Overkill for businesses after simple shared storage but, with a compact design and seemingly never-ending feature list, the DS409slim is perfect for those who want more from their NAS.
Huge range of features; intuitive interface; good performance; compact; quiet.
Use of 2.5in drives makes it an expensive option.
Businesses looking to offer shared storage to employees often opt for large network attached storage (NAS) devices that use standard-sized 3.5in hard drives. The Synology DS409slim, however, is a slimmed down option thanks to its use of 2.5in drives, and the whole unit measures just 12cm tall, 11cm wide and 14cm deep.
Don't be fooled by its size, though; the DS409slim houses a huge variety of features that make it suitable for both work and leisure use.
The front of the smart, all-black chassis is home to a selection of LED indicators and a USB port. Insert a USB memory stick into this port and, with a simple click of a button on the left side of the device, its contents will be immediately copied to the NAS.
At the rear, a further USB port is joined by eSATA, Gigabit LAN and the power socket. The four SATA drive bays are also accessed at the rear, and removing one is simply a case of pulling out the appropriate caddy.
A fan is built into the chassis to help keep it cool, but it's barely audible and will only spin up when required. You can also keep an eye on the temperature of each individual drive using the web-based interface.
Synology has done a good job with the web-based interface. All options are listed down the left side of the window, making everything accessible with a single mouse click. Our only complaint is that the various wizards, for example to create a new volume or shared folder, would be better off at the top of this list instead of bundled in with the rest of the options. This is a minor gripe, though, and on the whole we found the interface easy to understand and free of unnecessary clutter.
The DS409slim doesn't come with any drives included as standard, so you'll need to factor this into the price. For the purposes of testing, Synology supplied us with three Western Digital WD2500BEVT drives, each with a 250GB capacity and a spin speed of 5,400rpm.
Thanks to support for RAID 0/1/5/6 (including RAID 5 spare) and JBOD arrays, there are plenty of storage options, and setting them up via the web-based interface is a snip.
During testing, we were impressed with the DS409slim's performance. With the three disks set up in a RAID 0 configuration to provide 750GB of storage, we achieved impressive read and write speeds of 54MB/s and 37MB/s respectively when transferring a 580MB file. Naturally, the speeds you achieve will depend on factors such as the overall speed of the network it's installed on and the type of disks used.
The DS409slim isn't short on features, either. Network backups can be fully automated and run either at scheduled times or on-the-fly, while the Download Station tool makes it possible to transfer data via FTP, HTTP and even BitTorrent.
It also comes with Synology's Surveillance Station 2 software, which is able to record video feeds from compatible IP cameras installed on your network. Up to five cameras can be monitored, and most models are supported. Check Synology's web site for the full IP camera compatibility list.
Throw in the ability to host no fewer than 30 web sites, an iTunes server and UPnP support, and you've got yourself much more than a simple NAS device. Attach a set of USB speakers, and it will even add a soundtrack to your network storage chores by hooking up to internet radio stations.
The DS409slim is also ideal for workgroup use, with plenty of useful options such as the ability to specify how much space each user should be allocated. Meanwhile, IT managers looking to reduce their department's carbon footprint will be pleased to hear that the device can run to a schedule, for example automatically powering down outside office hours. Furthermore, the 2.5in drives mean that it's very light on power consumption; we measured just 12W when idle, rising to around 18W when the disks were in use.
Businesses after a simple network storage solution may find the DS409slim's wide range of features a little over the top. And at £299 for the DS409slim without any drives preinstalled, you're paying a fairly hefty premium for the compact nature of the device. It's also important to bear in mind that 2.5in drives cost more per gigabyte than standard 3.5in versions. That said, those looking for a NAS device that's capable of much more than just storage will delight in what the DS409slim has to offer. And, thanks to its intuitive interface and fast throughput, it comes highly recommended.