Synology Disk Station DS408 ReviewNemo - March 3, 2009
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When I first started examining the DS408 I was impressed with the number of features it offered. For data storage it offers a RAID 0/1/5/6 which makes it ideal for both home and small office and workgroup environments. You can mount up to four hard drives for a maximum of 6TB of storage. The DS408 also offers volume expansion support where you can add additional drives to an existing RAID 5 array as well as the ability to replace existing drives with larger disks without losing data. The unit also offers an impressive list of multimedia functions for serving and sharing video and music files. Integrating all of these features can sometimes result in a patchwork of seemingly unrelated applications, but the DS408 avoids this with its Disk Station Manager user interface. I fell in love with its use of AJAX which gave the interface a rich application feel akin to a desktop application and enabled all the features to be integrated cleanly. The user interface is clean and well-laid out. It was very easy to use and did not suffer from the fractured English I've seen with other products. The user manual included on the install CD fell short of my expectations and I felt it was quite lacking at times and left me frustrated. Fortunately, the Disk Station Manager includes good context-based online help that can be accessed by simply clicking on a icon. I found it invaluable when I was trying to figure out some issues and it makes up for the shortcomings of the printed user guide. Performance was very good across most of the tests except in the Office Productivity test where it really struggled. I also had issues in getting the unit to hibernate the hard drives. Two other issues I raised in the review, lack of support for JBOD and only being able to create shares at the folder level, are being addressed in the next version of the software which is currently in beta testing. The unit is priced at a suggested price of $749.99 and street prices are very close to that. That puts it squarely in the small to medium-sized business market as all but the most serious home user will find that to be a major hurdle. Overall, I was very impressed with the feature set and found it offers just about everything for the multimedia enthusiast as well as the business user, and then some. I would have no hesitation in recommending the DS408 to anyone wanting to add professional-grade storage with excellent data protection to their network.
Note: The day after I completed writing the review, but before it was published, I received notification from Synolgy of an upcoming price reduction (March 2009) that will lower the price of the DS408 from $749 to $699. This price reduction may well be in effect by the time you read this. Although that is a welcome reduction, I still believe the unit's price will represent a stumbling block for many as other 4-bay NAS units can be had for under $400.
- Impressive feature set
- RAID 0/1/5/6 capability
- AJAX-based user interface
- Excellent overall performance
- Jumbo frames support
- Drive hot swapping
- Context-based online help
- S.M.A.R.T. Reporting
- Performance when writing small files
- Issues with hard drive hibernation
- Poorly written documentation
- JBOD not currently supported (to be added in next firmware release)