Synology DS410j NAS Station
The level of user control and configuration is vital to the successful implementation of a NAS solution. The ability to easily RAID drives is helpful, but without the capability to provide multiple configurable options it's not providing the value for money or control that modern users require.
Thankfully, as you saw in the specifications, the Synology DS410j has more options than you can shake an enormous stick at. A huge benefit is that the software that is provided is incredibly easy to use and setup. So let's install it.
The installation process is swift and painless. The supplied CD, which comes complete with a personal bugbear of mine the PDF manual, quickly detects the DS410j and installs the software and, uniquely, the firmware. Initially it seemed strange that the firmware for the device is included on the CD rather than pre-installed, but with so many storage solutions benefiting from frequent firmware updates it makes sense to change the one that is on the CD, rather than reflashing all the chips in production. This has meant that Synology have gone to great lengths to provide an incredibly user-friendly flashing method, something that many other companies could take note of. It has the additional benefit that those of us whom are a little more obsessive about having very up-to-date firmware can grab the latest one before installation and be firing right out of the box.
The software itself is the Synology Assistant which runs within your browser. We have tested with both IE and Firefox and although it works perfectly well in Firefox it does look a little flash-er within IE which makes sense as it's still the browser with the largest market share due to its inclusion with Windows.
There are so many options and variables within the software that this review could easily be either 100 pages long, or a copy and paste of the manual. So we've decided to highlight some of the more interesting facets of the software which should hopefully give you a good taste of what is on offer.
A Closer Look
Firstly the status page which is a handy all-in-one guide to your Synology DS410j. It provides an overview of the NAS as a whole, as well as the status of your individual drives. As you can see from the screenshot below the system temperature is generously exaggerated in comparison to the actual temperature of the drives themselves, but that drive 3, the one between the other two, is showing the side-effect of having so many drives in such a tiny space. Thankfully the included fans are very quiet indeed and 37c is easily within operating parameters. The screenshot was taken just after intialising the array too so they had been worked hard.
Next is one of the best features on the Synology DS410j, and one we were pleased to find on a NAS at this price point. If you have decided to either run this as a home server, or maybe to even run a website, and it isn't somewhere you are constantly able to monitor the device it will email you should it detect any problems. An excellent feature indeed and one that really proves that this isn't just a big external hard-drive housing, but a pukka small server.
Next up is a very important feature of any network device, and that is the privileges. We wanted to test that we could lock out unauthenticated users whilst still allows those in who could provide the correct credentials. To achieve this we blocked guest account access and setup an account for Tom to see if he could still gain access. Sure enough he could in what was a effortless procedure. The Synology would certainly be very suitable for a private server for gaming sessions or sharing files amongst your colleagues.
The storage menu is somewhat less initially interesting and really repeats the information available in the initial status page we looked at. However in amongst those greyed out options are are the various changes you could wish to make to your array from enlarging it, checking it for errors and other tasks.
So we've configured it, we've set permissions, what can we do with this mammoth storage potential? On the left you can see the file station. Utilising this you could use the NAS to intercept incoming files and divert them to itself, regardless of their origin. Equally you can use it as a FTP for the odd individual file. If any of you out there develop games or applications the ability to use one part of the Synology to handle the large installation file by use of Bittorrent, and then the more regular FTP type transfer for any patches or updates, I'm sure you'll be delighted with what the Synology DS410j has to offer.
Our other screenshot shows the wealth of internet options available. You can use the DS410j for something as simple as a personal webpage, or you could use it for your business sales by utilising its HTTPS functionality. Want to be the next Facebook or Myspace? If you enable the Personal Website tick-box local users can upload their own personal webpages.
Pretty much regardless of what you want to use it for, this really has got all the bells and whistles covered.
Maybe however you aren't in the line of creating content for your serfs to view. Maybe you are one of those people who has to proof read swathes of text, or beta test a program or loves to be up-to-date on their Linux Distro, in fact anything else that might involve bulk downloading, Synology is there already with the handy Download station. Native support for .torrent files and eMule content is quite a surprise, so make sure you are certain you are allowed to download the file you want.
The backup feature is something NAS devices are almost built for. Although our box in this shot is bare the Synology not only will make a full backup of your system, but also monitor it for any changes. It can be set to automatically back those up too. Anyone who's accidentally deleted the wrong thing or, heaven forbid, have a hard-drive die, will shake this warmly by the hand. The old maxim of "backup and backup regularly" can no longer be ignored with "and where am I supposed to back to?".
Finally we shall end with the external devices section. In this case we have neither a printer nor a UPS to hand so the page is blank.
An item of hardware like this is much more about functionality than benchmarking, but nonetheless we've run a couple of tests just to give you an idea.