Priced at around $500 (no storage included) or around $1,200 (with 4TB of storage), the Disk Station DS410 is probably the best deal Synology has offered to date. The non-storage version is actually cheaper than the company's recent dual-bay unit, the DS710+.
That said, the DS410, like all NAS servers from Synology we've reviewed, still offers so much more than any other NAS servers from other vendors. The server performed very well in our tests, and its robust Web interface made managing the vast amount of features and functions a relatively easy task.
The server's few shortcomings include the fact that it, like all Disk Stations we've tested from Synology, supports only one IP camera out of the box and requires more licenses (that cost around $50 each) for additional cameras; its lack of a dual-Ethernet option that would help maintain the high throughput even during heavy loads; and finally, its drive bay design makes it cumbersome for users to install or replace the hard drives.
If you're looking for an advanced RAID-5-capable four-bay NAS server, look no further than the DS410. If you want something that's easier to use for your home that offers similar amount of storage and performance, we'd recommend the HP MediaSmart EX495.
Design and Setup
The Disk Station DS410 is good-looking and relatively compact for a server that supports four full-size 3.5-inch hard drives. Unfortunately, unlike the DS710+, which comes with easily accessible drive bays, the DS410 requires its case to be opened to install or replace the hard drive. Though this is fairly easy to do with the help of a screwdriver, it's cumbersome enough that you can't do it without moving the device out in the open and turning it off.
The DS410 forgoes the dual-Ethernet feature. While this isn't a crucial shortcoming, for a four-bay NAS server, it would be helpful to have another network port to balance the load or to keep the connection fail-safe. The NAS server also has only two USB 2.0 ports and one eSATA port on the back, making it the first from Synology we've seen that doesn't have a front USB port. This means there's no one-touch Copy function for a connection USB storage device, either.
On the back are two big fans that remain relatively quiet even during heavy operation. These are standard computer ventilation fans and therefore, easily replaceable.
The Disk Station DS410 ships in two different packages, both with and without storage. Our review unit came with four 1TB SATA hard drives, which can be set up in many RAID configurations, including the most desirable RAID 5 configuration. RAID 5, which requires at least 3 hard drives, is arguably the best RAID setup as it gives you the balanced combination of the most storage space and the best performance while still safeguarding the data from single-disk failure. DS410 can also supports Synology proprietary Hybrid RAID which allows the use of hard drives of different capacities.
Like other NAS servers from Synology, the DS410 won't pose any problem for savvy users when it comes to setup. Not so much for home users. The NAS server comes with a desktop application called "Synology Assistant" to help users with the initial setup. Apart from detecting the NAS and launching the Web interface, the software doesn't provide enough information on what it does and may seem confusing and intimidating for those with little computer knowledge.
Unlike the desktop setup application, the server's Web interface is one of the best. Once launched via a Web browser, all features and functions of the DS410 are listed in a well-organized menu on the left of the interface. Most of the setup sections are wizard-based and walk you through step by step. For example, at the home page of the Web interface, when we clicked on "Create User," a wizard launched to walk us through all the steps involved in making a new user and assigning that user's access to different share folders, etc.
We had no problem getting the server up and running. In our trial, the server took only about 30 minutes to switch from one RAID configuration to another. This is significantly shorter than most NAS servers that take hours to get the same job done. This is because the DS410 allows you to skip the hard drive check during a RAID build. This reduces the build time, but poses a potential problem if the hard drives contain bad sectors. When a disk check was included, the DS410's RAID build time took about as long as any other NAS servers.
Apart from the ability to handle RAID 5, the DS410 shares very much the same feature set as not only the dual-bay DS710+, or any other Synology DiskStations that run the same version of the firmware. The server has all the basic features you'd find in any NAS server such as FTP/HTTP server, media streaming servers, user accounts, support for external hard drives and printer, etc.
On top of that, the DS410 also has advanced features including support for Windows Active Directory Services, which allows it to work seamlessly with a centralized domain server. It also supports iSCSI, which allows you to facilitate data transfers and manage storage over long distances through the network.
