NAS External Data Storage: Synology Diskstation DS712+ review

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Synology Diskstation DS712 sideIntroduction:

Networked attached storage (NAS) devices range in price from sub £100 home units offering basic network storage up to large corporate NAS servers that can serve entire companies that run in to the £1000s. The latest we have to review is the Synology Diskstation 712+ (DS712+) which offers a step up from the last Synology NAS server we reviewed the DS212j, which was primarily a small business/home server.  The DS712+ offers a far more scalable server conformation than the DS212j with data encryption as well as a far more powerful processor and system spec that allows for sharing data across a intranet as well as the internet faster and more securely.

Specifications (Skip to review here):

Hardware

CPU Frequency : 1.8GHz

Floating Point

Memory : DDR3 1GB

Internal HDD/SSD : 3.5" or 2.5" SATA(II) X 2 (Hard drive not included)

Max Internal Capacity : 6TB (2X 3TB HDD) (Capacity may vary by RAID types) (See All Supported HDD)

Hot Swappable HDD

External HDD Interface : USB 2.0 Port X 3, eSATA Port X 1

Size (HxWxD) : 157 X 103.5 X 232 mm

Weight : 1.69Kg

LAN : Gigabit X2

Link Aggregation

Wake on LAN/WAN

System Fan : 92x92mm x1

Wireless Support

Noise Level : 19.2 dB(A)

Power Recovery

AC Input Power Voltage : 100V to 240V AC

Power Frequency : 50 / 60Hz, Single Phase

Power Consumption : 27.5W (Access) ; 17.6W (HDD Hibernation)

Operating Temperature : 40 to 95°F (5 to 35°C)

Storage Temperature : 15 to 155°F (-10 to 70°C)

Relative Humidity : 5% to 95% RH

Maximum Operating Altitude : 10,000 feet

Certification : FCC Class B, CE Class B, BSMI Class B

Warranty : 3 Years

Applications

File Browser

File Station

FTP Server

Bandwidth Control, Custom FTP Passive Port Range, Anonymous FTP, Transfer Log

Mail Server

Supported Mail Server Protocol : POP3, SMTP, IMAP

Web Station

Virtual Host (up to 30 websites)

PHP/MySQL

Alternative HTTP Error Page

3rd-Party Applications Support

Surveillance Station

MAX IP cam # (Licenses required) : 16 (1 Free License) (See All Supported IP Cameras)

Total frame rate (FPS) : 160 FPS @ D1 (NTSC:720x480, PAL:720x576), 60 FPS @ WXGA (1280x800)

Recording Modes : Manual, Continuous, Motion Detection, Alarm, Motion Detection and Alarm

Event Playback : Sync Mode (4 Channels), Time Slicing Mode

Centralized Management

Compression Formats : MJPEG, MPEG-4, H.264

Photo Station

Supported Image Format : BMP, JPG (jpe, jpeg), GIF, RAW (arw, srf, sr2, dcr, k25, kdc, cr2, crw, nef, mrw, ptx, pef, raf, 3fr, erf, mef, mos, orf, rw2, dng, x3f)

Supported Video Format : 3G2, 3GP, ASF, AVI, DAT, DivX, FLV, M4V, MOV, MP4, MPEG, MPG, QT, WMV, XviD, RM, RMVB, VOB, RV30, RV40, AC3, AMR, WMA3
User can click and download the following video formats: RM, RMVB, VOB, RV30, RV40, AC3, AMR, WMA3, but not able to play it in Photo Station as compressed Flash video.

Audio Station

Supported Audio Format (USB Mode) : AAC, FLAC, M4A, MP3, Ogg Vorbis, WMA, WMA VBR

Supported Audio Format (Streaming Mode) : MP3, M4A, M4B

Supported Playlist Format : M3U, WPL

Internet Radio : SHOUTcast, Radioio

DLNA/UPnP Media Server
PS3/Xbox 360 Support

Supported Audio Format : AAC, FLAC, M4A, MP3, Ogg Vorbis, PCM, WAV, WMA, WMA VBR, WMA PRO, WMA

Supported Video Format : 3GP, 3G2, ASF, AVI, DAT, DivX, DVR-MS, ISO, M2T, M2TS, M4V, MKV, MP4, MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4, MTS, MOV, QT, SWF, TP, TRP, TS, VOB, WMV, XviD, RMVB (The actual playback capabilities may vary depending on the DLNA/UPnP client)

Supported Image Format : BMP, JPG (jpe, jpeg), GIF, ICO, PNG, PSD, TIF (tiff), UFO

Download Station

Supported Download Protocols : BT/HTTP/FTP/NZB/eMule

Custom BT Port Range

BT / eMule Bandwidth Control

iTunes Server

Supported Audio Format : MP3, M4A, M4P, WAV, AIF, The music in WAV and AIF format can be streamed, but the metadata (ex: title, album) may not be indexed on the iTunes

Supported Video Format : M4V, MOV, MP4

Supported Playlist Format : M3U, WPL

Print Server

Max Printer # : 2

Printing Protocols : LPR, CIFS, AppleTalk, Appel AirPrint, Multi Functional Print Server (Only PostScript USB printers are supported in MAC environment)

