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Synology DiskStation DS410j
As last year's DiskStation DS409slim proved, Synology knows how to product a decent NAS device. But just in case you thought that product was a fluke the company has done it again with the DiskStation DS410j. Considering its sub-£300 price tag, it packs in an excellent array of features and, importantly, performs admirably.
This four bay NAS device doesn't have the compact dimensions of the DS409slim, but it does have features galore and an attractive price tag to go with them. The chassis might not be amazingly small, but at 230mm x 168mm x 184mm it's hardly overly imposing either. Certainly the combination of its aluminium casing and white plastic surround looks attractive enough, and the angled front panel makes for easy reading of the systems vital stats, such as hard drive status.
Around the rear are the power input, Gigabit Ethernet port and a pair of USB 2.0 ports. The latter can be used either for connecting a USB storage drive (either for transporting files or augmenting the internal capacity), for sharing a USB printer over your local network, for connecting to a UPS or even for controlling a (compatible) USB webcam using the DS410j.
The rear is also home to four thumbscrews which when removed enable the back of the DS410j to be opened, revealing the four drive bays inside. Interestingly these can house both 3.5in and 2.5in hard drives so if you're feeling really flush you could even use SSDs - even if it would probably be cheaper to hire someone to backup all of your data by hand, in 0s and 1s, on paper.
It's worth noting that in RAID 1 and RAID 5 configurations, these drives can be upgraded to larger capacity units, without losing data. So far as I am aware, Netgear is the only other manufacturer that facilitates this, so kudos to Synology for implementing that. Be warned that rebuilding volumes is a lengthy process, leaving the NAS out of commission while it's happening.
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