There is no point in boosting the hardware resources of a NAS if they are not used anywhere. Therefore the numerous extra features of Synology’s products will come in handy here, even though not all of them really need a lot of CPU resources. In fact, we didn’t spot performance-related problems even with the older platforms.
The first feature we want to talk about is File Station. It provides browser-based access to files. By forwarding only one port on the router, you can have full control over your data from anywhere via the Internet. In fact, there are two possible variants: working via the main web interface (File Browser) or via a dedicated mini-site which can have its own ports. In either case the user will be able to download and upload, copy and delete documents. The second variant may be better if you want to provide access to your files for external users. File operations are now performed in the background, so there is no need to wait for one operation to complete before doing something else. The status of the task queue is shown in a separate window. If the client supports Java, its local disks become available in the service’s interface and you can work with your files by drag-and-dropping them with your mouse. File Station supports encrypted connections (HTTPS).
The second integrated feature that is going to be useful for home and office is the data backup system. It allows making copies of data stored on the NAS and saving them into another folder on the NAS or to external disks, other NASes, or the online Amazon S3 storage. You can specify what folders to back up and launch backup tasks by a schedule with a max frequency of once an hour. Unfortunately, you cannot back up multiple file versions. You can restore data manually (it is easy since this is simple copying without any specialized file formats) or use the integrated tool (if you use it, you won’t be able to restore your data in a different location).
The integrated iTunes server indexes audio and video files that are stored in the “music” and “video” folders. There are a few applications in AppStore that help connect Apple’s mobile devices with the Synology NAS. We’ll talk about them later on.
The second media server is DLNA-based and supports a variety of modern multimedia formats including lossless audio and HD video. It contains a transcoder for some rare audio formats (such as flac, ape, ogg) to be transferred to the player as decoded wav. The only problem with that service is that it only works with certain predefined folders.
You can listen to the music from the server even without a compatible media player because Audio Station can work with ordinary browsers. Besides audio recordings, there is a long list of online radio stations. The list of available resources includes all the media servers found on the LAN. You can control the playback not only on a client PC but also on compatible DLNA players or on USB speakers/sound cards connected to the NAS.
Next goes Photo Station which is already a fourth version. This module allows publishing online your photo albums and video recordings. It also provides a blogging capability. This module has a separate user database so you can communicate with your friends without compromising the main features of the NAS.
The Web Station service may be interesting for web developers as well as for everyone who wants to show his/her webpage to the world. It is a functional hosting service that supports virtual sites, php, and a local MySQL database.
Downloading files autonomously is one of the most demanded features of a NAS. Synology’s products are not an exception and their Download Station supports BitTorrent, eMule, FTP/HTTP and NBZ protocols. It can also download data with premium access from RapidShare and MegaUpload. The torrent client allows to choose ports, limit the speed of downloading and seeding, and supports encryption and DHT. Files can be seeded after having been downloaded. 20 simultaneous downloads are supported by default. You can specify at what time this service is going to be active.
Having a lot of storage space, this NAS can be used to implement a video surveillance system with IP cameras. The maximum number of supported cameras depends on the performance of the NAS. The manufacturer sets the limit of 20 cameras for the DS1010+. However, there is a license for only one camera by default. You’ll have to purchase the remaining licenses separately. As for the specific IP cameras, there are over 500 compatible models from 35 brands including Axis, D-Link, Mobotix, Panasonic, Sony and Vivotek. The cameras can work with MJPEG, MPEG4 or H.264. High-resolution matrixes, integrated microphones and PTZ are all supported. The recording modes include: constant recording, recording by schedule, recording by motion sensor. Besides autonomous operation, a human operator can watch the image live from multiple cameras and start to record video when necessary. It is easy to work with the recordings: you can search them for different criteria or save them to another device. The full functionality is supported in Internet Explorer via add-on modules.
Take note that this feature has a separate user database and notification settings, so you can use the surveillance system independently from the NAS’s main functions. Synology also offers an autonomous device for that. It’s called Visual Station. You can just connect it to your LAN and attach a monitor and mouse. You won’t need your PC to manage the Visual Station.