Synology DiskStation DS413j Review

Discussion in 'Reviews and Previews' started by the_hardware_guy, Jan 20, 2013.

  1. the_hardware_guy
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    the_hardware_guy Upgraded User

    Synology DiskStation DS413j Review

    Pros: Superb performance, RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, 10, JBOD and SHR RAID, supports packages that increase its versatility, stylish and feature-packed, cool and quiet operation, hot-plug capable.
    Cons: No Wi-Fi, Lacks USB 3.0 and eSATA, Rear loading trays instead of front loading, Quite expensive for home users.

    Rating: 4/5

    NAS or Network Attached storage is in fact a computer system dedicated to serving files and also specializing as a server for various needs. Synology is a well-known manufacturer of such NAS devices and the DiskStation DS413j is the one that I have reviewed today. This device can work with up to four SATA hard drives and is capable of using RAID 5, 6, and 10 to make sure that your data is safe. Thus, if you have several hard drives with you, you can simply plug in and start using them. If you need huge amount of storage space and don't want to use several different hard drives, you can simply buy several SATA internal hard drives and throw into the device to satisfy your demands. Not only does it serve the purpose, it also looks good. While a PC can certainly serve the purpose of a NAS device, it cannot do it as efficiently as one. NAS devices are optimized for data server purposes, consume less power and occupy a small footprint. They come with broader range of features too. The DS413j is also a device with a plethora of features to offer.

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    Bundled accessories

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    • Synology DiskStation DS413j
    • Ethernet cable
    • Power adapter and cable
    • User guide
    • Software disc
    • Pouch with screws


    The DS413j comes with a power cable and an Ethernet cable. A user manual is also provided so that you do not face any difficulty setting it up.

    Features
    The DS413j is beautifully designed, which may surprise you as it is normally expected that NAS devices have boring looks. It is pleasant enough to be placed besides your computer in your living room. The sides and top are made of lustrous aluminum sheet with matte finish, which is thick enough to give it sturdiness. This is in fact a bent aluminum sheet that can be removed to expose the interior. The words Synology are engraved on the sides. The front is made of white plastic with ventilation grills at the bottom, while there is a grey control panel near the top with a large backlit power button. The control panel also has LEDs to indicate the status of the device, LAN activity, and individual LEDs to indicate individual hard drive activity. There is a ventilation grill near the top as well. All this ventilation allows air flow to cool the hard drives inside.

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    There are two USB 2.0 ports on the back of the device to connect external storage devices and printers. Just besides the USB ports, there is an Ethernet port to connect the device to a network. Finally, you can see the power connector socket.

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    A couple of 80 mm fans are present near the top to facilitate active ventilation. This is very necessary especially when four hard drives are installed, which can together generate a considerable amount of heat during peak activity. Speaking of the fans, you will not hear any sound as they work very silently and I think they do it efficiently because the unit ran cool even with three hard drives inside.

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    The section of the rear panel with fans is hinged at the bottom and is fastened to the chassis by means of four easily removable thumb screws. Once the screws are removed, this panel can be opened to reveal the interior of the NAS device. Here, you can see that there are four drive bays present with caddy drawers to place hard drives. The caddy feature mounting points for 3.5" as well as 2.5" hard drives, so if you have any old laptop hard drives lying around, you can use them in here as well. These HDDs can be placed in these drawers, fastened to them using the provided screws and then pushed into place where the drive's SATA ports gets engaged with the corresponding connector of the device.

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    Here is a view of the interior with the caddies removed.

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    The caddy smoothly glides into place and you don't need to apply excessive force.

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    Here is a closer look at the PCB of the computer system that the DS413j is based on. Inside is a Marvell Kirkwood mv6282 ARM 1.6 GHz processor powered system with 512 MB of DDR3 RAM, which is sufficient for the purpose. Unlike most other NAS devices, this one doesn't have any SSD or NAND memory to store the OS. Instead, the OS is stored on the connected hard drives, with each of the hard drive having one copy for redundancy. This has a distinct advantage: if the SSD / NAND memory of the NAS device goes bad, then it cannot be used, but this device will remain usable because each of the connected hard drives retains one copy of the OS.

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    The construction is very rugged and I did not notice any flimsy moving parts anywhere. There are rubber feet under the DS413j and this not only helps it get a grip over any surface, but also help dampen the vibrations of the hard drives spinning inside it. The whole system weighs 2.23 kg without drives, and measures 184 (H) x 168 (W) x 230 (D) mm. Let's take a look at the performance.

