Synology DiskStation DS220+ NAS review – What real-world users say

MyBroadband recently received a shipment of Synology DiskStation DS220+ network-attached storage (NAS) units, and to put them to the test we decided to send them to MyBroadband readers to review.

We chose tech-savvy readers who were interested in putting the Synology DiskStation NAS through its paces and provide their honest feedback on the units.

This way we were able to get many different perspectives from people who used the Synology DS220+ in a variety of ways, rather than just the views of a single journalist.

The MyBroadband members sent us their reviews after a few days of using the NAS and told us what they liked and didn’t like about it.

To enquire about the Synology DiskStation DS220+ NAS, please visit the Synology website.

bwana — Artist

Included with the unit were two ethernet cables, a power supply, a two pin cable that was discarded in favour of a more traditional three pronged plug, and some screws for 2.5” drives.

If you’re using a 2.5” drive you’ll need to use the included screws, otherwise no other tools are required. With your drive clipped in or screwed onto the drive tray, slide the tray into the NAS’s drive bay until it clicks and it’s good to go.

After connecting the NAS to my network and installing DiskStation Manager (DSM) it was time to start it up and tinker. I wouldn’t have minded a wizard to guide me on my way but there are plenty of resources available online.

Now what to do with it…

After setting up the hard drive I made the snap decision that it wasn’t going to be an immediate replacement for the stack of drives I call my photo library. I only had one 4TB drive, though I will obviously be able to expand that to 2x16GB drive in the future, and that wouldn’t be nearly enough.

While perusing the Package Center I noticed Plex Server and figured, “Why not?” Turning it into a Plex machine would mean freeing up an older MacBook Pro for the family which would earn me a few brownie points.

So I installed the software and copied 2TB worth of video files from an old drive. However, when I tested a 720p HEVC video, it did not want to work even when I upgraded the RAM to 6GB.

A friendly fellow forum member explained that hardware transcoding on the NAS’s graphics card will only work if I am a Plex Pass subscriber. With the help of another friendly forum member, I got a one month trial to Plex Pass and it worked like a charm.

ld13 – IT technician

The DS220+ is a 2 bay NAS, powered by a dual core Intel Celeron J4025, boasting 2 x USB 3.0 ports, 2GB DDR4 onboard that is expandable up to 6 GB officially. Some have had limited success with installing 16GB of extra RAM.

After the initial DiskStation Manager setup, I played around with the interface a bit and was surprised by how things have improved in the pre-built computer-based NAS space since I last looked.

I managed to install Docker, opening the door to install Home Assistant down the line, and Download Station, a download manager of sorts that can download files and torrents directly on the NAS itself — so no more leaving PCs on overnight for downloads.

I then happened upon Synology’s Active Backup for Office 365. Within a matter of minutes I had the DS220+ pulling in a full backup of our whole organization’s Office 365 data. Exactly what my previous micro server NAS was used for, albeit in a much more manual fashion where each user had to manually backup their data. Now it’s being done automagically, even including emails and site data!

About 3 hours later, everything was still whirring along, quite nicely, and I was able to view and restore emails and data without issues.

What I liked:

  • Low power draw – making it easy to protect against loadshedding.
  • External power brick, making it easy to replace, if needed.
  • Standardized 12V feed, and not some ‘proprietary’ or unfamiliar voltage.
  • Ease of setup – Within about an hour the unit was up and running and already backing up our office data.
  • 2 NICs – with provision to connect via PPPOE (untested) – can simply be dropped in place at an off-site location, connected directly to a fibre ONT without the need for a router even.
  • The unit is dead silent – I was scared that it was going to be quite noisy.

What I disliked:

  • Only two drive bays — the 4 bay units suddenly seem so much more attractive!
  • Limited RAM options. The onboard 2GB RAM on the DS220+ is soldered on, while its predecessor (DS218+) had its base RAM sitting in slot. It feels wrong to be adding 4GB (or 8GB)to a 2GB RAM setup.
  • The 2-core 2.0 GHz will have its limits down the line, especially with x265 video formats becoming the norm.

What I would have done differently:

It would have been nice if they included a beefier CPU or even added a second DDR4 RAM slot. A sturdier HDD tray would also have been nice. But any of these changes would have increased the power draw and the noise factor, so I have to tip my hat to Synology’s engineering decision-makers to balance things out and make the DS220+ what it is.

Hanno – Journalist and video editor

The Synology DS220+ is an excellent option for those who don’t necessarily want to share certain documents or media files over third-party cloud platforms.

