Synology Disk Station DS408 ReviewNemo - March 3, 2009
Category: Storage / Hard Drives
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Storage is one of those topics that's often addressed in terms of how much/how fast one's local hard drives are. As many homes expand to multiple computers and networked computers are more the norm these days, having the ability to share files easily among computers regardless of which operating system they might be running becomes more of an issue. This is especially true for the small office/home office or even workgroup computers in a small business or corporation.
For those that need more than just a few extra gigabytes of storage and those lacking a dedicated IT staff, one of the best options can be a network attached storage server. These devices are servers that offer a common repository allowing users to share files across the network as well as providing remote access to files over the Internet. As you move up the food chain, you begin to see more in terms of not only storage capacity, but also faster transfer speeds as well as more features. For some NAS servers the list of extras can be quite extensive and include iTunes, FTP and print servers but also more advanced features such as photo sharing, web servers and provisions for video surveillance recording. These type of servers are geared more toward office environments or serious video applications that demand more from a NAS server.
Synology Inc. is a company dedicated to manufacturing NAS servers for home, small business and corporate uses. Headquartered in Taipei City, Taiwan, Synology has been in business since 2000 and has also begun to offer portable and USB storage devices along with their network storage products. Our review unit is the Disk Station DS408 four-bay high-speed NAS server that can be configured in multiple RAID configurations. Let's see just how well this unit performs and what it has to offer.
As is typical, we'll start out with what I like to call the box tour. Like a lot of products shipped for review, the DS408 came encased in a sturdy cardboard shipping box and survived its trip without incident. The front of the box offers up a picture of the NAS server and a list of the more salient features. The back side of the box looks like a virtual mirror image of the front but it also includes a list of the package contents. The end of the box contain graphics showing typical applications. The opposite end gives the viewer a list of detail specifications and a look at the connections and buttons on the unit.
Enough of the outside of the box, let's open it up and see what's inside. Once the tops flaps are open you can see there is a cardboard cap protecting the unit with the power supply cord resting along side it. Underneath the cap is the unit itself with a box containing the accessories. The unit is fully encased in a thin foam sheet envelope to protect it from scratches. The accessories include the power cord and packed inside an inner box, you'll find everything you need to install the hard drives and get connected including the external AC power adapter, a Cat5e patch cord, a bag containing 4 SATA hard drive power and data cables and a bag containing hard drive mounting screws, a pair of cable ties for cable management and a cable lock for securing the eternal power cord to the unit. You also get some product literature and an installation CD containing a quick installation guide, setup wizards and the user manual.
Once you have the unit out of the box and free of the protective foam sheath you start to get a feel for the shape and size of the DS408. The unit is roughly cube shaped with rounded edges on the front and a slanted control panel containing the power button and LED status and activity lights. The unit comes packaged with a protective film covering the front panel, which is a nice touch as it further protects the all plastic panel from getting scratched. The film peels offs easily and there's no sticky residue or anything to worry about. Once the film is removed you can see the large circular power button in the center with status and LAN activity LEDs on the left side and four HDD activity/status lights on the right side. The angle shot better shows the contour of the front panel and just how glossy the plastic is. You can also see there are generous ventilation slits along the top and bottom of the front panel. The rest of the case is all steel and has a rather sturdy, well-built feel to it. The back of the unit reveals the 80mm cooling fan and connections for the power unit, LAN connection and dual USB 2.0 ports for connecting external hard drives. The rear panel is hinged and secured by four thumb screws. Removing the screws allows the top part of the rear panel above the connections to drop down, giving you access to the interior of the unit for hard drive installation and change out. The bottom of the case has four rubber feet to keep it securely seated on a flat surface and for protecting other units if you need to stack them vertically.
Now it's time to open this unit up and install some hard drives and get it set up for testing.