Review: Synology DS220+ DiskStation

Devo1

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My fellow forumites.

I am summoned here today to share my experience and review the AWESOME Synology DS220+ NAS Diskstation device.

Recently, MyBroadband were looking for forumites who would be keen to review the Synology DS120J and DS220+ NAS devices (https://mybroadband.co.za/forum/thr...rs-needed-you-get-to-keep-the-device.1131965/). After the review, you can keep the device! How awesome is that?


I jumped at the opportunity and started my begging journey to be one of the lucky forumites to review the device. Why may you ask? Because currently, me and the rest of the family must still run between computers and Media Players to copy content to a USB stick or external hard drive to go view the media in one of the other rooms. Cellular backups consist of running a cable from the cellphone to the PC once or twice a month.


The day came, and I was chosen to review the Synology DS220+ DiskStation.


Before we get into the business end of things, I would just like to make it clear that I do not work in the IT industry but have been tinkering with IT related stuff for a few years. However, this will be my first time doing a review, and my first time using a device with this kind of capabilities.


Synology DS220+ Specifications (From Synology Website)

Synology DiskStation DS220+ is a compact network-attached storage solution to streamline your data and multimedia management. The DS220+ is a 2-bay desktop NAS designed for fast data sharing and management. It newly features dual 1GbE LAN ports to support network failover, and with Link Aggregation enabled, DS220+ provides over 225 MB/s sequential read and 192 MB/s sequential write1 throughput.


CPU : Intel Celeron J4025 2-core 2.0 GHz, burst up to 2.9 GHz

Memory : 2 GB DDR4 onboard (expandable up to 6 GB)

Compatible drive type : 2 x 3.5" or 2.5" SATA HDD/SSD (drives not included)

External port : 2 x USB 3.0 port

LAN : 2 x Gigabit (RJ-45)

Wake on LAN/WAN : Yes

Scheduled power on/off : Yes

AC input power voltage : 100 V to 240 V AC


My Home Setup for testing

  • Hisense 55” 4K UHD Smart TV (55A6500UW)
  • Xiaomi Mi Box S
  • 2x Desktop PC’s
  • 1x Laptop
  • Various Cellphones

  • Herotel True Uncapped Fibre (75Mbps Symmetrical)
My end goal is to be able to ‘connect’ all these devices to the NAS for accessing and storing data (videos, pictures, files etc.), automatic backups from cellphones, streaming, storing surveillance footage from my cameras and so forth.


Unboxing

There is not much to elaborate on regarding unboxing. The pictures will have to do most of the talking here. Please excuse the quality of my pictures. Not very proficient in the art of photo taking, but at least I tried!


The NAS arrived neatly packaged in a sturdy brown Synology branded box fit for the purpose.

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Included in the box:
  • The Synology DS220+ DiskStation
  • Mounting Screws (for 2.5” Hard Drives)
  • Power Adapter
  • Power Cord
  • 2x RJ45 Cables
  • Quick Start Guide
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The device itself is beautifully crafted in a sleek black plastic design. On the front you will find the power button with indicator, indicator lights (status, LAN1, LAN2, Disk1 and Disk2). It also sports 1x USB 3 port as well as a USB one touch quick copy button.

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At the back you will see the system fan, 2x 1GbE RJ-45 ports, 1x USB3 port, the power port, a Kensington security slot as well as the reset button/hole.



Hardware Installation

As previously mentioned, the DS220+ is a dual bay NAS meaning it has room for two hard drives. You can choose to only install one HDD, or if you install two HDD’s, the HDD’s can be used individually, or you can set them up in RAID.

RAID 1 setup means that data is written simultaneously to both hard drives. The drives are essentially mirror images of each other, so if one drive fails, the other one can take over.

RAID 0 setup combines the two HDD’s, meaning that the two drives will appear to be one larger volume.


I had 2x 500Gb SATA hard drives (regular pc drives) which I decided to install for testing purposes.

  • Synology recommends you use hard drives specifically made for NAS devices like the WD Red drives or the Seagate Iron Wolf NAS hard drives

The front cover on the DS220+ simply ‘pops’ off to unveil and give you access to the drive bays. The drive bays have these nifty little pull/push trays that you simply pull out to mount the drives.

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Once you remove the trays, all you must do is remove the locking clips on each side of the drive trays. Slot in your HDD and replace the locking clips to secure the HDD in the drive bays. DONE!

