Synology Cube Station CS407 review

Price when reviewed

The desktop NAS market is growing exponentially, with businesses now faced with a huge choice of products. Synology’s Cube Stations have always stood out thanks to their sleek design, and the CS407 continues this tradition.

Synology Cube Station CS407 review

The CS407 is aimed at home offices and small businesses, and supports up to four SATA hard disks. The model on review is supplied diskless, but it’s easy to add your own. To accommodate the demands of the 750GB SATA drives, Synology has improved internal cooling, and the external power supply has been uprated.

The bundled Assistant utility makes light work of installation, as it locates the app on the network, prepares your hard disks and installs the Linux kernel from the CD-ROM. We loaded the app with a quartet of 150GB Western Digital Raptor drives and were up and running in ten minutes. The web interface doesn’t see any major improvements over the CS406 (web ID: 104997), but it’s well designed and easy to use. You can divide your drives into multiple software-managed RAID arrays, with choices extending to RAID0, 1 and 5 or JBODs.

Most of the new features introduced with the CS407 won’t appeal to businesses, since they revolve around media-sharing services. However, the new iTunes server feature allows you to password protect the default music folder and create smart playlists on the appliance, which will then appear in the iTunes client. The Photo Station 2 offers improved security for sharing pictures over the web, and you can now add descriptions to each one and allow interested parties to add comments. The Audio Server aims to allow you to connect USB speakers to the app and access the music stored via an optional remote USB receptor and remote-control handset. However, at the time of review, these features were still in beta.

Of more value is the option to encrypt FTP transmissions to and from the appliance. We tested this successfully using the FileZilla utility, but found that it hit performance hard. Copying a 690MB video clip to the appliance over Gigabit Ethernet without encryption returned 17.3MB/sec, but over SSL this dropped to only 1.8MB/sec. However, general file-sharing performance sees a substantial boost over its predecessor, with the CS407 returning read and write rates of 23MB/sec and 15MB/sec. Access security is up with the best, since the appliance supports both NT domain and Active Directory authentication, and allows storage quotas to be assigned to new local users. Backup options are also good: the appliance can back itself up to another Cube Station or an external USB storage device, while the basic Data Replicator II software manages scheduled backups from selected folders on workstations.

There’s no denying the CS407 is packed with features, but we’re not convinced of their value to small businesses. If the multitude of media-sharing services doesn’t impress, check out Buffalo’s TeraStation Pro II (web ID: 117875) – the 1TB model is good value and aimed more at business environments.

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