.
  • DATE/TIME Screen:  Change the time zone and change the time server, as needed and preferred (I typically retain the default NTP server), and click <Next>.
  • NETWORK Screen:  This example uses to choose the option “… DHCP…”.  However, you can certainly opt to fill in the desired details of a static IP.  Then, click <Next>.
  • SERVICES Screen:  Choose the minimum number of networking (sharing) options, e.g., Windows.  This is important to help improve your NAS performance. This guide’s example utilizes the selection of “Windows”. Then, click <Next>.
  • You’ll arrive at a summary screen to review your recent set of choices.  You can click individually on any individual item for a final change, as needed.  When satisfied with your review of your choices, click <Apply>.
Confirm your previous choices.
  • This is popup prompt as it’s preparing to erase your hard drives, as this guide’s example is a full ‘initialize system’.  To continue to erase your drives and their contents, click <Initialize>.

The Initialization Process is Underway!

  • The prompt will go away and the process of applying your settings commences.  In our example of five 3TB drives, it gets quickly to show a 99% progress bar for about 5 minutes.  A list of individual services are displayed for about 10 minutes.  When those processes have finished, you’ll see a “Congratulations” screen and you should click on <Go to NAS Management>.
  • In case you don’t ever see the previously referenced “Congratulations” screen, you could close your browser and use the Qfinder Pro app to reconnect to see where it left off, in order to continue.
  •  Close your browser.
  • If needed, open the Qfinder Pro app to locate your NAS again (the IP address might be changed).
  • You may see a popup prompt asking if you want to setup SMTP now.  You can choose <No>, knowing this is covered later in this guide.
  • Still within the Qfinder Pro app, observe the displayed IP address of the NAS you’re working on, ensure it’s selected (in case you have more than one in the list), and click the upper left ‘Login’ button. 
Using Qfinder Pro, it locates the current IP address of your NAS.
  • It will then open your default browser to your selected NAS IP address at the login page.
Your default login screen.
  • Populate the password you established earlier, click to select the “Secure login” checkbox, and click to <Login>.

Initial Login – Loads of Opened Screens Right Away

  • After you login, you are at a visual desktop of the NAS. After this, with a single click, a whole lot of screens start popping up and it’s messy.
  • They are features and functions of various aspects of the QTS system and multiple prompts to set them up.  To reduce complexity and improve your NAS performance, choose all that you can to respond as ‘no’, ‘cancel, or ‘later’, and so on.  Then, close the browser.
  • Using the Qfinder Pro app, click to logon to the NAS again and login.  This time, your experience may be more orderly in the following sequences.  The following goes through a list of different options based on your model and history that is tied to your NAS, e.g., past licenses.
    • With the prompt regarding the aspect of the “Help Center”, click the small checkbox stating “Do not automatically launch Help Center.”, followed by clicking <Ok>.  Then, close the “Help Center” screen, using the upper right “x” in its window.
    • With the prompt regarding to make you aware of available licenses, you can again click the small checkbox to not show it again, followed by clicking <Close>.
    • With the prompt regarding “No Volumes and/or Storage Pools”, you can again click the small checkbox to not show it again, followed by clicking <Ok>.
      • This one will begin to prepare you to define your desired storage setup.  First, you click <Yes> to agree to the terms of the “Data Collection Agreement”.
      • Next, you’ll see a training exposure set of ‘slides’ of some functions, features, and usage regarding storage.  You can go through them to review on the latest by clicking <Next> several times, or click <Skip>. 
        • If you went through the slides, on the last ‘slide’, you’ll see ‘Finish’ and ‘New Storage Pool’.  Click on <New Storage Pool>.
        • If you skipped the slides, you end up seeing the “Storage & Snapshots” screen. Just click the icon’s ‘+’ plus sign, just above the “No Storage Pool” verbiage.

