sam9s NEXT NAS Project! powered by Synology DS413j!!

sam9s

The High 5 Flyer
Hi Friends,
sam9s is back with another project, this time with a Synology's prebuilt NAS DS413j. Before I move ahead I must tell, I am grateful and blessed that Synology team themselves have trusted me and given me, this opportunity to write a review for one of their elite home NAS products, DS413j. I am also thankful to them for sending me the Unit to review and I hope my this attempt will land true to their and reader's expectations.

Synology DS413j; is a prebuilt HOME NAS, specifically catering to the general home public, who intend to have a complete multimedia sharing experience with the ability to have a storage data store. Not only that; it goes ahead a step further and also provide some of the advance features for those who want to ooze out some extra from their NAS.

Synology’s DSM Operating System covers almost every aspect a consumer could ever expect from a NAS. Its feature set exceeds expectations and gives, user the complete control and flexibility they need over any application, package or service they run. To name a few of the packages/services available are..... Media Server, Audio Station, Photo Station, Download facilities, Mail Server, Surveillance Station via IP cameras and much more.
Synology NAS redefines the definition of a conventional NAS, infact calling Synology NAS a conventional NAS is not even justified. A complete storage and multimedia management system, seems to be a more appropriate definition.

Like my previous review on UNRAID NAS, this time as well, I will break it into parts, to cover as much as possible. And agin like the previoua review this also will be a long long write up, so relax, take a back seat and enjoy the ride .... :D

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**********INTRO**********

The DS413j is the successor to DS411j. Synology didn’t actually release a 2012 variant of this 4-bay NAS and so there is no DS412j. If you aren’t familiar with Synology’s naming system it’s very intuitive - Disk station (DS) Number of bays (4) Year of production (13). The variable at the end of each of the product range such as + or j symbolize - Performance (+) Entry Level, storage focused (j) or no symbol for a mixture of the both – performance and storage. The OS that runs on the unit is called Disk Station Manager (DSM) and the current stable version is 4.1. A Beta 4.2 version release is also out now which have some extra features added, and few changes done to the look and feel of the dashboard as well. I shall discuss those separately.

The unit I would be reviewing is DS413j, which is an entry level aimed at Home or small business users.

**********HARDWARE SPECS**********

• CPU Frequency: 1.6GHz
• Hardware Encrypted Engine
• Memory: DDR3 512MB embedded
• Internal HDD/SSD: 3.5" or 2.5" SATA(II) X4 (Hard drive not included)
• Max Internal Capacity: 16TB (4X 4TB HDD) (Capacity may vary by RAID types)
• Hot Swappable HDD
• External HDD Interface: USB 2.0 Port X 2
• Size (HxWxD) : 184 X 168 X 230 mm
• Weight: 2.23Kg
• LAN: Gigabit X1
• Wake on LAN/WAN
• System Fan: 80x80mm x2
• Wireless Support (Dongle)
• Noise Level : 18.9 dB(A)
• Power Recovery
• AC Input Power Voltage: 100V to 240V AC
• Power Frequency: 50 / 60Hz, Single Phase
• Power Consumption: 31.56W (Access) ; 7.68W (HDD Hibernation)
• Operating Temperature: 5°C to 35°C (40 to 95°F)
• Storage Temperature: -10°C to 70°C (15 to 155°F)
• Relative Humidity: 5% to 95% RH
• Maximum Operating Altitude: 6,500 feet
• Certification: FCC Class B, CE Class B, BSMI Class B
• Warranty: 2 Years


================================================

This is how I will try to break my complete review ....

PART 1

1. Installation
2. A brief explanation of the services under control panel
3. Multimedia Features.
(Audio Station, Photo Station, Video Station, Media Server, Download station)


PART 2


1. Personal Cloud and Backup
a. Synology's own Backup and restore
b. Cloud Station and Quick Connect
c. via other 3rd party apps like Amazon S3, Amazon Glacier (available in DSM 4.2) or Crashplan

2. File sharing
3. Performance Testing


PART 3

1. Accessing your NAS services from internet (outside your LAN)
a. VPN
b. Port FW
c. FTP
d. WebDAV
e. via Mobile.
f. Synology DDNS services

2. Getting the most out from your NAS.
A. SNMP
B. Other 3rd part packages

3. Securing access to your NAS from internet
A. VPN
B. SSL
C. HTTPS


For people who would not be using their NAS from outside their home/LAN i.e from internet, PART 3 becomes void and they can skip it entirely if they want. For most of us, part one and two is what most people will be interested in.

Let's start ...

@@@@@@@@@@ - PART 1 :: Installation and Introduction to Multimedia Features- @@@@@@@@@@​

Installation for synology is one of the most simple, straightforward, I have ever come across while playing with different NAS OS.

**********HARDWARE INSTALLATION**********

For complete hardware installation of the drives into the product follow the below link.

http://ukdl.synology.com/download/ds/QIG/x13-series/DS413j/Syno_QIG_4bay_enu.pdf

Few snaps of my 413j HDD installation....

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**********SOFTWARE OS INSTALLATION**********

OS installation believe me, I presume must be the most simplest of all NAS out there. Best part of synology disk manager software installation is that is does not rely on any external media to get it installed, i.e. you don't need any, CD, DVD, USB drive to install the NAS OS, unlike most of NAS OS out there. You just install the HDD, plug in the NAS, make sure its connected to the internet and let Synology Assistant detect and install the OS. This is how it goes .....


