Synology NAS DS120j - a layman's review

Supervan II

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Have you ever lost a best friend? You know, the one that you can count on time and time again?

Well, I have. And that best friend's name was Windows HomeGroup: it was easy to set up and allowed you to share files between all PCs on your home network.

As you well know HomeGroup is no more and it is a mission to achieve the same effect with the same ease using Windows 10.

My (small) home network consists of the following:
2 x PCs;
2 x cellphones on Wi-fi;
1 x Laptop;
A media player connected to the TV in the TV room;

This required a number of hard drives, both internal- and external, for storage and to store backups on.

How else can one share files between devices on your network, stream media, backup data and generally save having numerous hard drives either permanently connected to your PC or lying around waiting for the day that you need them (invariably getting damaged in the process)?

Enter the Synology range of NAS, specifically the DS120j that I received courtesy of MyBroadBand. Whether you are using Windows, MAC, Linux, ioS or Android they have a package ready-made for you.

Being totally ignorant of this type of device it came as quite a shock to open it up and find a very lightweight, compact and smart-looking white box that looks awfully similar to a slightly larger case for an external hard drive, save for the ports that are available on the back: 1 x Ethernet and 2 x USB. It comes complete with all the necessary cabling and its own 12V power supply. Included is a little pamphlet that calls itself “Quick Installation Guide”.

I briefly read through its contents and it explains clearly how to fit a hard drive to this device and, seemingly, little else – until you see: “Visit our Download Center for useful utilities and guides!”

So I immediately take out my Seagate Barracuda 2TB HDD (model ST2000DL003) and fit it to the single available bay and hook it up to my router.

I open my browser (Chrome) and punch in https://www.synology.com › support › download and select <Product Type> and <Model>

The first option available is the Download Operating System, which I did. Next category is Desktop Utilities: a host of utilities are available for download, but I'm impatient and want to get this going, so I only choose the bare essentials (Synology Assistant and Synology Drive Client).

Once you install Synology Assistant, the Assistant will automatically detect your NAS device and install the operating system.

Shock/Horror – it wants to delete the data off my hard drive! (As I could not find a NAS HDD readily available after calling a few local computer stores, I decided to remove and sort the data on this HDD and use it to assess and review the NAS device.)

After clearing my 2TB HDD I ran Synology Assistant again and installed the operating system (DSM 6.4.2). Thereafter I moved the data I wanted to be easily accessible plus all backup files to the NAS.

Now that that part is sorted and the NAS is up and running I can explore this device properly! The only difficult part is: Where do I begin?

The DS120j has 2 x USB 2.0 ports (for connecting a printer or external HDD, for example) and a Keystone Security key;

There are many packages and options available:
From Media Players & Servers, an Anti-Virus to various Backup Systems.
It can be used as a media station or a Backup Station or as a VPN Server – all available at the click of a button in Synology Assistant's Package Manager (the possibilities are endless!)

The DS120j is quiet – only the blue “ON” LED and green status LEDs (flickering when being accessed) is the only indication of its existence. And it is FAST! (capable of 1GB/s if your network allows it).

PROS:
Easy, quick installation;
Easy to use;
A myriad of packages to choose from;
Neat, quiet and unobtrusive;
Fast;

CONS:
1 x HDD bay;
HDD not included;
Only USB 2.0 (this model)
Only 1 x LAN port (this model)

In hindsight, perhaps I would have been better off if I had opted to wait for a dedicated NAS-HDD rather than taking the non-NAS-HDD route but I am certainly looking at getting one with a higher capacity than the 2TB that I have.

While the DS120j is a perfect fit for first-time NAS-users (like me) I would recommend getting a 2-bay NAS (with 2 matching NAS-HDDs), for data security.

Suffice to say that I have my best friend back! Thanks to Synology and MyBB.
 
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