Creating a Storage Pool

  • Create Storage Pool Wizard
    • Click <Next> on the first opening screen “Create a storage pool”.
    • View the list of all drives shown (using a scroll bar).
      • Even if you’re unsure if your drives are SED-capable, you can click the ‘SED’ checkbox and it will filter in to display only drives you have that are SED-capable.  In this example, the SED option is not used.
      • Click the checkboxes of Disks 2 thru 5.
      • In the RAID dropdown box, choose RAID 10. This is another key aspect to improve your NAS performance.
      • Now the ‘Hot Spare Disk’ dropdown box becomes enabled.  Choose to select ‘Disk 1’.  This is optional for you.  Some people install an SSD drive and use it as cache, which can be typically a great way to improve NAS performance.
      • Click <Next>.
      • The Configure screen reveals an 80% threshold default.  This example retains that value and clicks <Next>.
      • There is a summary of the chosen settings presented for final review to go back and change if desired.  Otherwise, to continue, click <Create>.
        • There’s a final prompt, as it’s about to perform a basic short process of the RAID preparation (lasts just a few minutes).  Click <Ok> to start that process.
        • After the short process is done (about 3-5 minutes), you’re prompted to create a ‘volume’ within the new Storage Pool just created. 
This is a good step to begin to establish your Volume using RAID.  RAID 10 is among the best to improve NAS performance.
  • Click ‘Do not show this message again’ and then click <New Volume>.

Creating a New Volume (in the Storage Pool)

  • Create New Volume Wizard
    • Below is the first screen on the steps to create a new volume, to be contained within your existing new storage pool.
Selecting the THIN VOLUME is the best one to improve NAS performance.  But the Thick is the one that offers a better selection of practical features and functions.
  • On the ‘Select Type’ tabbed screen, choose the default volume type, e.g., “Thick Volume” provisioning (allows moderate qty of features with medium performance).  There might be some features or functions that you might want that would be excluded with “Thin Volume”. However, if you are able to work with the “Thin Volume”, this will improve your NAS performance even more than the “Thick Volume”. Consider either of the other 2 options such as “Static Volume” which seems to provide minimal features with maximum performance and “Thin Volume” provisioning appears to provide minimal performance with maximum features.  Then, click <Next>.
The Volume configuration screen.
  • The default ‘Configure’ screen appears (as shown on the left image above).  In this example, we change the ‘volume capacity’ to be “4” TB, (as shown on the right image above).  Then, click <Next>.
  • Then, click <Finish> and you’ll see a popup message similar to this.
From this point forward, you want to reserve all the processing power you can until the RAID volume is fully completed.  This will help improve NAS performance in a more productive manner.
  • You have started the volume creation.  You can click the checkbox to prevent this popup in the future.  Then, click <Close>.
  • The main storage screen now displays (a small animated icon) that the data volume is being created.  The “Running background tasks” display may show that it will take several days to complete; however, it changes frequently and is dependent on other processes currently underway automatically.  In time, it actually will start to reflect a more accurate completion time of about 8 hours for the RAID to complete, while the data volume itself is ready to use after only about 5-10 minutes.  Later in this guide, you’ll change a RAID setting (not the RAID type) that will increase the speed of completion to about 5 hours (using the example hard drive sizes and speed).
  • You can now close the Storage & Snapshots screen.

Awaiting RAID Completion to Improve NAS Performance

  • Several processes will be taking place to automatically install certain apps and services as a minimal system. For aiding to improve NAS performance of your RAID building, you’ll want to delay any app updates as well as any other major tasks until much later.
  • With all the apps’ screens now closed, from the Home screen, click on the app “Storage and Snapshots”.  Then, from the left pane, under the category heading ‘Storage’, click on “Storage/Snapshots”.  Respond to the prompt to change the RAID build speed.
    • At this point, you’ll want to change the speed of the RAID sync performance speed to be “High” instead of “Medium”.  Although it will slow you down on some of these larger steps, it will overall be more productive to improve NAS performance with less time on the entire completed full setup.  Click the checkbox to not show again, followed by clicking on the <Go To> button.
    • From the ‘RAID Resync Priority’ screen you were taken to, look for and change the “Priority” column item to be “Resync First (High speed)” and click , followed by to the prompt, and then <Close>.
    • You can now close the Storage app.

