It has been some time since I had the opportunity to review a NAS from QNAP. At the time, this was a budget-oriented NAS of the TS-230 type. Click here to go to my previous review.
Now it’s time to review a newer type, the QNAP TS-233. This NAS is also budget-oriented and ideally suited for small users who are new to the NAS world.
In this review I will cover 2 use cases;
1. Working with shares (Shared folders from within Windows 11)
I show you how to set up shared folders and access them from Windows 11 explorer. The advantage of this is that you can work and save from your NAS with ease. In my previous review, this question came up repeatedly, which is why I am happy to cover it in this one.
2. Backing up photos from your cell phone
Using QNAP’s Qfile app, I want to show how easy it is to upload your photos from your mobile phone to the NAS.
While writing this review, I ran the NAS with Windows 11 Pro 22H2 and iOS 16. The HDDs of the NAS are some older WD drives that I still had on hand somewhere. When purchasing the NAS, I recommend taking a pair of Seagate or WD drives that are suitable for NAS use.
Time for the specifications, what do we find under the hood of the TS-233?
CPU: ARM 4-core Cortex-A55 2.0 GHz-processor
CPU architecture: 64-bit ARM
Floating Point Unit: Yes
Encryption Engine: Yes
System Memory: 2 GB onboard (non-expandable) **Note: Reserves some RAM for use as shared graphics memory**
Maximum memory: 2 GB on board (non-expandable)
Flash memory: 4 GB (Dual boot OS protection)
Drive bays: 2 x 3.5″ SATA 6 Gbps, 3 Gbps
Drive Compatibility: 3.5″ SATA Hard Disk Drives, 2.5″ SATA Hard Disk Drives
2.5-inch SATA solid-state drives
Hot Swapping: Yes
Gigabit Ethernet port (RJ45): 1x
Wake-on-LAN (WOL): Yes
Jumbo Frame: Yes
USB 2.0 Port: 2x
USB 3.2 Gen 1 Port: 1x
Form Factor: Tower
LED indicators: System status, LAN, USB, HDD 1 to 2
Buttons: Power, Reset, USB Copy
Dimensions (HxWxD): 188.64 × 90.18 × 156.26mm
Weight (net): 1.11 kg
Weight (gross): 1.95 kg
Operating temperature: 0 – 40 °C (32°F – 104°F)
Storage temperature: -20 – 70°C (-4°F – 158°F)
Relative humidity: 5-95% RH non-condensing, wet bulb: 27 ˚C
Power supply: 65 W adapter (12 V DC), 100-240 V AC
Power consumption: HDD hibernation: 3.43 W
Power consumption: Operating mode, typical 10.81 W
Tested completely filled with drives.
Fan: 1 x 80mm, 12V DC
System Alert: Buzzer
Max. number of simultaneous connections (CIFS) – with max. memory: 200
The nice thing about new stuff is the unpacking. So is this NAS, packed in a solid box.
Of course, we find the QNAP TS-233, a cat5e Ethernet cable, an AC adapter, screws for 3.5-inch HDDs (8x), and screws for 2.5-inch HDDs (6x). The Quick Installation guide is also included. This is handy to use if this is your first NAS.
The QNAP TS 233 looks very compact and solid. The color is a nice plain white. Its predecessor the TS-230 was in baby blue color and I was not very enthusiastic about that. Now color shouldn’t be a problem as long as the functionalities are good, but still, you might want to incorporate a NAS in your interior a bit.
At the front on the left side, we see (from top to bottom) several LED indicators, an on/off button, and a copy button that allows you to back up a linked USB storage device directly to the NAS in a preset folder with one push and a USB 3.2 connection.
On the back side, we see an 80mm fan to keep the NAS cool. On the right side (from top to bottom) we see a reset button, an RJ45 gigabit Ethernet connection, and 2x USB 2.0. The power supply is at the very bottom.
