Synology Disk Station DS508

The majority of desktop NAS vendors have always made a big play for the consumer market but with its latest Disk Station, Synology wants a piece of the small business market too.

Multimedia features aren't quite up with those offered by Netgear's ReadyNAS boxes but they're still pretty good. An iTunes server is at the top of the list and this enables you to password protect the default music folder. It also supports internal smart playlists, which can be built from a small selection of criteria such as the artist, album, genre or year. You also get UPnP support for streaming content to digital media players.

The Photo Station 3 feature has been updated to enable you to tie in your pictures with a blog facility which can be accessed over HTTPS. The web interface for sharing pictures with the outside world is a tidy affair where you can add descriptions to folders and pictures and also enable users to enter comments along with a contact email address. The appliance automatically creates thumbnails for each picture as they are downloaded and there's a slideshow feature as well.

An Audio Server lets USB speakers be connected directly to the appliance to play music stored locally using Synology's optional remote handset. The appliance runs an Apache web server and uses the default Web folder to store your web pages. Even better is support for PHP and MySQL as this means you can use the appliance to run services such as a web shop.

The new Surveillance Station can take the feed from Axis, D-Link and Panasonic IP cameras, let you view it from the web interface and record directly to hard disk. We tested this with an Axis 207MW IP camera and were quite surprised with the results as this is the first time we've seen this type of application for a NAS appliance actually working properly. It'll let you record continuously or to a schedule and even includes its own motion detection function as well.

Businesses will be more impressed with the backup facilities on offer as the appliance can back itself up to another Synology appliance over the network or to an external USB storage device whilst the Data Replicator software manages scheduled backups from selected folders on workstations. The Download Service could also prove useful as it enables you to copy files from remote locations directly to the appliance using BitTorrent, HTTP or FTP. You can schedule these from the web interface or use the separate Download Director utility. During testing, we found this feature simple enough to use but bear in mind it can only work with single files and not folders.

There's no stopping Synology as it continues to heap its NAS appliances with more features than any other vendor. The new web interface makes light work of installation and management and the good hardware specification means you won't find a desktop NAS appliance faster than this.

Verdict

Synology delivers the fastest desktop NAS appliance currently on the market and with a host of storage features to boot. The business case for the Disk Station DS508 lies with its easy management, strong access controls, backup facilities and storming performance. The multimedia features are of less value in this environment but RAID options are extensive, there’s plenty of room for expansion and the new surveillance features could prove very useful.

Chassis: Desktop

CPU: 800MHz

Memory: 512MB

Storage: 5 x hot-swap SATA drive bays

Ports: 2 x USB 2.0; eSATA

Network: 2 x Gigabit Ethernet

Software: Synology Assistant, Download Redirector and Data Replicator 3

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