When it comes to storing large amounts of data on a single device, most people turn to a storage server. A simpler and perhaps a cheaper option is an NAS (Network Attached Storage) such as Synology’s DiskStation DS411j. The DiskStation DS411j is one of the basic models in the range and one that’s geared towards home and small office users.
Activity indicators on the front panel
Design and Build Quality
Although somewhat bulky, the DS411j has a rather attractive design. It comes in a solid metal chassis with plastic panels making up the front and sides of the NAS device.
The drive bays can be opened up from the back by unscrewing four thumbscrews. The additional connectivity ports are placed there. The entire chassis is sturdy and is bound to be long lasting. The quality of the trays used in the DS411j is good. The two 80mm fans at the rear meant for cooling the NAS, are protected by chrome-finished grills from the inside.
Installation of the NAS device is straightforward. The simple thumbscrew design makes opening up the device really easy. The drives fit onto the trays easily and there are gaps for screws, so that the drives can be secured. There’s no need to connect any SATA and power cables – simply push the drives into place. Once done, the startup takes a few minutes and you’re given access to the NAS. There’s a utility that allows you to locate the NAS device on the network, so access is made simpler.
The Synology DS411j is the same size as a compact HTPC mini-ITX chassis for a PC. It comes with space for four 3.5-inch drives. There are also two USB 2.0 ports at the back that can be used to connect additional storage drives. The DS411j supports a wide range of RAID configurations, so you can setup all the drives for performance or for reliability. In all, 12TB (4 x 3TB) worth of drives can be setup in the device.
Two USB ports at the rear, and the Gigabit ethernet port
The DS411j is powered by a 1.2 GHz processor and 128MB of DDR2 RAM. Synology claims that this setup only takes up roughly 30.8 W of power under load. This is much lower than most dedicated PCs. Gigabit ethernet is also supported.
Most of the DS411j’s features lie in the firmware and software that can be accessed through a web browser. The NAS device requires you to login as an administrator first, like in the case of any other NAS. Once this is done, users can be created and they can be further categorized into groups. There’s provision for setting permissions for each user and groups. Quotas can also be set as can permissions to certain features on the NAS. Documentation for the device is present in the user interface itself.
The user interface looks like a web based operating system. There’s a taskbar at the top, a primary menu on the left top of the window and a notifications icon on the right top. The DS411j has a ton of features that can be seen once you enter the user interface.
Quick access menu – like on a standard desktop
To start with, the DS411j can dial itself to the internet using PPPoE if required. There’s also support for IPv6 tunneling, which takes care of future proofing. To ensure that the NAS can be accessed by external sources with ease, DDNS is also present. The NAS is primarily meant to be used for data storage. Windows file sharing and FTP access are also present. There’s also support for telnet and file transfers using a web interface. Those using IP capable security cameras can link it up with the DS411j.
For home users, support for iTunes and DLNA should come as good news, making streaming of media easy. There’s also emphasis on security. For example, there’s support for backups of all sorts. Admins can choose to backup data to local drives, rsync-capable servers, other Synology devices and even Amazon’s S3 service.
Audio station, which supports internet radio stations
Users at home will also find the ability to download data from file sharing networks such as Bittorrent and eDonkey to be pretty neat. They can also setup HTTP, FTP, as well as usenet servers. The flexible user interface which is extremely easy-to-use has a built-in audio player and an image viewer. The audio player includes nifty features such as transcoding of non-standard formats such as FLAC. There’s also a library of Shoutcast radio stations, which means you can stream internet radio through the Synology DS411j. The DS411j can also be used to setup a web server with MySQL and PHP support.
Data transfer speeds to the drive averaged 6MB/s while read speeds from it averaged 9MB/s.
The Synology DS411j is a great solution for what it’s intended for. If you’re looking for something that can be used as a download box, this is not it. This is meant to do much more and specifically for small offices.
A simple design, fit for the home, as well as the office
A market price of Rs. 25,000 (MRP Rs. 34,000) means that it isn’t exactly cheap. While it has a lot of features, it’s not as versatile as the QNAP TS-210, which was a similar device we reviewed a few months back. That offered more in terms of software modules and addons. The Synology DS411j is more geared towards performance and data storage.
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