on 27 August 2013
There are a few NAS systems on the market, and I eventually went with the Synology due to the number of positive reviews. I wasn't disappointed. This is one of the best experiences I have had setting up new technology. First impressions of the DS213J is that it's smaller than you might expect from the photos. Installing the hard disks is a doddle - just slide off the plastic cover on the side of the NAS, slot the disks into the bays (easy with SATA connections as there are no separate power/data cables to worry about) and secure the hard disks in place with the provided screws (the rubber bushes in the drive bays make this much easier - nice attention to detail). Setting up the system is just a matter of pointing your web browser to the Diskstation. It automatically formats and sets up the disks in a RAID1 (mirrored) configuration, and you're good to go. If you want to use the NAS as a media server, this is a separate download, but takes seconds to do using the package manager. The desktop interface is easy to use, especially for a Windows person like me who's never set foot in the scary world of Linux. One of the best features of this unit is the power-saving capability. You can set it to hibernate (spin down) the disks after a period of inactivity, which reduces power consumption to a few watts and (optionally) switches off the fan. For a typical home setup where the NAS is only used for a few hours a day, this will greatly extend the life of the disks. In practice, I've found that any DLNA devices on your network will keep the Synology awake - presumably when they're scanning the network for media servers - but it hibernates fine when the network is quiet. Overall I'm delighted with this little box - inexpensive secure storage, easy to set up and use, and more features and software than you can shake a stick at. Recommended.
on 19 September 2013
Bought this to replace an aging Netgear product; very impressed with all the features included with the Diskstation, particularly the home cloud option which is easy to set up. User interface (Diskstation Manager) is fairly intuitive and there is no need to do anything via the command line. I also like the fact that you can choose which packages to install, rather than having lots of bloatware installed for you. The package centre lets you choose which packages you want and then downloads and installs them for you. And the packages are free, as are the Andoid and iPhone apps which let you access various features, such as your music library, etc. Remote access is also fairly easy to set up and can be done without any knowledge of router port-forwarding etc. I've been running this for about 3 months with two WD Red 2TB hard drives (although the Diskstation will support up to 2x4TB drives); with these drives the Diskstation is so quiet you almost have to look for the blinking leds on the front panel to check its turned on. Would thoroughly recommend this product and although the Synology forums can be a little quiet there is plenty of Help and Information available in their knowledgebase.
on 29 January 2014
I am very pleased with the NAS but it is my first NAS, so I've got nothing to compare it with. It's got 2x western digital 2TB red hard drives. I wish I'd gone for 3TB just to store some video and offload the MAC hard drive. Having said that, I have only used 22% storage so far and that's with my entire music collection (300+ CDs) and time machine backup from 2 MACS. It's using Synology hybrid RAID to provide a mirror image of the primary hard drive on the secondary (in case 1 drive fails with all your music on it). I'm also using the free Synology media server to stream the files to the network. Set up was very easy and I managed most of it from reading the excellent support notes on the synology website. The NAS is connected to the wireless router by a network lead and the wireless router has a lead connected to a network adapter plugged into the ring main. The music is streamed via the ring main to another network adaptor, about 20 metres away, by the Yamaha CDN-500 network player. I rip my CDs with the MAC and they are sent via wifi to the NAS using a Phile Audio app from the Apple App Store. This usually identifies the correct CD and inserts all the album artist, track names and genre. You have to find the artwork yourself, but that is easy with google, you just click and drag the artwork to the app and it is automatically inserted. The artwork will then appear on you IOS, Google, windows device so you can see what you are playing. FLAC is simple, uncomplicated and sounds very good. Apple lossless seemed to be lacking something sound wise , WAV files were huge and Ogg Vorbis just seemed to have too many options. After experimenting with the first couple of CD's, I found the format I preferred (FLAC) tweaked various settings with Phile App and DSM to ensure album art was included and then paid my daughter 50p per CD to rip my entire collection over the summer holidays. The NAS is stable and reliable, stitting in the laundry room with the wireless router and it looks after itself. It wakes up when the yamaha needs it, recovers itself after a power cut and will even automatically update it's own software (although I've turned this off as I don't want it rebooting when I'm about to listen to Music). It's also used for streaming to my daughter's Denon Cocoon using the same DLNA system as the Yamaha and works a treat on that too. It seems solid and well made and quiet and will hopefully last a good few years. It was also pretty good value for money compared to others and got good reviews from professionals and consumers as per the WD red HDD's. I am very pleased with the set up, it works well and sounds great. My CD's are in a box in the loft and a lot of space has been freed up in our home. Hope this helps.