*If you are using 2.5” HDDs, you must use the screws to secure the hard drives to the drive bays.


Next, slide your HDD loaded drive trays back into their slots until they click in place.


First Power – Up and Initial Software Setup

Now that the hard drives are installed, I connected the DS220+ to my router via a RJ45 cable that was supplied. I only used LAN1 as I am not going to be using both 1GbE ethernet ports (you can use both ethernet ports (aggregated together) to provide enhanced resiliency against port and/or cable failures if you prefer).

NB: For initial setup, the DS220+ must be plugged into the same network (domain) as the device (pc or laptop) you are using to do the initial setup.

Next up, I connected the power cord to the DS220+ (ensure the power is turned off at the outlet).

After connecting the cord, I simply flipped the switch at the outlet and press the power button the DS220+.


And guess what…………. It is alive!

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Now that we are on the go, next up was to ‘find’ the DS220+ on my network using the web assistant. Synology made this very easy:

Link: http://find.synology.com


I simply entered the URL above in my browser (on my laptop which is connected to the same network). The assistant automatically searched for any NAS devices connected to my local area network.

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After the assistant found my NAS device (showing the model number, IP address, Serial Number etc.), I clicked on “Connect” and started the process.

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I read and accepted the Synology End User License Agreement and continued to the “Set Up” page.

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Devo1

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Click Set Up, and the assistant starts to install DSM (Disk Station Manager). Please note that I got a message that ALL the data on the hard drives I installed will be removed.

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The assistant installed DSM on my drives and restarted the device.

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After the restart I was taken to a page to create an Administrator Account for my NAS. This will be used to manage my DS220+

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Next up was the Setup of QuickConnect. QuickConnect will allow me to access my NAS remotely via a web browser from anywhere (work, while on holiday etc.) without having to use port forwarding. I will test this function later in my review.

I created my Synology Account and assigned the NAS a QuickConnect ID.

The QuickConnect ID is what you will use remotely to access the NAS.

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And I was set! Initial Setup complete, and into the DSM I go.

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First thing I did once in the DSM was to create a Volume from my installed hard drives to store files, video, and images on. Go to the control panel, storage manager and click on “Volume” to open the volume creation wizard. Choose your required volume size, which drive/s to use for the volume and a file system type. Volume creation done.

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Next up, Shared Folder Creation. This folder is where I will save files, images, videos etc. that will be accessible from all my devices in my home network (smart tv, cellphones), and outside of my network through QuickConnect.

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When my shared folder was created, I imported an image as well as a video file for testing purposes which I will test later in my review.


Impression so far


  • Hardware installation was a breeze.
  • Installation of the DSM through the assistant is very easy.
  • Volume creation and Shared Folder creation was also very easy.
  • The DS220+ DSM interface speed is not too bad.
  • The device itself is very quiet. I can hardly hear the fan.

To follow:

QuickConnect Test

DS File Installation and Test (Cellular)

Media Server Installation and Test

Video Station Installation and Test

Synology Surveillance Station Installation and test



And then my conclusion!
 
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Devo1

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Devo1

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QuickConnect

Earlier in my review I already created a Synology account and created a QuickConnect ID.

QuickConnect will allow me to access my NAS DSM interface remotely from anywhere I want.

Remember to set the permissions for QuickConnect in the DSM control panel to allow QuickConnect to access DSM, File Sharing and the Mobile Applications like DS File, DS Cam etc.

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To use QuickConnect (from a different network than the one my DS220+ is on), I simply opened a web browser and navigated to the URL below:

http://quickconnect.to

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I entered my QuickConnect ID, my NAS username and password.

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And I was greeted by my DSM Interface while being far away from home where my NAS is located.

All the DSM functions are available as if you are connected to your home network (if all the permissions are set). I was able to view my shared folded content as well as upload new content, download more applications from the Package Centre and so much more.


Another handy function I am using on my DS220+ using QuickConnect, is the ability to share a file that is stored on your NAS to friends or family.

Enable the HTTPS connection by going to Control Panel, and then under network.

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Once done, I went to my File Station, search for the file, image or video to share(I used a image), right click and click on Share at the bottom. A link was generate and I simply sent this link to my brother to test the function. He simply pasted the link in his browser, and he was able to view/download the picture.

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Love this function!
 

