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The small business NAS appliance market is now so crowded with products that it’s going to take something special for one vendor to stand out. We’ve seen Buffalo impress with its TeraStation Pro, Infrant Technologies amaze with its beautifully built ReadyNAS NV and now it’s the turn of newcomer Synology to show us what it’s made of.
The Cube Station CS-406 on review certainly cuts a fine figure in the design department as its sleek white plastic and aluminium panels look good enough to share your living space. Its hardware specification is reasonable as it comes with a 400MHz MPC8245 processor partnered by 128MB of memory and it employs a pair of 2-port Silicon Image SATA/150 controller chips. The front panel has a large power button in the centre along with status indicators for the system, the hard disks and the Gigabit Ethernet port. In common with a lot of vendors the unit is supplied diskless and can be populated with up to four Serial ATA (SATA) hard disks of your choice.
For this review Synology supplied the unit with a triplet of 80GB Seagate hard disks installed although these are not included in the price we’ve published. Note that hot-swap is not supported and to fit a new drive the unit must be powered down and the rear panel unscrewed. RAID is managed by the Linux kernel and you can choose from RAID-0, -1 and -5 arrays. Synology also offers a CS-406e version of this appliance which it has aimed more at consumers. Both this and the CS-406 run precisely the same OS and offer exactly the same features but the CS-406e is equipped with a slower 266MHz MPC8241 processor and only has 64MB of memory.
The Synology Assistant gets installation off to a flying start by searching for appliances on the network and displaying them ready for action. You can map shared folders to drive letters from here and move directly to web management where you’ll be greeted by a cheerful, well designed interface. Both Windows and Mac clients are supported and the appliance can function as an FTP server. Security is good as along with a local user and group database you get support for both NT domain and Active Directory authentication and quotas can be applied to each user. Depending on the number of disks installed a RAID array will be created automatically. With three or four drives onboard you get RAID-5 and with two drives you’ll get a RAID-1 mirror.