The Synology DS413J is a four-bay NAS device aimed at the small office and home user market. The unit itself is all plastic and quite neatly designed – coloured in white, silver and black, with blue and green LEDs adorning the front. See all stroage reviews.
The unit has a single gigabit ethernet port to connect to the network and two USB 2.0 ports for additional external hard drives and printers. Note however that Synology's DSM operating system still lacks support for HFS+, Apple's OS X disk format, which leaves Mac users unable to use large external disks. See also: Group test: what's the best NAS device?
The processor is a 1.6 GHz mv6282, a single-core ARM processor and the unit includes 512 MB of memory.
Setup of the unit is extremely simple. To start you need to run Synlology Assistant (available for Windows or Macintosh), which finds the NAS on your network and allows you to install the firmware for the first time.
As with most NAS systems with four or more bays, various flavours of RAID are offered including 0, 1, 5, 6 and 10. The most interesting is Synology's own proprietary RAID system it calls Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR). SHR allows you to mix different-sized drives from any vendor without reducing total storage to multiples of the lowest capacity drive in the array, as normally would happen. And data is still preserved after one disk failure.
For example in our test system we had two 3 TB and two 4 TB hard drives. That would normally provide 9 TB of useable space in a RAID 5. In this example using SHR you gain an extra 1 TB of usable space by splitting the disks into smaller chunks.
One of the most compelling features of the DS-413j is Synology's excellent Disk Station Manager (DSM) software. Included in DSM is a feature called EZ-Internet, which allows you to connect to your Synology NAS from across the internet with minimal setup.
EZ-Internet will set you up with a free Synology DDNS (dynamic domain name server) account and URL. This means even without a static IP you can still find your NAS by typing in the same address each time into an internet browser. If your router is on the Synology approved list it will even help you set up port forwarding. When this is done you simply type your chosen web address (eg, mynas.synology.me) into any web browser and you have full control and access to the NAS as if you were on your LAN at home.
Not only that but you can set up a VPN server and actually mount drives as if you were working on your local LAN from anywhere in the world. This feature worked flawlessly and drives mounted quickly. For all external access we highly recommend a broadband provider that provides high upstream rates – video streaming and VPN are bandwidth hungry, and most ADSL packages have very asymmetric lines with poor upload speed.
To test this unit's speed we installed four Seagate Enterprise drives, two 4TB Enterprise Capacity and two 3TB Enterprise Value. These drives were selected as they are designed to run in a 24x7 business environment where the disks will be continuously spinning. They have very low advertised MTBF rates of 1.4 and 1.2 million hours. The drives were set up as an SHR volume. We benchmarked the system connected over gigabit ethernet using CrystalDiskMark in Windows and QuickBench in OS X.
CrystalDiskMark showed sequential read and write speeds of 55 MB/s and 51 MB/s respectively. Random 512 kB read and write were at 24 MB/s and 47 MB/s respectively.
In OS X and tested over AFP, we saw sequential read speeds up 103 MB/s and writes up to 48 MB/s in the Extended test, with files ranging from 20 to 100 MB. Various speed tests showed that the drive provides adequate performance for home use especially where the NAS will be accessed over Wi-Fi, which currently does not support fast file transfers anyway.