NAS External Data Storage: Synology DiskStation DS210j

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synology_ds210jAs you would have been able to tell from our review of the Synology Disk Station 410j we were really impressed with the facilities of this 4-bay NAS drive, so when Synology gave us the option to review the 410j's little brother the 210j we jumped at the chance.  Designed with personal and home users in mind, the Synology Disk Station 210j is a 2-bay NAS system, with similar design principles as the 410j.

The external casing of the DS210j shares the same shiny white plastic style casing (161mm X 88mm X 218mm) with a front fascia that houses the Power and notification LEDs, the power button and the USB copy button (more about this later!) and a USB port. At the rear of the unit are a further two USB ports, the gigabit LAN port, as well as the power plug and the units hardware reset button.  To gain entry the unit slides apart into two halves, to allow simple installation of either one or two drives with the included screws used to hold them in place.

Once you have installed the drive(s) into the DS210j the unit can be plugged in and fired up ready for the software setup.  The DS210j comes with all of the drivers and software needed to get up and running and to use the unit you simply need to connect the NAS to your router (through it's gigabit LAN port) and then install the firmware to your installed hard disk.  Once this has completed the drive can then be partitioned in order to take full advantage of the Disk Station's capabilities. As with the DS410j, the DS210j can support Basic, RAID 0, RAID 1 or JBOD setups in order to provide the level of redundancy that you require for your data and supports up to 2x 2TB drives.

The NAS sports a 800MHz CPU and 128MB RAM and as with other Synology NAS drives is based around the concept of low power consumption and the DS210j uses only 25W on access and only 10W when in hibernation with a maximum noise level of only 24dB.

synology_ds210j_rearThe features of the Synology drives is where they surpass equivalently priced NAS drives with the ability to set up up to shared folders for up to 512 users with upt 64 connections at any time through SAMBA, FTP, or AFP.  As with the DS410j, the DS210j can also be used to redirect downloads (bittorrent, emule etc. as well as standard browser based downloads), be used as a PVR using the surveillance station application, as well as being used a USB network hub for printers and external hard drives, or even as an iTunes server.

If you use an iPhone you can install apllications that even allow you to access music, photos and files from your iPhone and additionally you can connect USB speakers to the DS210j and use it as a music centre in it's own right. If you don't use an iPhone you can even use compatible smartphones to do a similar job.

If you are going to trust all of your media to the NAS (as you probably should if you have a redundant RAID array setup) then the Disk Station software gives a variety of backup otions to backup software from networked computers as well as the NAS drive itself, making sure that you don't ever lose any of your important files.  In addition, the USBCopy function (remember the button we mentioned earlier) allows you to insert an external flash dirve or similar into the front USB port and then a push of the button backups up all of the data on that drive to the DS120j.

dsm_2.3_wizard

The Photo Station and Web Station you can host your photos and videos, and websites respectively and save the money of paying someone to host your websites (although this is probably not recommended for larger sites as the average home or business connection really isn't up to high traffic sites!).  If you always fancied your own mail server, the DS210j can even do that!

Throughout, the Disk Station 2.3 interface is easy to navigate and installation of each relevant application (web station, photo station etc.) is a simple click and confirm process.  The applications themselves are very easy to use (assuming you have a little basic knowledge) and the system information software allows you to keep an eye on resources as well as temperatures and provides a full log of all activity on the NAS.

As you can probably tell, we were certainly impressed with the DS210j and the only real difference between this and the DS410j is the number of drives that you can install, with the 4-bay enclosure probably more suited for heavy home and small business users.  The number of features that you get for your money as well as the well thought out and innovative design makes this the best NAS enclosure for home use that we have reviewed as yet, and we can't recommend it enough for anyone wanting there own backup/ftp/web/multimedia..... server.  The easy to use interface is the icing on the top and with the release of the latest free revision of the firmware (Synology Disk Station 3.0) just around the corner promising to be even easier to navigate and utilise than the 2.3 version (that was installed on the Synology Disk Station 210j that we reviewed) literally anyone should be able to get it up and running with only a little know-how.