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Synology DiskStation DS411j review

Alan Lu
25 Sep 2011
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Synology DiskStation DS411j
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT

The fast and well-equipped DS411j may be expensive, but it's the best four-disk NAS enclosure you can get



4 disk bays, N/A storage supplied, 1x 10/100/1000Mbit/s Ethernet ports

Synology makes a range of four-disk network attached storage enclosures, but many can only take 2.5in hard disks. The new DS411j accepts 3.5in disks, which are available in higher capacities at lower prices than their more compact 2.5in counterparts.

Fitting disks is straightforward. The back panel is held in place by four thumbscrews. Unscrewing them allows you to remove the back panel and slide off the three-piece cover giving easy access to the four disk trays. Once a 3.5in SATA disk is screwed into each tray, they simply slide into place. Each tray can be secured using an optional set of extra screws if you're worried about disk vibration.

Configuring the DS411j is just as clear-cut. The setup wizard gets you up and running within minutes and lets you access the web interface for adjusting the various settings. The web interface resembles a Mac or Linux desktop, so for the most part it's logically organised allowing you to find and adjust settings quickly.

Setting up user accounts, shared folders and permissions defining which users can access which folders is especially quick and easy thanks to the clearly-labelled tabbed windows. If you can't find what you need, a handy Google-style search box lets you search for the settings you need by keyword and you can even save Windows-style shortcuts to your most frequently used settings on the desktop. This is especially handy given the NAS' large number of extra features.

Synology DiskStation DS411j

We had no trouble using the DS411j as an iTunes server or to share a USB printer or the contents of a USB disk over our Gigabit Ethernet network. When used as a UPnP media server, HD video playback was very sluggish until we increased the size of the jumbo frames being sent across our network (see FAQ on page 2). This resulted in smooth, uninterrupted playback.

There are numerous other extra features, such as the option to use the DS411j as a web and email server and even as a repository for IP camera footage. It can also be used to download files from the web or BitTorrent independently of a computer. Confusingly, the option to restrict which users can use this download manager is in a separate Applications Privileges control panel rather than in the download manager itself.

All these handy features would be for nothing if the DS411j were slow at transferring files. Thankfully it's one of the fastest NAS devices we've seen. When fitted with a pair of 3TB disks and configured as either a RAID 0 or 1 array, large files were copied at overall speeds of around 37MB/s while small files were transferred at average speeds of around 17MB/s. Despite its fast performance, it wasn't noisy. The pair of small cooling fans were only just audible in a quiet room.

When configured as RAID 0 with a pair of 3TB disks, 6TB of storage will be available but all your data will be lost in the event of a disk failure. RAID 1 protects against this at the cost of storage – only 3TB would be available.

The DS411j isn't a cheap NAS enclosure, but it's fast, feature-packed and easy to assemble and configure. If you want excellent performance and plenty of features, it's money well spent.

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