One of the handiest extra features of Synology’s NASes is the convenient and functional file manager that works via a web browser. Of course, you can use FTP for remote access but this requires an appropriate client, settings NAT up on routers, etc. As opposed to that, a web-browser is available everywhere and the setting-up is limited to forwarding one port on the server’s side. After that the user gets full access to his data: you can download and upload files, delete/copy/transfer your data, change access rights and attributes of files and folders.
The service has a few settings: changing the picture in the top left corner of the interface and the overall color scheme, and settings alternative ports for file access. The last option may come in handy if you want to seed files but don’t want to show the interface of settings and other services.
What is interesting about this version of firmware is that the file manager is compatible with browsers in mobile devices: Internet Explore Mobile and Opera in Windows Mobile 6.0, Safari in iPhone OS and the integrated browser in Symbian OS 9.1, S60 3rd. Thus, you can download or view your files even from your smart-phone or communicator.
There are two more services based on Web technologies. The first of them is called Audio Station and it allows listening to musical recordings right from the browser page. The second service is Photo Station. It helps establish a site for hosting photographs and videos with comments and blogs.
The NAS offers media servers: iTunes and UPnP AV/DLNA. And while we can’t say anything new about the former, the later has grown up considerably with this firmware version. Besides a unique selection of supported formats and clients, including WMP in Windows Vista, Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360, iPhone and iPod touch (with a free client from AppStore, music only), it can now transcode some audio formats which is going to be appreciated by the fans of the loss-less audio codecs flac and ape. Unfortunately, the media servers still work only with predefined folders with files and do not allow indexing some other folders.
The autonomous file download station is flawless in Synology products. It is almost as functional as desktop download clients. It works fast and can seed downloaded files. The DS409slim may have up to 20 simultaneously active download tasks, which is usually quite enough to maintain high ratings. Besides BitTorrent, you can use the HTTP, FTP, NZB and Emule protocols. The new version of the download station can also download files from the RapidShare service.
When it comes to video surveillance, the DS409slim can support up to eight IP cameras (a license for only one camera is included by default; you have to buy an additional license to use more cameras). The NAS is compatible with a few dozen models of web cameras, but any mjpeg or mpeg4 camera will usually do. The single serious limitation of the system is that you have to use Internet Explorer to utilize all features of mpeg4 cameras.
Web site developers may find the integrated hosting system (with php, MySQL and virtual website support) useful.
Backup copying of data is one of the most frequently used features of NAS devices. However, data on the NAS itself should be protected, too. You can use the integrated software module for that: it can make copies of data from shared folders to external media (USB or eSATA) or synchronize information between two NASes (both manufactured by Synology or compatible with rsync). Backup tasks can be launched manually or by a schedule.