The J series from Synology is billed as a budget friendly machine for the home or soho environment. Although one shouldn't let this put you off as for the vast majority of home users a J series NAS will provide the perfect balance of price and performance. It'll happily stream a HD video across your network to your htpc or other media player! The DS212J has been one of my first recommendations since it was released and this review takes a look at it's replacement, the DS213J.
Synology NAS enclosures are so much more than just storage as they provide numerous additional features. The Synology DiskStation DS213J is designed to be a budget friendly energy efficient server that can manage media, print, downloads, surveillance and mail. If you are a proud Android or iPhone/iPod Touch owner you can remotely interact with the DiskStation DS213J as well via a downloaded app.
The DS213J is more of an evolution of an already brilliant unit rather than a revolution. It features incremental changes which keep the unit fresh and uptodate. The main changes between this and the DS212J it replaces are:
*RAM - the DS213J now features 512mb DDR3 ram compared to 256mb DDR3 in the DS212J
*Weight - The DS213J has been revised slightly with an overall lighter chasis.
*WoL - The DS213J features Wake on Lan.
Included in the box is the unit itself, installation disc and welcome note. You also get the assembling kit, ac power cord and an RJ45 ethernet cable and the unit features a 2 year warranty.
The front of the unit is home to the power button and status LED's whilst th rear contains two USB 2.0 ports, the requisit RJ45 ethernet port and the power connector. Along with a recessed reset button and security lock connector.
Opening the Synology DiskStation DS213J involves removing the two screws on the back of the device and then sliding the left side cover off of the unit. The inside of the DS looks pretty similar to its predecessors as the primary upgrade in the unit involves memory capacity, going from 256mb DDR3 to 512mb DDR3. Those who have previously owned the DS211J or DS212J will be familiar with this as the drive uses the same format but with a boost to memory and some revision to the build.Setup
Setting up your new DiskStation is simplicity itself. You can use the supplied disc or download the DiskStation Manager software direct and go from there. For guide on how to get up and running check out our article. DiskStation Setup
Make sure you check Synology's compatibility list first if buying new drives to make sure they are known to work, as they test drives regards compatibility. The two drives in raid provide a level of data redundancy so should one drive fail you can fall back on the other drive mirroring it.
The Jewel in the crown - DSM
The Synology DiskStation DS213 is operating system agnostic so it can be used on home/work networks running Windows, Mac or Linux systems. The built in Media Server is DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) capable allowing the NAS to stream seamlessly to DNLA ready devices such as the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 or other media streamers around the house. I use mine to stream movies to my TV by mapping the shares to my htpc and then using xbmc.
Synology recently upgraded their DSM (DiskStation Manager) software to version 5.1, which is designed to feel more like an OS than typical NAS software and this is where the Synology drive really excels above and beyond the competition in my opinion. Make sure you update to the latest firmware form the control panel.
As mentioned Synology also provide mobile apps that interface with the DS213J for both the iPhone/iPod Touch and Android devices. The DS Audio iPhone app, allows music to be streamed from the NAS to your iPhone both within and outside of your home network.
DS Photo offers browsing and uploading photos and videos stored on DiskStation from your mobile devices. Best way to think of this is your own personal dropbox without limits, though the nas drive needs to be online for you to do it. DS Photo setup guide
As well as being able to operate with Linux, OS X and Windows it functions as an entertainment server through its DNLA enabled media backend and built in iTunes server. The Download station allows Bit Torrents to run on the DiskStation DS213J without any other computer being on within the network.
There are a range of available applications to launch websites and host mail servers. And a great feature is the ability to hook up a USB printer making it available across the network for everyone. Ideal in the home if you have a couple of users and saves having to hard connect to the printer and it could be tucked away somewhere out of sight! You get a complete print server that supports multifunction printers, Apple Air Print, and Google Cloud Print for sharing your printer around the home or office.
