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on April 3, 2011
After ogling this for weeks I cracked down and pulled the trigger. It arrived a couple of days ago. So far I have been running the following (in parallel):

* migration of my backups and media library (from Readynas NV+), about 460 GB
* watched a movie
* played music on the Squeezebox Touch
* a remote backup of another Synology Diskstation over the Internet, 45GB
* hourly time machine backups (continuing on the sparsebundle from the NV+
* download of 4GB BitTorrent.

Even with the disks that busy, the fan sometimes turns completely off. The CPU temperature is consistently at 64 degrees Celsius and the 2 disks are at 42 degrees. My take on the temperature discussion is that these are the temperatures that both hard drives and CPU are designed for and running at these temperatures allows for a super quiet NAS.

This has less than half of the footprint and less than a quarter of the volume of the NV+. It looks quite futuristic, too. Works perfectly with currently 2 Western Digital 1 TB Scorpio Blue SATA 5200 RPM 8 MB Cache Bulk/OEM Notebook Hard Drive WD10TPVT. Much faster response than the NV+ when e.g. opening a folder, accessing the admin interface or picking and starting a song on the squeezebox.

I have only good things to say about it.

UPDATE (4/8/11)
Likely not related to the DS411slim, but nevertheless important for those who migrate from another NAS: Make sure you verify that the data is there after you copied it. I noticed skipping on a certain song that went away when I recopied the song from its original location. Upon comparing my old NAS with the DS411slim, many instances of corrupted data were discovered. I am using beyond compare, and compared a whole night long until I figured out that I did it wrong and didn't discover any inconsistencies. Now that I'm doing it right, many corrupted files have been discovered, and I fortunately could recopy them before reformatting and selling my old NAS. Look up file comparison in Wikipedia for a list of tools you can use. Probably there are safer mechanisms than I used to migrate the data in the first place, but this is definitely something to watch out for.

UPDATE (5/31/11)
Still looking good. Noticed that a 1 volume set-up using all available disk space cannot be changed later without reformatting. If you add a drive, it will extend the existing volume, it won't allow you to add a new volume on the additional space. For older Apple OS' Time Machine works better under iSCSI and iSCSI is faster on its own partition:
[...] /How_to_use_the_iSCSI_Target_Service_on_the_Synology_DiskStation#How_to_create_an_iSCSI_Target_on_the_Synology_DiskStation

UPDATE (2/21/12)
The DS411 has been used nonstop with a lot of downloading video, backing up another NAS remotely, playing music on the Squeezebox and time machine backup for 2 MacBooks. Not a hitch. Once a bit of dust got caught in the fan making a little noise, pulled it out, that's it. As much pleasure with this unit as on the first day. None of the concerns voiced by other reviewers have materialized.

UPDATE (7/28/13)
Still not a single problem. The DSM software has been getting continuously better and all updates went through easily. Even though the station is on nonstop, none of the hard drives have ever failed and the S.M.A.R.T. status for all is normal. Today I just added Amazon Glacier backup for the family photos. While it takes a little bit of frowning, I'd say they make it as easy as possible: create an AWS account, add payment option, then enter the AWS key and secret key in the NAS, choose which folders to back up, that's all. You don't even need to create a vault on the Amazon end, the DS does that automatically.

With the model now 2.5 years old it I was hoping for a successor that I can recommend to friends who want to buy a NAS now - but it seems there is still none in sight. Maybe DS411slim is still going too strong for them to worry about that - at least it seems there aren't many comparable devices out there, and the price hasn't changed in 2.5 years!

UPDATE (5/8/14)
After 3 years, the first drive broke down. Replaced it and the volume rebuilt without a problem. Chromecast playing videos from NAS, too.
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on April 7, 2011
This is the most advanced little NAS i've ever seen. The style, quality and physical layout of the NAS to the user interface and simple tools used to get it working. It supports all raids from 1,0,10,5,6 and even some others i've never heard of.

I am still thrown back at the size, it fits in the palm of your hand and has 4 hard drives in it. It's silent except when its working hard even then its a whisper.

