Synology DiskStation review – I wish I had got a NAS sooner

When Synology sent through a DiskStation DS220+ to the office for a review, I begged the editor to let me take it home.

I consider myself an amateur techie, yet I had never set up a NAS unit before.

The more pressing reason for me wanting to take on the review, however, was that I had two real-world problems to solve.

I live with my partner and I needed an easy way for her to access the media she wanted on any device, at any time.

I was also getting annoyed with myself for downloading content to my media PC in the lounge – which is an old laptop – and then having to delete it when I ran out of storage space.

Fortunately, the DS220+ ticked both these boxes.

Setting up the NAS

Setting up the NAS was easy, thanks to the short and simple installation guide which started with three bullet points printed on the outside of the box.

It tells you to first visit the Synology website and check which hard drives are compatible with the DS220+.

Synology’s website advises users to purchase an enterprise or NAS hard drive or SSD, to ensure optimal performance, and provides a long list of compatible drives with their model numbers.

I played it safe and stuck to the approved list of drives – selecting a 1TB Seagate IronWolf 3.5-inch HDD, which I purchased from Takealot for R1,199.

The HDD arrived the next day, and it was opened along with the Synology box when I got home.

Inside the Synology box was the DS220+ along with a range of cables – including power and network.

Alongside this sat the installation guide, which was short and very helpful (the perfect combination).

It shows you how to open the front of the NAS and install your hard drive, and then guides you through connecting the unit to your home router.

As it was the first time both the DS220+ and Seagate HDD were being used, there were several terms of service windows I had to click “accept” on along with approving the installation of the DiskStation OS and formatting of the hard drive.

Invoking the “amateur” part of my amateur techie title, I selected the quick installation options and left the default file system settings in place – bar the custom NAS unit name, password, and shared folders which you are required to create.

I then ran a hard drive and security check.

Shared folders

The first task was to make the 1TB of new storage space available to my media PC and other devices in the house.

For both Windows and Mac, this is very simple and the “Help” section in the Synology browser interface for your NAS is useful here.

For my media PC and my gaming PC – a Windows 10 laptop and Windows 10 desktop, respectively – I went to File Explorer, This PC, and then selected the Map Network Drive option.

You then enter the name of your NAS unit, along with the name of the shared folder on it which you would like the PC to access.

Access is granted after you enter your NAS username and password, and you can use the shared folders on the NAS as you would a folder on your PC’s native hard drive or SSD.

What’s great here is that once you have entered your NAS credentials, you can add more NAS folders without having to go through the authentication process again.

For Mac, the process is similar – except you initially enter the IP address of the NAS as the starting point.

After setting this up, I was running 1TB of shared storage which could be accessed by all PCs in the house – and immediately started transferring my media files to it.

Media server

The second task was creating a quick and easy way for my partner to access media content.

We have a Samsung TV in the lounge which runs a native Netflix app, and connected to this TV via HDMI is our “media PC”.

It is an old Lenovo laptop which I salvaged from work, which runs a 256GB SSD a Nvidia MX graphics, and sits in our TV unit.

Despite it being placed on a laptop stand with four built-in fans, I do not leave it running 24/7 – as this will likely result in its death.

This creates problems, as when there is nothing good to watch on Netflix my partner wants to use the media PC.

I have to stop what I am doing, go to the lounge, turn on the laptop and the fan stand, switch the TV to HDMI, and unlock the PC’s user account which is password protected.

My partner is also not a fan of using a keyboard and mouse on the couch – and will often complain about how “we have so much junk lying around” when I have the pair on the coffee table.

The help menu in the NAS dashboard provided a solution here, and suggested I try the Synology Media Server package.

After installing the package, default photo, music, and video folders are created on the NAS. The media files in these folders are then available to watch on “DMA devices”.

The help menu stated that DLNA/UPnP and DMA devices include the likes of smart TVs which are connected to the local network which the NAS is running on.

On top of this, the Media Server menu has an option which allows you to see DMA devices which are available on your network – with our Samsung TV listed.

Accessing the series on the TV was then easy.

Using the TV remote (no more keyboard and mouse) you select “Source” as you would if switching between HDMI channels, and the NAS is present in the menu.

It has a Synology icon and the name of your NAS, and you hit enter to access the files.

I ran several videos in .avi format and they worked perfectly – and my partner was happy with the process of how to access the content.

More exploring ahead

The steps above took about three hours in total to execute, and there is a lot more I will be exploring with the NAS.

Plex is available, which I want to test, and I am also keen to try out automatic file backups to the NAS from local PCs.

The DS220+ is also a 2-bay NAS, and the available slot is begging for another hard drive to be put in.

Time to start saving for that 16TB unit.

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Synology DiskStation review – I wish I had got a NAS sooner