This review is for small business owners who are essentially looking to build their own personal cloud, and/or for personal buyers looking to get better accessibility for an ever-growing media collection. I fit into both categories when I bought the product. If your job is networking, or you are a networking student, this review won’t interest you – because you’ll love the challenges Synology throws at you.I’ve had the DSD412+ for 2 years now, I installed 4 x 3TB Seagate drives and used Synology Hybrid RAID. It’s a well-designed, robust product which works mechanically and electronically well. The product is good. Then we have the software and the company – which I believe has a bit of work to do.
Like all technology products and software, the more you buy or use, the more problems you’ll experience resulting in more user involvement to fix them – It’s just a fact. If you want a fit-it-and-forget-it product, you’ll get away with the Synology product and software ‘if you keep it pretty simple’.
Example: Create the RAID (storage volume) to hold your data with redundancy and act as server > set up Link-Aggregation for faster network transfers > Maybe activate SMB 2 and map the folders on your NAS folders to your desktop > add an external USB drive to backup your data from the NAS > use a few apps. Then you should be OK with not much involvement and stress.Synyology DSM (DiskStation Manager) is feature-rich and has many applications, (Synology call them packages) and are available to download from inside Synology’s OS (operating system) software and as mobile apps from app stores. Their OS, DSM has a user interface just like Windows on your desktop, where you manage most things and software applications. You can also go under the hood so to speak using their CLI (command-line interface) and make changes to the Linux code if and when required. Synology packages include Audio Station (think iTunes or J.River Media Center), Cloud Station (think Dropbox), Download Station (think BitTorrent), Note Station (think EverNote), Video Station (think Plex), Surveillance Station (Think IP camera software such as Sighthound), plus various others.You also have a plethora of packages by 3rd parties which have been approved by Synology all available for download in the Package Center accessible in DSM. You can also get unapproved software which once installed renders the DiskStation OS warranty void – support will tell you to re-install the OS before they will touch it. Be warned, this happened to me and I didn’t even realise it wasn’t supported.In my experience, having used the above Synology packages and their better known 3rd party counterparts, Synology products are simply not as good or reliable – just my opinion. If you are on a budget they will be OK for you. I’d like Synology to focus on a few key software products and get these spot-on before spreading themselves too thin which I believe they have – for me DSM is a jack of all trades. Their mobile apps are good and work well on my Android phones.
Surveillance Station was a nightmare to set-up with my IP cameras, I ended up with Sighthound software which is very simple in concept and works superbly well, but connects to a PC or Mac with ext. drive, not the NAS.To reiterate, if you keep it simple you’ll have few support requirements and little hassle. But it’s not really designed to be kept simple, it’s a feature-rich product. However, the more you get involved with the packages and OS features = more headaches. Synology offer support which is OK, 2-3 days on average for a response I’d say, and their responses can be quite vague, often requiring technical know-how to understand, or a Google search to lean more. Also their user manual for DSM tells you how to use the many technical features of the product, but not what the features actually do. I never understand this mentality, they write sales and technical copy and sell a product for the home/small business market yet leave you high and dry when it comes down the actual usability. I couldn’t tell you what 50% of the features do in the DSM software. And as a small business owner I don’t have the time to spend researching – why should I, Synology sold me the product as great product for my small business and for my home media,, so should educate me to keep me as a lifetime customer.To support these comments just have a look on the Synology forums, there’s a myriad of customers fumbling around in the dark, bouncing from post to post, trying to find solutions to problems – and most of them have networking knowledge. If you don’t know, you’ll have to email support and decode their response.
There’s a definite disconnect between those that know technical (networking) stuff, and those that don’t – there’s a huge gap in between which is desolate. I’ve learned a hell of a lot from knowing nothing about NAS and networking this last 2 years but only because I’ve had to invest a lot of time, certainly not out of choice. If I’d have known 2 years ago, that I would have needed to invest this amount of time, I’d have built my own server and saved money in the process. This would have also prevented me being limited to Synology.
– Good Pre-Sales and branding
– Well built NAS Enclosure
– Synology products undoubtedly look great
– Feature Rich DiskStation Manager OS
– Good server for your media and docs
– Potential for lots of storage space
– Lots of desktop and mobile software/apps choice
– Hot-swap drives (meaning the NAS can be left on and operational during this process)
– Jack of all trades, not particularly brilliant at anything in my experience
– Lots of user input required, time = money
– User manual and addition of more supporting info icons in DSM needed to explain (if only briefly) what each feature is and does
– I recommended Synology produce a top 10 or 20 Key Features doc that the majority of people want and use, and to give user scenarios (music, video, backups, security, best protocol for transfer speeds, hosting websites, etc)
– Too many problems, tech glitches, things broken especially after software updates = you’re pinned to your desk far too much
– Support responses can be vague
– Certain software packages prevent the DiskStation from hibernating when not in use – a waste of electricity some would say
– You can add a Synology expansion unit (more drives) to the DS412+ at any time, but you cannot expand your current RAID volume (storage space), you can only use these extra drives as additional extra space – akin to connecting an external USB drive
– Better higher spec models now available for not much more ‚£‚£‚£ than the DS412+Edit
– Faulty Hard Drive: Just last week (March 2015) one of my 4 3TB Seagate Hard Drives packed in, I was woken up at 7am to a warning beep from the NAS alerting me to the fact. The recovery process was a lot simpler and more self-explanatory than I thought it would be, but it is time consuming. I actually decided to upgrade to 4 brand new Seagate 4TB NAS drives to expand the volume space and hopefully prevent future issues. To swap a faulty 3TB drive or upgrade one you’re looking at about 24 hours per drive. In the configuration I am using HBR with 1 disk fault-tolerance, you do one drive at a time.All the best.