The other thing that amazed me is the user interface, no more remote desktop non sense no more windows Server head aches no complicated command line. You login via a web browser gui, just like a home router if you've ever used go to assist express or something similar it reminds me of that.

I have a high resolution 30 inch monitor, and the gui looked amazing. It's fast, very intuitive and easy to use.

I put in 4 500GB western digital drives in raid 6, that amounts to around 922GB of usable storage. Raid 6 can lose 2/4 hard drives and still recover the data.

The free updates of the software is an awesome deal. they come often too, 3.1 was just released and I upgraded to it painlessly without having to register on the site. The unit also can do upgrades on its own within its software automatically.

the initial setup was painless, it comes with no software preinstalled as in os, so you install the hard drives in the racks, hooked it up to your network, power it on and use the initial setup app, this finds the nas on the network, which was given an ip via dhcp and allows you to right click on it in a list and tell it to install. It gives you a status on where it is with configuring drives, formatting and installing the software. then you login using a webgui, default username is admin with a blank password.

Here you configure the hard drives in a raid configuration based on how many hard drives you have. setup usernames accounts etc. Everything gui based similiar to windows but much more streamlined, simple and easy.

Great nas, and considering a Windows media server costs just as much this device is a no brainer. Synology will be touted every where I see a place for it. Synology will get bought by a bigger competitor, no doubt about it. Amazing stuff.
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on May 21, 2011
"...the fan does not spin while the unit hibernates and the CPU, which does NOT throttle down, sits scant millimeters away from drive four."

My initial testing of this unit was very favorable. Read speeds over 90MB/s, using basic 5400 RPM drives, on AFP with a 2011 MacBook Pro through an HP ProCurve 1GB switch. Writes speeds, using RAID 5, drop to half of this, which is still acceptable for a typical environment (i.e. home or small office share).

The size has to be seen first hand to appreciate how compact the unit is. The styling is nice, and the management software Synology's DiskStation Manager is pleasant to look at as well as easy to use (despite some options being scattered about).

However, PC transfer speeds (W7 on i7 with SSD over HP ProCurve 1GB, using FastCopy, and optimized network settings) seem to be much slower. I had trouble topping 50MB/s, while an i5 MacBook Pro can manage 70-90 MB/s on the same setup. Also, the CPU is banging away at 80% during single writes. I have doubts this would scale well.

Still, it's the idling unit temperatures that have been causing users issues (check Synology forums). Synology replies with temperature specs that are incredible. "76C is normal because 105C is the max, and the unit shuts down at 95C" (paraphrasing). In other words 167F is ok, because Synology doesn't consider it an issue until 203F!

To be clear, this is when the unit is Hibernating. Once everything is up and running, the unit cools down considerably. This is so even when all four drives are pushed to the max. The reason is the fan does not spin while the unit hibernates and the CPU, which does NOT throttle down, sits scant millimeters away from drive four. Synology considers the act of slowly baking your drives to be acceptable in their design.

If you do buy it, consider using no more than three drives. Also, check into the fan speed hacks, but do so with this warning. This is a direct quote from support:

"There are users on the forum who have submitted ways to edit the fan tables, but this voids our offer of support and you will need to proceed at your own discretion."
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on February 18, 2013
No matter how you run the numbers, a 3.5" 2-drive Synology is going to be cheaper, greener and less trouble than the DS411slim. Laptop drives can be a pain to deal with, due to long-term reliability concerns as well as performance and capacity limitations. Any power savings you'll see with the DS411slim will take decades to realize, if at all (it draws more power when hibernating than the DS212j, for example!)

That said, this little guy is perfect for SSDs. Fill it with important photos and documents, recent downloads, security camera footage, a few virtual machines for your VMware cluster, etc. Add on some obscure servers like e-mail, web, VoIP and some cloud-based backups and you'll be good to go for a full-featured system-in-a-box.

The default fan setting is VERY conservative. The DS409slim does not have this issue since it runs the fan all the time. The DS411slim turns the fan off most of the time. I simply set the fan operating mode to "Cool Mode" under "Power" in the Control Panel. The fan is completely silent, yet the temp dropped from 130F to 105F in a few minutes. Power usage went up a scant .4W using some rough measurements.

