Friday, April 1, 2011
Posted by Philip Colmer in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 01:00 PM
Uses Beyond Media
As I mentioned above, the DS1511+ really is a computer and, as such, you can use it for much more than just storing files.
Supporting over 780 IP cameras from 37 brands, you can use the system to record video using the built-in Surveillance Station functionality. The box comes with a licence to use one IP camera and you can record from up to twenty cameras, but you need to purchase additional licences for them. The system can record manually, continuously, using motion detection or alarms.
DSM also incorporates "Download Station" - functionality to download files using BitTorrent, HTTP, FTP, NZB and eMule, essentially centralising your downloading needs and offloading it from personal computers and the like.
The unit can also send and receive email, supporting SMTP, POP3 and IMAP. Furthermore, you can install a free package from the Synology web site to provide browser-based access to the email.
There is a lot of flexibility around how the unit behaves on the network. It supports DDNS and knows how to configure a wide range of different routers to provide port forwarding to the NAS. Further flexibility is exhibited with the unit's own firewall and support for IPv6 - both across the network it is connected to and also through tunnelling over IPv4.
Backups - as with everything else this system does - are both flexible and powerful. It can act as a backup repository for other Synology systems or servers that use rsync. When backing up the unit, you can back up to a shared folder on the unit, to another Synology unit, to an rsync-compatible server or even to Amazon S3 storage! Once you've decided what you want to back up (which can include additional content stored in the MySQL databases or video from the surveillance cameras) and where to, you then set the schedule which, again, can be as simple or as complicated as you like.
In use, there are a couple of fans that spin when the system is in use. Synology rate the noise level at 25.8dB. This is not a particularly loud level but it is enough that you can hear it as a background noise unless you are, for example, watching a programme with fairly high volume levels.
The system can be configured to hibernate the drives after a given period of inactivity. The choices range from ten minutes to five hours. When the time has been reached, the system essentially turns off the drives (so stops them spinning) and also turns off the fans. This essentially makes the unit quiet - and reduces the power consumption from 68W to 30W - until it is accessed again. There is a small delay when first accessing the unit in this way because the drives have to spin up before they can be used.
It is also possible to configure a schedule of turning the device on and/or off on given days at given times.
If the device is off, it can be turned back on with a Wake On LAN (WOL) signal. I can see this being useful if you have computers that need to use the storage and want to make sure it is available. Rather surprisingly, though, there isn't a method to get the unit to go from hard drive hibernation to power-off after an extended period of inactivity. So, WOL will only be relevant if you either configure the unit to turn itself off at given times or you physically press the off button when you have finished using it.
There are plenty of devices on the market that provide network-attached storage. Some of the newer ones support functionality such as DLNA sharing. There are not many, though, that come close to the flexibility of the DS1511+.
The product may be too expensive for the average home user but, if you are interested in home media, playing videos or audio around the home, or editing high definition video (and thus need a lot of storage), you should definitely give this product serious consideration.
If you don't need as much storage capacity but like the functionality offered by DSM, take a look at some of the smaller units from Synology. They go from one bay up to four with prices to match.
Philip Colmer is an IT manager based in Cambridge, UK. You can read his occasional blog postings at pcmusings.wordpress.com or follow him on Twitter: @pcolmer.
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