Installation won’t take long with the bundled Synology Assistant on the case as it searches for appliances and displays them ready for configuration. From here, you can map shared folders to drive letters and go straight to the web interface which, apart from a few cosmetic touches, is virtually identical to the CS-406 models. Shared folders are easy enough to create and there are plenty of security features as the appliance maintains its own user database and supports NT domain and Active Directory authentication. Usefully, quotas can be applied to each user to restrict the amount of space they are allowed to use.
Synology now joins a long list of vendors that have implemented an iTunes server feature and enabling this automatically creates a shared music folder. This can be password protected and the iTunes client will request it when you select the appliance. The appliance also supports internal smart playlists which can be built from a small selection of criteria such as the artist, album, genre or year and these will appear in the iTunes client interface under the appliance name.
Using BitTorrent, HTTP and FTP, the Download Service can copy files from remote locations directly to the appliance and these can be scheduled from the web interface or the bundled Download Director utility. We found it easy enough to use but note that it will only handle single files and not folders. You can also drag URLs to the Drop Zone icon on the desktop but this will not work if you try and drag a file location onto it.
Plenty of backup tools are provided as the appliance can copy local files to a USB device or another Cube Station whilst the bundled Data Replicator II software looks after scheduled PC backup. Once you’ve provided it with a share on the appliance it will copy all files once and subsequent runs will synchronise local folders with those on the appliance. You can also use the appliance as a web server and support for PHP and MySQL means you could run a web shop if you want.
The Photo Station 2 gets a makeover with a tidier web interface and extra folder security. You can add descriptions to each folder and individual pictures and also allow users to enter comments along with a contact email address when selecting a picture. As pictures are downloaded, the appliance automatically creates thumbnails for each one and users can activate a slideshow if they wish.
The Cube Station CS-407e builds on the successes of its predecessor and now offers an even better personal network storage solution. General performance is average at best but for the price you won’t find many other desktop NAS appliances offering this level of capacity and features.