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Synology Disk Station DS408 Review

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The DS408 ships without drives, so you are going to need to install at least one 3.5” SATA drive of any size up to 1.5TB to get started. That means it's time to open up the box and break out the screwdriver. Installing hard drives in the DS408 is no different than the process involved in building your own computer. There is a hard drive cage with slots for four drives and the drives are secured using screws (no quick-install mounting rail options). If you've never done this before, it's not as hard as it might sound and Synology provides a Quick Installation Guide on the included CD that will walk you through the entire process. Even experienced PC builders will want to take a look at the guide to make sure everything goes smoothly.

But nothing is going to happen until the case is open and to do that you start with the four thumb screws on the back cover. With the screws removed the back cover will drop down to reveal the inside of the case. The next step is to lift up the outer case covering and pull it toward you and remove it from the case shell. Now the entire hard drive cage is revealed along with the motherboard where the hard drive power and data connections need to be made.















Synology's Quick Installation Guide has you hook up the cables to the connections on the motherboard first, but I found it was easier to mount the hard drives first without any of the cables getting in the way. The drive cage is a no-frill steel affair with tabs punched out of the side that act to support the drives inside the cage. I found the fit to be fairly snug and you'll have to be careful when trying to slide the drives in. It took some effort to get a couple of the drives installed which involved some wiggling which is another reason I found it best to install the drives prior to hooking up the cables. You'll need to make sure to mount the drives with the connections facing the rear of the unit. Also make sure the drives are mounted with the metal cover facing up which will put the connections on the bottom of the drive when looking at it head on. Once the drives are inserted and have the mounting holes aligned, they need to be secured with two screws on each side using the mounting screws included in the accessories package.


With the hard drives securely mounted in the cage it's time to get the hooked up. That means a power cable and data cable for each drive you're installing. It's important to make sure you get the cables installed and hooked up to the drives in the proper order. If you've never done something like this before it's pretty easy but there are a couple of particulars to pay attention to. As shown in the photo of the motherboard below, the power connections are the white 4-pin headers on the left. The data cables go on the 4 black SATA connectors on the right. Looking at the cables included we see four 4-wire power cables with a white connector on one end. There are also four flat red SATA data cables, one of which is noticeably longer than the other three.



When hooking up the power cables you will need to pay attention to the orientation of the white plugs on the cables prior to connecting them to the 4-pin headers on the motherboard. The Quick Installation Guide has detailed photos and instructions. However, on our review unit, the power connectors on the motherboard were oriented in the opposite direction from that shown in the guide. Also the guide says the connections are labeled on the motherboard as to which connector goes to which drive starting with HDD1 at the top and going to HDD4 at the bottom. On the review unit mother board the labels were labeled differently, using CN9-CN12 instead. Fortunately, there is a large graphic on top of the drive cage detailing which power cord is for which drive. Also, because the power connections were reversed from what was shown on the Quick Installation Guide, you need to make sure the white connector on the power cable is properly oriented. The power cable connectors have a indented slot on one side and on the other side is a small key that fits into a hole on the motherboard connector that locks it into place. Make sure the slotted side faces away from the vertical tab on the motherboard connector. On the review unit that placed the red wire of the cable on the right-hand side.

As with the power connectors, the SATA data cable connections on the mother board were labeled differently from that in the Quick Installation Guide, using CN2-CN5. Once again, the graphic on the top of the hard drive cage is useful in determining the numbering sequence. SATA data cables can only be connected one way as they have an L-shaped slot that must mate correctly with its corresponding connector. The longest data cable must be used for the HDD 1 connection with the straight plug connected to the top right of four connectors on the motherboard. Connect the remaining three cables to the motherboard as per the graphic.




Installation is almost finished. The next step to connect the power and data cables to each hard drive. The longest red data cable connects to the top most hard drive (HDD 1) by pushing the right angle connector to the data connection on the hard drive which is the one on the right as shown in the label on the hard drive cage. The power connector goes to the connection on the left of the hard drive. You will need to rotate the connector 180 degrees so that is is upside down before connecting it to the hard drive as it is keyed and can only be inserted one way. Make the connections to the remaining drives, making sure to maintain the proper order when connecting the cables. You can make use of the the included cable ties to tidy things up a bit and keep the cables bundled together.


The final step is to insert the cable lock from the accessories bag to the outside of the rear door by inserting the tab into the square hole on the bottom left hand corner of the door. Now all we have to do is button things up by reinstalling the outer case shell and closing the rear door and securing it with the four thumbscrews we removed earlier. You'll notice the thumbscrew on the bottom left is now particularly difficult to secure because it has to pass through a hole on the cable lock you just installed. The added thickness of the plastic lock makes the screw almost too short to work. It would have been nice to have a screw that was about 1/8” longer to accommodate the lock.

Once the cover has been secured, you'll need to connect the AC power adapter to the unit and plug it into the wall and connect the RJ-45 LAN cable to the unit and connect the other end to a router or switch. That wraps up the installation process and now we're ready to move on to configuring the DS408.

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