Synology DS213J NAS Review, detailed review of Synologys latest entry 2 Bay NAS

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Synology DS213J NAS Review

Review of Synology DS213J latest version of 2 Bay NAS for home or business

Synology DS213J 2 Bay NAS Review
Date: August 2013
Price: £159 / $199 at time of review
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Synology DS213J Review

Synology are leaders in network storage and well respected for their DSM feature rich operating system which runs on their devices. The DS213J is the latest tweak on last years DS212 a 2 Bay NAS which is aimed primarily at home and small office users and those who are looking to buy a NAS for the first time.

DS213J is designed to be an energy efficient device which allows you to manage and store your files with ease, stream media, share photos, manage downloads, manage file access, access from your phone or phablet and if configured to mirror across both drives you have backup redundancy!!

If you are not familiar with the Synology naming convention it is:
DS = Diskstation – RS = Rackstation – First Digit is number of Bays – Second numbers is year of release. + series is performance range | standard series (no digits) mix of storage and performance | j series – entry level capacity but not outstanding performance.

Synology DS213J Features:
• Floating-Point Unit Enabled CPU Favoured Multimedia Processing
• Large 512MB RAM for Multitasking
• Over 100MB/sec Reading, 70MB/sec Writing
• Wake on LAN Ready
• Cool and Quiet Chassis
• DLNA® Compliant Media Server
• Runs on Synology DiskStation Manager

Technical Specification

Manufacturer:

Synology

 

LAN Type:

10/100/1000

Max. Storage :

8 TB

 

USB Ports:

2

Cooling:

Quiet Fan

 

Connectivity:

1 x LAN (10/100/1000)
2 x USB

HDD Interface:

2 x SATA II - 3Gb/s

 

iSCSI:

Yes

HDD Form Factor:

2 x 3.5"/2.5"

 

Cooling:

Quiet Fan

CPU:

1.2 GHz

 

Noise Level:

17 dB(A)

Memory:

512MB DDR3

 

Max. Power Consumption:

19.82 W

Dimensions:

100 x 165 x 225.5 (WxHxD mm)

 

Weight:

0.91 kg

Inside the Box:
A nice plain clean box is used for the DS213J with the model sticker attached. Inside the unit is wrapped in foam and separated from the leads, guides and CD. A number of screws are included so you can keep your drives secure and two smaller ones for the case.

Box of DS213J Synology NASBox view of Synology DS213J

Unit:
A white plastic chassis comes in two parts with the front and left side sliding forward and then away from the unit. The size of the unit is 165x100x225.5mm (HxWxD) and without hard drives weighs 0.91Kg.

Front view of Synology DS213J unitRear view of Synology DS213J unit

The top of the unit is clear, the underside has 4 rubber feet and vent gaps, the front has the leds, the side of the unit has the logo vented and the rear is where the power, GB lan, usb, Kensington lock slot, reset button, and a 92mm cooling fan. Only USB 2.0 however which is a shame they are only included on higher end models.

Official front view of synology ds213Jrear official view of ds213j nas

512MB of Ram is included against last years 256MB alongside the processor upgraded to an Armada 370 which adds hardware floating-point acceleration, Both of these will help improve performance and whilst not necessary for light NAS duties the extra power will be noticeable with web access, media streaming or just helping with file server tasks The DS213J also has wake-on-LAN (WoL) so you can boot the system from a powered-off state upon receipt of a ‘magic packet’ over the network.


Installing drives:
First with the screws removed slide the two halves of the case and this will show the drive bays. All the tech is hidden underneath the drive bays and you just need to simply slide one or two SATA drives into place, and then secure with the screws.

One drive installed ds213j nas bay opentop drive only installed synology ds213j

Setting up:

With the drives installed you just need to connect it to your router or switch and then install the Disk assistant or you can run find.sinology.com to install the operating system (DSM).
You will be prompted to install the latest version of DSM which was shipped already with 4.2, the next version is in beta and will be released soon. You will be prompted to setup a username and password and guided through the setup options.
The benefit of two bays means you can either opt for one large volume capacity or  what I would always recommend a Raid 1 / Synology SHR setup which means the data on both drives is mirrored so if a drive fails you still have access to your files, and can replace the drive with the issue and it will then copy the data from the other to ensure you have a backup.

Synology DS213J with 2x 3TB drives in SHR Raid

Matched drives is normally essential for traditional RAID set-ups but with the Synology version SHR you can mix drives of different size so 500GB and a 1TB would be fine and then you could replace the 500GB at a later date. You always have to replace for a drive of equal or higher capacity. This unit can support 8TB capacity if 2 x 4TB drives were used or a total of 4GB mirrored if two were used.