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    Setting It Up
    I installed three 1 TB Western Digital Red Drives WD10EFRX in the NAS server, connected it to our test bench via the Ethernet port and powered it up. The WD Red Drives being used are the first HDDs from WD that are meant especially for SoHo NAS systems. Some of the features of these drives include a less aggressive head parking, configurable Time Limited Error Recover (TLER) (default 7 seconds), IntelliPower disk rotation speeds (for optimized power usage similar to the Green drives), vibration reduction mechanism, and a 3-year warranty with 24x7 phone support. Keep in mind that most of these significant features are not available with drives in other series. Here is a photo of one of the 1 TB WD Red drives that I used in the above review:

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    The software CD was then inserted into the drive of the connected computer and the setup program was run. This wizard known as Web Assistant, detects Synology NAS devices on the network and then proceeds to install the DiskStation Manager (DSM) operating system. I downloaded the latest DSM for this model and pointed the setup assistant to the file, which then installed the DSM operating system on the NAS. Alternatively, if you have a fast and uninterrupted internet connection, you can directly download the DSM firmware directly and proceed. Of course, if you don't have internet access, you can always use the firmware provided on the accompanying CD. You can then create a login name and password that will grant access to the device. At the end of the setup, the disks were automatically formatted to create a Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR) volume (with data protection of 1 disk fault-tolerance).

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    After entering the user name and password, you can access the DSM OS, which is pretty much a full-fledged OS in itself that supports various packages (which are basically apps) available for this OS. You now create a shared folder and grant necessary permissions so that it becomes accessible to Windows or Mac computers on the network.

    Before proceeding further, let me explain a little about the advantage of the Synology Hybrid RAID system. Firstly, it consumes very little time to create an SHR volume, so you can immediately start storing data in the DS413j and volume creation will continue in the background without affecting your work. Secondly, SHR divides each hard drive into smaller chunks of space to create redundant storage to maximize the usage of space, thus presenting a larger total volume capacity than is possible with other RAID versions. Thirdly, and importantly, you can choose 1 to 2 hard disks fault-tolerance for data protection, thus ensuring that your data to remains accessible even if one hard disk fails completely.

    There are a host of packages available for this NAS, including third-party packages. These can expand possibilities and increase the versatility of the DS413j by enabling functions such as DHCP server, Cloud Station, Download Station, backup server, mail server, iTunes server, and even video server.

    After the wizard completes, you can simply launch a web browser and enter the IP assigned to the NAS to be launched by its web interface. Before you proceed, you must make sure that you allow access to Windows file server in the DS413j's firewall setting; tick "Allow access" on the bottom of the page if no rule is set. Next, you must enable Windows File Service and tick "Enable Local Master Browser". You can also map this to a drive and save the trouble of having to enter the IP address to access the server in the future. Additionally, the server can also be made accessible via the internet.

    The DS413j supports RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, 10 and JBOD. Setting up is as easy as it can be. All you need to do is to go to the RAID configuration page in the Storage area of the web interface, select the preferred RAID level, select the drives to be used in the array, and click “Create”. It is as simple as that. Hot-plug is supported, so you can just plug in an additional hard drive without switching off the system and the RAID array will automatically grow.

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    After the creation of the array, you will be presented with a RAID information page where the status of the array will be displayed. Depending on the type, building of a RAID array can be time-consuming, so I suggest it best to stick to the better option of SHR instead. To give you some perspective, a 1.78 TB volume became ready using the three WD Red 1 TB hard drives in just 10 minutes.

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    After creating the array, you are ready to play around with the DS413j. There are different things that you can do using the provided packages.
    1. File Server: This will let you host files on your network and allow users to access them from other devices on the network. Permissions can be set for users and groups.
    2. FTP Server: This facility lets you host files across the internet by means of an FTP server which lets you access the files on this device from anywhere.
    3. HiDrive Backup: This is a quick way to back up shared folders to STRATO HiDrive online storage, to be restored later when required.
    4. Media Server: Being a DLNA certified device, you can use the DS413j to stream audio and video to any DLNA devices you may have such as a TV, PS3, mobile phone, tablet, or laptop.
    5. Mail Server: This is a mail service solution to setup a standalone mail server, useful mostly for businesses.
    6. Time Backup: This nifty backup solution can back up multiple versions of your files that are intelligently optimized to avoid redundant copies.
    7. iTunes Server: There is an iTunes Server built inside the DS413j and this lets you stream your music and videos across the network.
    8. Surveillance Station: Another nifty feature built into the DJ413j is the Surveillance Station, which lets you manage multiple IP cameras to view and record live videos via web browser, Video Station, or mobile device. It can also send you notifications for important events.
    9. Download Station: A built-in download manager can be scheduled to download files (including torrents) to the NAS server at any convenient time.
    10. Video Station: You can manage all videos, stream TV shows live, and set a TV recording schedule using this.
    11. Cloud Station: This lets you automatically sync files across PC/Mac, leaving a backup copy on the DS413j for restoration. It saves up to 30 versions of a file.