9/16/13 UPDATE
Still 4 stars for now, but I am currently breaking away from Synology. Some of the unresolved quirks have started to weigh on me. See my review on the DS409slim for more details.
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on April 10, 2011
I agree with all the current reviews, this little NAS is fantastic.

On mine, I installed 4 of the 1TB western digital blue drives which makes the NAS pale in terms of the overall price. My NAS network is a mix of wireless and gigabit ethernet, and for large file transfers the NAS is well matched to GE, filling the pipe for reads. On a 100 Mbps network the NAS would be underutilized (using raid 5).

Like other reviewers, I am very happy with the noise levels of the machine. The only sounds that I really notice are those coming from the actual disks when the disks are suddenly engaged. To give context to the sound levels, I also have a raid0 Cavalry storage unit that hooks onto my router's USB port which I bought a while ago. It was billed as "very quiet", reviewers other than me called it "quiet", I find it unacceptably loud and have it switched off unless I want to access it for an archived file. So, my idea of loud is many peoples idea of quiet. This drive is my idea of quiet.

I also think the software is excellent. It is however a work in progress. The February build had a bug in it that would not allow multiple time machine clients to see the disk as something less than the whole size of the partition. It was fixed in the March build. All our time machines now see a properly sized region and stay within that size limit. My automatic firmware upgrade doesn't seem to work, which is not a big deal. I believe the software is heading to a place where it is worth the price of admission with all the well crafted and intuitive controls. I haven't even tried to use the applications that are provided beyond basic disk management. The real test will come when/if a disk fails, or the unit itself.

For me, this little NAS is like the ipod to the music world.
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on April 20, 2011
I like the cloud backup to Amazon S3, I get an email from the NAS after each backup. Can also backup the NAS to external eSATA drive. Console login available via SSH, but you get a non-root shell prompt and su doesn't work. Can't manage the unit from the console, have to go thru the web interface called DSM. Secure WebDav is the easy way to network it (vs Windows file service or NFS). Have not been able to get sshfs to work yet. Fan makes some "pumping" noises as it speeds up and down, but the 1G WD drives make more noise (scraping). Setup and software upgrades are painless. I also have SqueezeCenter running on the NAS to host my music collection to my SqueezeBox touch Logitech Squeezebox Touch - it was a no-brainer to install and set up. The shared folder can be encrypted - useful if the NAS is stolen. I wish other directories could be encrypted too. Fast enough to stream HD movies over secure WebDav. Basic MP3 tab editor and zip compression built into file browser. Ethernet jumbo frames up to 9k bytes supported. HD SMART checks, wish they could also be automated.
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on January 19, 2013
I am a first time NAS buyer and was looking for a product that would support cloud storage with reliable backups for my Laptops. After some research online, I saw that in the consumer price range Synology products were very highly recommended with QNAP a close second. After much deliberation I decided to go for Synology as it not only has a great hardware package but also is very well supplemented by their proprietary OS (Linux based) DSM which packs a punch in it's service offering. I was impressed by their support for mobile devices running iOS, Android and Windows.

My primary ask from the device was a robust cloud storage to store my photos, music and documents with adequate backup.

Packaging and Dimenstions : I would rate it at 5 on 5.

The packaging was very intuitive and sleek. The product itself was much smaller than I had anticipated for a 4 bay NAS and can be stowed away in a small enclosure (provided there is enough air circulation as it does get quite warm during operation)

Setup and configuration: I would rate it at 3.5 on 5

It takes an intermediate level of understanding of networks and associated interfaces (routers and modems) to setup. The device fits 4 2.5Inch HDD. I bought 2 WD Blue 1 TB SATA II HDD and it was very easy to install it. Adequate screws were provided and even though the bay trays are plastic they are well made and quite sturdy. Watch for excessive vibrations after installation. This indicates that the HDDs are not sitting tight in the trays and can damage the HDD.

I used their SHR configuration which offers the same resilience as RAID configuration and allows for more flexibility for growth. I have a total of 2 TB in a single volume and plan to expand as soon as I can afford more HDD. The only draw back is that the options for HDD in 2.5 Inch form factor is quite limited and is pricey for Solid State HDDs.

