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.
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.
'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…