NAS External Data Storage: Synology Diskstation DS212j review

User Rating:  / 0
PoorBest 

Synology-DiskStation-DS212j-NAS-ServerIntroduction:

In recent years, the number of devices that can connect to our home network has spiralled, with apparently every new mobile and mp3 player able to access files shared across the network.  So now is exaclty the right time to consider the purchase of a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device so that you can share all of your important multimedia between devices without the need for multiple copies across your home network (or even outside of it with the right device!).  Synology who are synonymous with NAS devices have recently released their new range and we were lucky enough to obtain a copy of their latest home/small busniess network hard drive, the Disk Station DS212j.

Specifications:

Hardware

  • CPU Frequency : 1.2GHz
  • Hardware Encrypted Engine
  • Memory : DDR2 256MB
  • Internal HDD/SSD : 3.5" or 2.5" SATA(II) X 2 (with Disk Holder) (Hard drive not included)
  • Max Internal Capacity : 6TB (2X 3TB HDD) (Capacity may vary by RAID types) (See All Supported HDD)
  • External HDD Interface : USB 2.0 Port X 2
  • Size (HxWxD) : 165 X 100 X 225.5 mm, Weight : 0.94Kg
  • LAN : Gigabit
  • System Fan : 92x92mm
  • Wireless Support
  • Noise Level : 18.3 dB(A)
  • Power Recovery
  • AC Input Power Voltage : 100V to 240V AC
  • Power Frequency : 50 / 60Hz, Single Phase
  • Power Consumption : 17.6W (Access) ; 5.5W (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 : 2 Years

Synology-s-New-DS212j-NAS-Is-a-Personal-Cloud-Storage-Device-4Applications

  • 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) : 5 (1 Free License) (See All Supported IP Cameras)
  • Total Frames per Second (FPS) : 50 FPS @ D1 (NTSC:720x480, PAL:720x576), 10 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
  • 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 # : 256, Max File System Size : 16TB, Max iSCSI Target # : 10, Max iSCSI LUN # : 10
  • 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
  • File Sharing Capability
  • Max User Accounts : 512
  • Max Groups : 128
  • Max Shared Folder : 256
  • Max Concurrent Connections : 64
  • 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 : 2, Time Backup - Max task number : 2, 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
  • Languages: Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese Brazil, Portuguese European, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Swedish, Traditional Chinese, Turkish

Comes with:

  • Main Unit
  • Installation CD/DVD
  • Welcome Note
  • Assembly Kit
  • AC Power Adapter
  • 2M RJ-45 LAN Cable

Review:

The Synology Ds212j comes with everything to make the setup easy and hassle-free, which is no mean feat given the technology.  The Disk Station itself comes along with an installation CD and kit, power adaptor, brief instructions, and a LAN cable for connection of the device to your network. It is important to note that the unit doesn't come as standard with drives installed, however it supports up to two 3TB drives, and can house either 3.5" or 2.5" formats. Installation is as simple as sliding drives in to place and then using the included mounting kit to screw it into place. Inside the DS212j the drives are mounted to the side of the mainboard which houses the 1.2GHz processor and 256MB onboard DDR2 memory that manage the system.  At the rear of the unit is a 92mm exhaust fan that is managed by the system to maintain optimum operating temperatures, which in our testing was virtually inaudible.

Once the drives are installed and the unit screwed shut, the included CD can be loaded on any network attached PC.  The Synology Assistant software immediately detected the presence of the Disk Station 212j NAS during our testing, and easily installed the "operating system" Disk Station Manager 3.2 on a newly created system partition.  Once the DSM software is installed the NAS can easily be managed through any browser as an admin user. We installed two equally sized 1TB drives during testing that allowed the system to be run in RAID for data reliability (protects your data in the case of a single hard drive failure). 

As mentioned the DSM 3.2 software allows for the management of the NAS through any web browser, and the interface, in our opinion, is second to none.  Initially a really handy wizard is available that guides you through the setup of a shared folder on the mounted drives, as well as creating users to allow access.  Also included in the wizard are brief instructions on setting up the Disk Station as a mapped drive through Windows or Mac or other access options (FTP, File Station, NFS or Web Dav) allowing information stored on the device to be accessed by virtually any device that you may have connected to your network. During our tests we consistently saw read speeds of around 90 MB/s and write speeds of ~50 MB/S through a wired connection - certainly not shabby if compared to other NAS devices.

Synology DSM 3.2

Beyond the basic local network sharing, DSM 3.2 offers a great number of additional options, that allow you to use the NAS as everything from a Web Server (so you can host your own websites at home) through to acting as an iTunes media server.  In terms of multimedia (audio, video, photos) the DS212j acts as very simple to use server so that not only Apple devices, but also Android, uPNP and other networked computers have full access and playback capability of "shared" files.

Importantly, files can be made available outside of your local network to allow connection whilst on the move away from home.  Consequently the DSM 3.2 software includes a firewall to protect the device from non-authorised connections from the internet.  This fantastic ability essentially allows the NAS to act as cloud storage on the move. In addition to a multimedia server and web server the Synology DS212j can also act as a personal mail server,  and you can therefore "host" your own webmail service (great if you aren't a fan of the larger email services having full read access to your mails!).  Also, the NAS can be used as a surveillance station, with the addition of IP cameras, allowing you to record directly to installed drives any footage captured.

If you aren't happy enough with the features so far, the Disk Station can also act as a print server (via USB) and can host up to two further USB hard drives for storage!

The DSM software is regularly updated by Synology and this can either be managed manually or set to regularly check and update automatically (probably the safest option for security reasons) and the level of support from Synology is truly excellent.  FAQ, Wiki, and Forums are all avalable through the Synology website as well technical support via email and it is this support that Synology are renowned for if you ever really need it.  The DSM software comes with it's own help file that covers every aspect of the NAS management in incredible detail and use of the system is incredibly well deisgned to make everything intuitive - even for beginners.

Price:

~£155 (available from Amazon)

Verdict:

5/5 - At the risk of sounding too much of a fan, we really can't fault the Synology Disk Station DS212j.  It really covers every aspect that a home user or small business user could require from a NAS server and more.  It isn't cheap, true, but what you get for your money (in our opinion) is a hassle free, well supported NAS that should (if instructions are followed and RAID used) take excellent care of your data.  Something that we have learned to our detriment in the past is that the cheaper NAS servers cannot boast!

During our tests we consistently saw read speeds of around 90 MB/s and write speeds of ~50 MB/S through a wired connection - certainly not shabby if compared to other NAS devices.