After installing the DSM software (Note: the DSM software sits on the same HDD and hence the device is more susceptible to catastrophic failure) I went about configuring the DDNS service. Synology offers Dynamic DDNS service for those without static ip address. The only setback is that even though they claim that SSL certificates can be obtained via StartSSL for free, its not the case as the parent domain is a blacklisted domain. Also, to get a cert issued you need to have complete ownership over the parent domain. So your browser will keep alerting you about the lack of a trusted certificate. However, you can invest in a trusted certificate (personally I feel that it's a rip-off to spend $70+ on hosting services).

Configuration: 4 on 5

Setting up users and groups is easy but understanding which permissions precede which like running through a maze. For e.g. I have setup read only access on a folder for a user and read+write on the same folder for the group. While the user permissions trumps the group permissions I found that "Admin" user is also by default (irrevocably) member of users group and removing access to any folder will remove it from Admin user too!! I'm still learning!

My Wi-Fi router was on the supported list and hence I assumed that the ports that were configured from DSM would be available but they were available only for a few hours at best and would lose their configuration. Upon inspection on the router config page, I found that it was being configured as PPPoE ports with a 4 hour lease. I had to manually forward all the ports and since then they have been working as expected.

DSM Software: 4.5 on 5

Photo Station - Easy to use. Again confusion with access permissions. But it will allow you to setup photo station only accounts. Creating thumbnails takes way too long but the end result is extremely satisfying.

Cloud Station - Easy to setup and use. Works very well

Music and Video Station - Easy to setup and works as a DLNA server as well. Immediately found by my XBox 360.

Device was running a little hot and I had to switch it from silent mode to cool mode.

All-in-all a great product.I'm very satisfied with it's performance.
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on December 5, 2012
Purchased to serve as SOHO File Server. Numerous functions not needed for this purpose. Initially unable to connect as a shared drive over point-to-point VPN. Both Synology tech support and Cisco Tech support unable to resolve. Finally open up additional port to allow this traffic (1723?) and problem finally resolved,

Up to 7 computers accessing this device for file sharing - limitation in number of open files caused frequent "freezing" of unit - frequently requiring reboot to rsolve.

Would probably be fine for local network with 3-4 computers accessing unit at same time.

Lastly, cloud backup sevices auch as Carbonite require business account (significantly more $$$) for backing up shared network drive. Had to syncronize shared directories to drive on workstation then backup from workstation.
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on June 3, 2011
I chose this NAS because of the features, size, quiet operation, and low power draw, and it's met my expectations on all these counts. It's remarkably small and unobtrusive on a desk, and barely audible even when the disks are active. I was concerned about adding another electricity vampire that would sit around adding to my electric bill all day, but this seemed to have the smallest current draw of any NAS on the market, and even can be programmed to automatically turn itself off and on so it's powered off during hours that I'm unlikely to be using it.

Having the same software as the business class versions from Synology, it has lots of features and options that I'll be unlikely to use, but it's nice to know that I've got the flexibility that I might need later. It could be daunting for the less technical user, but it's always a tradeoff between features and complexity.

The features that I've used are just basic file sharing between Mac and PC systems, and acting as a Time Machine backup unit. I'll get around to using it for my pictures and music one of these days. What I've used so far has worked well with no glitches. The web interface is pretty well thought out and straightforward.

Plan to experiment with setting it up and partitioning it the way you want before you commit a bunch of data to it. Time Machine and some other backup systems like to fill up whatever space they're given, so you'll want to carve out separate partitions from other data, so your backups don't squeeze out everything else. You'll also find that wireless or even 100Mbs Ethernet is no substitute for gigabit Ethernet when running large data transfers like full backups. Also remember that if you really really want your data to be safe, you should still plan to back up your NAS to something else like a USB drive once in a while. RAID 5 is good, but not perfect, and won't survive a fire or other calamity.
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on December 30, 2012
We use this as the "Off-site" backup for another synology that we use as our main server in a small advertising agency. It sits atop the owners fridge and has never given us an issue. If I remember correctly, the only downside was when power was lost during Hurricane Sandy, the device had to be manually turned on. However, we should have had it on a UPS, so that was our fault.
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