1. You first install all the Hard drives.
2. Plug the LAN cable so that the NAS is connected to the internet
3. Plug the power cord and switch on the device
4. Open browser from any computer connected to same network as your NAS
5. Go to find.synology.com
6. Web Assistant will be launched on your web browser. It will search and find your Disk Station within LAN. Status will be not installed. Check out the below snap as to how it looks
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7. If for any reason you do not have internet for that moment or web assistant does not work, synology has provided an installation disk to get DSM installed. (Of course in that case you do need an optical drive)

For details on how to go about installation for Linux and Mac OS refer the link below....

http://ukdl.synology.com/download/ds/QIG/x13-series/DS413j/Syno_QIG_4bay_enu.pdf

**********VOLUME CREATION - Understanding Basic RAID/SHR**********

During DSM installation, synology assistant will ask and confirm the following things.

A. Admin account user name
B. Password
C. Server Name
D. If you want to create Synology Hybrid Raid (SHR) (More on that later) ... and
E. If you want to use your router DHCP for IP or use manual configuration ration (DHCP recommended if you have a router)


For the point D, I unchecked that option as I wanted to see what all RAID configuration did DS413j offer.

After DSM installation is complete, you need to go to your browser and put the below address to access your NAS console ...

http://Synology_Server_IP:5000 (your ip will be your internal ip. something like (192.168.x.y))

This would present you the login screen,

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Put the admin user ID and password that you created during installation and you will get to your NAS console ...

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First thing we need to do is to create a volume on the HDD installed. For that click on the TOP LEFT corner and choose STORAGE MANAGEMENT from the drop down. This would present you with the storage manager screen. Under Volume TAB click on the create button. This would launch the volume creation wizard.

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Now QUICK option is if you want to choose synology own Hybrid Raid (SHR). Custom option will provide you the option to choose more conventional RAID

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SHR is synology own RAID management system, which is good enough if you do not want to go in to the details and intricacies of RAID technicalities and just want a 1/2 disk failure protection with maximum performance.

I shall not go in to the details of conventional RAID system (an all together different topic) but I will suggest, do Google and see which RAID option you might want to go if SHR is not what you want . My suggestion is....... for a less than or equal to 4 HDD and with one disk fault tolerance protection Synology Hybrid Raid (SHR) is good enough.

For a quick intro on RAID refer the below table below.

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Also there is a very nifty, neat tool for RAID calculation at synology website. Very helpful in deciding which RAID to go for. Do check that out.

Synology Network Attached Storage - RAID Calculator

I opted for SHR and below is a snap, how it looks after the volume creation.

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That completes the basic hardware and software installation ......

===============================================

Let check out what do we have stored in our NAS.

Clicking the top left corner opens the main menu ........

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Here we have all that our NAS offers, it's like the configuration menu for Disk station, plus whatever we would install like Audio, Video station, the applications would be added here, we can drag drop the icon to have it on the DS desktop as well.

Before we move on to configuration NAS for basic operations. Let first see if our network is set correctly.

We need to go to control panel => networks.

GENERAL TAB

Manually configuration DNS. You ISP would take care of this automatically so you should be having the DNS ip there already. You can(should) change the server name to your liking.

Proxy Server ::

There is no proxy server so that is left blank.

NETWORK INTERFACE.

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1. Get network configuration automatically :::

Here are few things that need to be understood.

Your NAS should always have the same ip, coz if it changes you will have hard time accessing it. Ideally the DHCP from your router provides an internal ip to all your connected machines in your LAN.

There are two ways to deal with it.....

FIRST ::: The one that is common practice amount all online reviews :::: is Uncheck the first option, use manual configuration and provide a static ip. like for example 192.168.x.y (This is not what I follow)

SECOND ::: What I follow is called DHCP reservation under router configuration. This method tells my router to reserve an ip for each device connected on my LAN and provide the same ip every time either the router reboots or the device reboots/connects to the LAN.

The first option is what most follow, but if you are ok with opening up your router configuration and using DHCP reservation, I'd suggest that.

My router is Linksys E2000 and I can access the configuration page by going to 192.168.0.1, then under Basic Setup ..... under DHCP reservation we can reserve DHCP. check out the snap.

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TUNNEL

Tunnel is a way to access internet on IPv6 which is of less use as of now...

Lets start to analyze everything under CONTROL PANEL

**********CONTROL PANEL**********

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We will discuss most of it .. for the sake of easy lets use the groups under which these features are listed.

A. File sharing and privileges
B. Network Services
C. System
D. Application Settings


File Sharing and Privileges

USERS

1. The very first thing is to create Users, this is useful if you want to provide access to your family and/or friends inside or LAN or even from internet. When you go in to the USER dialogue box, you will see admin and guest already there and are pretty self explanatory.

Let create a user. Instead of snap shots I have prepared a small video that shows the same.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytjlkDp2VLQ&feature=youtu.be

Notice that there were no shares to control access to as we have not create those yet. Plus when we checked the option that mail should be sent to the user when the account is created, the system gave us the option to set up mail service for the same. I clicked no as we will discuss that later in detail.

