Installation & Setup
The DS-101 comes as a fan-less, disk-less chassis, with three USB 2.0 ports, and a single 10/100 Ethernet port. The USB ports (two in back, one in front) are designed for hooking up additional USB drives, a USB flash drive, or a USB printer so the device can do double-duty as a print server. In addition, the device has support for a USB camera plugged into one of the USB ports.
If you've ever installed memory or upgraded your PC's hard drive, you have what it takes to get a DS-101 up and running. When I took my DS-101 out of the box, I found a device about the size of a small toaster, but a bit slimmer. Using the well-written directions, I opened it up and saw where to install a standard 3.5 inch IDE hard-drive.
Figure 1: Internal view with installed disk
(click image for larger view)
One concern I had right off the bat was the hard drive IDE cable. It was heavily scraped and indented in several spots; evidently from rubbing or pressing against the pins to the front-panel USB port. I didn't see any actual punctures or bare wires, so I went ahead and hooked up my hard drive. But perhaps the unit needs better packaging in this area.
Following the directions for initialization, I powered the DS-101 up, and used a small reset button to format the drive. Once this was complete, I powered it back down, and hooked it into my home network. At this point, I took the Synology CD and installed the supplied software onto my Windows XP system. Installation went smoothly with basic choices such as setting the admin password, creating users, passwords, shares, selecting automatic or manual IP address selection, DNS server, etc. In addition to the standard configuration, I set up an option for emailing problem and status reports to me.
Overall, I was impressed. All of the options were clear, well thought out, and help was available at every step. At the end of the configuration, a persistent network drive "z" was created so that every time I reboot, the DS-101 would automatically be re-attached. Once the DS-101 was initialized, it just appeared as another drive on my system where I could read and write files.
Figure 2: Basic setup screen
Synology also advertises compatibility with Apple's Mac OS X, which is nice to see. The included CD has a Macintosh installation program that just brought up a web browser that connected to the built-in web server on the DS-101. All configuration can be done through the web browser, so this worked fine for the initial setup. The only functional difference between the Apple installation and the Windows installation was the automatic creation of a persistent network drive mount under Windows. So I just manually did the same for myself on my iBook.
I was able to mount the DS-101 both Microsoft's SMB (CIFS) protocol and Apple's AFP protocol. Finally, even though Linux support was not advertised, I was fairly certain it would not be problem to mount the device and it wasn't. So with little effort, the device was providing basic file-serving capability to all of the various operating systems on my home network.