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Synology DiskStation DS211j review

Gordon Kelly

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  • Recommended by TR

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  • DiskStation DS211J Network Storage Server (1.20 GHz - USB, RJ-45 Network)

Summary

Our Score:

9

Pros

  • Dynamically Expansive RAID
  • Easy to use
  • Excellent value

Cons

  • Uninspiring design
  • Budget build quality

Key Features

  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • Synology Hybrid RAID
  • Synology DiskStation Manager
  • 3TB HDD Support
  • Android & iPhone App Support
  • Bittorrent, Usenet & iTunes Native Clients
  • Manufacturer: Synology
  • Review Price: £153.99

According to recent stats 35 per cent of users have never backed up their computer and of those that do the majority backup less than once per year. The most elegant solution is network attached storage, but cost and complexity mean it has yet to scale down to mainstream consumers. This could be about to change…

The Synology DiskStation DS211j is the baby brother to the excellent Synology DiskStation DS411j and it brings with it two significant changes: a reduced form factor supporting two hard drives not four and a 40 per cent price drop. The knock on effect is the DS211j, at just 161x88x218mm and 1Kg (excl. drives), is more convenient to store and its RRP will turn heads.

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One look at its spec sheet should firm up that interest. The DS211j packs the same horsepower (1.2GHz Marvell Kirwood CPU, 128MB DDR2 RAM) as the larger DS411j along with support for JBOD, RAID 0 and RAID 1 arrays plus iSCSI support. It also matches up with one front and two rear USB ports which can be used to add further storage, backup specific content to thumb drives or share a printer across a network. These ports support some WiFi dongles so you can ditch the cables.

For those who do wish to cable up the DS211j supports the now mandatory Gigabit Ethernet and should appeal to multimedia fans being DLNA and UPnP compliant. iTunes Server is built in too along with 'Audio Station' for streaming Internet radio stations or iPod playback (with optional USB speakers) and 'Download Station' functions as a BitTorrent, FTP, HTTP, eMule and NZB (Usenet) download client without needing a PC.

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'DiskStation Manager' meanwhile deals with those all important backups allowing scheduled daily, weekly or monthly PC backups and it is compatible with Apple Time Machine. The provided Synology Data Replicator 3 software can be set to backup specific desktop data from all computers on the network including Outlook emails. Finally iOS and Android device owners enjoy a plethora of apps including 'DS audio', 'DS file', 'DS photo' and 'DS finder' for accessing your NAS content. 'DS cam' even allows for remote monitoring of a compatible IP camera connected to the network. A full list of all natively compatible third party peripherals can be found here.

By any account this all combines to create a feature set which would embarrass far more expensive NAS devices and Synology has clearly remembered the DS211j will appeal to advanced users on a budget, not just mainstream consumers. Happily those without a great deal of technical knowledge won't be intimidated either…

PoisonJam

September 7, 2011, 5:11 pm

I'm very new to the world of NAS and I'm undecided between this and the QNAP TS-212.

Can I:

Just map folders on the NAS as network drives on my PC?

Access files from work - FTP?

Stream lossless music to a Logitech Squeezebox Duet?

Thanks

Bugblatter

September 7, 2011, 11:42 pm

I have the DS410, which is slightly different hardware but with mostly the same functionality.

Yes you can map folders as network drives; works very well.

You can also map them using iSCSI if the mood takes you; Windows then sees it as an internal drive (fewer restrictions on how you can use it within Windows but you can't then share it between PCs).

Yes it can do FTP, and also provides a handy web interface for an even easier way to download files.

I've tried streaming to my Squeezebox Boom by installing Squeezebox Server on the 410. It's very easy to install but there are big issues. Firstly Synology says it's recommended to use one of their products with at least 256MB RAM (the 211j has half that). Secondly it's very slow and buggy as hell, which I think is Logitech's fault rather than Synology's. I find it fairly unusable and have gone back to connecting to the Logitech server.

I wish Squeezeboxes could access DLNA servers; the DiskStations work very well for that (I access media files from my PS3).

Greg17b

September 8, 2011, 3:44 am

This is my first home NAS - the software upgrade finally makes it workable for the casual user.

This is another opportunity to comment on the site though chaps. The content on Trusted Reviews, certainly relative to elsewhere for the UK, is great. However the new website is terrible. Not just buggy or poorly laid out - terrible.

I used to come to TR first for my tech news and reviews. Now I will only come here if I haven't found what I want elsewhere, and I'm looking for a last attempt at some coverage.

The editorial is good, the reviews good (albeit basic) and the journalism good, if a little hasty sometimes. However the presentation of the new site is just so poor that your writers must feel like their efforts are literally being passed to the chip shop that's frying next door right now.

Please sort it out - there are lots here that want it to continue to be a success (and therefore bother to feed back).

Tony Walker

September 8, 2011, 6:10 am

Straightforward yes to the first two.

