The Test Bed: Synology DS409+
For this experiment in NAS efficiency, we chose Synology’s DS409+ as our testbed. It comes equipped with 512MB of RAM, a Freescale MPC8533 CPU running at 1.06 GHz, and four drive bays. However, rather than using removable trays, the hard drives have to be installed directly in the drive cage. Two rear-mounted 80mm fans ensure that both the NAS itself and all of the drives mounted inside receive sufficient cooling.
Keeping Data Safe with RAID
Like all current NAS devices, the DS409+ features a Web-based administration interface. Here, you can select various RAID modes (namely 0, 1, 5, and 6) to increase performance, data security, or both. Additionally, other features that go beyond the basic task of providing data on a network via SMB are configured here as well.
A Multimedia and Download Server for the Home Network
On the multimedia front, these include a photo and media server that can show or play back images or audio and video files within the Web interface. There is also an integrated DLNA server (Digital Living Network Alliance) that can stream multimedia content from the NAS to other DLNA-compliant devices on the network. Finally, most current-generation NAS units can also act as a download station, supporting the most widely used protocols, such as http, https, ftp and BitTorrent.
E-Mail, Blog and CMS with your NAS
Many of the better-equipped models also offer Internet enthusiasts the option of extending their feature sets quite a bit. For example, it’s possible to equip a NAS device with an MTA (mail transfer agent), turning what was previously only your local data haven into a full-fledged mail server. Or how about this: install a MySQL server and use your NAS as the basis for your PHP-based blog or a CMS (content management system) for your Web page. At that point, you’ll be venturing back into command line territory again, though.