As we are all having to self isolate, rather than just sitting around watching TV, why not consider working on a home networking project. Maybe something like creating a guest wifi network or installing and configuring VPN server on your Synology NAS.
As we had a little spare time on our hands, we decided to have a play with a QNAP QGD-1600P that we purchased last year. The reason we bought a QNAP QGD-1600P, was because we thought it would be a very interesting device to use as the basis for a home network.
This is because the QGD-1600P can act as a router, 16 port PoE (Power over Ethernet) Switch and QNAP NAS. So in theory it could be used to replace multiple devices in our home network, which in turn would save money, energy and space.
However while we do now have our QGD-1600P up and running, we feel that in practise it is not a device that is all that forgiving or particularly user friendly. Instead, we found that the QGD-1600P was particularly difficult to get its separate parts working in unison. This was particularly true of pfSense and the virtual switches that we needed to configure in order to get the QGD-1600P to act as a router.
So while there is an application called VM Installer, which is specifically designed to automatically create the Virtual Switches and then install a virtual instance of pfSense. VM Installer would continually fail to work. This meant that we had to manually configure the virtual switches ourselves.
However, this is were we started to have problems, as QNAP do not provide any notes or a frame of reference as to what we need to do. So we were forced to search the internet for information.
Eventually, we did find useful notes written by a third party, but as they were written in Spanish something may have been lost in translation. So, by piecing together bits of information from multiple sources, we did finally create our virtual switches and then build a VM of pfSense.
Once we had everything on our QGD-1600P working. We found that if we made a change to any of the virtual switches that we had created, for example a change to a secondary DNS setting. Nothing would work properly from that point forward.
Then to add insult to injury, because pfSense works within a virtual environment on the NAS part of the QGD-1600P. Whenever we needed to reboot our NAS, our home network would have no internet until after the NAS rebooted and we manually restarted our virtual instance of pfSense.
As a general rule we find that NAS manufacturers really do not produce good documentation. However, QNAP’s documentation is particularly poor. That combined with a user interface that was difficult to work in and more than a little illogical to use. Means we really can not recommend this product to a typical home user.
While we have now integrated the QGD-1600P into our personal network. We have decided not to feature the QGD-1600P in any of our future videos. Instead, we will continue to focus on setting up a Synology NAS, as that is an easier device to understand and configure.
So for the month of April, please look out for our video on installing DNS server onto a Synology NAS, and then a few additional video offerings, that relate to some Windows and macOS tips.
Keep well and stay safe, and look out for new content posted every Friday.