Synology DS212 Review

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Synology is a brand that is well known for their Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices. Having a NAS device allows one to store data on a relatively smaller device as compared to a server. Advantages of NAS devices are that they are relatively cheaper and easier to setup. Synology recently launched a two bay NAS device, the DS212. Synology, uses DS as an abbreviated form for Disk Station and the device is based on the model, which the brand launched last year, the DS211. This product is designed for homes or those have small business.

Memory card reader and USB port on the front

Memory card reader and USB port on the front

 

Design and Build Quality
The DS212 has an all black design and is made with a combination of plastic and metal. There is a cover that conceals the two bays on the front that has a glossy finish. The rest of the NAS device has a matte finish. The chassis on the inside, which houses the drives is made of metal and the trays slide in easily. Even though they get slotted in place without any difficulty, the drives are locked in with screws, ensuring that the drives do not slide out. 

On the front are two buttons which are a reset and a power button. Other than this on the face of the DS212 are LED indicators for status, LAN, drives, a memory card slot and a USB port. The rear features a 92mm fan that occupies most of the area. Below the fan are two USB 3.0 ports, an Ethernet port, Kensington lock and a power connector. Branding is located on either sides of the device and the overall build quality of it appears to be quite sturdy.

Features
Hardware and Software
The Synology DS212 features a 1.6GHz processor, along with a DDR3 256MB RAM. The device can support hard disk drives that are of the 3.5-inch or even the 2.5-inch type. One can use up to 6TB of storage, which can be up to a maximum of 3TB per hard disk drive. Hot swappable hard drives are supported. The DS212, like most other NAS devices, is based on the Linux operating system. All major file systems are supported - FAT, NTFS, EXT3 and EXT4. There’s no native support for HFS though. NAS devices from Synology come with a bundle of apps and services. The software CD that was bundled up with the DS212 is the Synology DSM 3.2 that is loaded with a bunch of applications. Here is a look at some of the key features.

The setup process

The setup process

 

Installation
The installation process was very simple. All instructions are onscreen making the setup process easy to understand. The setup of Synology DSM 3.2 took approximately 10 minutes to complete the five steps. After the installation procedure, one can set user accounts or user groups. Permissions as well as privileges can be set for users. These permissions include the ability to read, write or the ability to do both on the drive. Setting up users need not necessarily be done at the start and can be done at later times as well.

Web Interface
The DS212 uses a web interface for accessing modules. This is done through the DSM 3.2, where one can put in the IP address and then login to to the DiskStation. An administrator can access the control panel and various other features, which other users may not be privileged to. The online interface is pretty vast and one can access a ton of different settings through the device’s control panel.

The control panel is broadly divided into four categories, which are file sharing and privileges, network services, system settings and application settings. In these settings, one can set the desired options for the drive such as LDAP, application privileges, settings for users and user groups, FTP, web services, DDNS, firewall settings, router configuration, auto block, power settings, DSM update, etc.

Various settings can be tweaked in the control panel

Various settings can be tweaked in the control panel

 

There is a drop down menu on the home screen, which has a bunch of pre-installed applications. One of these apps include a package centre, which has a range of applications where one can download and install software. These include Directory Server, Mail Station, Time Backup, VPN, WordPress, etc. Once installed, these applications can be dragged and dropped on to the home screen. A neat feature of the software is that it has support for a web server, MySQL, PHP and WebDAV. The interface of the Download Station is similar to the popular torrent downloading website, uTorrent. One can search and download Bittorrent files from within the Download Station itself.

File Sharing
The networking protocols used on it, include - CIFS, AFP, NFS, FTP, WebDAV, iSCSI, Telnet, SSH and SNMP. When it comes to security, the DiskStation features FTP over SSL/TLS, IP Auto-Block, Firewall and Encrypted Network Backup over Rsync and HTTPS connection. Raid 0 and Raid 1 are supported on this device.

Download Station
One can download content on to the DS212 through the supported download protocols such as BT, HTTP, FTP, NZB and eMule. You can also control the bandwidth allocated to downloads, which is a pretty useful feature.

Ability to access the NAS through an iPhone or Android smartphone

Ability to access the NAS through an iPhone or Android smartphone

 

Photo Station
A feature found along with the software of DiskStation Manager 3.2 is Photo Station. One can save pictures on the device and allow users with permissions to view or access it. It supports popular image formats such as BMP, JPG and GIF. Apart from that it supports a range of RAW formats as well.

Audio Station
One can access various audio formats from the NAS through the Audio Station. The list of audio formats supported is pretty impressive. The formats supported through the USB mode are AAC, FLAC, M4A, MP3, and VBR. Apart from supporting audio through the USB, the NAS can also stream audio formats such as MP3, M4A and M4B. A neat feature about the DS212 is that it can stream Internet radio such as SHOUTcast and radioIO. The DiskStation can act as an iTunes server allowing one to access videos, music, pictures, etc. on different iOS devices. Apart from these features, the device also features a surveillance station, print server, mail server, etc.

USB 3.0 ports at the back

USB 3.0 ports at the back

 

Media Server
All media, that has been stored on the hard drive can be viewed via the web interface. Like other NAS devices in the market, this one has an in-built encoder, allowing one to view multimedia content such as images, audio and video through the web or a Wi-Fi connection. The brand also has different apps for Android and iOS devices, so one can stream content from the NAS itself. This reduces the need to store a lot of data on the phone or tablet. Apart from this, media content can also be accessed on televisions and gaming consoles such as a PS3 or an Xbox 360.

Performance
To start off with the performance, the DS212 took around a minute to start and then it was good to go after that. We could easily access the drive without any difficulty. We tested it using a wired connection and we recorded an upload speed of 11.5 MB/s and download speeds of 11.47 MB/s. These transfers were done with a 2GB folder and compared to the QNAP TS-459 Pro, the DS212 fared a lot better. Apart from the speeds, this device is pretty silent as well, which is one of the highlighted features. While streaming media on an iPhone, the start up time was a little slow, however after the initial delay at the start media playback was flawless and there was no lag. Streaming 720p videos worked great as well.

Has an all black finish

Has an all black finish

 

Verdict
The Synology DS212 is available in India at a market operating price of Rs.28,000. When it comes down to the design, build quality and features, this NAS device offers quite a lot of options. The performance of it is quite good as well with it giving similar read and write speeds. Keeping in mind the cost and the amount of storage capabilities it offers, this device is suitable for a small office or a home.


Published Date: Dec 01, 2011 12:17 pm | Updated Date: Dec 01, 2011 12:17 pm