These were some of my favourite features of the DS220+:

  • Compact design lets you place it anywhere.
  • Easy access to two bays for 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch drives.
  • Two USB 3.0 ports for connecting external storage.
  • User-friendly setup, configuration, and interface.
  • Wide selection of app packages enhances use-cases.
  • Robust security options – including two-factor authentication.
  • Quick Connect feature allows for streamlined remote access via browser on mobile devices or desktops

The DS220+ is perfect for backing up and securely storing files over multiple drives using RAID1’s data redundancy capability.

It’s also ideal for content creators who have to manage and securely store loads of multimedia which needs to be accessible from different locations and moved between systems.

For example, after filming an event, you could start uploading the files from your location to your NAS, and they’ll be ready and waiting for editing when you arrive at your home workstation.

Jono – Systems Integration Analyst

With my router, the find device webpage didn’t work. However, after plugging the Synology DS220+ directly into my laptop the browser-based detection worked.

It also showed up under network devices in Windows, which if clicked goes to the management page.

After setting up the NAS, I was able to reconnect it to my router and I was then able to access it over the network.

My aim was to test the performance of the NAS. The following screenshots show the results of my throughput tests, IO wait, read speed, and write speed.

These tests were all conducted by copying from two hard drives and one solid-state drive simultaneously, with the NAS connected using both its network ports.

Copy speed — 200MB/s combined peak

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IO Wait

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Disk transfer rate / read speed — 112MB/s

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Combined write speed — almost 190MB/s

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Jan — Investigative Journalist

Going into this review, I didn’t have much experience with specialised NAS products. All I was planning to do was take two hard drives out of my gaming PC and test how quickly I could copy to and from the NAS.

When I got dropped into the Synology NAS operating system, DiskStation Manager (DSM), for the first time I realised that my imagination was severely limited. There were many more interesting features to test.

Initial setup, Dynamic DNS and Let’s Encrypt

Initial setup is dead easy. Installation of 3.5″ drives is tool-less. The drive bracket has a catch that you push to release and pull to free from the enclosure. The drive is held snugly in place with rubber feet, and further secured using a plastic strip with three plastic pins that clips into place on the side of the bracket.

When I first booted up the NAS, I was caught off-guard by the fact that I needed to format the drives I wanted to use, though in hindsight it was silly to assume otherwise. It’s great that you are warned very clearly that your drives need to be wiped before they can be used.

During the initial configuration, I set the Security Advisor to warn me as if I am using the NAS for work and business use. Aside from helping me make sure I didn’t miss a basic security option, it also inadvertently took me on a tour of the full gamut of settings in the DSM Control Panel — from setting the HTTP and HTTPS ports, to setting up TLS with Let’s Encrypt for DSM.

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Copying to the NAS over the network

To see what speeds I could get on file transfers I ran a few different tests, starting with copying from another computer on the network. Specifically, this was from a Windows box to the NAS over Gigabit Ethernet.

Speeds peaked at over 100MB/s — and that’s not just according to the Windows copy dialog, but also DSM and the stats from my MikroTiK router.

Copying files back from the NAS to my PC was just as fast. I saw peak transfer rates of 109MB/s.

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Copying to NAS over USB 3.x port

Attaching the mechanical drive I used in the above test to the NAS’s USB port using a USB 3.0 to SATA6G converter was faster than copying over the network. Transfer speeds peaked at over 150MB/s.

The drive comes up as a list of partitions called usbshare1-n, where n is a partition number. Interestingly, the drive I attached had a Windows system partition (it would have been usbshare1-3), but it didn’t show up in DSM.

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What I liked

  • Tool-less installation of 3.5-inch drives
  • DSM is a pleasure to use
  • Setting up dynamic DNS and TLS with Let’s Encrypt was dead easy.
  • Transfer speeds for large files were excellent — over 800Mbps to and from the NAS.
  • The Security Advisor. It let me quickly familiarise myself with the security features of the NAS and provided a handy checklist to make sure I didn’t miss any of the basics.

What I’d want to know before buying a Synology DS220+

  1. NAS’s are not docking stations! Drives you install must be formatted before you can use them. You are clearly warned about this before DSM initialises — this is just something I, as a NAS neophyte, would want to know so that I know I might need to buy new drives with my NAS.
  2. The Synology DS220+ power brick accepts a standard kettle plug. It comes with a Schuko plug, but that isn’t a big deal since I could use any power cable I had lying around the house.

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Synology DiskStation DS220+ NAS review – What real-world users say