Shared Folders

2. Lets create Shares. The most important aspect for your NAS is where you store all you data. Again created a small video for the same. After you create a user you can assign rights to what share the user has the access to and few other security settings .

Creating Share DS413j.wmv - YouTube

You must have noticed "Windows ACL" while creating the share, that is for advance users and we shall discuses it later.

Win/MAC/NFS

3. Next comes enabling file services. let go in to Win/MAC/NFS.

Under this section, All I did was Optimize CIFS database operations and rest was left unchecked. MAC file service was disabled as I do not have any Apple machine. NFS was enabled to provide access to Linux system.

IMP NOTE :: For XBMC to access the shares over NFS, you have to do some setting on synology and on the command line as well. Else XBMC does not see NFS shares. Will discuess the details in PART 3


win mac nfs - YouTube

FTP

FTP as most of us would know is the file transfer protocol that we can use to transfer files, using apps like CuteFTP or Filezilla. Click on FTP and under general tab click on enable FTP and if you want FTP connection on secure layer then choose FTP SSL. (More on SSL in PART 3 under securing your NAS)

Once FTP is enabled you can check if it's working by going to your browser and typing

ftp://<<your internal ip address>>:21 , e.g. ftp://192.168.0.110:21

and you should get the login prompt, put your admin credentials and you are in.

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WebDAV

Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV) is, in layman terms a file transfer method that works on HTTP. It's similar to the old FTP, but has specific advantages over FTP. We will discuss WebDAV in PART 3 under "Accessing your NAS from outside "internet""

Directory Services

Synology Directory Server provides Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) directory service that offers account integration and authentication support for LDAP-enabled applications. For the sake of simplicity we would not be discussing this feature in this review. But if you are interested all information is available on synology website.

Network Services

Web Services.

Web services provides you to create a website with web pages on the Synology Disk Station. The Synology Disk Station provides the default shared folder, " web ", for you to store web page files that are used to build your website. If you want to use it, you can enable web station, personal website under web applications, it's also advisable to enable everything under PHP settings (EXCEPT customize PHP openbase_dir) if you have PHP pages in your website. I have used this feature extensively and have created my own website to share my multimedia services that I have created on synology disk station.

But how to create a proper website and go about this using synology disk station cannot fall under the scope of DS413j review.

NOTE IMP :: I will be creating another thread to discuess my Website that I have created using Synology Services. This would provide you an idea as to how we can use synology's web services to share our multimedia applications

DDNS

DDNS is the one of the most IMP and cherished feature I can think of that has been natively provided by Synology on their Disk stations. If at all you are the type of person (Like ME .. :) ) who loves to access his NAS from outside your lan, i.e. internet, DDNS is something you will love. This also becomes important if you have created your website, using the web-services discussed above.

The problem with most of our ISPs is that they provide Dynamic external IP to our machines, that changes on occasions. The only way to access your NAS from outside is via your external IP, and so its imperative that it should remain constant at all times to have proper access from internet.

Two ways of doing this ...

A. Either you get a static IP from your ISP (Airtel charges 5000Rs/year for the same)

B. Or Use DDNS method, provided by lot of online services. The most prominent being ....


Free Dynamic DNS - Managed DNS - Managed Email - Domain Registration - No-IP

Managed DNS | Outsourced DNS | Anycast DNS

What these services provide, is that you can create a hostname, say like for e.g., www.myhousenas.org and map that hostname with your external dynamic IP. Now whatever your dynamic external ip is, your hostname will always point it to your machine. The only thing that we need to take care of is, when the external IP changes it should get updated at the website where you have created your hostname (e.g. no-ip.org). This is where the DDNS service that synology offers comes in to action. It updates your hostname, that you have created, at no-ip.org(or whatever you choose), with the current, present external IP of your machine.
So the result is, whatever your external dynamic IP is, your hostname will always point towards your home machine, so you don't have to remember or check your external IP. All you need to remember is your hostname that you created (www.myhousenas.org)

Of course.... to have proper access we also have to have port FW, but that is something we shall discuses in PART 3.

To summaries, if at all you want to access your NAS from internet, you need to do the following steps ...

A. Choose any DDNS service provider, I recommend no-ip.com, you can choose DYNDNS.org or any one listed under the service provider drop down menu.
B. Create an account there and create a hostname. (Creation of one hostname is free)
C. Open and enable DDNS on your disk station, choose the service provider.
D. Choose the hostname you created at the service provider
E. Put your credentials and apply, thats it. (of course port forward also need to be done, which we will discuss in PART 3)


Now when ever your external IP will change, Synology DDNS service will update your hostname you created at no-ip.org or which ever. Check the snap below ...

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QUICK CONNECT

Quick Connect is a way disk station provides that can help you provide access to your Disk Station via the Internet without setting up port forwarding rules. This though sounds cool, for a person who does not want to mess with router settings to set up port forward, in practicality it was not as effective as I might have expected. Plus there are only couple of applications on DS that support Quick Connect.....listed below.

DS File both on http and https
File Sharing
Cloud Services.


