Synology Disk Station DS408 ReviewNemo - March 3, 2009
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We already visited the Storage subsection during the initial setup process when we created the volume. Besides creating a volume you can also make changes to existing volumes by repairing volumes with a failed drive, add larger capacity drives and expand an existing volume or add additional drives to an existing RAID 5 or RAID 6 array. You can also upgrade from a single drive to a RAID 1 array. To look at these features I configured the DS408 using a 3-disk RAID 5 array, leaving the fourth drive unassigned in order to test out the Add Disk functionality.
The HDD management feature is used to enable any write cache support which can improve disk I/O performance as long as it is supported by the hard drive.
When we set up the initial volume, all we did was use use the Create option so let's spend some time looking at what else is available.
Get Info – This feature gives up the basic information on the volume including name, type and status. It also reports on the size and available remaining space. In our example where only three of the four drives were included in the array, with the fourth drives unassigned the system also alerts us to the fact that we could add it to the existing RAID 5 array which we will do later.
Create - As we saw in the initial setup, the Create option is used to create a volume on one or more of the installed disks. The DDS408 supports Basic (single drive), RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5 and RAID 6 volumes. The current version of Disk Station Manager (2.0) does not support JBOD volumes, although that feature is present in the next version which is currently in beta testing.
Repair – There are two scenarios where you can use the repair function. The first is if a hard drive in a RAID 1, RAID 5 or RAID 6 array fails. You can replace the failed drive and use the Repair feature to rebuild the array. The second scenario is if you want to replace existing drives with ones with greater capacity. In this case you would replace each drive, one at a time, using the Repair feature after each new drive is installed until all drives have been replaced and repaired. Since the array has to be rebuilt multiple times this would take several hours to accomplish.
After a drive in an array has been replaced, clicking on the Repair icon launches the Volume Repair Wizard that will walk you through the process of repairing the array. The first step is to choose a drive to add back into the array. My simulated failure was on drive 1, but I could have also used the unallocated drive 4 as shown in the screen shot. After highlighting drive 1 and pressing Next, you get a warning that all the data on the new drive will be erased and offered a chance to halt the process. You'll get a second chance to review everything on the Confirm Settings dialog before starting the repair process.
The process of repairing and rebuilding the array is lengthy as it has to first repair the array and then check the parity consistency used in RAID 5 arrays. The process would be identical for repairing RAID 1 and RAID 6 arrays.
Remove – The Remove feature is pretty self-explanatory as it allows you to remove, or delete, a volume. Doing so will obviously cause you to lose all data on the array, so this option should be used with caution. As with the other options here, clicking the Remove button launches a wizard that walks you through all the steps. It will also show you all the shared folders on the volume in case you need reminding of the data you are about to lose. While you will lose any shared folders on the volume, users and groups you created remain intact.
Expand – The DS408 enables you to replace existing drives in a volume with drives of equal or larger capacity. For RAID 1, RAID 5 and RAID 6 volumes this means replacing a single drive, repairing the volume and then repeating the process for each drive used in the array. This is a rather lengthy process but can be done without shutting down the server (using the hot swap capability) or losing access to your data. However, when you are done you are left with a volume of the same size as before, just on larger drives. After replacing and repairing all the drives, you can use the Expand function to grow the volume size to the full capacity offered by the larger drives. Unfortunately, I didn't have a complete set of larger drives on hand to demonstrate this feature.
Upgrade – The Upgrade feature allows you to upgrade a basic volume using a single drive to a RAID 1 volume and is enabled only if you have a second drive available. As you might expect, clicking on the Expand icon launches another Wizard that takes you through the process. Once you have chosen a disk from the list it will warn you about data being erased on the second drive you are adding. After you have confirmed the settings, clicking Next will add the disk to the array and the DS408 begins the process of synchronizing the two drives.
Add Disk – Another way to grow a volume is to add a disk to an existing three-drive RAID 5 or RAID 6 volume. The Add Disk feature is enabled for RAID 5/RAID 6 volumes when there is an unallocated drive available. The Add Disk Wizard follows the same format as the previous wizards, allowing you to choose a disk (since RAID 5/RAID 6 requires a minimum of three disks, there is only one to choose from), issues the requisite warning about erasing data on the new drive, confirms the setting and begins the process of adding the new disk to the array.
Beep Off - No, the DS408 is not trying to be flippant and tell you what to do. This option allows you to turn off the warning beeps when a hard drive failure occurs.
This subsection offers the ability to view and monitor the health and status of the hard drives in the DS408 using Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology (S.M.A.R.T.). S.M.A.R.T. is an industry standard supported by major drive manufacturers and is a way to get detailed information on factors affecting your hard drives. While not fool proof, it can be useful as an early-warning system prior to a hard drive failing. The DS408 offers various ways to view the information including overall temperature and status of each installed drive. You can double click on a drive in the list to get model number, serial number and firmware version information. The S.M.A.R.T. Info icon offers detailed reports on each individual disk. There is also an option to run short and extended tests on each drive.
That was a lot of information to go through and now it's time to move on to see what else the DS408 offers in the way of additional network capabilities.