Packages Center

Directory Server

HASP

HiDrive Backup

Mail Station2

phpMyAdmin

VPN Server

Webalizer

Squeezebox Server

Syslog Server

WordPress

Time Backup

iPhone/Android Applications

DS photo+

DS audio

DS cam

DS file 

DS finder 

General

Networking Protocols

CIFS

AFP

NFS

FTP

WebDAV

iSCSI

Telnet

SSH

SNMP

File System

EXT4

EXT3(External Disk Only)

FAT (External Disk Only)

NTFS (External Disk Only)

Storage Management

Max Volume # : 512

Max File System Size : 108TB

Max iSCSI Target # : 32

Max iSCSI LUN # : 256

Supported RAID Type : Synology Hybrid RAID, Basic, JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1

RAID Migration : Basic to RAID 1

Volume Expansion with Larger HDDs : RAID 1

Synology Expansion Unit Support : DX510

File Sharing Capability

Max User Accounts : 2048

Max Groups : 256

Max Shared Folder : 256

Max Concurrent Connections : 512

Windows Access Control List (ACL)

Windows ADS Domain Integration

Domain Users login via Samba/AFP/FTP/File Station

Backup Solutions

Network Backup

Local Backup

Desktop Backup (using Synology Data Replicator 3 or Apple Time Machine backup application)

Shared Folder Sync - Max task number : 8

Time Backup - Max task number : 8

Time Machine Backup (Mac)

Security

FTP over SSL/TLS

IP Auto-Block

Firewall

Encrypted Network Backup over Rsync

HTTPS Connection

Management

Auto DSM Upgrade

Administrator Group

Email Notification

SMS Notification

Customized User Quota

DDNS Support

IPv6 Support

PPPoE

Resource Monitor

UPS Management

Scheduled Power On/Off

Custom Management UI HTTP/HTTPS Ports

HDD Management

HDD Hibernation

S.M.A.R.T.

Dynamic Bad Sector Mapping

Utilities

Synology Assistant

Synology Data Replicator

Supported Clients

Windows XP onward

Mac OS X 10.5 onward

Ubuntu 9.04 onward

Supported Browsers

Chrome

Firefox

Internet Explorer : 7, 8, 9

Safari (MAC) : 4, 5

Supported Mobile Devices (Photo Station, File Station)

iPhone OS 2.2.1 onward

Android OS 1.5 onward

Windows Mobile (IE Mobile or Opera 9.0 onward)

Symbian OS 9.1, S60 3rd Edition onward

Language : Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese Brazil, Portuguese European, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Swedish, Traditional Chinese, Turkish

Review:

Synology Diskstation DS712As with all Synology NAS servers, the diskstation comes without hard drives installed, however the DS712+'s drive bays are easily accessible via two sliding trays (lockable for security) and hard drive installation is a doddle using the included screws, with the unit supporting up to two 3.5" or 2.5" drives.  The "Synology Assistant" software is then used to install the operating system, Disk Station Manager (DSM), which then allows for full management of the device and any installed or externally connected drives through the excellent cloud-like browser interface.  The internal drives can be run in a number of standard RAID configurations including the Synology Hybrid Raid configurations that allows for hard drives of different sizes to be run in a RAID array. If you want to run external drives or devices, the DS712+ sports 3 USB2.0 ports as well as a single eSATA port that can be used in conjunction with the Synology DX510 (an optional expansion unit) that allows the addition of a further five hard drives and a maximum of 21TB of data storage (certainly enough to run a fari sized business!).. 

The DS712+ we tested was running on the DSM3.2 (although it is worth noting that there is a beta program for DSM4.0 which looks even better if that's possible!) which provides a simple interface to manage the NAS. There is a basic menu system that provides access to a control panel providing access to every configurable option for the device. Each option from setting up the inbuilt firewall to setting up a web server are all very easy to setup (normally simply a case of a single mouse click or a wizard). As regards applications, the DS712+ gives access to the all of the standard Synology applications, including file and multimedia sharing, web hosting (up to 30 websites) and mail server, as well as network backup (encrypted if required). All work seamlessly and are very easy to setup, with clear instructions, tutorials and support available from the Synology website.  

We tested the DS712+ with a couple of 1TB drives and the setup procedure was as painless as other Synology NAS servers we have reviewed.  In comparison with the DS212j we reviewed previously (here), the increased specifications were evident with the NAS clearly benefiting from the faster processor and everything felt more responsive. Even though the router we used didn't support link aggregation, the two gigabit connections make the upload and download speeds significantly faster (~96MBps and 100MBps respectively) especially for upload speeds, which is perfect for small business environments where it is plausible that a relatively high number of connections will be in use at any given time (even more so if you choose to host a website through the DiskStation).

Synology DSM3.2 control panel

With the increased server specifications in comparison to other 2-bay NAS ervers from Synology, every aspect of the DS712+ is better than previous NAS servers we have reviewed, from user interface and support through to file transfer performance and we really had no problems with setting up any of the features that the server can host.

Price:

£399 (available from Amazon)

Verdict:

5/5 In terms of NAS servers, Synology rarely disappoint and the DS712+ is no different. With the applications available, the Diskstations can handle a number of different jobs (therefore replacing existing servers and services) beyond simple file sharing and shared folders which is why in our opinion they offer, despite the initial costs, excellent value for money.  The DS712+ is one of the more expensive of the home/small business range but the specifications and performance entirely justify the cost.