The Surveillance Station 6 is yet another very useful feature as you can setup the DS213J for use with IP cameras. For the home user these means keeping an eye on your property or even using your camera to keep an eye on your little ones.
The recently upgraded DSM 5.1 interface makes managing settings and applications on the machine much smoother and simpler and less intimidating for those with limited knowledge of networks and all the various settings. If you can navigate around Windows then the DSM 4 interface should seem quite familiar.
One of the major features of the DSM software is their cloud service, keeping all your digital devices in sync with your DS213J. All the benefits of cloud storage with the peace of mind that local security/storage brings.
My Final Thoughts
If you are looking for a very capable budget NAS then the Synology DS213J is a terrific choice for the home and soho user. It brings a welcome boost over the DS212J and strikes a perfect balance between performance and affordability. Bringing a polished operating system which is easy to get to grips with and a full compliment of mobile apps making access on the go a doddle. I found it's performance to be very close to the advertised figures achieving 85-90 MB/s Read and 55-60 MB/s write when copying large files which is more than sufficient to stream that 1080p .mkv to your htpc.
on 28 September 2013
I've had external hard drives before (2 Iomega Network Drives - Cloud Edition and a WD My Book) both used for storing and accessing photo, video and music on various TV's and pc,s around the house via my home network.
My other drives were single drives. Both Iomegas failed - one disastrously losing all data, the other I caught before total failure.
This made me re-think my storage options.
So after a lot of research I hit on Synology.
It comes without drives. So for a case alone it does sound very expensive. But really what you are paying for is the control and software side of the product. This is where it excels.
The case looks good, is quiet and is simple to open and install your hard drives (sold separately)
If you haven't had a NAS drive before it can be a bit daunting. But for a twin drive system - where the second drive is an exact copy of the first (for back-up) then its just a simple case of following the install instructions and selecting the default settings.
It takes a long - no, a REALLY long time to format the drives - many hours - but once done its straight forward to use.
There are a lot of apps you can install to make using the device better.
Media Server is the main one you MUST install if you want your TV's etc to see the drive on your network - took me a while to figure that out as all my other previous drives were found as soon as they were plugged into the network. This is it's only fault.
I fitted two 4TB drives in my system - ensure they are NAS compatible - they tend to run at the slightly slower spin speed of 5600rpm.
By default my drive now sits quietly awaiting a query from the network. It takes about 10 seconds to wake up and performs faultlessly.
I would definitely recommend this to anyone with a lot of data they want to share and protect.
I bought this NAS as I wanted something to stream music and videos without having to keep my computer switched on.
Installation is easy - open the box, insert 1-2 HDDs, close the box. And that's it! The NAS does come with some software to install, but it's straightforward. The software is very easy to use and has enough options to satisfy most users; the NAS is actually accessed via a web browser. There are some nice touches, such as iPhone apps (so that you can view media and on smartphones, etc). The Synology application website also had a good range of software (the Synology products are free, some others charge for their software applications). Items such as anti-virus, are free and definitely worth installing.
The NAS box itself is quite sturdy, has a few LEDs on the front and USB/LAN ports on the back. There is a LED to indicate power, one for each HDD, one for standby and one to indicate LAN activity. The power switch is also on the front and fan on the back. It's quiet. One of the biggest selling points (in my mind) is that it takes seconds to warm up from standby. This is really important as it means the NAS can go into standby after x minutes of no usage and then start up again very quickly. Switching on from unpowered is also quite fast (certainly much faster than my old IOmega NAS, which used to take minutes!).
I've used the NAS with 2x 3TB WD Red HDDs which are perfect for this setup. There are a number of RAID options (you can check the various options on the Synology website), which can meet all of your needs; I've gone for one which mirrors the HDDs whilst allowing for a lot of file structure flexibility. It's also possible to backup the NAS with another NAS, either on the same LAN or remotely (although I haven't set this bit up yet).
I've plugged my Synology into my broadband router (which gives it LAN and internet access). I also use it to provide the music files for a Sonos system, which works well. I also use it with an Apple Mac (Mountain Lion) and Windows PC (Win 7) with no problems. As I mentioned earlier, setup is very easy. Note that I'd recommend doing the full HDD test when you first install the HDDs as it'll help to detect any problems at the outset (there's an option in the Synology menu and it takes a few hours to run).