Devo1

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Synology Surveillance Station Installation and test

Next up for me was to check out Surveillance Station on my DS220+

In my DSM, I navigated to the Package Centre and downloaded and installed Surveillance Station.

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Once installed, I opened the application and navigated to Add Camera. Here I simply used my POE cameras IP address to detect the camera on my network and completed the setup.

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Once the camera is added I clicked on the view/play button and there she was. I was able to Live view my camera remotely, start and stop recordings, take screenshots, set motion detection push notifications etc.

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I do not have a PTZ camera, but all the controls are available in the live view section to operate a PTZ camera.

Recordings are saved on my DS220+ in the file station under the folder “Surveillance”.

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I also downloaded the DS Cam mobile application where I can view my camera on my cell phone. You can download this from the Google App Store / IOS Store on your mobile device. Go check it out!


There are many more advanced features available like encryption and smart video analysis, but I will not be setting these up just yet.

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  • Please note that Surveillance Station only allow you to add 2 cameras for free. If you want to add more cameras you have to purchase a license for each camera. I am unsure of the cost per license
 

Devo1

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Video Station Installation and Test

Video Station 'manages' your movies and tv series you have stored on your NAS. It can stream these videos and series to devices (from anywhere) like smart TV’s, smartphones, computers and even media players like my Xiaomi Mi Box S.

After installing Video Station from the Package Centre, there were obviously no movies or series available in the application.

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I had to create indexed folders to get content directly from folders with movies or series in my file station on the NAS.

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I added a video to my shared folder (video) in the file station to test the application.

The application added my series that was in the folder, and automatically downloaded meta data like series posters, series description and episode information.

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I simply clicked on the episode and it almost started playing immediately. In the settings tab in the bottom right corner, I was able to set the playback quality, select subtitles and even cast the episode to my smart tv, Xiaomi Mi Box or Xbox One S.

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Furthermore, you can add user account restrictions to restrict access to certain libraries for certain users, and the application even have built in parental control capabilities.

This was only a basic test to see how the application works, and I will at a later stage add all my series and movies to my NAS.

What I liked the most

Adding movies and series is very easy.
Indexing and categorizing of videos is hassle free.
Meta data is automatically downloaded by the application.
You can publicly share your videos to friends via a link (they need Video Station).
I can stream my videos to all my DLNA/UPnP-compliant devices.


Next Up: Media Server Testing
 

Devo1

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Sooooo, yesterday I get an email notification while at work that one of my drives (drive 2) is in a critical state. Heaps of I/O errors due to bad sectors.

As you know I installed 2x used 500GB hard drives I had for testing purposes in the beginning of the review. I suspect the one drive was not in a good condition to begin with, hence the failure.

Anyway, after I receive the notification my wife phones me to tell me the “thing you installed in the living room” is sounding like an ECG machine. Beep, beep, beep.

I remotely shut down the NAS and count the hours before I can lock up and go home. When I got home, turned on the DS220+ and logged into the DSM. The beeping started again, and I navigated to the resource manager to inspect the issue at hand.

Drive 2(which was critical earlier) crashed. Gone with the wind. Took his last breath and went to HDD heaven.

With drive 2 fried and removed, the NAS kept on beeping, due to the storage pool I created when I installed the drives in the beginning being degraded due to the drive failure.

In the beginning I set up the 2x drives using Synology’s SHR (Synology Hybrid Raid) management system. So, what this means is that one of the drives was used for redundancy, and now that drive 2 is gone the NAS is still beeping because both drives was used for the one storage pool for fault tolerance (if that makes sense?) so the storage pool is still degraded and at risk.

If the remaining drive also fails, al the data saved in the storage pool will be lost.

So, I took one of my 1TB hard drives and installed that into drive bay 2 on the NAS. Luckily, with the SHR management system I can use two drives of different capacities.

I turned on the DS220+ and once again the beeping continued. The storage pool was still degraded because the newly added drive 2 was not initialized and had to be set up with drive 1 to repair the degraded storage pool and rebuild the redundancy of the storage pool.

I first went to check the health info of the new drive I installed in the storage manager. The drive seemed perfect, and I headed over to the Storage Pool tab. I clicked on action at the top and selected “repair” to start the repair process of the degraded storage pool.

