Deservedly considered a leader of the Network Attached Storage market, Synology offers top-quality, high-performance and functional products. The company’s product range spans from home NASes for 1, 2 or 4 hard disks to professional rack-mounted or desktop solutions for up to 5 disks (or 10 disks with an extension module). Synology’s NASes are based on platforms with ARM or PPC processors although it is the x86 architecture that delivers the highest performance today. Notwithstanding this fact, Synology’s products, including top-end ones like the DS509+ I am going to talk about in this review, compete successfully with their opponents. The DS509+ differs from the junior models of the series only with the number of supported HDDs and amount of system memory, so it is going to have the same speed characteristics as the DS109+, DS209+, and DS409+. The functionality is the same, too. The different models have virtually identical firmware and the description below refers, except for minor details, to all of them.
You can visit the company’s website to check out a detailed comparison of the various NAS models from Synology. There are a lot of other online resources: a well-developed user community, FAQs, Wiki and blogs all supported by the manufacturer.
Package and Accessories
The device is intended for people who know for sure what they want, so the plain cardboard box measuring 36x32x29cm is quite appropriate packaging. It won’t be placed in storefronts for display, anyway. You can get a notion of the size and weight of the device by looking at the cut-in handles on the sides of the box. There is a plastic handle at the top, but you should not rely on it only. A small sticker reports you the model’s name, specs and accessories. There are no other decorations here.
Besides the NAS, the box contains HDD frames with screws (including spare screws) and a couple of keys, a CD, documentation, two Ethernet cables and a power cord.
The capabilities of a modern NAS change greatly with firmware updates, so there is no point in having a full user manual, but the manufacturer did not even include a simple setup guide. The included multilingual leaflet suggests that you visit the manufacturer’s website or read the PDF on the CD. This is normal for this kind of a device, though. I doubt that it will be used by beginner users.
But even if you consider yourself experienced, you may want to browse the quick start guide and the full user manual. They are available in electronic format.
The CD contains a few programs for different OSes:
- Windows: DSAssistant, Download Redirector, Data Replicator
- Mac OS X: DSAssistant, Download Redirector
- Linux: DSAssistant
It is good that the manufacturer thinks about users of alternative OSes. DSAssistant is required to write firmware to the NAS for the first time. The firmware image files can be found on the CD, too. Download Replicator makes it easy to work with the autonomous file download feature. Data Replicator is a simple backup tool. All of this is gathered together under Windows in a single auto-running shell that also offers links to the manuals and program installers. These programs can also be launched without installing on the computer’s hard disk, which is handy for the one-use DSAssistant or if you need to restore data on another PC using Data Replicator.