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NAS Reviews

Introduction

Updated 12/30/2010: Multiple edits to correct errors and omissions

Synology DSM 3.0 splash

Many of today's NAS manufacturers have adopted a unified feature set across their product lines. This is good for reviewers in that we can do a feature review once, then refer to it from many shorter reviews. But, frankly, I often don't bother looking up the last review that contains a feature review, which is not a nice thing to do to readers.

So, this review will attempt to remedy that problem for Synology NASes by providing a look at Synology's current NAS OS, DSM 3.0. Of course, the latest information about the OS will always be available at Synology's site, which hosts a handy live demo.

Here is a summary of DSM 3.0 features. Of course, volume types supported vary by the number of drives in a product. So don't expect to buy a two-bay NAS and get RAID 5 and higher support!

Here's a feature summary:

Volume Types, File Systems, Services

  • Network file sharing via SMB/CIFS, NFS, AFP
  • WebDAV support
  • Hot-swappable individual drive, JBOD, RAID 0, 1, 5, 5 + spare, 6, 10 volumes
    (volume support varies with number of drives)
  • Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR)
  • Online RAID expansion and RAID level migration
  • Selectable EXT3 / EXT4 volume file systems
  • FTP (and -SSL, -TLS) with upload / download bandwidth control
  • HTTP / HTTPs file and admin access
  • iSCSI target (maximum number varies by model)
  • ISO mounts
  • CIFS Recycle Bin
  • Apache webserver
  • USB printer serving

Accounts

  • Joins NT Domain / Active Directories for account information
  • Users (maximum number varies by model)
  • Groups (maximum number varies by model)
  • Quotas

Backup

  • Scheduled and immediate networked backup to other Synology NASes using proprietary rsync-based protocol or standard rsync servers with compression and encryption options.
  • Client Backup: Synology Data Replicator 3 (Windows only, unlimited licenses)
  • Scheduled Backup to attached drives
  • USB device pushbutton copy
  • Apple Time Machine backup

Multimedia

  • Media servers: UPnP AV / DLNA, iTunes
  • PS3 and Xbox360 media access support
  • Remote music access
  • Internet radio (via ShoutCast and RadioIO)
  • Web photo album
  • BitTorrent / HTTP / FTP / NZB download
  • eMule download
  • IP camera recording and playback (select models, maximum number vary by model)
  • ioS and Android apps for remote music and photo access

Add-ons

  • Roundcube email
  • phpMyAdmin
  • Squeezebox server
  • Webalizer
  • More from third-parties including, Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla, Gallery, SQL Buddy

Power

  • UPS shutdown sync via USB
  • Programmable idle drive spindown
  • Scheduled shutdown / startup
  • Wake On Lan
  • Auto restart after power failure

Networking

  • IPv6
  • Link failover and aggregation (dual Network models)
  • Dynamic DNS support
  • Port filtering
  • PPPoE client

Admin Features

  • Email alerts
  • Logging
  • Telnet / SSH root access
  • SNMP management
  • Resource monitor (CPU, memory, network usage graphs)

Missing Features

There are a few things that you'll find on NETGEAR ReadyNASes and QNAP NASes that Synology doesn't have.

  • iSCSI initiator - You can create iSCSI targets and mount them from systems that have iSCSI initiators like Windows. But Synology NASes themselves can't mount iSCSI targets to form larger virtual storage pools
  • Virtualization support - Many of QNAP's newer NASes are certified to use with VMware and Citrix virtualization technologies and also are compatible with Microsoft Hyper-V. Synology has VMware certification only for its DS1010+, RS810+ and RS810RP+ and is in the process of pursuing Citrix and Hyper-V certs.
  • Easy Remote Access- DSM 3 has multiple features to support accessing the NAS from the Internet. But they still rely on the configuration of router port forwarding, dynamic DNS, etc. A hosted remote access service like ReadyNAS Remote or even simpler services like those offered by Buffalo, WD, Iomega and other manufacturers would simplify the process for less knowledgeable users.
  • Easier add-on browsing and installation - Like ReadyNASes, you need to browse Synology's online catalog of add-on applications, download the app to your computer, then browse with the add-on installer to find and upload the file. QNAP's process is much simpler, allowing you to browse its add-on "QPKG" catalog from its admin interface.
  • Cloud backup option - QNAP offers Amazon S3 and NETGEAR has its ReadyNAS Vault. Synology does not offer the option of backup to a cloud backup service.

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