The process to format and set-up the drives for use takes around 10 minutes. Some processes will continue in the background indexing and checking but this will not stop you starting to use it.

Synology DS213J Temp of two drives

The DSM software is very slick and easy to use the right hand side has information on access, system states the top has logout, information alerts, on the left you can access control panel or files, or install add-ons from the package centre.
It really does only take a short time to navigate, the first things I would suggest is setting up a shared folder, you can then begin accessing from your computer.

Later you may prefer to change the power settings if the unit does not need to be on over night, otherwise the unit will switch to low power/hibernate mode. Alongside file sharing and mirrored backup you can set-up ftp, cctv surveillance, printer sharing (plug any usb printer in and it is now available to the network) you can install download programs, photo station to display albums, audio station for you music, media server to allow for access using PS3/Xbox or via your phone or tablet.

Synology ds213j dsm


If you have a USB printer and not a wireless one you can simply connect the printer to your NAS and it will make it available across your network.
You can access the apps directly from your phone or if web access is enabled login to your NAS start downloads off remotely, run backups etc.

Backup to NAS and Remote Access:

To backup you can use disk replicator software which is supplied if you wish to set tasks to copy/sync a folder at set intervals, or use one of many programs to sync important folders to a shared folder of the nas. SyncBack is my preferred sync program for ensuring copies of important folders are copied to local disks and this also works just as easily to a NAS.
To access the NAS through the web you can either set-up the ports manually, or let the EZ-Internet wizard which will detect and attempt to make the changes for you.

Wireless Access:

This model does not come with built in wireless access, some other models do, but this is not a key feature as most devices like this will be close to a switch/router anyway and use a wired connection. You can however add a wireless Usb adapter – by simply connecting one, I used a TP-Link 300Mbps Mini Wireless N USB Adapter, once inserted you then can enter the wireless settings via DSM.

Apps:

If you have enabled DDNS and port forwarding using EZ Internet or manually you can if needed remote into your system either through a browser or you can download the Synology Apps for your phone or tablet and access Download Manager, Files, Photos, Videos and stream directly from your NAS or wake it up by sending the WOL magic packet. Access is straight forward either your local ip or DNS name and depending on your connection you can begin accessing within a few seconds.


Packages to install:

Install download manager allows you to search or schedule downloads, and is comprehensive you can limit speeds of users and specify where certain downloads should go on the nas.

The media server package and setting which folders should be available to who makes it simple to access via your X-Box, Phone or Tablet. I was able to stream over a wireless 300MB/s adapter to my phone, tablet and X-Box at the same time although this is overkill it worked quite well.

Likewise if you install the audio package you can make your music folder accessible from your devices and within a couple of seconds stream your music.

If you are a fan of the Cloud and services like Dropbox then having your own NAS with the package installed makes you have your own Cloud without the limitations of 2GB/5GB etc.

What you may prefer is to make Dropbox sync to your NAS in addition to having time machine.

Testing:

First thing to mention is if your PC is using Ethernet then transferring files will take quite a while depending on how much you need to copy across first and how regularly you plan on sync or copying large files between devices.
If you have Gigabit but connect through a Router with Ethernet ports then this will be the bottle neck and speeds will be on the slow side. If you have a Gigabit switch or a router with Gigabit then you will be able to benefit from the faster transfer rates. Transferring files over Wi-Fi would work but it would again be slow.
For these tests I used 2x 3TB Red WD Drives in an SHR setup via a Gigabit router.

Transferring files using a laptop with Ethernet connection max rate I saw was ~11MB/s
Wireless (300MB/s) gave me rates of 11MB/s
Mixture of files over Gigabit connection sat at a rate of 60-70MB/s

The unit was very quiet almost silent with just a slight hum under load, boot up from cold was under 2 minutes, waking from sleep was <10 seconds. WOL to ready was just over a minute.

The performance is great, the software is amazing and so well thought out and polished, yes on the flip side the Synology is very expensive but having use two NAS sub £100 in recent months and now the Synology I would ALWAYS choose the Synology! It seems to be quicker, and more reliable, with so many features which you might not use to start with but they are there when needed. I plan on using these in a couple of offices to either backup the fileserver or possibly replace completely, to add high end software raid product which is much less hassle and power resources against a low end HP Proliant server.

5 star essential buy for backup, storage, media server, and high end software and performance, one of those tech must haves for reliable for home users with plenty of files and ideal for the home office and small office users.