NOTE :: DS Photo and DS Audio added in DSM version 4.2

To use quick connect navigate to Control Panel=>Quick Connect. Choose the services, and click apply. As soon as you click apply, you should see a quick connect ID generated and status changed to connected. Click on customized Quick Connect ID and put anything you want. This would be the ID, different apps and services will use quick connect to access it via internet.

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But as I said it's not as effective as one might expect, as once you create a quick connect ID, sometimes it takes quite a few attempts to connect a service from Internet. Sometimes it would not connect at all.

If you ask me using DDNS services and port forward is the one I would suggest if you want to access your NAS from internet effectively. It is much stable than using the Quick Connect method provided by Synology.

FIREWALL

Firewall as the name suggest is a simple firewall provided by Synology DS and more of less works exactly like a regular windows firewall. You can create rules to allow/deny any port or IP. You can limit speed for connected connections form particular IPs .....

AUTOBLOCK

Auto block is a nice feature, which blocks IPs with too many failed login attempts. This seriously comes in handy when you open your disk station to the world of internet via port forwarding. Any malicious login attempt to your internal network will be blocked after particular failed login attempts. Very handy if you ask me

TERMINAL

Terminal enables the TELNET and SSH services, to your disk station. Telnet comes in to handy to configure some integral settings or install few packages or codes which are not natively provided by synology. More on this will be discussed under PART 3.

SNMP

SNMP is a standard TCP/IP protocol for network management. You can use SNMP to monitor network availability, performance, errors and issues. Usually SNMP monitoring is used for a huge and complicated network, but since the protocol is provided, you can use the services for your network management.

As an example I used OpManager (Network Monitoring Software | Network Performance Monitor | Network Management Software - ManageEngine OpManager) software just to see and have a feel of, as to how SNMP works. Below snaps will provide a small example as to what SNMP can do.

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SYSTEMSYSTEM

Network

This is already covered, during the starting of this tutorial .....

DSM Settings

Most of the things are self explanatory, You can change the login style of DSM, You can change the default port, automatic log out time period for DS .....etc.etc. Just sharing so that you know, what all Synology offers.

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Regional Options

Options, to set time, Language ..etc

Notification

Notification is the place where you can set up, if and how your DS notifies you in case of any trouble, issue or simple task completion.

I did not try the SMS notification since no provider for our country was provided, but mail notification works perfectly. All you need to do is have SMTP server and port details for the mail service you want to use, like I prefer Gmail, so under SMTP server I have smtp.gmail.com and port is 465. Put your primary and secondary email (primary should be the Gmail one) Choose any sub prefix and send a test mail.

If everything is ok you should get a test mail from DSM. You are now ready to receive notifications from your Disk station

Advance TAB let you choose which notification you want to receive from DS.

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POWER

Power management might be another major reason for opting for Synology NAS. The power consumption of synology NAS is amazingly low and you can make it even lower by setting out various options here under POWER.
The first three tabs (General, beep control and UPS) are pretty self explanatory. The next tab Schedule allows you to power on and off you DS automatically per the schedule you set, and it works flawlessly. Like for example I have scheduled my DS to start daily at 6 AM and power down at 2 AM on weekdays and 3 AM on weekends. This is how it looks.

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the last TAB is Hibernation which hibernates the HDD, after specified time of inactivity. This a bit tricky in the sense that if you have installed a lot of packages and have access to your NAS from various locations', you might not know which application is trying to access you NAS HDD. This sometimes keeps your NAS from not going in to Hibernation mode, even if you are not using it personally.

EXTERNAL DEVICES, RESTORE DEFAULTS and DSM UPDATE

All three are pretty simple and self explanatory. For external device when you connect a USB drive, it acts as a share and becomes available under list of Shares. Restore Defaults will do as it says and DSM update will update your OS to latest stable release.

Application Settings

Application Privileges

As the name suggests whatever users you create, you can view, change and set the privileges of any application/package you install for any user you create.

Application Portal

This is another nifty feature provided by DSM, we know that the multimedia services, like Audio and Video station can be accessed under package center, but for that we have to log in to our disk station main portal. What if, if we just want these applications to run without actually opening up the main DS Web portal. Application portal provides the same functionality, here you can set port and customize alias so that you can directory log in to Audio or Video station, without actually opening up the main console page.
This is also handy when you want to listen to music from internet, you just need to point your url to customized alias and port you mentioned above and only your audio station opens up. (Again assuming that you have set up DNS services and port FW)

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How you can do this exactly is something we will discuss in detail in PART 3.

Syslog

If you have log server maintained, You can send syslogs from Disk Station to it, which will centrally manage the syslogs it collects within the network.

VPN

VPN is another essential feature, for being able to access your NAS from internet securely. Securely is the key word here. VPN stands for virtual private networking, and in layman's term VPN creates a tunnel between the a computer on internet (i.e. outside your LAN) and your NAS. The tunnel is secure. i.e. no intrusion can be done from the outside world. We will discuss this in detail in PART 3 where we will discuss about how to secure access to your NAS from internet.

Media Indexing Services

This segment is bit important. One of the main functionalities you would use of your NAS would be the multimedia services, like Audio and Video station. For these services to recognize the media stored on to your HDD under shares, you have to index them, else Multimedia features would not recognize them. For this you just need to go in to Media Indexing Services, choose indexed folders, click create, provide a name and browse to your music or video share on your NAS.

