The Synology DiskStation DS211 is a NAS (Network Attached Storage) unit that packs a 1.2GHz CPU along with 128MB of DDR2 RAM, and can hold two 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch SATA HDDs. It supports a maximum internal capacity of 6TB. Sure, you won’t be playing Rage with those specs, but that’s not what it’s for.
It has three USB ports for external HDDs to connect to and supports EXT-3 and EXT-4 file systems (internally and externally) as well as FAT and NTFS (only externally). RAID 0 and RAID 1 are supported. There’s an Ethernet port on the back to hook it up to your network. All of this fits into a compact 161 x 88 x 218mm package and weighs a mere 980g (excluding the HDDs, of course).
It’s DLNA certified and supports a list of media formats longer than an 8-car Gautrain.
Setup takes some time due to the fact that you have to fiddle with some hardware before you even start with the softer side of things.
First on the list of things to do is to install some hard drives in the NAS. The DS211 can take two 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch drives, though the former requires some extra parts that aren’t included in the box.
Installing the drives involves opening up the unit and screwing them in place. It’s not exactly rocket science, but you do need to make sure they’re properly fixed. Once you’re done, close the unit up and fix the enclosure in place with a couple of screws. You can now hook it up to power and your network, and switch it on.
Synology includes a CD in the box that contains the software required for managing the DS211. Installing it in Windows is a simple case of following the prompts, while the Ubuntu installation required some Linux-fu.
The assistant itself is simple to use: fire it up and it automatically looks for connected devices. Sometimes it takes a bit for the NAS to respond, which means you may have to click “Search”, but if the NAS is ready, it responds quickly.
Once a device has been found, you can select it and click “Connect”. This then launches a browser page where you can login to the management page (more on this later) where you can create a “Volume” and set up shared folders. All-in-all, doing so was easy and required very few clicks, but it did take some time for the initial format to complete.
From the browser-based UI you can control anything that you need to, from simple file uploads via the file browser, to more administrative tasks like creating users and shared folders, to more advanced functions.
It follows the familiar desktop style, but obviously has limited functionality. Using this type of UI is good because it’s familiar, but in use it feels like there’s a lot of wasted real-estate. Synology could probably have achieved the same kind of functionality that the current browser UI offers with a simpler UI.
As it is, doing the usual things you’d want to do with a NAS device (filling it up with data/music/movies etc, that is) is quick and painless. Go to where you want to put the files, select what you want to transfer, and go make yourself a cup of coffee while you wait for it to finish.
Day-to-day use, mainly as a media storage unit, was a pleasure. Storing media on the DS211 as well as retrieving it was easy to do and there were hardly ever issues. “Hardly ever” because there were infrequent occasions where files wouldn’t transfer properly and needed to be transferred again.
Connecting external drives for sharing over the network was also a simple matter of plugging them in and browsing to the relevant directory (something like usbshare1).
Overall, it did what it was supposed to and it did it fairly well.
When all is said and done, the question that needs answering: is this a NAS device that’s worth considering? The short answer is yes.
The DS211 does what it says it does with very few (if any) complications.
It’s priced at around R2,170 (inc. VAT, but excluding any HDDs), which may seem slightly pricey at first glance, but it’s actually quite competitive when considering all that you’re getting.
If you’re looking for a decent NAS unit, the DS211 is a worthy contender.