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Synology Disk Station DS408 Review

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RAID 1/5 Data Protection

As we've seen in the prior pages, the DS408 offers a lot more than just a few extra gigabytes of storage space. As important as that space is, the real importance is attached to the data it contains and that's where the redundancy provided by the different RAID structures. RAID is not a substitute for proper data backups, but it can help protect your data in case of a drive failure. To test the ability of the DS408 to survive and recover from the loss of a disk drive I simulated a failure in both RAID 1 and RAID 5 setups and tested each array for data safety and the ability to rebuild the array once the 'faulty' drive was replaced. The DS408 supports hot-swapping which means that drives can be removed and replaced without powering the unit down, leaving the unit operational. I simulated a failure by removing the power and SATA data cable from a drive while the unit was still powered on.

The first thing you notice is the loss of the HDD LED indicator on the front panel. Had this been an actual failure the LED would been an orange blinking state indicating which drive had gone bad. There is also an audible beeping alarm indicating a failure has occurred. If that is not enough of a warning, the system automatically sent out a e-mail alert telling you that “Volume 1 on DiskStation is in degraded mode. Please identify the cause of degradation and take corrective action.” When you log into the web UI, you are also alerted to the fact that the volume is in a degraded status and advises to repair the volume. I checked the data on the DS408 in both RAID 1 and RAID 5 setups and found everything to be intact and fully accessible. Next I hooked the drive back up while the DS408 was still powered up and went through the Repair process as described in the Configuration: Storage section earlier in the review. The repair process can be rather lengthy, but even during a repair I was able to access the data on the unit. Once the process is complete, the unit sent another e-mail notifying me the process had completed successfully. Checking the data again proved everything was back in order and no data was lost.


The next feature I want to cover also concerns data protection and that is the built-n backup features of the DS408. The configuration backup creates a file you can store elsewhere on the network. In case of any catastrophic loss you can use this file to restore the settings to the DS408 including users, groups and shares. This was simple to do and the backup to the unit went without a hitch. Setting up a local backup was also painless and I saw the scheduled task kick off on time and received daily e-mail notifications when the jobs completed. The only drawback to this type of backup is there is no data compression so the backup will consume the same amount of space as the original. I didn't have access to a separate rsync-enabled server to test the network backup. Synology also includes backup software on the install CD, Data Replicator3, that can be installed on local PCs to back up data to the DS408.

Other Features

During the review process I checked out all of the features and covered them in the configuration sections of the review. For the sake of brevity, I am not going to go into more detail here, but I would like to make some observations. I didn't test the Surveillance Station, create a web page under the Web Station or the UPnP multimedia features. I did try out all of the rest of the features, and trust me, it was a long list of items and a lot of work. I didn't have any issues, aside from not being able to get the unit to hibernate the drives even though it was configured to do so after 10 minutes, the minimum setting. All of the other features worked as designed and were easy to use.

Disk Station Manager 2.1 (Beta)

When we review products, we don't test using beta software/firmware. However, I did want to touch on the next release of the Disk Station Manger, version 2.1, as it incorporates some new features that I feel are worth mentioning. Just a few of the highlights include:

  • Mail Station - a mail server that supports Outlook-style web mail, SMTP, POP3 and IMAP
  • Enhanced Storage Management - RAID 5+Spare and JBOD volume types are being added
  • Sub-folder privileges – privileges will no longer be limited to the shared folder level, but can be extended down to folders, sub-folders and files
  • User Interface – Synology is also making a host of enhancements to the user interface to make it cleaner and easier to use including adding AJAX support to File Station and Surveillance Station.

While the actual list of enhancements is much longer, I wanted to specifically mention the addition of JBOD support and more granular permissions as I feel they are sorely needed in a product of this caliber. The new enhancements also emphasize Synology's commitment to their product.

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