Synology Disk Station DS408 ReviewNemo - March 3, 2009
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The system section contains setup options including network and time settings specified during the initial setup process, choosing the language to use and defining PPPoE settings. This section also has options for saving and restoring system settings, upgrading the firmware and establishing e-mail notifications.
The Network subsection shows the server name and LAN address information we entered during the initial setup process using the setup wizard. You can change the information on this page without having to rerun the setup process. If you change the IP address the system will log you out and back in using the new address as the target URL. One thing new you'll notice on this page is the ability to change the jumbo frames setting which was not available using the setup wizard. The default setting is for jumbo frames to be disabled, resulting in a maximum transmission unit (MTU) size of 1500 bytes. That setting should be sufficient for most networks and for Internet access. However, if you are using a Gigabit network connection you can enable jumbo frames and vary the MTU size from 1500 to 9000 bytes assuming the rest of your network components have similar capabilities. There is no option to manually set the link speed and it will automatically detect the proper speed based on the speed of your network and is capable of 1000/100/10 speed connections.
The DS408 supports 15 different languages for the display and email notifications. You can choose to set the display language based on the browser default or choose the language from the drop down list. Included in the list are four for which our test machine did not have the proper character sets installed - Japanese, Korean, Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese - which is why you see the odd characters displayed in the screen shot.
Point-to-Point Protocol over Ethernet is a protocol commonly used by DSL subscribers to connect to their ISP and establish a shared Internet connection. The DS408 provides a screen to enable this functionality and set the user name and password as provided by the DSL provider.
The Time subsection allows you to set the time parameters on the DS408 including the actual time and time zone. During the initial setup process we set both of these parameters, however the actual date and time were set manually. This section allows you to set the data and time manually or you can choose to specify a Network Time Protocol (NTP) server either by entering a URL manually or choosing one of the ones from the preconfigured drop down list. You can choose to have the unit synchronize the time either daily, weekly or monthly.
The DS408 can send e-mail notifications to two separate addresses whenever an important event occurs according to the user's guide. What constitutes an “important event” is not spelled out however. You can specify your SMTP server URL and the port to use as well as whether or not to use a secure connection and the login credentials needed for authentication. You can also choose whether to send a test e-mail upon saving the settings. The test message came through with the subject “DiskStation - Synology Disk Station”. The results of the test message attempt are logged in the System log in case there are any issues.
I was curious as to what types of events would trigger a notification so I e-mailed Synology technical support and got a response back within a day. I almost wished I hadn't asked as the list is rather comprehensive:
- DDNS failure
- Fan Stop
- Fan Resume
- NTP failure
- Hard Disk IO failure
- Disk IO error
- Power failure
- Internal disk failure
- Internal disk is full or running out of space
- Local restore failure
- Local restore finished
- Network backup failure
- Network backup complete
- Network restore failed
- Network restore completed
- The volume type has changed from Raid5+spare to Raid5
- Raid disk failure
- Raid system volume crashed
- Raid system volume degraded
- Raid volume full or running out of space
- Raid system volume consistency check complete
- Surveillance camera added
- Surveillance alarm triggered
- Surveillance alarm motion detected
- Surveillance camera connection lost
- Surveillance camera connection resumed
- Surveillance camera recording failure
- Surveillance camera removed/deleted
- Surveillance camera motion detected
- Surveillance camera archive limit reached (camera begins recording over oldest footage first)
- Surveillance station test e-mail
- Test e-mail
- UPS is connected
- UPS has lost connection
- Local backup cancelled
- Local backup failed due to disconnected external drive
- Local backup failed
- Local backup completed
- Local backup aborted
- USB copy process failed
- USB copy error
- USB copy complete
- USB copy aborted due to insufficient space
- USB disk failure
- USB disk full or running out of space
- Password change
- Welcome user
If something happens on the DS408 it will let you know about it!
The DS408 offers several power setting options to make sure your unit is available when you need it as well as reducing power consumption when the disks are not being used. There is an option to automatically restart the server after a power failure as well as the ability to spin the disks down after a certain period of inactivity. That period can range from 10 minutes to 5 hours. The unit can also be scheduled to turn on and off and on a set schedule. This would allow you to turn the unit off at night and on weekends when it is not being used and then restart it the following morning. The schedule offers enough flexibility to choose daily, weekdays, weekends or specific days of the week. During testing I set it up to power down every day at 23:55 and restart at 07:00 which I could confirm by checking the system log for shut down and restart information.
The Restore Defaults subsection allow you to reset the DS408 either by reformatting the hard drives and maintaining your current settings or reformatting the drives and reverting back to the the factory default settings. If you have set up a MySQL database for use with the Web Station feature you can either reset the password or delete the database altogether.
Synology makes it easy to update the firmware on the DS408 whenever a new version is released. After downloading the file from the Synology web site. It even provides a convenient link back to the web site. Once you have the file downloaded, you can simply browse to the file location and press the OK button to update the firmware. According to the user's manual, updating the firmware will not affect the data on the server, but it's always a good idea to back up your data beforehand. It should be noted that you can not downgrade the firmware. Once you upgrade, you can only install a newer version, there's no reverting back to a previous version.
The DS408 includes a Package Management option which seems to be a virtually undocumented feature. There's no mention of this option in the user's guide. In the Linux world, package management tools are designed to facilitate locating, installing and uninstalling precompiled software applications, or packages, for your system. So just what packages are available to be installed on the DS408? The only package available on Synology's support web site is for the Logitech SqueezeCenter. SqueezeCenter is Open Source software designed to stream your music collection over your local network or the Internet to a software player such as iTunes or Winamp.
Clicking on the Install icon in the upper left hand corner of the page launches the Package Installation Wizard which walks you through the process of installing the software package. I downloaded the SqueezeCenter software from Synology's site, which was a 19MB compressed file (.zip format). Once the download is complete you need to extract the file to a local drive or to the DS408 itself. The package has a .spk file extension. Launching the installation wizard enable to install the software package in just a few steps and is fairly quick and painless. You will need to browse to the folder containing the .spk file you extracted earlier and click the Upload button.
A couple of more mouse clicks to verify you want to install the software and you're done. In a matter of just a couple of minutes you'll get a confirmation message that the installation was successful and the software is ready to use. Back in the Package Management window you'll see the SqueezeCenter software listed and the Uninstall and Run icons are now enabled. Clicking Run kicks off the service. You can also use this window to stop the service and even uninstall the package if you want to.
Once you figure out what the feature is for, it's very straight forward and easy to use and no documentation is needed. However, it would have been nice to see some mention of its intended use somewhere in the user's guide. You can get more information on SqueezeCenter, including documentation, at http://www.slimdevices.com/pi_features.html.