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Network Backup

Under network back, you can set you disk station to act as a backup server for any external rsync based, server, synced folder, or time backup. This need not to be confused with backing up Synology data and apps on to a different machine. This is if you want your NAS to act as the backup server. More on this in PART 2.

*********This concludes the CONTROLL PANAL Segment**************​


Now we have setup our DS completely, created shares, users and provide them basic privileges as well. Let copy some random data and see how can we access it and what else can we do.

There are two way you can access your shares.

1. Conventional Way : Via windows using the IP on RUN command
2. Using the File Station provided by the Disk station itself. A small video as to how to do it.


Using the either way you can start copying the data on to your NAS.

how to access shares on DS413j.wmv - YouTube

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Now that we have copied the data let see what all features we have as far as Multimedia is concerned, All the app that we have are available under package center. Click on it and navigate to available packages. Following is a snap shot of all the packages available for DSM 4.1

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Apart from this, other 3rd party developers have also come across with various packages for synology. We will discuss this when we discuses "Getting Most out of your NAS" in PART 3

Just choose the package you want to install and click install. For multimedia we will install.

Audio Station
Video Station
Photo Station
Media Server
Logitech Media Server (This is good if you have Logitech gadgets like Squeezebox touch, or radio or just want to use the server to listen music on your PC)


I have installed each one of them and let's have a look in to each.


@@@@@@@@@@ - PART 1 :: Multimedia Features- @@@@@@@@@@​

**********AUDIO STATION**********

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When you first open AudioStation and navigate to your created music share, (via By_Folder) you will notice no music there even thought you have copied files over it. This is because you have yet to index files before they can be accessed via AudioStation. For that you need to go to ... Control Panel => media indexing services.(Discussed above as well) Then index folder and create ... Name it anything, preferably same as the audio share you created and then click select to choose your audio share. Thats it, give couple of minutes for DS to index files. On media indexing services tab you can see DS indexing media files. As a reference DS took 20-30 minutes to index my 125GB of music collection. Now you can go back to Audio Station and navigate to your created share and you should see all your music listed there.

Audio Station is a web-based audio application, allowing you to access the music library on your Synology Disk Station. Audio Station works on Flash so make sure your browser is flash enabled. Apart from the usual offerings of any audio/media player like playlist, fav music, radio station, following are some noticeable features that I could figure out.

1. DLNA Certified digital media server

2. UPnP Complaint (So any UPnP server running on your LAN, including Disk station's own UPnP media server, will be available on Audio Station)

3. But MY FAV, is the USB mode,:::: where in you can connect the USB port of your synology NAS to USB speakers or straight to a USB DAC connected to your audiophile gear and enjoy high quality high bitrate music. Very thought out feature. Personally I connected it to my Fiio E10 USB DAC which was connected to my Onkyo AVR coupled with my Polk Audio Tsi300 floor stands and the output is class. (Mostly because of my USB DAC, but player also does plays a role). Easily comparable, infact a notch better than my Squeezebox touch output. To play music via USB out you just have to do two things, make sure you do these steps before you load your songs on to your playlist, as when you will select USB mode your playlist would default to zero and you have to re add all you songs to the now playing playlist. Below a quick video as to how to do enable USB mode under Audio Station plus few other nifty features like Lyrics and switching to mini player.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUMHT_2eOdU&feature=youtu.be

Few things that I would really like to be added to Audio Station......

1. Transcoading , :::definitely a must have ......:::Logitech Media Server does Transcoading very well. To people who don't know, Transcoading, is conversion from one audio format to another on the fly (that is at run time, then and there when the music is playing.). This comes in very handy when you have a big FLAC (or Apple lossless maybe) collection and you want to listen it on your mobile connected maybe to your car stereo on the go. This scenario will involve 3G and first you would not want to stream full near 1000kbps FLAC song coz 3G costs, plus your server connected to you home broadband will probably will not have enough upload speed to be able to smoothly stream.(Usually a 4mbps broadband connection has a 1mbps upload bandwidth, which though is more than enough for even a 320 kbps songs but isn't enough for a FLAC.) Though your mobile on 3G will have the bandwidth to downstream the song, but things would chock at your server end.

NOTE :: I was able to find Transcoading option but only in Media Server DMA Compatibility, that too only between FLAC to WAV and not MP3. I would love to have a complete Transcoading feature with an option to set MP3 bitrate as well. Much like Logitech Media Server has with Lame codecs.

2. Social Sharing ::: These days almost everywhere we have an option to share what we are doing/watching/Listening, so I would love to have a facebook, tweeter and not to forget last.fm, integration with Audio Station, where I can just click and update ... Currently listing to ..... or if possible option to automate this as well, where my choice of social site would be auto updated the song I am listening. Technically this called "Scrobbling" .......
Here I would like to mention that, third party chrome extension is available that, scrobbles the song playing on your Audio Station, but that's very basic and, not available for other browsers. So a neat inbuilt service would be appreciated.

3. Ability to search Lyrics on the fly, from Audio Station console itself. If it can be made automated, like we just click "Search Lyrics" while playing the song, will be much better. I would also like to add that if we manually put the scroll-able lyrics file (LRC), Audio Station, does a decent job of scrolling it. though there is no option to sync or change the scrolling time, so if the lyrics are out of sync you cannot adjust the scroll rate to compensate. (Check out mini lyrics if you want to know what I am referring to.)

