Our friends at Synology sent us a budget-friendly 2-bay NAS server to test out, specifically the DiskStation DS212j. It’s a pretty handy device to have around, perfect for home or small office file sharing/storage device with two drive bays. It’s got a small footprint and barely consumes any power so it should be fine running all day long as a download server or DLNA certified media server. Along with the NAS server, we also got two WD Red 3TB NAS hard drives to test out with it.
Out of the box, the DS212j looks quite clean, clad in a white plastic shell. You can access the interior by taking off the plastic shell, which has the main innards and space for two 3.5-inch drives that can’t be hot-swapped. Inside, you’ll find a single core 1.2GHz Marvell processor, 256MB RAM, 2 USB 2.0 ports, and 1 Gigabit LAN port running on Synology’s own DSM 4 operating system. According to Synology, the drive consumes 17.6W while operating and 5.5W while in sleep mode, light enough to run constantly. It’s got a single 92mm fan to cool down the device and from our use its pretty quiet. The NAS has a couple of lights running on the front that lets you know when the device is working, if drives are connected, if it’s connected to your network, and the usual power light. All the connection hubs are located on the rear of the device, but it would have been nice for one of the USB slots to have been located in the front for easier access.
Once you’ve screwed in your drives and connected everything, there’s only a few more installation steps before you’re all set to use the NAS. Simply pop in the installation disk to install the Synology Assistant program so that you’ll be able to find and set up the NAS on the network. Once you’ve installed the latest version of DiskStation Manager, you can now access your NAS from your brower. The DiskStation Manager is a custom operating system for Synology NAS servers that are installed on each drive so you can easily access each one. Simply follow the Quick Start Wizard and you’re all set. From here you can create shared folders, create a cloud server and have access to your files over the Internet, or install a number of other packages/applications from the Package Center.
The DS212j coupled with the easy-to-use DSM 4, is great for those looking to delve into NAS without much hassle. Our NAS was connected to a couple of workstations through a router and we could easily access the files stored on the NAS from each workstation. It barely made a peep as it chugged along, we almost forgot it was there. File transfer speeds averaged at around 40MB/s directly to the disks, but slowed down quite a bit during files transfers through the USB 2.0 ports to an external disk. Our overall experience with the NAS was probably made easier with the WD Red drives that are optimized to work with NAS through custom firmware called “NASware.
Overall, the DiskStation DS212j is a great easy-to-use NAS server for beginners who want to set up their own budget friendly home or small office NAS server. Instead of having a standalone PC for storage or a media center, users can replace it with the small, low-power DS212j. It’s also great for users looking for a handy personal cloud storage that can easily be shared with your friends and loved ones. It could have been better if it had been equipped with USB 3.0 instead for faster data transfers on external storage, or the ability to hot-swap disks, but at it’s price, it’s a pretty good deal. The Synology DS212j retails for $200 (around Php 8,129) while the WD Red 3TB NAS drives retail for $200 each.
Pros: Great performance with small footprint, Easy to set up and intuitive operating system, Quiet with low energy consumption
Cons: No USB 3.0, No hot-swapping support