The system asked me to choose the new disk to use in the repair process. I selected the disk I just installed and was once again reminded that all the data on the new drive will be erased. I proceeded and the system started the repair process (re-synchronizing). It was at this stage that the beeping of the DS220+ stopped

  • I must mention that you can manually turn of the beeping if you please.

This whole process took about 1 hour because I do not have a lot of data in the storage pool. After completion the DS220+ rebooted and everything was back to normal. No data was lost, drive 1 is healthy, drive 2 is healthy and the storage pool is healthy.

Unfortunately I did not take pictures when the failed drive was still in the NAS, or of the degraded storage pool.

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Devo1

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Synology Media Server

As I found out earlier with my review of the Synology Video Station application, I can play media that is on my NAS via Video Station to all my DLNA/UPnP-compliant devices.

But this requires me to play from a device that has Video Station installed.

Que: Synology Media Server

With the installation of Synology Media Server, I was able to transform my DS220+ into a multimedia server on my local area network. This enables all my DLNA/UPnP compliant digital media adapters, like my Hisense Smart TV I mentioned, my Xiaomi Mi Box S and my Xbox One S to access, browse and play the multimedia content on my DS220+ from the photo, music, and video shared folders in the file station.

I simply downloaded Media Server, customized my browsing settings, set my DMA menu style and settings and enabled audio and video conversion.

Audio and video conversion enables me to play files with the selected formats even if it is not supported by my DMA devices (Smart TV, Xiaomi Mi Box S, Xbox One S).

I also had the option to integrate my Video Station database into Media Server.

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After I saved my settings, I grabbed my Smart TVs remote and tapped on the “Input” button, and there she was, my DS220+. I went in and was greeted by my shared photo, video and music folders which is on my NAS. I opened the video folder and was able to start playing a video without any hassles.

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Next, I moved to the bedroom where the Xiaomi Mi Box S is located. Fired it up and opened VLC Media Player. In the left-hand tab, scroll down to browsing, open the Local Network tab, and once again, there she was, my DS220+. I was once again greeted by the same folders I saw on the Smart TV in the living room and tested the video in the video folder. Again, it started playing almost immediately without any hiccups.

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I know most people will prefer using PLEX which is far more powerful and advanced and has the same functions and so much more than Synology Media Server, but for me, who have never used PLEX before (will be sure to check it out in the future now that I almost have a NAS), Media Server ticks all the right boxes to fulfil my current needs.
 

Devo1

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Conclusion

That’s it for now fellow forumites.

I had a blast so far testing a device that I have only heard of before. My understanding of how a NAS (network attached storage) works is growing every single time I explore more and more of the functions that this powerful device has to offer.

In my review I highlighted some of the most basic functions of the Synology DS220+ DiskStation. There are far more advanced features packed into the device that people in the IT industry will also utilize like VPN connection setups, advanced folder encryption, secure key management, static IP addresses and port forwarding, cloud sync backup solutions and advanced RAID setup solutions to just name a few.

I will, with some time, familiarize myself with more and more of the functions and applications the Synology DS220+ DiskStation have to offer.

What I liked / pros:

  • Easy hardware and software installation
  • Some of the mobile applications is very useful.
  • Excellent Software. The DSM interface is user friendly and perfectly categorized.
  • Runs very cool and silent (except for when a drive fails, lol).
  • Video and Audio Transcoding gets a big thumbs up from me.
  • DLNA/UPnP compliant.
  • Automated raid management system (SHR) is easy to use when you do not have RAID knowledge.
  • The 2GB memory can be upgraded using the extra memory slot if needed.
  • Wake on Lan is a handy function if you do not want to run your NAS 24/7.
  • Push Notifications to alert you on security breaches or system failures.
  • 2 Bay for the win! No more losing precious photos, files, and media.
  • I find it very easy to access the NAS from anywhere using QuickConnect.
  • Sharing of media via a link to my friends and family.


What I did not like / cons:

Wow, this is a difficult one, as I like almost everything about this DS220+
  • Surveillance Station: you can only add 2 cameras for free.
  • The Schuko plug I had to physically pound into my power socket I had available.
  • Too many mobile applications you need to download, each with only one or two functions. One mobile application (similar to the DSM interface) would be awesome.
  • Some of the mobile applications timed-out when trying to log in (only happened once or twice, especially with DS File).

Thank you for reading. Any positive / negative feedback would be welcome on my first review.

I thank you.

Devo1
 
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