Updated 12/30/2010: Multiple edits to correct errors and omissions
Many of today's NAS manufacturers have adopted a unified feature set across their product lines. This is good for reviewers in that we can do a feature review once, then refer to it from many shorter reviews. But, frankly, I often don't bother looking up the last review that contains a feature review, which is not a nice thing to do to readers.
So, this review will attempt to remedy that problem for Synology NASes by providing a look at Synology's current NAS OS, DSM 3.0. Of course, the latest information about the OS will always be available at Synology's site, which hosts a handy live demo.
Here is a summary of DSM 3.0 features. Of course, volume types supported vary by the number of drives in a product. So don't expect to buy a two-bay NAS and get RAID 5 and higher support!
Here's a feature summary:
Volume Types, File Systems, Services
- Network file sharing via SMB/CIFS, NFS, AFP
- WebDAV support
- Hot-swappable individual drive, JBOD, RAID 0, 1, 5, 5 + spare, 6, 10 volumes
(volume support varies with number of drives)
- Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR)
- Online RAID expansion and RAID level migration
- Selectable EXT3 / EXT4 volume file systems
- FTP (and -SSL, -TLS) with upload / download bandwidth control
- HTTP / HTTPs file and admin access
- iSCSI target (maximum number varies by model)
- ISO mounts
- CIFS Recycle Bin
- Apache webserver
- USB printer serving
- Joins NT Domain / Active Directories for account information
- Users (maximum number varies by model)
- Groups (maximum number varies by model)
- Scheduled and immediate networked backup to other Synology NASes using proprietary rsync-based protocol or standard rsync servers with compression and encryption options.
- Client Backup: Synology Data Replicator 3 (Windows only, unlimited licenses)
- Scheduled Backup to attached drives
- USB device pushbutton copy
- Apple Time Machine backup
- Media servers: UPnP AV / DLNA, iTunes
- PS3 and Xbox360 media access support
- Remote music access
- Internet radio (via ShoutCast and RadioIO)
- Web photo album
- BitTorrent / HTTP / FTP / NZB download
- eMule download
- IP camera recording and playback (select models, maximum number vary by model)
- ioS and Android apps for remote music and photo access
- Roundcube email
- Squeezebox server
- More from third-parties including, Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla, Gallery, SQL Buddy
- UPS shutdown sync via USB
- Programmable idle drive spindown
- Scheduled shutdown / startup
- Wake On Lan
- Auto restart after power failure
- Link failover and aggregation (dual Network models)
- Dynamic DNS support
- Port filtering
- PPPoE client
- Email alerts
- Telnet / SSH root access
- SNMP management
- Resource monitor (CPU, memory, network usage graphs)
There are a few things that you'll find on NETGEAR ReadyNASes and QNAP NASes that Synology doesn't have.
- iSCSI initiator - You can create iSCSI targets and mount them from systems that have iSCSI initiators like Windows. But Synology NASes themselves can't mount iSCSI targets to form larger virtual storage pools
- Virtualization support - Many of QNAP's newer NASes are certified to use with VMware and Citrix virtualization technologies and also are compatible with Microsoft Hyper-V. Synology has VMware certification only for its DS1010+, RS810+ and RS810RP+ and is in the process of pursuing Citrix and Hyper-V certs.
- Easy Remote Access- DSM 3 has multiple features to support accessing the NAS from the Internet. But they still rely on the configuration of router port forwarding, dynamic DNS, etc. A hosted remote access service like ReadyNAS Remote or even simpler services like those offered by Buffalo, WD, Iomega and other manufacturers would simplify the process for less knowledgeable users.
- Easier add-on browsing and installation - Like ReadyNASes, you need to browse Synology's online catalog of add-on applications, download the app to your computer, then browse with the add-on installer to find and upload the file. QNAP's process is much simpler, allowing you to browse its add-on "QPKG" catalog from its admin interface.
- Cloud backup option - QNAP offers Amazon S3 and NETGEAR has its ReadyNAS Vault. Synology does not offer the option of backup to a cloud backup service.