Product review: Synology Disk Station DS409slim

By Chris Holt, Macworld |  Storage, NAS

The extensive features offered by network-attached storage (NAS) devices are garnering more interest from consumers, but the difficulty in setting up the devices have kept them out of the mainstream. Synology's Disk Station DS409slim DS409slim is a uniquely-designed NAS device that has four bays for laptop-size hard drives, numerous RAID configurations, multiple features that advanced users will enjoy, and--a welcome improvement over other NAS systems--a simple setup system.

The compact, black DS409slim is smaller than your average NAS device, due to the unit's use of 2.5-inch laptop hard drives as opposed to the bulkier 3.5-inch drives normally associated with NAS units. According to the press materials, the 2.5-inch drives and the Disk Station's unique design allow it to consume less energy than competing NAS units, thereby reducing your carbon footprint.

On the front of the DS409slim, six LED lights denote the status of various features; the bottom four lights indicate the activity of the four hard drives, while the top light denotes the overall unit's status and the second light shows the LAN's status. A USB port under the lights provides the ability to augment your storage capacity. On the side of the DS409slim, a blue LED light displays activity for the entire unit.

The back of the device has an Ethernet port and the four drive bays for the hard drives. The back also has a USB and eSATA port for expanding your storage capacity or for backing up the DS409slim with an external hard drive.

Setting up the Synology Disk Station via Ethernet to our local network was pretty straightforward. Detecting the unit through Bonjour was a cinch and setting up user accounts and accessing the Disk Station Manager Web tool was easy. Unfortunately, the drive's volumes did not mount on our Mac's desktop immediately, and there is no stand-alone application to adjust the DS409slim's settings directly. Everything must be accessed through the browser-based Disk Station Manager program. In order to mount the drive's volumes, you'll need to connect to the server directly.

Before using the hardware tool, I went to Synology's Web site to download a firmware update. While it only took a few minutes to download, I realized that most users would not know to take this step as its not indicated anywhere on the interface that the unit would need an update. After logging in, you'll be confronted with several colorful logos. The most important two are the Management and File Station icons. Management guides you through the nuts and bolts tools of the program, allowing you to access the DS409slim's three functions: Web Station, Photo Station, and File Station.

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