I couldn't rate this product higher. It's a bit more expensive than some of the alternatives, but it's worth the difference (I've used other NAS' before and the Synology box is far superior).
on 10 January 2014
I've had my Synology box for well over 2 years now, and the 1TB disk is nearly full so needs expanding (3TB, I think). Stores mostly in excess of 60,000 photos, mostly RAW as I'm a keen photographer, ripped DVDs and our entire music collection plus the usual odds'n'sods from the rest of the family. As an IT professional it works on a number of levels. Full 1Gbs, The command line is easily accessible, it has a mail server, MySQL, I run my web site off it, I run a Wordpress blog off it, and so on. Synology (the company) have excellent support, the DSM (desktop manager) is regularly updated, as are the packages. I run VMware lab on a Dell server with an iSCSI connection using jumbo frames to the NAS and it hasn't missed a beat. Get one. You'll love it!
on 19 February 2014
I have looked at numerous options for NAS drives but eventually settled on this unit with 2 x WD Red 3TB drives. The unit is quick to set up and indexes photos pretty quickly. 10,000 high res shots were done over night. Apps seem to work well. All round you won't find a better drive on the market. Pay the extra because there is nothing better than this out there....Promise!
on 16 January 2014
This product is amazing. Plugged in my internal hard drive, copied everything over (do this via windows explorer, not over the internet), now I can stream all my media via my streamer directly to my TV, 24 hours a day, without having my PC on. That's just the start of what it can do...
on 20 August 2013
Originally I had planned to build my own NAS box. After calculating the cost of such a project, and because I knew I had little experience with RAID (setting up mirroring between multiple disks to protect from data loss), I realised I ought to check out what off-the-shelf solutions were available in the same price range as a self-build.
One of my requirements was for something supporting on-disk encryption, in case of theft, etc. I was keen for something I could trust, rather than a manufacturer's own home-baked encryption. Therefore I was pleasantly surprised to find that the DS213J uses eCryptfs, a fully standard disk encryption module in Linux. Just what I wanted. It also has a processor designed to speed up the encryption algorithms it uses. Finding a suitable low-power CPU with this feature for a self-build was next to impossible. I was sold.
Hardware setup was very easy, slide two disks in, screw the case on, plug in the power cable and the network cable. Done.
Once it's on the network you can simply visit the page at [...] in your browser. The web interface is full-featured, fast and very impressive. I was expecting to have to deal with something as clunky as my router's web admin. Not at all. It mimics a desktop, and supports multi-tasking, so you can run multiple "applications" at the same time (file browser, resource monitor, log viewer, etc.). You can see a demo at [...] (note that the demo is a bit slower than the real thing is when you're on the same LAN).
Finally, for a Linux enthusiast, the device is excellent. A simple config option enables SSH login, and from there opens up a whole world of additional modifications for people who like to tinker (i.e. me). It runs quite an up-to-date version of Linux, neatly organised, and many of Synology's custom tools are even documented. (You might understand why all this is a surprise if you've ever worked much with commercial embedded Linux devices.). While on technical stuff I'll add that it also uses the ext4 filing system.
Finally, I'll list a few small negatives (for me). They are primarily things I want to do personally that I haven't got properly working yet:
- rsync over SSH (it supports the plain rsync protocol, but getting it to work over SSH has eluded me so far)
- Secure backups of the device itself (it has lots of backup options, but none of them preserve the encryption as far as I can see, I need to confirm this with a test though)
- Remote access from outside my LAN. This should be a simple case of port forwarding, but for one reason or another I haven't got it working yet (there are multiple ports to consider, and it likes to know your external IP address - but mine is dynamic).
- Email. Actually I *have* got this working now, with my own mail server. But it was harder than it should have been. It uses email a lot, for notifications, disk failure reports, disk usage reports, password resets, etc. (I love receiving these now that it's working).
I'm sure I'll figure these out over the coming weeks, and I doubt they should put anyone off.
Overall, I'm thoroughly glad I bought this instead of a self-build, it's the best money I've spent on an off-the-shelf device in a long time. Highly recommended.