Share files and a whole lot more with this neat little appliance
The Disk Station DS508 is far from your average network-attached storage (Nas) appliance.
It has dual network ports, five hot-swap disk bays and support for cross-platform network file sharing.
It also features built-in Raid 5 protection as well as web-based file access, USB backup and a whole host of other options normally only found on much more expensive products.
Unlike most other Nas devices the DS508 doesn’t come with any disks, which does affect the price.
However, disks are cheap to buy and easy enough to fit using the carriers supplied, which simply slide into the hot-swap bays at the front of the cube-like chassis.
We tested the case using three 120GB Seagate Barracuda drives (available for around £50 ex Vat each), but any serial ATA (Sata) disk can be employed with the DS508 able to handle up to 5TB in total.
The interfaces are all at the back starting with a pair of Gigabit Ethernet ports for Lan attachment. Above is an eSata connector and two USB2 ports, all of which can be used to hook up external storage to take backups with support also for USB printer sharing.
Cooling is handled by a pair of fans, despite which the DS508 is remarkably quiet making it suitable for use in open-plan offices.
Installation is simple. A setup program locates the DS508 then prepares the hard disks you’ve installed and downloads the Linux-based software used by the appliance.
It’s then on to a delightful web-based Ajax interface from which you next create the volumes you want to use and the level of Raid protection to apply.
Multiple volumes can be defined with options to expand capacity when disks are added and upgrade the Raid level. Hot sparing, however, isn’t an option and there’s only one power supply.
The Synology appliance can be accessed by both Windows and Apple Macintosh users with support for Windows workgroup and Active Directory networks. Support for SMB/CIFS/NFS protocols means that Linux clients can also get in on the act, and shared files browsed and accessed from any system via a browser.
A bundled tool to take backups to the Synology Nas server is another nice feature. Plus it’s possible to back up the configuration and data on the appliance either to a locally attached USB/eSata device or to another Nas appliance.
Some of the optional features are aimed more at home users than businesses, such as a built-in iTunes server and other multimedia sharing utilities. Others have clear business uses, including an integrated Apache web server complete with PHP support and MySQL database.
Another is a new video surveillance facility that lets you view and record the output from network cameras via the web interface with motion detection also built-in. An FTP server is also provided, with encryption for this and HTTP users.
It took just a few minutes to get the DS508 up and running and we found it all very easy. Performance will depend on the disks and volumes configured, but even with the relatively slow 7,200rpm drives we used it gave impressive results on a par with high-end Nas servers costing much more.
Factor in all the other goodies and you’ve a solution to rival a general-purpose server minus the complexity. It can’t run Exchange, but that’s not a major issue and, that apart, it has got a lot to recommend it.
Read more reviews
Pros: Hot-swap Sata disks; five disk bays; Raid 0/1/5 protection; backup to external disks; Web-based access; Apache/PHP/MySQL servers; USB printer sharing Cons: Disks add to the price; no hot sparing; single power supply Overall: An impressive storage appliance with performance and capacity plus loads of built-in extras for the small business
£663.82 (£564.95 ex Vat) disks not included
Updating your subscription status