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Synology DS212j review

Verdict

Fine performance and a seemingly never-ending array of talents combine with a superb interface.

Review Date: 10 May 2012

Reviewed By: Sasha Muller

Price when reviewed: £133 (£160 inc VAT)

Buy it now for: £320
(see more store prices)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Performance
5 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

Slottting in at the bottom of Synology’s two-bay range of NAS devices, the humble DS212j cuts back on connectivity. There’s no sign of USB 3, eSATA or hot-swappable drive bays. Instead, Synology delivers a high-performance NAS device at minimal cost.

With the diskless DS212j costing £160 inc VAT, you might wonder where all that cash is going – the plastic body gives little evidence of its cost. There are only two USB 2 ports, and a screwdriver is needed for drive installation.

That isn’t tricky, however, and the rest of the installation is straightforward too. The Synology has a major advantage over its competitors in the shape of its DiskStation Manager (DSM) web interface. Synology has dispensed with the traditional menus – instead, the browser window is filled with something more akin to a Windows 7 desktop. Icons on the desktop give rapid access to major features, and a search box makes it easy to find features and help documentation. It’s a multitasking UI, so multiple items can be open at once, and shortcuts for frequently used features added to the desktop.

Synology DS212j - three-quarters

The DSM applications are highly refined. The File Manager provides all the features you’d expect from Windows Explorer, but is also capable of unpacking or creating zip files or mounting ISO files as a virtual drive. Access the Synology’s DSM UI remotely, however, and the File Manager also makes uploading and downloading files easy. Drag files onto the File Manager window and they’re automatically added to the upload queue. There’s also secure HTTPS access.

The Android and iOS apps work well. DS Audio makes it 
easy to sift through a large music collection, and supports Apple’s AirPlay for beaming music to compatible devices. It also transcodes more esoteric file formats – such as OGG, FLAC and APE – to a format the target device can understand. The downside is that the DS212j’s modest CPU is only capable of transcoding to WAV, rather than MP3 like pricier Synology models, so remote streaming requires an ADSL connection with at least a 1.5Mbits/sec upload speed.

Synology DS212j - DSM 3.0 interface

Performance is otherwise excellent. With two 1TB Seagate drives mirrored in a RAID1 array, large-file reads from the DS212j hit an impressive 84MB/sec, and writing them reached 49.4MB/sec. Small-file performance was good, too, with 6.2MB/sec reads and 10.3MB/sec writes.

However, we found that we occasionally had to delve into our router’s port-forwarding menus 
to get things working remotely. Compared with some of its rivals, this Synology kit can require a little more fiddling to get it working smoothly.

Novices might appreciate a slightly simpler setup routine, but the Synology has all-round class – it’s fast, feature-packed and blessed with the best interface of any NAS on the market. And with an imminent DSM4 update on its way, promising a whole host of new cloud storage features, the DS212j is only going to improve.

Author: Sasha Muller

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User comments

Great Buy, Great Capabilities, Ease of Use & Stability

I purchased one of these about 6 weeks ago and installed a single WD Green 2Tb drive, transferred my iTunes media, all my photos and videos, which were held on my laptop, and 2 external HDD's

Now with iTunes server and Logitech Media Server running on the Synology NAS, I have great media streaming capabilities to my home machines, media players and Squeezeboxes. Although, due to the specifications of the NAS you will hit limits on streaming if you're trying to stream to more than 2 or 3 devices at a time, but fir me that's not an issue

The Diskstation Manager OS is excellent to use, and people will find themselves up and running with little issue

My external HDD's are now also connected to the Synology and in about a months time a 2nd WD Green 2Tb drive will be installed to give me some redundancy and machine backups from two home machines will be backed up to the Synology and further copied to the external HDD's

The unit runs very quietly and cool and sits in a concealed built-in cabinet, along with my router and the external HDD's, for a neat and hidden install

The NAS has been rock solid stable without once needing a reboot, the only reason for upgrading would be for a larger capacity NAS (4 drive bays) and a greater spec, if my media increases sufficiently and I look to stream +2 HD films concurrently

An excellent buy, with great capabilities, ease of use and stability

By wib1970 on 10 May 2012

Have had Synology kit for the last 3 or 4 years, including the 212j that I have at the moment. Excellent kit. And the built in VPN server is a godsend.

By mark_brewster on 10 May 2012

This is a fantastic device, bought one a few months ago and I've been very impressed. It is well built, reliable and quiet with two drives installed (Samsung and WD), the web interface is superb and I haven't explored half the options nor upgraded to the latest DSM (v4 which is being raved about on other sites. Setting up the hybrid RAID is simplicity itself.

By isofa on 10 May 2012

I have had an earlier model, the DS210j for about 2 years now running 2 matched 2Tb drives in Synology's own mirroring configuration.

It's worked flawlessly, sitting silently before me, lights flickering occasionally. I use it solely for backup through my network though I've played with many features to see how they work. However, I only need it for backup.

Almost everything about it is a no-brainer, even the updates to its OS, so I can recommend it to anyone.

It locked up once because of some router changes I'd made in the house (me experimenting again...) but a reboot of the machine picked up cleanly. It doesn't take long. Even installing a new OS doesn't take that long, with the actual download being the biggest part of it.
Get one.

By mdrees on 10 May 2012

DSM 4.0

I've had an earlier diskstation (DS210J) for a while and it's a joy. Great thing about Synology is your device isn't obsolete when they produce next year's product. Upgraded to DSM 4.0 a while ago, so despite article saying it's 'on it's way' - it's been out there a while!

By mellis147 on 11 May 2012

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