The server offers excellent support for file sharing across multiple platforms including Windows, Mac, and Linux. It also has support for Apple's Time Machine backup solution in addition to many other features. The other four-bay NAS server that also offers support for Apple's Time Machine is the MediaSmart EX495 from HP. However, you'll need to install the HP MediaSmart Server software application on your Mac for this to work. On the DS410, once this feature is turned on, any Mac running OS X 10.5 or later will automatically recognize it as a backup destination for its Time Machine feature.
Like with other Synology NAS servers, we were most impressed by the new DS410's application stations, such as the Surveillance Station, Download Station, File Station, and Photo Station. All of these stations can be accessed via the local network or over the Internet.
The DS410's Surveillance Station 4 supports up to 12 IP cameras. This means you can use the NAS server as a video recorder/managing station of a very comprehensive surveillance system. Unfortunately, only one camera license is included, and additional camera licenses cost $49 each. Other than that, 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 are used, we could even synchronize the playback to see what happens at different cameras at a given time. The server supports a long list of IP cameras on the market and is able to automatically detect those connected to the local network to help facilitate the setup process. Synology also offers an iPhone app called DSCam so you can manage your surveillance via an iPhone, even when you're out and about.
The DS410 comes with Photo Station 3, which allows you to easily organize photos into albums. Once activated, a share folder called "photo" will be created. Photos stored in this share folder will be automatically placed into a well-organized, customizable album. You can then browse the album via a Web browser and like in Google's Picasa Webalbum and very easily add captions and comments to each photo/album.
The server's Download Station 2 allows the server to download files from the Internet by itself and is able to download files from websites that require authentication (such as RapidSahre). It also supports eMule and BitTorrent file-sharing services. You can manage your download anytime from anywhere via the local network or the Internet. This is an excellent feature for those who want to download large files, as no other computer needs to be running, other than the NAS sever itself, during the downloads.
Any local computer can access the DS410's storage via its share folder, similar to browsing for shared data between computers. However, if you want to access the NAS server's storage via the Internet, you'll need to use its File Station. To do this, you'll need to know how to set up a dynamic domain name system (DDNS) connection or access the Internet via a static IP. The DS410 made it a little easier for users by adding the ability to automatically change the settings of the router if it supports UPnP. Still the process is not easy and intuitive enough for novice home users.
Once set up, the File Station allows for accessing data from the NAS server's share folder over the Internet. You can download a single file or a whole folder to the remote computer at a time and can also upload files to the NAS server. Multiple users can use this feature at one time from different locations.
The DS410 has built-in backup options that are focused on backing up its content onto an external storage device or a network location. For backing up files on your computer to the DS410, Synology bundles it with its Data Replicator 3 desktop software.
The Data Replicator 3 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 DS410. Also, 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's profile. In addition, it also allows for scheduling and keeping track of the backup process via e-mail notification.
In RAID 5--the setup that balances between data protection, storage space, and performance--the DS410 scored 279Mps for write speed and 422.6Mbps for read speed. These were significantly faster than the DS409Slim, which is another RAID-5-capable NAS server from Synology. When compared to other NAS servers, these were also faster than RAID 1 performance of others, such as the QNAP TS259 Pro that scored 268.1Mbps for write speed and 350.6Mbps for read speed.
In RAID 0, the setup that gives you the most of storage space and performance at the expense of data protection, the DS410 scored slightly higher in write speed at 301.8Mbps, while its read speed remained the same. For comparison, the scores of the QNAP TS259 Pro were 299.2Mbps for write and 361.5 for read.
As we are in the process of transitioning to using Windows 7 64-bit to test NAS servers, we tried the DS410 with this operating system, and it did significantly better with throughput speeds up to 430Mbps and 870Mbps for the Read and Write tests, respectively.
Overall, the DS410's performance is among the highest of NAS servers that support RAID configurations. The NAS also performed smoothly in our tests and remained cool even during heavy loads. It was also relatively quiet for a four-bay NAS server. In a quiet room, however, you'd still hear the subtle humming noise of the fans.
Service and support
As with other NAS servers it has released, Synology also backs the DS410 with a two-year warranty from the date of purchase. Phone tech support is available Monday through Friday from 9a.m. to 5p.m., PST. At its Web site, you can find Synology's forum, download software and the latest firmware, and get more information about its products from its Wiki page.