Network USB Hub: Synology USB Station 2 review

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Synology USB Station 2Introduction:

If you don't want to shell out for dedicated NAS enclosures, the other viable option for many is to use a network USB hub. This simple device can be connected to your home network to allow easy sharing of USB devices, including printers and external hard drives, with other computers on your home network. This opens up the possibility of file sharing and multimedia streaming  across your home network simply and quickly. The latest review covers the network USB hub offering from Synology, the Synology USB Station 2.

Specifications:

 

  • Installation Free
  • Plug-and-Play USB Drive Sharing
  • Easy File Management
  • DLNA Certified Media Server
  • 24/7 PC-Less Download Server
  • USB Print Server
  • Cool and Completely Quiet

Review:

 

Based on the excellent Synology DiskStation Manager (DSM) the USB Station 2 offers a very simple plug and play USB sharing experience. To use the network USB hub, USB devices simply need to be plugged in and then setup using the DSM (accessible via any browser) and the hub itself connected to the network (preferably using a wired connection or alternatively wirelessly using a compatible wireless dongle).

Usefully, the USB station can use NTFS, FAT32, EXT3 and EXT4 file systems and allows files to be shared across platforms (NTFS - OSX, Linux and Windows) which is great if you have a mixed operating system workgroup. As well as sharing files on attached external hard drives, the software allows multimedia to be streamed using the audio station and media server utilities as well as a download server via FTP, HTTP and even torrent. Additionally a print server can be easily be condigured in order to share any USB printer. Accounts can also be easily configured for different users to restrict or allow specific features and accessibility.

In our tests the setup was incredibly easy, however the actual transfer speeds were a little unimpressive in comparison to what we are used to with the Synology Diskstations we have reviewed. We used a custom external hard drive with a USB2.0 interface in our tests and transferred files over a wired connection between the USB Station 2 and the laptop (using an NTFS file system on both devices).  In our tests we obtained an average read/write speed of ~7MB/sec (combination of large and small files) which although not the fastest we have seen, is more than sufficient for the average home user to stream music and videos to devices over a small home network (It is important to note however that faster transfer speeds can be acheived using external drives with FAT or EXT file systems - see info here)

Price:

~£75 (Amazon: Synology USB Station 2)

Verdict:

4/5 - Although not providing the fastest transfer speeds, the USB Station 2 offers an economical and very simple way of sharing and administrating files across a home network. For those with a bit more cash however, a full blown Synology Diskstation system is recommended.