Thursday, April 16, 2009

My NAS Project Part 4

Some incidents delayed my testing on the NAS. Anyhow, I managed to squeeze in some time to try out some of the applications...


Let's start one by one.

But first, normally my best practice is to configure the general settings such as security for any of my gadgets before I turn on this and that. One thing I dislike by the firmware is that I can't change the admin ID...


The name column is dimmed. I am not a Linux or Unix expert, but I guess this could be the "root" ID that you can't rename a root ID in Linux and Unix platform. Anyway, it's not a big matter here but just my habit to disable the default admin ID and recreate and assign one with root admin privilege. Typical Micro$oft guy huh? Hehe...

I then turned off applications or services that I will not use it now or even not use at all. For instance, the FTP, the AppleTalk zone, the web server (Web Station 2). This reduces the risk for leak and vulnerability and more importantly it frees up resources (CPU processing and memory) of the NAS allowing it to perform better for other enabled applications. So likely I am not going to write anything about these disabled applications.

Then the first application I turned on was UPnP. Immediately the NAS was detected as UPnP media device in the network...


The first icon is the UPnP icon and the second is the typical networked workstation icon. I do not have any UPnP client installed on my PC as I have yet to find one good (and free) client (leave a message if you know one), so I can't tell its performance. But one thing for sure is the UPnP server is currently incompatible with Windows Media Play 11 on Vista. WMP11 on Vista (not on XP) can act as an UPnP server and also as UPnP client to render content from another UPnP server. I emailed the support before my purchase and got a reply on this issue...


I hope this is one of the features in the future firmware release as it's crucial for me to build Windows based Media PC in the coming future just like my reply to Synology support...


Like I mentioned, I could have chosen QNAP over Synology as its UPnP Server is compatible with WMP11 on Vista right out of the box, but I made decision over the latter, betting Synology is a company that listen and respond to customer feedback. Read Part 1 for details.

Next, the iTunes Server. Like UPnP, just turn it on and let the NAS indexes the music files. Fire up your iTunes and you should immediately see the NAS. iTunes is only one of the 3 options (exclude UPnP) for music streaming. You can install a package called Squeeze Center to stream music...


You need iTunes client to stream from iTunes server. Likewise, you need either a Logitech hardware or a Java client called SoftSqueeze to stream from Squeeze Center. This is useful if you have a Logitech product to stream music.

The third option which is my preference over iTunes and SqueezeCenter is the Audio Station...


A web based player that streams music directly from the NAS to your machine without any special player software, but only web browser. It's like the Winamp player, you can build playlist and search for songs from the browser...


I am not particular on SQ (sound quality) and most of my songs are in MP3 format, but I am happy with the output of Audio Station, it streams exactly as per the song properties (i.e. 192kbps and 48kHz) with no lagging at all (that also depends if you have other network traffic). In addition, I find no difference on SQ for 3 of these options but you have the flexibility to tune the output in iTunes using the equalizer.

The last application (for now) I tested is not about multimedia like above, but indirectly it's related to multimedia. It's the Download Station...


It runs flawlessly. One thing different is that the way you download BT. You may install the Download Redirector on your PC so that all downloads can be redirected from your PC to NAS. The other method is either you drag the URL onto the column shown above, or click on create to manually create the download task. I experience that none of the above works for BT downloads if you download from private tracker, except to download the torrent file and use the Create button to upload the torrent file onto NAS like below...


An additional step but it's simple, so I am ok with it as I don't have to leave my PC on 24x7 for download and seeding. Green IT!

Now look at the speed I get from my BT download...


No proxy workaround, no VPN, no HTTP tunnel, even no port forwarding on my router and I am on Streamyx. ;)

While BT and HTTP downloads work perfectly but I have problem to download via eMule...


It has been "waiting" since 2 weeks ago. But this is my first time I use eMule and I guess that's due to the setting on the Server/Kad that I have not figured out. I believe it should work. However, one thing to note, I must logon as admin in order to download via eMule. Read the reply from Synology support...


Anyway, eMule is not that important like BT to me.

Look like every application works as expected (except UPnP compatibility issue with WMP11 and Windows Media Center), I then decided to pump in some of my files from my media player to NAS. Instead of plug the player to my PC and copy across the network, I plugged it to the NAS...


Immediately it was detected...


Pressed the C = copy button and just wait...


It took about 33 minutes to copy about 38GB of data. Hmmm... Kinda slow. Perhaps I should make another round of testing as the BT downloads were running and I was copying some files over network too.

I then switched to File Station to manage the files...


It's almost identical to Windows Explorer, you can right click...


You can drag and drop too...


This is one of the key features that I chose Synology. Imagine each of the file is at least 8GB big in size to move from one folder to another in the NAS, it's a nightmare if without File Station where move will need to be done across home network (from PC to NAS).

Oh ya, if you are looking for user guide for the firmware and all applications, you will not find a PDF version. Click on this button at the far right whenever you need help on that particular page...


The help unveils...


That's all my testing so far. I have not dragged all my data into it, I need times to housekeep instead of just dump everything in there. Arrggh! Till when I will have spare time??!! I just changed job, so likely my next post on NAS may not be so soon, if there is any.