At the bottom, we see a sticker with the serial number and a screw with which you can open the NAS to access the HDDs. It may happen that you don’t get the cover off in one go because after loosening the screw you have to slide the cover upwards before you can remove it. This is also stated in the Quick-Installation guide, so keep it with you to prevent frustration and possibly also damage to the clamps.
The installation of the NAS is easy. Please note that if you want to place the drives you use the quick guide. At first, I was a little confused about opening the cover. I am usually very stubborn and never read a quick guide, but once again it turned out that a quick guide is there for a reason. RTFM moment…
As soon as the cover is off, you can remove the 2 brackets and insert both drives. Make sure that you place the drives correctly. After the drives are secured in the brackets, carefully replace them and then reattach the cover. Do not forget to hand-tighten the screw at the bottom again.
The question I often get is “where should I place a NAS”? I always recommend; putting it in a free place out of reach of children (yes mine made a sport of constantly pressing the power button). And preferably place it in a place where the fans have sufficient chance to pick up free air. Speaking of fans; This NAS can sometimes make some noise when it is in working. In standby, you won’t notice much of this.
I have had bad experiences with a NAS on a high cabinet, within 10 days it was 1 dust mess in the NAS. Now it is in the TV cabinet that is closed with a door. A fuse box is also an option if there is enough space. Finally, it is of course convenient that you place the NAS in a place where a UTP internet cable can also be used.
Use the supplied UTP cable and power cable to supply the NAS with power and internet. If the supplied UTP cable is too short to connect to your modem/router, make sure that you take a cat5e or higher with a longer cable.
Once the NAS is connected to the power supply and the modem/router, switch on the NAS using the power button on the front. The NAS will now start up. You may hear several small beeps during the startup procedure, but this is not a problem. I advise you to let the NAS go through the startup procedure and settle into your network. In the meantime, you can provide yourself with coffee/tea because this process takes a while (about 10 minutes).
After 10 minutes you can sit down with another cup of coffee/tea because now the actual setup will take place. I do recommend using the Qfinder tool from QNAP, this tool is very easy and clear. In this review, I am also using the Qfinder tool. You can download the tool here from the website of [url=”https://www.qnap.com/nl-nl/utilities/essentials”]QNAP[/url]
Once you have installed the Qfinder and you have reached the settings page via the browser, you need to go through a few steps. You will be given the option to fire up the quick install guide, which I highly recommend for convenience.
With the screenshots below, I’ll take you through the QNAP TS-230 installation process in a nutshell.
As soon as you have reached the NAS via Qfinder via the browser, you will see the smart installation assistant right in front of you. You have to go through this process step by step, and then it really can’t go wrong. You first start with updating the QNAP TS-233 firmware.
After installing the new firmware, your NAS will reboot. Your NAS may make some beeping noises, don’t worry, nothing is wrong. If all goes well after the NAS reboots, the smart setup assistant will open again and you can continue to set up your NAS.
It is time to give your NAS a name, keep in mind that this name will also appear in your network. You also need to create a username and password.
After this, you have to enter the time zone, and eventually, you will arrive at a summary of the settings you have entered.
As soon as you press “apply”, you will receive a notification that the NAS will prepare the built-in hard drives for use. Please note that all data on the hard drive will be lost. It will also give this message with new hard drives.
This process takes about 15 minutes. Leave the NAS for a while, and wait until you get the “congratulations” message.
Your NAS is now completely ready to be used. However, shares still need to be created. After all, you want your network folders to be accessible so that you can place all your documents and photos on your NAS.
Log in now!
Immediately after logging in you will be presented with another wizard. One thing QNAP does well is work with installation wizards. This makes it easier for the simple user to set up a NAS without technical knowledge and without having to call your smart nephew. I can wholeheartedly say that if you follow the wizard and the accompanying explanation, you will get it right. Think of it as an “on-the-edge” manual.
Once the storage pool creation is complete, we will create the shares. These are ultimately your shared folders that you can access over your network with ease.
