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Synology Disk Station DS408 Network Attached Storage Device Review

Synology Disk Station DS408 Network Attached Storage Device Review

Easy and Powerful... The Synology Disk Station DS408 is more than just a simple network attached storage device (NAS). With its 800MHz processor, 512MB RAM, Linux Kernel, USB and LAN ports, it's also a media server.

Easy and Powerful

The Synology Disk Station DS408 is more than just a simple network attached storage device (NAS). With its 800MHz processor, 512MB RAM, Linux Kernel, USB and LAN ports, it's also a media server. These features, along with Synology's new Disk Station Manager 2.0, make this an easy-to-use multi-purpose NAS.

NAS or Media Server?

The best features this NAS boasts are the software packages it comes with. They take the device from being a simple NAS to a full-fledged media server. Some of the highlights are Windows Active Directory user support, webserver with PHP and MySQL, FTP, print server and BitTorrent download support. These features make this product ideal for the home or small office. With the user-friendly Disk Station Manager, almost anybody can set up a website without the hassles of server setup and a dedicated computer. The more advanced user can enable SSH for telnet support. Once inside the server, you will discover a basic Linux install with BusyBox. The Synology website has a special section dedicated to showing users how to modify the Linux server and add more features.

One of the newest features added to the DS408 is the Photo Station 3. With a simple click, you can enable the blog software from the Disk Station Manager. You can then sign into the blog and start adding photos and videos, just as you do with popular websites. The DS408 also features Universal Plug and Play technology. With the help of a Digital Media Adapter plugged into the network, the DS408 can stream videos and music over the network to your entertainment center or TV. Assuming the network is running on Gigabit Ethernet, the DS408 can stream video without bottlenecks.

The Box

Basically, what you see is what you get. The DS408 comes pre-installed with all of its included software, but you will have to purchase and install hard drives. The DS408 sports a piano-black paint job, instead of the white color of the previous model. There are only two buttons on the unit: Power and Reset. On the back are two USB ports, a power plug and a LAN plug. A power supply and install CD are the only accessories that come with it. The CD has a set of manuals and a utility to help you connect the DS408 Disk Station Manager software to your computer.

The Guts

Even though this NAS does not have hot-swap drive bays like some of the more expensive units, accessing the drives is very easy. When you unscrew four thumb-tight screws in the back of the unit, the rear cover comes down, and the top of the unit comes off.

The internal design of the NAS is very clean and simple. There is an 80mm fan placed directly behind the hard drives to keep the drives from getting too hot. The motherboard has four easily-accessible power and SATA ports for the hard drives. It has a standard laptop RAM socket for possible memory upgrading. The components on the board appear to be high quality, including the capacitors, decreasing the likelihood of product failure. The only design oddity is the bulky external power adapter.

Data Consistency

Some NAS setups slow down tremendously when the array becomes degraded (e.g., when a drive fails). You can unplug and swap the drives while the unit is still running. The DS408 will then start to beep, signaling that the RAID has been broken. By simply going into the Disk Manager utility, you can turn off the beep, and then you can rebuild the RAID in a matter of a few hours. You can also unplug the DS408 while it is running; when you turn it back on, it takes only a few minutes to restart after a drive check.

The Bottom Line

When you are considering buying an NAS, the essentials are space, speed and price. The DS408 retails for $725. A standard 4-bay NAS costs from $400 to $2000. The advertised speed is 55+ MB/sec read and 30+ MB/sec write, when configured as a RAID 5. With the gigabit Ethernet port and SATA ports running at 3.0Gbps, the only limit on speed is the performance of the installed drives. The box states support for four one-terabyte hard drives, but any standard SATA drive will work in it. The performance and design of this unit are pretty standard for most 4-bay NAS devices.

Conclusion

The major selling points of this NAS are not design and performance, but all the extra features that come with it, while still offering a low price compared to its competitors.

TECH SPECS

HDD Rated Write: 33+MB/s
HDD Rated Read: 55+MB/s
LAN: 1000Mbps (125MB/sec)
CPU: 800MHz
RAM: 512MB
OS: Linux BusyBox
RAID Levels: 0, 1 or 5
HDD Support: 4 internal, 2 external
SIZE: 23cm(L)x17cm(W)x18cm(H)
WEIGHT: 5 lbs.
FAN: 80mm

Strengths

  • Good ventilation
  • Easy to use
  • Many extra features
  • Reasonable price

Weaknesses

  • No eSATA ports
  • Bulky external power supply

SUMMARY

The DS408 is a good solution for home or office users looking for a media server or NAS without all of the headaches that come with making your own.

Lance Olinger is Videomaker's IT Assistant.

Synology America Corp.
2701 152nd Ave. NE
Redmond, WA 98052
www.synology.com
$725

Side Bar: FEATURES

  • Windows Active Directory - User authentication
  • Surveillance Server - Stores video from IP cameras
  • File Server - Share files over the net
  • Web Server - PHP/MySQL website support
  • Download Server - Download file direct to the NAS
  • Audio Server - Play music via USB
  • Photo Server - Share photos/videos via blog software
  • UPnP Server - Stream video files on server
  • iTunes Server - Host iTunes files
  • Print Server - Share printers over the network via USB
  • Network Backup - Backup to the NAS
  • Local Backup - Backup from the NAS to a USB hard drive
Tags:  December 2008
Lance
Olinger
Mon, 12/01/2008 - 12:00am