Once you do have your storage set up, accessing it is made easy. You can add a shared volume as a mapped drive with the same Synology assistant tool used to install the DS411j’s firmware, navigate your network to find the system yourself, or use an FTP client if you have enabled that connection method. Transfer speeds are respectable given the DS411j’s price; we saw a single large file copy to the DS11j at 26.3MB/s and read from it at 34.5MB/s. A mix of small files transferred the NAS at 17.9MB/s and from it at 19.8MB/s. We were pleased to note that, thanks to the dedicated hardware handling the process, encrypting the data stored on the DS411j doesn’t lead to massive slowdowns in transfer speed.
Setting up Synology’s Data Replicator backup software was frustration free, giving plenty of control over what data should be saved and how frequently. Mac users will be pleased to find that the DS411j can have Time Machine support enabled. Windows users get a few extra software options, such as a Download Station for intercepting downloads and having the DS411j handled them for you, be they standard http and ftp transfers, or BitTorrents – you can also access this functionality via the web interface if you don’t want to install software.
Any media on the DS411j can be access in a variety of ways. Videos, images and music can be served to any DLNA-compatible device on a local network, and an iTunes server lets you keep all your music in a central repository if using Apple’s media player. The aptly named Audio station and Photo station also let you serve up files of the respective types over the web – a feat made easier if you use the built-in DNS – and Photo station even has an iPhone app. Web station lets you host a basic PHP and MySQL based website, but we wouldn’t recommend using the DS411j to host anything likely to see a lot of traffic.
What really sets the DS411j apart from the competition isn’t so much the amount of functionality it has – though it certainly has features a-plenty – but rather how smartly it exposes them. Whether you just want a safe backup repository for your data, or need to access it from several locations using various different client devices, from PCs to media streamers, the DS411j will hold your hand configuring it if you need it to, and let you manage by yourself if you can.
For the price, we can’t think of another NAS that offers such a comprehensive combination of powerful features made so easy to use. The DS411j may not be the most exciting product in the world, but it’s definitely a good one.