As mentioned above, the server's Surveillance Station supports up to eight IP cameras. Unfortunately, only one camera license is included and you'll need to buy more for the server to support more cameras. The licenses are not cheap, costing $50 each. Once set up, Surveillance Station works as a comprehensive surveillance digital video recorder. This feature worked really well in our trial. We could view live images and record them based on scheduling or motion detection. When multiple cameras were used, we could even synchronize the playback to see what was recorded by different cameras at a given time. Basically anything you want to do with a surveillance system, you can do with the server's Surveillance Station. The DS411slim supports a long list of IP cameras and is able to automatically detect those connected to the local network to facilitate the setup process. Synology also offers an app called DSCam for Android devices and the iPhone, so you can manage your surveillance via your mobile device even when you're out and about.
We also loved the server's Download Station, which supports Web sites that require authentication (such as the RapidShare, eMule, and BitTorrent file-sharing services). Unfortunately, however, its Download Director software desktop application, which enables you to remotely manage the Download Station, doesn't support starting a new download from sites that require authentication. So if you want to download a big file from a subscription service such as RapidShare, you'll need to log into the NAS' Web interface to do so. The interface, unfortunately, can't remember passwords of download Websites other than RapidShare and Megaupload. This means you will have to manually type in the credential for each download, which could be a hassle.
The DS411slim has built-in backup options that are focused on backing up its content on an external storage device or a network location. For backing up files on your computer to the server, Synology includes its Data Replicator backup desktop software.
Data Replicator is a simple, straightforward backup application that allows you to quickly copy data, much like copying and pasting using Windows Explorer, from your computer to the DS411slim's storage. The software has a nice feature that helps you find and quickly back up e-mail archives, which generally are buried deep in layers of subfolders within a user profile. In addition, it enables you to schedule and keep track of the backup process via e-mail notification. Nonetheless, we find the software primitive. It also tends to freeze once in a while when a large amount of data is being backed up. We'd recommend using third-party backup software with the server.
All in all, even with the Photo Station hiccup and the lackluster backup software, we found the DS411slim one of few NAS servers on the market that offer the most and the best features for both home and business use.
We tested the DS411slim RAID 0 and SHR configurations and it did well in both, though didn't top our charts.
In SHR, which is the recommended setup, the server scored 40.9MBps and 78.4MBps in write and read tests, respectively. These scores put it in the top three on our charts, behind the DS1511+ and the Netgear ReadyNAS Ultra 4, which are both full-size NAS servers.
In RAID 0, the DS411slim did much better in writing at 57.8MBps, but, interestingly, worse in reading at only 67.2MBps. These scores were nonetheless among the fastest NAS server scores.
Despite these high numbers and very good overall data transfer rates, the DS411slim seemed very slow when it came to backing up a Mac using Time Machine. The process took about 50 percent longer than we expected. Other than this, we were happy with the server's performance.
The NAS performed quietly in our test and remained cool even during heavy loads. Note that our lab has a relatively high ambient noise level, which means in a quieter office you might notice the sound of the server's cooling fan.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Service and support
Synology backs the DS411slim with a two-year warranty from the date of purchase. Phone tech support is available Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT. At the company's Web site you can find Synology's forum, download software and firmware, and get more information about its products from its Wiki page.
In conclusion, the DS411slim would get a four-star rating or even an Editors' Choice Award if its Photo Station and support for Time Machine were better. But even with these two minor shortcomings, this is still one of the best NAS servers you can find on the market and it is currently the best compact NAS server.