Two minute review
Setting up a NAS at home or at work is no longer as daunting as it used to be. Just plug in your drives, boot up the NAS, and you’ll be well on your way. TerraMaster intends to keep up with this simple routine with the F2-221 NAS, positioning it as the ideal 2-bay NAS for home users or small businesses.
While it has a great design and can provide decent network transfer speeds, it’s not the easiest to set up, which is going to deter a number of users who want to be up and running as quickly as possible. The core OS is also not as polished as what we’ve seen with the likes of Synology, whose 2-bay NAS offerings are far superior – albeit with a slightly higher price tag.
Still, if all you need is a place to store your files on your network, or access them remotely, then the F2-221 will be more than what you need.
Price and availability
The TerraMaster F2-221 is available now, priced at $249.99 (AED 1,099, around £200, AU$355), and is available at most online retailers.
We’ll give credit to TerraMaster with the design of the F2-221 – it certainly looks a lot more expensive than it is. The full aluminum chassis is a very clean look, with clear TerraMaster branding on the side.
The front has LEDs for HDD and LAN status, as well as the power button. You can also easily access the drive bays by lifting up and sliding them out.
At the back you’ve got your connectivity options, which includes dual Gigabit Ethernet ports, and two USB 3.0 ports. There is a cutout for an HDMI port as well, but we suspect this isn’t for end-users to actually use.
In order to use the F2-221 you’ll need to first equip it with hard drives. Since this is a 2-bay NAS, you can set up two drives in either a RAID 0 or RAID 1 array only. Alternatively, if you want to just use one drive, the F2-221 will let you set up a ‘Single Disk’ mode.
Both 3.5” and 2.5” drives are supported here, however both installations involve patience with screwing the drives in with the included screws. We can understand this for the smaller 2.5” drives, but we don’t know why they 3.5” drives can’t be secured in the bays without screws, as we’ve seen on models from Synology. While both screws and screwdriver are included in the F2-221’s packaging, it’s an extra step that you’ll have to go through before powering on your drive.
You also need to be careful that your drives don’t have any existing data on them from another NAS, as this will cause the boot process to fail. It’s better to start with brand new drives, or at least quickly delete existing partitions on the drive before you install them in the F2-221.
Once you’ve got the drives installed, you next have to start the actual setup process. This part is sadly a bit more long-winded than we’d like – you have to visit the TerraMaster website and choose your NAS model first. After downloading the user manual and going through a few more clicks, you then download and install a program that actually detects the NAS on your network.
After the NAS is detected, you can then open the setup page in a browser and start to download the OS onto the NAS. There are just far too many steps involved just to get to the actual setup page, which we wish could be eliminated. The setup process for us also seemed to be stuck after the OS was initialized, but rebooting the NAS seemed to bring it back to life.
We finally managed to log in to the NAS, which features a desktop-style interface to make it easier for users to navigate around. It’s not the most polished, but it does the job. From here you can check on your drives, create network shares, assign users, and configure advanced settings of your NAS. You also have access to TerraMaster’s app store, which has over 70 applications covering file sharing, backup, security, programming, and more.
As a standard network file sharing system, the F2-221 was easy to access from pretty much any device. A file transfer from our Windows PC topped at 110MB/s, and copying a 2GB video from the NAS saw read speeds of around 108MB/s consistently.
TerraMaster also offers the option to set up remote file sharing on your NAS, which allows you to access your files anywhere in the world. You can also download the accompanying smartphone apps to be able to access files when you’re away from your PC. You can also easily install apps to integrate to other cloud storage providers such as Google Drive, One Drive, Dropbox, and more.
It’s when you start to do things other than file transfers that things get a little bit shaky. The F2-221 is powered by 2GB of RAM, and while you can bump this up with the installation of a 4GB memory module, it’s not as easy as it should be. You have to take out the drives and then take apart the chassis to gain access to the memory slot. We really wish that TerraMaster had made this easier for people to access, as it would make upgrades a whole lot easier.
You’re going to want to add in that extra RAM if you’re thinking of running virtual machines on this NAS – even simple ones. VirtualBox could barely run a Windows 10 VM without freezing, so we don’t recommend trying to run any large VMs on this NAS.
Transcoding is another mixed bag with the F2-221. The combination of less RAM and the Intel Celeron J3355 processor just isn’t up to the task of handling anything more than 1080p content. Installing Plex is a great idea if you’ve got a collection of home movies or other media you want to share, but trying to skip through 4k content will just result in long buffering times.
Should I buy the TerraMaster F2-221?
Buy it if…
You want basic network storage
The F2-221 works great as a simple file repository, or for remotely accessing your files. Backup options are limited, but manage to do the trick.
You need remote file access
Remote access is easy to setup, and you’ll be able to grab your files from your PC or smartphone in just a few clicks.
Don’t buy it if…
You want a media server
The F2-221 can just about handle 1080p content, but any content with a higher resolution is going to struggle to be streamed.
You need more power
The RAM upgrade is unnecessarily challenging, and the Celeron processor just can’t keep up with more demanding tasks.