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    In addition to the above, there are 7 free mobile apps, namely DS video, DS file, DS audio, DS photo+, DS cam, and DS finder, that let you do a lot more remotely via your smartphone based on iOS, Android, or Windows Phone platform. These can be used to manage cloud storage, create users, enable or disable services, and to monitor NAS status on the simple DSM mobile interface.

    I must also mention the Synology QuickConnect service that allows users to synchronize files and remotely access their data without having to go through the hassles of port forwarding. This service, which can be enabled via the EZ-Internet setting, supports Cloud Station and DS file in the current firmware.

    Performance
    It takes over a minute and a half to get the DS413j up and running once the power button is pressed, which is a bit too long. Likewise, switching off takes around 36 seconds, and it should likewise have been faster.

    I transferred sequential and assorted files to and fro to find the read and write speeds. It is interesting to note that the file transfer speeds were found to be the same for sequential as well as assorted files, while the general expectation is that sequential files will transfer faster. The file copy speed to the drive was found to be 39 MB/s, while files copied from the drive to the test PC drive at 29 MB/s. Switching to a different RAID mode such as RAID 5 or RAID 10 increases the read speed to around 80 MB/s. with the write speed being still lower at around 45 MB/s. While it may not be the fastest in town, it is notably stable as the speeds didn't fluctuate at any point during the file transfer.

    Here is the result of the CrystalDiskMark benchmark with a 100 MB data set, showing that the device can support faster speeds even with an SHR volume.

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    Is it worth a buy?
    The Synology DiskStation DS413j is good at what it is supposed to do. While it is not the fastest NAS servers available out there, it is certainly a very stable one. It supports all the varieties of RAID configurations, and importantly brings in the Synology Hybrid RAID offering an unmatched combination of data redundancy to keep your data safe and secure, without sacrificing too much storage space. It also sports various features such as FTP, iTunes server, DLNA-compatible media server, surveillance server, and backup server. It can connect to Gigabit Ethernet networks and sports two USB 2.0 ports to connect external hard drives and printers. Unlike traditional NAS servers, it even looks good and is also sturdy with its aluminum chassis.

    It supports up to four SATA hard drives with hot-plug capability. Setting it up is very easy and the web interface is very intuitive. Thanks to the packages (apps) support in the Synology OS, the versatility of this device can only increase over time and it is too overwhelming to cover in a single review.

    Synology also offers you two free upgrades every year and every new firmware adds features and packages to make this device more versatile. Currently, the company has DSM 4.2 that is in public beta and even in its present state, it provides a lot of enhancements to Cloud Station, QuickConnect for DS audio, DS cloud, DS photo+, Airplay movie streaming to HD TV via Video Station, and more. We can only imagine what goodies the final release will bring to the users.

    With a 2-year warranty, the Synology DS413j is priced at an MRP of Rs 34,000, which is really too stiff for most home users to afford. However, with the features that it brings along, SoHo and SMB users should certainly be delighted to have one of these to take care of all their data needs and there is no reason for them to not go for this NAS server. The device can be bought from Esdee Business Machine Pvt Ltd at www.ebm.in.
    2 people like this.
  2. bottle
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    bottle Caffeine Addict Staff Member

    Nice review :)
  3. the_hardware_guy
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    the_hardware_guy Upgraded User

    WD Red hard drives used in the review

    I would like to add that the WD Red hard drives used in this review should be on top of your list if you are looking to buy hard drives to put in your NAS device. These really offer a stable performance, work silently, and don't produce much heat.
  4. axeman
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    axeman Ye Olde Systems Breaker

    So RAM is not upgradeable, single ethernet port so no teaming support as well.

    BTW the HDD Connector points - are they sturdy?
  5. the_hardware_guy
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    the_hardware_guy Upgraded User

    RAM is not upgradeable, but that is not necessarily a con. The SATA ports are as sturdy as you would find on any motherboard.

  6. Crazy_Eddy
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    Crazy_Eddy Super Moderator Staff Member

    Where did you source your WD Reds from? A lot of people aren't able to find these in India.
  7. vivek.krishnan
    Online

    vivek.krishnan Dreams, Gold and XXX!

    Nice. What I liked the most was the connectors, I was planning on designing something of that sort as I hate the cables!
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Reviews and Previews Detailed Product Analysis of Synology NAS DS413j Feb 12, 2013

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