NOTE :: Seems like DSM 4.2 version will have this feature. I will test it on DSM 4.2 and update.

4. Though we have music TAG editing (ID3 tagging), we do not have the option to change or load the cover art. If that can be added, nice feature. And again icing on the cake would be if cover art searching can also be added. Again I have to mention that if you manually put the cover art in the music folder, AudioStation picks and displays it correctly.

**********PHOTO STATION**********

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One of my top fav feature of Synology NAS is Photo Station, not because it gives you an option to store your image files or let them share via the usual face book or Google plus, but because synology has made Photo Station a complete portal (mini website) in itself, not only to view your own uploaded snaps but share the complete portal with your friends and families as well, with complete control over who can access the portal and individual web albums. This is where it gets a bit different from the usual online photo services, plus it's your own hosted image server so you have a complete control over it.

Another nifty feature is that you can upload any image from your albums directly to Facebook albums, Twitter or Picasa. Makes it pretty nifty actually. I tried it and works perfectly. When you choose to upload on face book, it lists all the albums you have created there and you can choose to upload on any of it.

NOTE ::: In DSM 4.2, more uploading services have been added.

Installing Photo Station is same as installing any other package, by going in to the "Package Center", => Available TAB and selecting Audio Station from it. Once installed, its available under installed or app drawer on the top left corner. You can drag and drop any app from the drawer to your DS desktop to have its shortcut.

Once installed, when you click on Photo Station, it will ask for your credentials, use your "admin" credentials as you want complete control over Photo Station, to create and organize your images. Again instead of putting everything written with points I am sharing a small video to show how to navigate through Photo Station

Photo station Intro - YouTube

The video must have give you a brief preview what Photo Station is all about.

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Most of the settings are self explanatory baring few, like for example ...

1. Personal Photo Station ::Personal photo station will allow users to create their own albums and upload images, enabling personal photo station provides access to upload albums and images on their personal HOME folder created on you NAS. You just need to make sure that, "Enable User home" is selected under user properties, when you create a user. Check the snap below.

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You can control the privileges of each user via "Account System " under Photo Station settings.

2. Account system :: This is a very thought out feature provided by synology. If you want to share Photo Station experience with others (which most of us would do), DSM provides two account system to manage it.

  • A. DSM Accounts :: The usual one you create under the user category in control panel
  • B. Photo Station Accounts :: Independent accounts that you can create inside the PS itself. (Like the one I have created which I showed in the video.

By creating an account for a user you provide him more, features in Photo Station like uploading images, editing them etc. If you want to allow users to have a "Personal Photo Station" then it's advisable to manage Photo Station by DSM accounts, as then the uses will have their own HOME folder where they can upload images and create albums as well. Provided "Enable User home" is selected

However if all you want users to view images, and at the most upload them under pre created albums by you, Photo station accounts are best suited. Plus it keep the users separate from other users you might have for your DSM or Audio Station.

But you can mix and match both these privileges to provide the kind of access you require.


3. TimeLine :: Time line is very much like the face book time line, provides a pictorial representation of all the albums created with a date time line at the bottom. You scroll the line to view your albums taken at different dates. If the image is Geotagged it also provides a map at the bottom giving the location where the image was taken.

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DRAWBACKS n ISSUES

To conclude, few glitches as well that I would like to point. Though Photo Station almost works as intended, not everything is Hunky Dory. Following are some major issues that I encountered with Photo station, and few suggestions to avoid getting into problems.

1. Photo station from internet can only be accessed through port 80, yes you can add a port, but you cannot change the default port 80, so you have to port forward 80 only in order to access photo station from outside and share your album link. The Application Portal that I discussed somewhere above in this review, does not have Photo Station in it. Technically this creates an issue when you want photo station to launch just by providing the link. If you add a port say 81 then you have to add that port along with the link, which make it unprofessional, as you cannot expect a user to add 81 at the end of the link. Port 80 is default you don't have to add it, so it makes sense, but port 80 is also used by lot of other services and is not advisable to forward, changing the default port for Photo Station would have made sense in this regard.

More on this will become clear when I will discuss my Website in a separate thread, as website on HTTP also works on port 80 (by default)

2. Slide show is not available full screen

3. If an album is password protected for a user, you cannot provide the access to the same user to upload photos to his own password protected album, unless you make it private or public of course

4. There is no access to delete the album for a user who has created it. Only admins can delete it.

5. IMP :: This is with uploading, not sure where the bug is, while using http with photo station, the upload wizard lets us choose multiple image files to upload from your computer. BUT when we use photo station on HTTPS, during upload we can only select one file to upload at a time, no way to select multiple files. This is from the computer itself I am talking about. You however can select multiple files if you choose to upload from your Disk station itself, but not from the computer (only on HTTPS connection), which is strange.

6. Last but not the least, uploading via Photo Station to an album in itself is very slow, chunky and unpredictable. It takes a lot of time to upload even small 500-800 KB files, not to forget many times the uploader just hangs and does nothing, and I have to refresh the page and relogin.

SOLUTIONS

Not perfect but still a solution ..........