NAS Management: Logging in Test Verification of IP Address

  • NOTE: If you ever close everything or get lost, you can use the Qfinder Pro app again to locate your NAS IP address (if forgotten).  Or, you just use your browser to go to your originally chosen static IP address, e.g., http://192.168.1.103
  • At the static IP address site, login as “admin”. Ensure the IP address shown is the one you chose, as you might be using 2 network cables, thus having 2 IP addresses.
  • If the initial “Welcome to QTS” appears, you can select the option to not show it again.

Notifications Setup to Maintain the Improved NAS Performance

Overview:  This is an important item to setup soon after the initial storage setup.  It will provide you with alerts that may occur from this point moving forward while continuing to finalize the initial basic configuration.

  • From the “Control Panel, click “System”.  Then from left pane, click on “Notification Center”. Respond to the send data prompt, as you decide. <Yes> or <No>.

Service Account and Device Pairing

  • This example clicks <Skip> on the initial popup screen entitled “Welcome to Notification Center”, and <No> to the next prompt.
    • Close the popup window or choose <Remind Me Later>.
    • On the remaining notification screen, near the far upper right, click on “More”.
    • Click on the button <Add SMTP Service>.
      • Select the desired email service as the type to use and follow the prompts to finish its selection.
      • Note:  You can optionally use the sender and recipient email address as the same, as you may not have any users set up at this time.
      • The email address from the email service account may appear; select it and follow through the rest of any prompts, as well as the settings requested.
      • When all settings desired are filled in, click <Create> button to finish.

System Notification Rules

  • Notifications of issues will also help you in addressing concerns as they happen. This will help you improve NAS performance over time by providing a good maintenance environment which maintains everyone’s productivity.
    • On the left pane, click on “System Notification Rules”.
      • On the right pane, click on the button <Create Rule>.
      • Observe the standard selected items.  None are determined to remove at this time.  Then, click <Next>
      • Here at the “Notification Criteria”.  Unselect the option “Information”. Then, click <Next>.
  • Click the column heading named “Alert Notifications”
    • Click the button named <Create Rule>.
    • Ensure the Severity Level option “Information” is unselected and that “Warning” and “Error” are selected.  Then, click <Next>.
    • Here at the “Methods and Recipients”.  On the right half, fill in the recipient Email1 address.  Then, on the left half, ensure the “Custom subject line” is empty.  Then, click <Next>, followed by <Finish>.
    • Now close the “Notification Center” screen.

Networking Confirmation

Go to Control Panel.  On the left pane, click on Network & File Services.  On the center pane, click <Win/Mac/NFS>.  You’ll then see this on the right pane.

Enabling only the network services you use will help a long way to improve NAS performance.
  • In this example, ensure the checkbox is selected to “Enable file service for Microsoft Networking”.  Choose the option “Standalone server”.   
  • Click <Advanced Options>.
    • You can ensure “Enable Asynchronous I/O” is NOT selected. This will help to improve NAS performance.
    • Improve your security and ensure “Lowest SMB version” is higher than “SMB1”. 
      • Choose the highest you can tolerate operationally.  This might require you to do a little research but it has to do with connecting to your NAS.  If some device or other server connections to your NAS are later discovered to be failing, e.g., remote UPS, iLO, or other types of services, you might be led to change this setting again.
      • Click <Apply> and that screen will close
      • You can now close the Control Panel.

Ensuring RAID Volume is Finished to Improve NAS Performance

  • After your RAID volume(s) completed (after several hours), you can then begin to move forward at a normal pace with the remaining configurations. Your patience investment has paid off and you can now enjoy an improved NAS performance while you finish out with some major tasks of this re-initialization. While many will move forward before the RAID is completely done, all processing will literally take many hours or days longer if that happens. It’s a common mistake you don’t want to make in setting a NAS up. It harms efficiency to cause some to start over, others to complain about the hard drives, and so on.
  • Now is the time to have the potential to improve NAS performance further with any Apps updates. After clicking to start updating the app(s), you can close that screen as it will continue to update.

