Product review: Synology Cube Station breaks the low-end NAS wide open
The size of a paint can, the CS407 houses 4TB of RAID 5 storage, speaks almost any file sharing protocol you might think of using, and its embedded Linux OS is open to additions; on the downside, its breadth of capabilities will tempt you to overload its somewhat meager system resourcesFollow @pvenezia
Synology includes a BitTorrent client in the standard build, and PC and Mac companion software that runs on your main system to ship BitTorrent links to the system to let it download the files directly. You can even send the CS407 URLs and it will wget files directly to the main volume. The sister to the CS407, the CS407e, can use USB speakers to play music directly from the main volume; you can plug an iPod into it as well. It runs a DAAPd (Digital Audio Access Protocol daemon) service to stream to iTunes, and can stream content to Sony PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 game consoles. The Web server on the system is Apache, and it includes PHP. There's even a MySQL installation standard, so the CS407 can run small Web applications. Given the CPU and RAM resources, it's unwise to overload the system, but the functionality is there. There's even a PPPoE client, support for USB printers, and a USB-connected UPS.
Because root access is available and the system is built on embedded Linux, there are other possibilities as well. Synology runs an open source community site that has packages compiled by users specifically for these systems. I didn't find ccxstream there, so I built it myself and can stream media files across the network with ease.
I successfully migrated all of my data and services (save one or two) to the CS407 without issue, although it did take a good while to rsync more than a terabyte of data to the system. I'm missing an NTP (Network Time Protocol) server and a DNS server that the old system ran, but those features should be able to be added much the same way I brought over ccxstream, once I have time. In talking to the Synology folks, they seemed very keen on adding these features to the base build as well, so perhaps I won't have to do it myself. If I do, I'll post the packages to their site for everyone else to use.
I'm clearly very much impressed with the CS407. This tiny little box took the place of the behemoth file server in the lab quite handily. Naturally, it also uses less power while doing basically the same work. It would be very nice to see the CS407 with more horsepower and RAM, and definitely with hot-swap disks, and I'm told that these features will be available in the forthcoming Disk Station 508, to be released early this year.
At around $599 on the street without disk, the CS407 is reasonably priced. I wound up with 2TB of RAID 5 network storage for around $1,300. Some retailers are bundling the CS407 with disks, such as the $1,919 deal from Aegis that adds four 1TB disks. A 4TB file server for less than $2,000 is not shabby at all, especially when you consider that you can modify how those files are served in just about any way you like.
In sharp contrast to most SMB NAS devices, the pure openness of the CS407 is exemplary. Rather than being locked into an untouchable system, it's as open as if you built it yourself -- but you didn't have to.