Many basic settings for regular use are already properly set by default. Of course, QNAP offers you many more choices and options for the more advanced user, but my review is based on the fast user who wants a NAS for external storage.
Creating shared folders is also very easy, below is a brief description of how to do that. The settings speak for themselves and are also customizable.
Using the QNAP TS-230
Now that the full installation and basic settings have been completed, we will take a closer look at the use. As stated earlier, I would like to briefly highlight 2 use cases of the TS233. Working from a shared folder and backing up your media on your mobile phone (I use Apple iOS16)
Once your shared folders have been created, you can access them via Windows Explorer.
This can be done in 2 ways:
Through a URL that you enter in Windows Explorer (\\*namenas* -> enter, enter login details, and then you’re done.
Note: You can also find your NAS via “Network”, double-click on the name of your NAS and you will also be in your NAS after logging in.
Or via a shortcut on your desktop (right-click -> new -> shortcut). After this, you enter the link \\*namenas* and then choose a name.
In this way, the QNAP TS233 allows its users to work from your NAS. You immediately save all your work to your NAS and no longer locally on your PC. I have been working this way for years and I must say it offers a kind of reassurance: When my PC dies, I still have all my documents and photos. An additional advantage is that all my private data is in my own “cloud” that I manage myself. I can highly recommend it to everyone.
As mentioned before, the QNAP TS233 is ideally suited for this and that for a tight price where you get a lot of functionality in return. Sure, it’s an investment but it is well worth it and something that you will benefit from for years to come. QNAP is also up to date in terms of software support, because NAS systems that are years old are still supported with the latest firmware.
Finally, I would like to mention that it is possible to back up photos to the NAS from your mobile phone with the TS233. This is possible for both iOS and Android. I tested it with an iOS 16 device. In the app store, you have various QNAP apps that work with the QNAP NAS. I have tested both Qphoto and Qfile and my conclusion is that Qfile works better when it comes to backing up your photos than Qphoto. Qphoto seemed a bit unstable and did not do what I expected: Seamlessly backup photos from my iPhone 13 to the NAS. Qfile did this smoothly. All you need to do is create a shared folder as described earlier and assign this folder in Qfile as a backup location.
The QNAP TS-233 is the ideal NAS for small home users. The NAS is great for storing your day-to-day documents and photos.
If you still want a step more like streaming videos using PLEX? Then the TS-233 is suitable for this.
Do you have IP security cameras at home? Then the TS-233 offers an option to save the images directly to it. I have not tested this option myself because I do not have any IP cameras, but there are plenty of tutorials available on YouTube.
I would also like to mention that QNAP has made a huge step forward with the QTS 5. The new interface is easy to use and set up for people who have less knowledge. I found that with QTS 4 this is quite a thing and everything there seemed to be a bit more complicated. Here QNAP shows that they are investing in ease of use and accessibility.
Backing up media from your mobile phone works fine, but QNAP can improve this a bit, especially the Qphoto app. The Qfile app worked better for me than the Qphoto app for backing up, while you would expect that the Qphoto would be the more suitable app for this. I, therefore, recommend using Qfile for backing up your media files from your mobile phone or tablet. An additional advantage is that Qfile can scroll through all your files from your mobile phone or tablet. This works very fast and without any hassle, even outdoors via 5G, this worked flawlessly.
In my opinion, the QNAP TS-233 is a good NAS that offers a huge amount of features.
I give the QNAP TS233 5 out of 5 stars where I gave 4 out of 5 stars in my previous review. This last star is partly because QNAP has made a significant improvement with its Qts 5 firmware. Highly recommended to anyone who wants to enter the wonderful world of NAS!
Hopefully, you will find this review and explanation useful. There may be a spelling error here and there, please point it out to me and we will correct it. If you have any unexpected questions, feel free to ask! I will do everything I can to answer the questions. Should I not have an answer I will ask my esteemed fellow reviewer Dutchie.