The Squeezebox question is interesting. I have a Netgear ReadyNAS Duo with a low spec processor like this box and found that Squeezebox Server was too slow on it. I currently run it on a netbook with an Atom CPU. If you must run it off the NAS then I would look at one of the Atom powered ones with 1GB RAM - file transfer speeds are significantly faster off these too.

Guest

September 8, 2011, 9:01 pm

What Greg said!! I nearly lose the will to live just trying to login in order to make a comment (and to have to login every time you visit the site - WHY?!? ARRGGHHH!!!)

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see that the new site has totally destroyed the community and enjoyable banter that used to be present in the comments. But, it was all said during the beta phase of the site - and it has proven to be the case, so I am sure this will fall on deaf ears too!

Williamn

September 8, 2011, 11:48 pm

Can I use this to store video content on, then watch it on my TV?

Bugblatter

September 9, 2011, 4:27 am

Yes it would be good if they discovered cookies.

Also it takes about a day for my comments to be approved, and some never are. That's no way to promote lively discussion, and there seem to be far fewer comments than on the old site.

Even if you're trying to avoid spam, by now my comments should be auto-approved. I was wondering yesterday why I bothered writing my detailed reply when it takes so long to appear, if it ever does.

Keithe6e

September 9, 2011, 3:59 pm

Depends on your TV, a lot of modern TV's now have the ability to stream over the network. If your TV can't then you might even have a Games console you could use to do the streaming. There are even cheap devices you can connect that will do the job, there are numerous ways you can Stream Video content to your TV, and it really depends on what sort of flexibility you want. Eg, I use XBMC running on an Acer Aspire Revo, that gives me lots of flexibility.

btw. aka website, I'm not too bothered about the new look and feel, but having to log in every time really does need sorting out.

David Gilbert

September 9, 2011, 4:11 pm

@all Regarding the comments about the commenting system on the website, we are aware of a couple of issues with this and are attempting to rectify them as soon as possible. We realise that logging in every time you want to make a comment is not condusive to lively debate but we have increased the length of time you should be logged in to your account and are working to further improve this.

scotw

September 11, 2011, 10:41 pm

I have another model of the Synology range, which uses the same software. I can recommend them, not the cheapest NAS you will ever get, but very full featured. Add to that the fact that its a Linux server underneath, that they have a good community around them and you have a very flexible device.

Sadly, I second the comments about the new website design.

Jon Williamson

September 12, 2011, 12:18 pm

I have the previous version - the DS210j, and felt I ought to comment on the Logitech Squeezebox Server question. I have been running SBS v7.5.1 without a hitch on my NAS for over a year. It is slightly slow - but that is only really an issue when using the web interface, rather than the Squeezeboxes themselves or the iPhone interface.

I did have some issues getting it running intially, and ended up using an approach called SSODS rather than the provided package. The current version supported is 7.6.1, which probably has addressed the issue and is much faster, but I am reluctant to take the plunge because I am happy with the way things are running!

There are many other approaches to running SBS which are faster than using a NAS, but none as far as I can tell which offer the combination of low power usage and additional NAS functionality ...

PoisonJam

September 13, 2011, 11:16 pm

Thanks Bugblatter, I didn't realise Squeezeboxes weren't DLNA compatible. When you say you went back to connecting to the Logitech server what do you mean? Where were your files accessed from? The NAS still?

You'll probably never see this reply as TR don't email alert us when new comments are made...

PoisonJam

September 13, 2011, 11:21 pm

An even bigger problem is that the site doesn't email us to let us know there have been replies to our comments or other responses (this should be opt-in). That's killing engagement. I won't remember all the posts I've made and in which articles and once the article disappears of the main page it's long forgotten.

Bugblatter

September 14, 2011, 2:04 am

Luckily I left the tab open...although you may never see my reply... ;op

By going back to the Logitech server I mean that I'm not able to access my local files any longer. I can access radio stations, Napster etc. but about the only way I can play my own music is using this: www.mp3tunes.com

An alternative is building a fully-fledged file server, which can be Windows or Linux based. Here's a very useful article about it, including recommended components: http://www.anandtech.com/show/4666/file-server-builders-guide/1

You could put the normal full version of Squeezebox Server on the file server. I used to run the Windows version and didn't have the problems I've had running it on the DiskStation.

Bugblatter

September 14, 2011, 2:26 am

Yes I had a look at using SSODS but didn't go ahead because I just didn't have the time or the patience to find out how to do it. It looked pretty complicated to me, although you'll know more about that than I do.

Installing the Squeezebox Server package on the Disk Station is extremely simple; if only it worked properly!

Bugblatter

September 17, 2011, 5:11 pm

Quick update. I've installed the latest DiskStation sotware and the latest Squeezebox package (not using SSODS) which is based on 7.6.1.

So far I've not hit any issues and it seems fast too.

SweKiwi

April 9, 2014, 10:27 am

Is this still a good NAS?

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