The DS115j is Synology’s new entry level single bay NAS which is designed to take on the hugely popular WD My Cloud. Like the My Cloud it aims to be compact and quiet for living room friendly operation and provide a personal Cloud for users still sceptical about putting all their data in Dropbox, Google Drive or (perhaps most pertinently) Apple iCloud.
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The DS115j is a no frills product. It has an extremely neutral white, rectangular exterior that won’t look out of place almost anywhere and neat Synology branding which doubles as ventilation points. It won’t win any beauty contests but it also won’t draw attention or look out of place in your living room, which is the point.
Build quality is also solid, if not spectacular. The plastic chassis may not have the gravitas of the metal used by Netgear, but it matches up well to the WD My Cloud and even though the DS115j slides in half to accept a hard drive (more of later) it doesn’t feel fragile or structurally compromised.
One downside is the DS115j is big. At 224 x 166 x 71mm it is significantly larger than the 170.6 x 139.3 x 49mm My Cloud. With a 3.5-inch drive fitted it is also much heavier at 1.3Kg versus 960g. Of course neither model still takes up a great deal of room, but the My Cloud definitely has the edge in size and looks.
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This may make it 1-0 to the My Cloud, but what matters far more is what the units can do and here the DS115j has a clear advantage.
Why? Because while the My Cloud is a slick, user friendly local and Cloud-based storage option the DS115j is a fully fledged NAS. This means full access to DiskStation Manager 5.0 like all the NAS Synology makes and this browser-based operating system is not only one of the most powerful around but, for our money, the most intuitive.
DSM's OSX-inspired design is populated by a well stocked third party app store, photo and video streaming software, support for iTunes server, Google Chromecast, mail servers and even Wordpress hosting and remote camera surveillance via Synology’s Surveillance Station. There is also remote access to your NAS content via smartphone apps and integrated security, a VPN and even CRM tools.
From a hardware perspective things are more modest. Synology has equipped the DS115j with just a single core Marvell Armada 370 CPU running at 800MHz and a meagre 256MB of DDR3. That said we’ve been highly impressed with the multi-core version of Armada chipset before in the DS414 and Synology clearly has high hopes as the company quotes potential read speeds of 103MBps - a speed that would give the DS115j a significant lead on the My Cloud.
As for storage capabilities, the DS115j isn’t pulling up any trees. A single 3.5in or 2.5in drive can be fitted and it is compatible with capacities up to 6TB, but a single drive means no failsafe should the drive fail and there are just two USB 2.0 ports when USB 3.0 would have been more appealing. Needless to say there is also the obligatory Gigabit LAN.