A. For points 3,4 and 5, what you can do is, instead of providing the user the direct link to photo station. Create a user account in your DSM, provide him access to only Photo station and file station, making sure he does not have access to any share, and let him log in to DSM (not photo station directly) and then have access to photo station (from inside DSM). This somewhat solves the issues, as then the user has his own private photo station and can do whatever he wants with his photos and albums.

One drawback here is you would not be able to share your own album. User can only share and view his own photos and albums.

B. for point 6, synology has provided an independent synology assistant to perform some admin tasks. This includes a photo uploader as well, which works exactly the way photo station should have had. Anyway Uploading is fast, consistent and you can connect with your server from internet as well, using the same DYNDNS service. So synology assistant as an image uploader works perfectly.

One drawback here as well, you cannot expect every user you provide access to photo station to have Synology's Assistant to run on his PC. (You have to download and install Synology's Assistant separately) Synology Assistant is more useful as your own personal photo uploader, and I strongly advice to use Synology Assistant to upload photos, its much stable and easier as well. Users however have to stick to usual Photo station uploading.Unless ofcourse they download Synology Assistant on their machines.

**********VIDEO STATION**********

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Another sweet little GEM in the multimedia bag, synology offers is the Video Station. Video Station, again seriously thought out multimedia offering by Synology. Most of us who are in to Home Theaters and are Movie buffs know the importance of a quality working YAMJ and that is where most of ours favorite XBMC comes in. It's a media renderer and a phenomenal media collector as well. Where, XBMC does a lot more than the main function of getting, correct Movie posters, information and IMDB reference, Video Station on Synology of course not as comprehensive as XBMC does two most needed, main function perfectly and effectively ..

1. Plays the Media.
2. Loads the media info and poster pretty accurately, i.e. its a good YAMJ experience.


All you have to do is to point Video Station to the directory/folder where your Movies/TV series are stored and Video Station very effectively pulls out the Movie information with correct Movie posters.

Video Station also provides the option to edit/add Movie info if for some reason it does not pick it by itself. Rules are the same as XBMC. The Movie folder should be named with "Movie name (year)" and the Movie name should be "Movie name.<<extension>>"

A small video again to show with a couple of Movies indexed and one which was not properly indexed and had to be done manually. We shall see how to index and get the information from internet. As a reference Video Station took 10-15 minutes to index 115 HD movies. Out of 115, seven were not absolutely accurately indexed, most of them just had the summery missing. With couple missing everything, but those were Korean movies, so it figures.

Below is the video ..

Video Station Intro - YouTube

I did not venture in to TV Recordings as I did not have the equipment to get this tested ......

Things I would like to add in Video Station.

1. Again Transcoading ::: At least to a level where we can see low bitrate DVD rips, if our Video Station is accessed on a laptop.
Again

NOTE :: On LAN i.e. locally, Video Station played all 1080p videos flawlessly without any jerks or stutter.

2. Again an automated Movie Scrobbler, specially with the ever popular trakt.tv, which is popular for showcasing everything about your movie collection, specially what you and others are watching on runtime bases, so a connection between video station and trakt.tv would be a great added feature.

DRAWBACKS n ISSUES

1. Video Station uses VLC as the media player, when you click on play, a new browser window is opened, VLC is loaded and starts to play the movie. This for some reason does not work on HTTPS connection. If Video Station is loaded on HTTPS, the player simply gives a message that it cannot render the video. I am not sure why this happens seems a BUG again.

Solution

1. Solution is simple, as to not to use HTTPS for Video Station. :)

**********MEDIA SERVER**********

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Media server is another addition to Synology's multimedia package for their Disk stations. Media Server is nothing but a plain simple (but effective) UPnP server. In case some do not know what UPnP is ...UPnP ::::: (Universal Plug and Play) ::::: is a feature to make media streaming easy within your home network. Technically it's a networking protocol that helps PCs, peripherals, Gateways, access points to discover each other over a network. To a layman it means, it's a feature for your computer to recognize other computers on your home network and share certain services with them. Typically its used for streaming media among different devices connected within a same network.

To make this work you need ....

1. UPnP compatible router (Most current gen routers are UPnP complaint). The only difference might be for some this feature is not auto on and you have to manually switch it on via router configuration page.

2. A UPnP server program :: It's an application that would be installed on your PC/NAS which would make sharing among UPnP complaint devices possible.

This is where the Synology Media Server comes in, it's that program running on your NAS which makes sharing among UPnP devices possible.

3. UPnP capable device ::: This can be a hardware device like, PS3, Xbox 360, Squeezebox touch, etc or software like XBMC, WMP, Foobar, running on a PC.

For synology NAS, all you have to do is to install the media server form the available packages, and that's it. Now you can use any media player like Foobar or WMP to browse your music collection on you NAS via this UPnP server.

As an example I have shown how you can access UPnP via Foobar and XBMC.

Enable UPnP at Server end, i.e. Synology

upnp at server.wmv - YouTube

Using UPnP at client end with Foobar and XBMC

UPnP client - YouTube

**********DOWNLOAD STATION**********

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As the name suggest Download Station, on Synology's is a take on personal download manager, for your own disk station. The surprising and best part about Synology's Download Station is, not only its support for various download methods, but also that they actually works as it should be. Just to give an idea of what DS supports,

1. The but obvious "Torrents"
2. Torrent searches!!!. Not only can you download but can search torrents as well right from Download stations itself. And it searches simultaneously from various torrent services. You can add and search downloads to you Download Station from mobile as well, and monitor them too. More on this in PART 4

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3. Direct downloads from following numerous services ...

