New features, new look

This past Thursday Synology announced the beta release of the latest version of their Diskstation OS, DSM 5.

DSM is the operating system used on Synology NAS products, of which I happen to be a fan, so without further ado here’s the bullet points on the new DSM.

New Look

DSM 5 comes with a sleek new look which seems to have borrowed heavily from Apple’s iOS 7.  The icons are brighter and more cartoon like than with previous versions.

DSM5 1

Some people might like this look, though IOS 7 is the main reason I moved away from Apple devices in the first place, so I remain sceptical at this point.  I do like the new quick access mode shown above, though.

Plus, areas such as the Package Centre, System Status widgets and Control Panel have all been improved upon, which is a massive thumbs up from me.

Improved Cloud Station

Cloud Station is Synology’s crack at a centralised storage system.  It works much in the same way as competitors like Dropbox, with users downloading a client on to their PC, Mac or smart phone and then logging in with their account credentials.

Files and folders are then synchronised between devices which allows for much easier collaborative working.

DSM 5 2

DSM 5 goes one step further by allowing users to link multiple Synology Diskstations to the same Cloud Station account.  In that way, users can synchronise files not only between client devices, but also between “Server” devices, which is great if you have one Diskstation at home and another at work.  Files will automatically be synced between the two servers, meaning you never have to worry about emailing that Word document home to yourself.

Improved Performance

DSM 5 offers several performance upgrades when compared to the current DSM 4.3.

First of all the user interface is up to 20% faster over HTTPS when compared to DSM 4.3.  This might not seem like a lot but as someone who often accesses DSM over an Internet connection it’s something I’m really happy to see.

DSM5 3

Synology have also introduced an SSD caching feature in to their enterprise class products.  With this feature turned on and a solid state drive installed in the Diskstation, users will experience much faster write speeds, with DSM intelligently writing information to the SSD in the first instance, then transferring it to the slower traditional hard disks in slower times.

Media on the go

Synology have made several positive changes to DSM 5 in terms of media playback and accessing your Diskstation on the go.

First of all, you’ll now be able to log in with your mobile device using a Synology Quickconnect account, which saves having to type in long URL’s or IP addresses.  Whilst I personally will stick with writing in the URL, others might want to have easier access to their NAS on the go, so this should prove a useful feature.

For iOS and Android users, you also get several improvements to the DS Audio and DS video apps.

First of all, with DS Audio you’ll be able to choose whether you receive your audio in an original high-fidelity format, or let the Diskstation transcode the file in to a smaller size.  You can even let DSM decide on the best way of streaming based upon your network speed.  Access from a mobile 3G signal and you’ll get a compressed MP3 version, access from your home LAN and you’ll get the original FLAC file.

With DS Video you’ll now be able to cache movies and TV shows for viewing on the go.  This is a great feature for frequent travellers who can’t gurantee they’ll have a decent Internet connection when away from home.  Simply save the video to your device instead and play it from within the DS Video app.

DS Video is also coming to Samsung’s range of Smart TV’s, allowing for seamless integration of your media library.

DSM5 4

The whole suite of mobile apps has also been upgraded to work with Google Chromecast, allowing your to quickly and easily stream media from your Synology NAS, via a smart phone or tablet device.

Overall, I’m really looking forward to the improvements showcased for DSM 5.  The jury is out on the changes to the user interface, but the performance tweaks and improvements to mobile access and media streaming are certainly welcomed.

Further information and a link to the DSM 5 beta download can be found at this link.

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