In our age of ubiquitous Internet, it is often necessary to access data using only a web-browser. This feature is supported by many modern NASes. Synology calls it File Station and this station is a full-featured file & folder manager that allows to download and upload files, create folders, rename and remove files and folders, copy and move data (also between different public folders). You can even change file access rights using that manager.
This service can be moved to an individual website by adding a new access port. When you type in the address, you will see a window to enter your name and password. You can also specify the name of the site, color scheme, and the logo in the top left corner. Like the other web services, this feature supports encrypted connections.
The NAS offers a few more browser-based services. Particularly, you can transform it into a web-server with php and MySQL (“Web Station”), listen to music in your browser or USB speakers using the Audio Station, or store photo albums with the Photo Station.
As opposed to similar services found in other NASes, the Photo Station is surprisingly functional. It has a separate user database, supports access rights, slideshows, comments to photos, blogs, calendar, statistics reporting and even interface customization. It would actually take a separate review to describe all its functionality.
As usual, iTunes and DLNA are supported, too. All these media services use network folders with predefined names: “photo”, “music”, and “video”. Unfortunately, you cannot add your own folders to them.
The iTunes server is based on the Firefly software, supports music files in MP3 and M4A formats and video files in MOV and MP4 formats. The program can index tags (and supports Unicode) and can work with user-defined play-lists (in M3U files or specified by filtering criteria).
The functionality of the UPnP AV media server has been enhanced in the newer firmware version. It has acquired DLNA certification, can index video files in mkv, ts, m2ts, mov, iso formats and is compatible with Windows Media Player. It can also read mp3 and m4a tags, has an integrated transcoder for flac, ogg, aac and aiff formats and supports wav/pcm. The player’s menu can be customized.
Here is the full list of supported formats: jpg, bmp, gif, tiff, png, mp3, aac/m4a, wma, ogg, wav, ac3, avi, divx, mp4, mpeg, mkv, wmv, mov, m2ts, ts, m4v, vob, iso. You can sort files by folder (for photos and videos) and by artist, album, genre (for music). Tags or folder names can be used for sorting out music. Summing it up, the only shortcoming I can see here is that the media server can only work with the predefined folders rather than with any folders you might specify.
It is no secret that NASes are often used to work with torrents. The DS509+ is not an exception. Synology’s Download Station is actually one of the most functional implementations that but rarely calls for replacement with an alternative client. Besides FTP, HTTP, BitTorrent and eMule, it now supports NZB, RapidShare and even RSS. As for setup options, you can choose ports, limit speeds, enable DHT and encryption, download specific files from a torrent, seed files by a schedule or upon reaching a certain rating (individually for each download). The maximum number of simultaneous downloads is 20. If that doesn’t satisfy you, you will have to install another client. However, this should be quite enough for not-very-fast Internet connections, especially as you can manage download tasks by pausing, restarting and removing them. The Download Station can work by a schedule and send notifications about complete downloads.
The DS509+ has integrated data backup tools. I mean the option of creating backup tasks to make copies of data in shared folders. The recipient can be a local folder (also on an external disk), a second NAS from Synology, or any standard rsync server. Backup tasks can be launched in manual mode or by a schedule. Data can be restored via the web-interface.
Video surveillance is yet another task the DS509+ can perform. It has been enhanced greatly in the beta version firmware I used. You can now flexibly configure live-view windows and use handier tools to control the watching of recordings. The list of compatible camera models has been enlarged. The DS509+ now supports RTP translations of MJPEG and MPEG4 streams, SMS notifications and a larger number of video cameras simultaneously.
The DS509+ model can work with a dozen cameras but comes with a license for only one camera. You have to pay extra to enable the NAS to work with more cameras. The DS509+ supports most modern cameras working with MJPEG and MPEG4 codecs. You can assign access rights to system users: each can be an administrator or a viewer. Email and SMS notifications are supported and the settings (server, recipients) may differ from those of the NAS’s own notification settings. The recording modes are defined by a weekly per-hour schedule: constant recording, motion sensor (the integrated motion sensor can only work with MJPEG).