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Both free and paid accounts are supported.

4. Usenet servers with full NZB support.
5. emule downloads.
6. FTP/HTTP direct downloads


All downloads can be automated and scheduled as well. How do you automate ...

1. For direct downloads (like Rapidshare, Fileserve links) :: you create a txt file that would have your valid URLs for the downloads. Then you create a "Watch" folder on any of your share and point DS to monitor that watch folder. You then put the .TXT file in to that watch folder. Anytime you copy a new download URL on that txt file, DS will grab it and start to download.

2. For torrents its even easy,::: just copy the torrent file in to that watch folder and Download station will grab and start to download. And its instantaneous.

3. For NZB it's the same::: as with any Usenet download client. Define the news server, news port, authentication details and that's it. Now whenever you will copy the NZB file on to your watch folder, download station will grab it and start to download.

NOW COMES MY FAV PART

What if you are sitting across states or country, on internet. And you don't have access to your watch folder ...

Synology has official plug-ins for CHROM and Firefox. Which makes sending links and torrents directly to your download station a breeze. With Chrome it's even better, with "Download with disk station" button present right along the magnet link

Not only that... it also add a neat link on your YouTube videos as well, clicking on which will download the YouTube video directly to your download station.

Neat very neat if you ask me.

However you need to understand that you have to user DDNS services to provide access to your internal network from internet.

More on this much later when we discuss how to access NAS from internet.

For Chrome just install :: "Synology Download station for Google chrome"

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/synology-download-station/onhbegdkgonhlokobjefolhpoidcnida

Once installed it will provide a neat "Download with disk station" button right beside the magnet link on the torrent site, or you can right click on the link itself and choose "Download with disk station"

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For Firefox best is ::: SynoLoader :: Again once installed you can have any torrent download by right clicking on the links and choose "Download with SynoLoader"

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For you tube : YouTube downloader only works with chrome, if you have Synology Download station for Google chrome, then you will get a neat button just under the video to be able to download the video directly on to your Disk station.

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Rest of the features include ....

1. You can control max active downloads
2. Send notifications when the download task is completed
3. Schedule downloads.
4. Auto extract download RAR file (with password support)
5. Control torrent max upload and download rate
6. Auto stop seeing based on condition .............etc


The complete experience is ultra polished and loaded with features. In my words synology Download station is THE best among any download managers or client I have worked on.


*************************END OF PART 1**************************​

This completes PART 1 of my 3 part Review and Analysis of Synology's DS413j Home Entertainment NAS.

Stay put for my Next parts......


Regards
Sammy
 
OP
sam9s

sam9s

The High 5 Flyer
Thanks rhitwick and pratyush ...... its a very detail writing ,...... more of a product analysis than review ... :D ... but anyway, synology people wanted a detailed one, for their own purpose as well, so I gave them ... :)
 

anirbandd

Conversation Architect
Man.. this is one hell of a review... :shock:

very well done, especially the lucid writing and formatting.

take a bow brother. :)
 

tnny9

Broken In
Hello everyone, I am confused between two products:
1. Synology DS116
2. Synology DS216J.

My requirements:
Streaming movies via android media player, downloading movies, viewing the same on ipad, mobile phones.

Will require only 4tb space, single disc, want no lags, good speed.

DS116 is 1 gb ram with 1.6 ghz processor.
Ds216j is 512 mb ram with 1 ghz processor.

Price wise Ds216j is little bit expensive for me.

Please suggest which one should I go for?

Thanks
Girish
 

SaiyanGoku

kamehameha!!
Hello everyone, I am confused between two products:
1. Synology DS116
2. Synology DS216J.

My requirements:
Streaming movies via android media player, downloading movies, viewing the same on ipad, mobile phones.

Will require only 4tb space, single disc, want no lags, good speed.

DS116 is 1 gb ram with 1.6 ghz processor.
Ds216j is 512 mb ram with 1 ghz processor.

Price wise Ds216j is little bit expensive for me.

Please suggest which one should I go for?

Thanks
Girish
Why not DIY make NAS using Raspberry Pi 3?
 
OP
sam9s

sam9s

The High 5 Flyer
Hello everyone, I am confused between two products:
1. Synology DS116
2. Synology DS216J.

My requirements:
Streaming movies via android media player, downloading movies, viewing the same on ipad, mobile phones.

Will require only 4tb space, single disc, want no lags, good speed.

DS116 is 1 gb ram with 1.6 ghz processor.
Ds216j is 512 mb ram with 1 ghz processor.

Price wise Ds216j is little bit expensive for me.

Please suggest which one should I go for?

Thanks
Girish


"j" is low performance, nothing is medium and "+" is high performance, keeping the model number same, so 216+>216>216j
 
OP
sam9s

sam9s

The High 5 Flyer
Thanks for replying, so out of DS116 & DS216j which one you recommend?

DS116 if you do not plan to add/upgrade the HDD and are satisfied with 1 disk. Performance wise 116 is on high ground than 216j
 
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