A number of shares are also created automatically when certain features are started. The Photo Station is a nifty feature as activating it creates a new folder where you store sub-folders of your pictures that can be viewed via a web browser. You can set access privileges for these folders and when new pictures are copied across the appliance automatically creates thumbnails for each one. Individual pictures can be viewed and rotated while a slideshow tool scans through each picture in the folder to a selected refresh rate in seconds. This is a similar feature to that offered by the YES box N2100 but we can safely say that Thecus could learn a few lessons from Synology’s documentation and on-line help as it is far more detailed. In many cases simply activating a feature will cause a pop-up help screen to appear with some friendly hints and tips.
The appliance functions as a web server and uses the default Web folder to store your web pages. Even better is support for PHP and MySQL as this means you can use the appliance to run services such as a web shop although at this level we would want more redundancy available if your business relied on the CS-406’s continued existence. Videos and music are also stored in their own respective folders and can be shared directly with media devices that support UPnP.
The Download Station feature uses BitTorrent, FTP and HTTP to download files directly to the appliance. You need to run the Download Director utility from a separate PC where you specify the destination folder on the appliance and then create jobs that will download the selected sources. The appliance has its own download scheduler and will run these jobs either immediately they are submitted or at specified intervals. We found it easy enough to use although note that each job can only handle a file and not a folder. Client backup is dealt with by the bundled Data Replicator II software which asks for a share where you want to store your data and then runs backups of selected files and folders to this location. It has a scheduler for automated backup and a useful feature is that it can also synchronise folders on the client with those on the appliance. There’s more as the appliance can also back itself up to another Cube Station over the network or to a local USB storage device.
The Cube Station CS-406 certainly has that little extra to make it stand out from the crowd. It’s well designed, easy to install and use and offers a number of features you don’t often see in an NAS appliance at this price point.