Data Volume Setup for Receiving FILES to Preserve Improving NAS Performance

This will setup the initial shared folder(s) where you can soon restore your backed up files (or to establish a new area for files storage.  Go to Control Panel | Privilege and on the middle pane, click on “Shared Folders”.  The right pane will reveal a list of the default folders, as well as any externally connected storage devices and their content.  In the following example, you have default generated folders displayed, along with a USB Storage Dock used for “Backups”. 

Visit this screen periodically to manage privileges to maintain security and to NAS performance.

In this example, it’s now time to create a folder named “Files” and to apply its permissions.

  • While remaining in the right pane, click the drop-down button <Create>.  Select the option “Shared Folder”.  This new screen offers the settings to populate for this new shared folder.
Minimizing shares can help improve NAS performance.  This one is the key beginning overall of a major single folder share of all files, usually reserved for admins or specialty management.
  • In this example, populate the following:
    • Folder Name:  FILES
    • Scroll way down to select the checkbox named “Enable sync on this shared folder”.
    • Optionally, you can now choose to encrypt the folder.
  • Click <Create> at the bottom.  You might receive a popup message announcing information about where to create content source folders for use as multimedia folders.  Click to not show again and then <Ok>.
  • You now have a key shared folder to start to repopulate from backups.
  • You can take a moment now to confirm you can map a drive letter (or a network location) from your computer to the newly created (empty) “FILES” shared folder.  The share mapping naming would be: “<nas ip address>FILES”.  This will ensure you won’t have “discovery” issues later with Qsync, backups, and antivirus scans.
  • You can now close the Control Panel.

Restore Your Files, Databases, Systems, and Re-establish Backups

If this is a re-initialization and you had prior files, you can now restore those files onto the empty shared folder named “FILES” you created (referencing this example).  You can use any prior method you used and are familiar with.  Ensure you re-establish the backup method.  You can also now restore any databases and other systems you may have had, using your own methods. Again, by waiting later for re-establishing any sync’ing from clients, you’re helping to continue to improve your NAS performance overall during this major restoration set of processes.

Restore your client use of Synchronizing of Files

If you used any app on client devices for sync’ing files (such as Qsync), you’ll want to re-implement or update them, as needed.  However, ensure that all clients have made a separate copy of any new or edited files (during your NAS re-initialization) as an added temporary measure.

During your re-initialization of the NAS, clients’ devices might have been performing some edits on some of their local copies of sync’d files and you’ll want to ensure they sync okay to your NAS.  Sync’ing is a good tool and a bad thing if they get out of sync.  Ensure that the date/time stamps of your restored files now returned to the NAS are the same as their true previous date & time and ensure they don’t overwrite client files on workstations that have newer edited files, when you re-enable the sync processes.  You should test to ensure the client’s newer edited files will now update the ones on the NAS. It’s a good idea to run a quick test whenever performing a restoration from a backup and sync’ing with a client workstation.

Save Your NAS Settings

Firmware and Settings backups share the same version. So, before any firmware upgrade, it’s always best to save the latest settings just in case. Go to Control Panel | System (Backup/Restore).  On the right pane, click <Backup> and locate a common area to save these settings periodically after making changes each time.  It’s wise to retain the default file name given OR name it yourself to include the current date in the file name AND to put it in a folder name representing the firmware version.  In the future, when making a major change, save a settings backup and make the file name remind you of what that change was. If you discover issues in degradation, you could perform a restore of that earlier settings file to improve NAS performance again. Then, you can control the performance and revisit configuration changes.

Conclusion of Basic Setup, Configuration, & Improved NAS Performance

This concludes the basics of establishing or re-establishing your NAS.  There are a lot of other items that you may consider as part of your basic setup and configuration needs such as SSL Certificates and other licenses.  Individuals can utilize this article to re-initialize their NAS to a basic level in the hope of improving performance and fixing issues.  There may be additional articles that will offer specific setups of key NAS functions that others might use such as Surveillance Cameras, Encryption, Snapshots Management, and so on.  Thank you in advance for any positive feedback, recommended corrections, your ideas to improve NAS performance, and desired topics to cover in other future articles. To learn more of a related topic, visit here “Reduce Future Issues – Quality Install Process of Software“.

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