It handles account setup and configuration, so you can control access to parts of any drive you have connected to the device. Creating accounts and protecting areas of a drive may be necessary – even if you’re using the device in the home – as intelligent teenagers might otherwise indiscriminately fill your storage, but many people will still want to plug and go, and here DSM3 isn’t that convenient.
If you want to copy files from a local machine to a drive attached to the USB Station 2 you have to select ‘Upload overwrite’ or ‘Upload skip’ in the DSM3 file browser, and hunt for the local files in a separate dialogue – hardly intuitive. There’s also a filesize limit imposed by Java – 2GB for older versions and 4GB if you have the latest incarnation.
Better to map the drive attached to the USB Station 2, so you can treat it as a network drive under Windows. You need to run the Synology software on each machine that needs to access a drive or printer and there’s no ‘mapping wizard’ or auto-setup, which would make it friendlier for inexpert customers.
The device can act as a print server, which is a useful extra, and there’s a list of printers here that have been tested with the USB Station 2, but there are likely to be many more. Any well-behaved USB printer should work, though be aware this is only for network printing. The USB Station 2 doesn’t support network scanning from all-in-ones.
When I copied 4.7GB of data (a DVD’s worth) from a client drive to an external 320GB USB drive connected to the Synology device, it took 10m17s and copying it back took just over a minute less, at 9m14s.
USB Network Printservers
There are plenty of USB Network Printeservers out there for 50$ or so. Be careful, because many cheapo printers require the computer to run the printing so the printserver would be inadequate (think of WinTel modems of yester-year and why they wouldn't work in Linux).
However, the Belkin F5L009 seems a much better solution than this crappy hardware. 5 USB ports and they can be independantly used by network PCs as if the USB device had been plugged directly into the computer. I actually use one of these Belkins for USB modems for a couple VMs. Gotta love being able to virtualize a server that requires a modem, and still retain VMotion and the like. :)
Wot no wireless part 2...
Yes most people will have a wireless router, however this device is also a print server. Most routers are where the phone line terminates, most printers are on a desk somewhere else, maybe next to a wireless PC if the house isn't wired with CAT5/6. Given that this has to sit beside the printer for it's USB connection wirelss would have extremely useful to save having to use a PC as a print server. This isn't a NAS device only, it would seem to be most useful serving portable devices for combined NAS/print.
Wot no wireless ????????????
The lack of wireless connectivity makes this a non starter for most users.
Lack of zero-copy support
"Most domestic nas devices are limited by the speed of the often feeble CPU in the NAS. At least that's the case with my Linkstation Live."
Well, not specifically the CPU -- I had a 90mhz Pentium file server that'd EASILY max out a 100mbps ethernet, with plenty of cycles to spare. The problem is, some of these NAS systems don't have a DMA engine. Linux has had a sendfile() call since kernel 2.2 that can read some amount of a file, and copy that data DIRECTLY from the hard drive buffer to the network card buffer with almost no CPU involvement (this is zero-copy by 2.4 kernel -- where the ethernet card can calculate the checksum automatically). This HUGELY cuts CPU usage of this type of operation (it's been a long time but my recollection was it cut CPU usage from above 60% to well below 10%). But crazily some of the NASes don't have this (approximately $1) chip even though it's meant so speed up exactly what they burn most of their CPU cycles doing.
Apparently, you missed the mention of manufacturer recommending USB hubs to extend the capacity >2.