Synology Disk Station DS508 review

Price when reviewed

Synology has always focused primarily on the consumer NAS appliance market, but the new Disk Station DS508 aims to put it firmly on the business ladder as well. This chunky desktop box delivers support for up to five SATA hard disks and now brings hot-swap RAID5 arrays into equation, plus a whole heap of new features.

For testing, we installed a quartet of 150GB Western Digital Raptor drives that were easy enough to fit, although the set of springs on the carrier sides can easily be snagged and bent when inserting the drive. The bundled Assistant utility makes light work of installation, as it locates the appliance on the network, prepares the hard disks, and installs the Linux kernel from the CD-ROM. Moving on to the appliance’s web interface and it’s clear than Synology has worked overtime on this, as the new Ajax-based Disk Station Manager 2 interface looks very smart indeed.

You begin by creating your volumes and choosing from stripes, mirrors or RAID5, and we opted for the latter using three drives that took less than two hours to complete. We then added a fourth drive and used the expand option to add it to the existing array, which took a further three hours, although the volume was accessible during this entire period

For features you get the same goodies offered by the Cube Station CS-407, so Windows and Macintosh clients are on the guest list, while access controls extend from a local user database to support for Active Directory authentication. Usefully, quotas can be applied to each user to restrict the amount of space they’re allowed to use. FTP services are provided, as is the option to encrypt FTP transmissions to and from the appliance.

For multimedia you have the ubiquitous iTunes server, where you can password protect the default music folder and create smart playlists on the appliance, which will appear in the iTunes client. The Photo Station has been updated to allow you to tie in your pictures with a blog facility that can be accessed over HTTPS. An Audio Server lets USB speakers be connected directly to the appliance to play music stored locally using Synology’s optional remote handset.

Synology has added even more to the mix and the Surveillance Station can take the feed from Axis, D-Link and Panasonic IP cameras, let you view it from the web interface and record directly to hard disk. We tested this with an Axis 207MW (web ID:107337), and this is the first time we’ve seen this type of application for a NAS appliance actually working properly. It will let you record continuously or to a schedule, and even includes it own motion-detection function as well.


The hardware specification certainly made it presence felt in the performance stakes, with a copy of a 2.52GB video clip over gigabit ethernet delivering read and write speeds of 37.5MB/sec and 30.5MB/sec. FTP operations streaked ahead, with the same file copy returning read and write speeds of 54MB/sec and 31MB/sec.

The number of features Synology has managed to pack into this box currently makes it the best all-round NAS appliance on the market. The drive carriers could be better designed, but it’s still good value and there’s no denying this is the fastest desktop NAS appliance we’ve yet seen in the lab.

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