This low-cost four-bay NAS is a great buy if you need a storage server for your small business
4 disk bays, N/A storage supplied, 1x 10/100/1000Mbit/s Ethernet ports
The Synology DiskStation DS414j is an entry-level four-bay NAS with a very low price, which will make it much more attractive to small businesses than its bigger brothers. It also makes use of the latest version of Synology’s operating system: DSM 5.
While you can easily access the hot-swappable drive bays in more expensive free-standing DiskStation models through a removable front panel, you must access the DS414j’s disks through a rear panel that must be unscrewed. There are two fans mounted to the rear panel, but it can still be opened safely when the NAS is in operation. Unlike Synology’s front-bay models, however, the DS414j does not support the hot-swapping of hard disks. If a disk is removed when the NAS is switched on, the data on it will be lost and you’ll have to reconstruct your RAID array. Fortunately, accidental removal is hardly likely with the NAS screwed shut. You must install hard disks in one or more of the four drive trays, and you can install either a 3.5in or 2.5in disk; the choice is yours.
Look at the rear of the DS414j and you’ll find a Gigabit Ethernet port, a USB port and a USB3 port. It’s a minimal level of connectivity compared to more expensive devices, which generally have more USB ports and often a second Ethernet port so that you can load balance two network connections, or use the NAS as a DHCP server. However, the DS414j’s selection of ports is certainly sufficient for a small office storage server, which is the most likely role for the device.
The DS414j is powered by a dual-core 1.2GHz MindSpeed Comcerto 2000 CPU, a processor designed with NAS, VoIP and networking devices in mind. Generally speaking, the more powerful your NAS’s processor is the better able it is to perform more tasks at once. We haven’t reviewed a NAS that uses the Comcerto 2000 before, but we were certainly impressed by the NAS in our data throughput tests.
We tested the DS414j using a set of four 3TB Western Digital Red hard disks, configured in an 8.11TB Synology Hybrid RAID volume. Our first test measures throughput when copying files to and from an SMB share on the NAS. You’ll have to enable the Guest account in the Synology Control Panel’s user settings if you want your users to connect to shared folders on the DS414j without having their own accounts on it. Our second test copies data to and from an iSCSI target, which can be mounted by a single client machine and is treated as a local hard disk.
In our SMB test, the DS414j produced a write speed of 61.3MB/s and a quick read speed of 104.8MB/s in our large file test. Small file transfers are always slower, but the NAS did well in our small file test for a budget model, producing a 13.2MB/s write speed and 20.1MB/s read speed. With an iSCSI share mounted on a client system on the local network, large file throughput was slower, averaging 53.8MB/s, but small file speed was faster, as is often the case with iSCSI, and the DS414j averaged 32.6MB/s.
NEW OS: DSM 5
The DS414j has also given us our first opportunity to take a look at DSM 5, the latest version of Synology’s operating system. Its icons look a bit more colourful than those of previous versions, and it retains its browser-based interface. You can open, close and drag different windows anywhere within the browser window accessing the NAS.
The new interface is easier to use via a touchscreen device, great for those who use a tablet or smartphone to access their NAS device
Some of the icons look a little garish, notably that of the Package Centre, where you can download additional applications to run on your NAS, but we’re generally happy with the clear interface. We missed the old compact, if slightly cluttered, main menu, but appreciated the consistent design of different configuration windows and an option that lets you view and select from all open windows. The updates make definite improvements to both appearance and usability. As ever, if you’re having trouble finding anything, you can always turn to the search feature, which lets you look through all the installed applications and settings options for specific keywords.
Synology has also made it easier to use your NAS as a personal cloud server, prompting you to register for a unique QuickConnect address during the initial setup process. This web address allows anyone who has it, along with the relevant passwords, to access to the NAS from any web browser. It’s essentially a hassle-free DDNS service, and the integrated file manager makes it easy to access your data from anywhere.
The DS414j is one of the cheapest four bay NAS enclosures you can buy, and it performs very well compared to similarly priced enclosures such as the Budget Buy-winning Iomega Storcenter ix4-300d. It lacks some fancier features, such as a second Ethernet port, but this won’t bother most users. The excellent DSM operating system makes it easy to monitor and manage your NAS, while also providing access to a range of extra features. If you want a fantastic NAS enclosure and don’t want to spend a fortune, you should buy the Synology DiskStation DS414j.
|Default file system||ext4|
|Price per gigabyte||N/A|
|3.5in drive bays||4|
|Free 3.5in drive bays||4|
|RAID modes||JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 5 + hot spare, RAID 6, RAID 10, SHR|
|USB direct access ports (front/rear)||0/0|
|Other USB ports (front/rear)||0/2|
|eSATA ports (front/rear)||0/0|
|Ethernet connection speed||10/100/1000Mbit/s|
|Universal Plug and Play support||yes|
|UPnP media server||yes|
|USB disk server||yes|
|Protocols supported||TCP/IP, SMB/CIFS, AFP, FTP, HTTP, HTTPS, NFS, SSH, Telnet, WebDAV, iSCSI|
|Ethernet cable included||yes|
|Power consumption active||22W|
|Warranty||two years RTB|