Synology is one of the rapidly rising players in the SMB (Small to Medium Businesses) / SOHO (Small Office & Home Office) NAS market. This market is a highly competitive one with many players like QNAP, Thecus, Netgear, Drobo, LaCie, Seagate and Western Digital. Consumers with a necessity to store and backup their home media collection are also amongst the customers in this market.

Synology has a sensible model number nomenclature in which the last two digits refer to the year through which the model is intended for sale. The first set of digits refer to the maximum number of bays supported. Some models have a + at the end, signifying higher performance. Today, we have the DS211+ for review. The DS refers to the product category, Disk Station. 2 indicates a 2 bay model, and the 11 indicates a 2011 model. It is supposed to have a higher performance compared to the DS211 which was released in November 2010.

 

 

The purpose of any NAS is to serve as a centralized repository for data while also having some sort of redundancy built in. The redundancy helps in data recovery, in case of media failure of any other unforeseen circumstances. Along with the standard RAID levels, some companies also offer custom redundancy solutions. The OS on the NAS also varies across vendors.

In addition to manual support for the standard RAID configurations, Synology also provides the SHR (Synology Hybrid Raid) option. The OS on the DS211+ is the Disk Station Manager 3.0 (DSM), a Linux variant. Most of its features for day-to-day operations can be accessed over a web browser.

The last SMB NAS that we reviewed was the LaCie 5big Storage Server, a 5 bay model running Windows Storage Server 2008. We introduced our new NAS benchmarking methodology in that review. In addition to repeating the methodology on the DS211+, we also checked up a little bit on the Linux performance. Before we get to that, however, let us devote a couple of sections to the hardware and software that make up the DS211+.

Unboxing and Setup Impressions
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  • mino - Monday, February 28, 2011 - link

    Power consumption aside, the value of an off-the-shelf NAS is in the software stack.

    Had any of us enthusiasts started to bill ourselves for the time spend setiing up a DYI box the price comparison would start looking VERY different ...
    Reply
  • bobbozzo - Tuesday, March 01, 2011 - link

    True, but it doesn't take that long to install FreeNAS or OpenFiler. Reply
  • KLC - Monday, February 28, 2011 - link

    I don't understand why these NAS boxes are so expensive. A year ago I bought an Acer home server that had an Atom cpu, 4 hot swappable drive bays, the WHS OS and one 1 tb drive for $350. Reply
  • Jambe - Monday, February 28, 2011 - link

    I'd love to see more NAS reviews like this, particularly in the $2-500, 2-drive arena where there are so many competing products! Reply
  • Hrel - Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - link

    I started looking into and either you have to pay obscene amounts of money or you have to suffer through 10MBPS max transfer speeds with glitchy software... based on newegg user feedback. I couldn't find a decent system with good reviews for 300 or less. I want 2 2TB hard drives in RAID 1; 300 is the most that's worth.

    Since no one is offering a system like that I'm just turning an old P4 system into a NAS using FreeNAS, a PCI RAID card and two 2TB WD Hard Drives, total cost... 220.
    Reply
  • caragon80 - Wednesday, October 26, 2011 - link

    I am considering buying a NAS Server for my home and I need your advice and some recommendations please. I prefer a NAS setup for several reasons, namely:

    1. I like the RAID concept. It affords the best data protection option in the event of hard drive failure.

    2.I need a lot of storage space since I will be making a lot of HD quality videos (I make short movies as a hobby).

    3.I need media server functionality in order to stream my music and video files to my TV and other devices throughout the house.

    4. I would like to have my own personal cloud setup, one that will allow me to access my data from anywhere in the world via a browser.

    5. I also need a reliable storage option that is capable of doing automated back-ups.

    I am sure there are other important functions that a NAS can be used for, but these are the ones that are most important to me. With this said, I would love to hear your thoughts on the following technical considerations:

    1. Will a 2-Bay setup suffice or should I consider 4-bays so I can have a RAID5 setup instead?

    2. What is the difference between a RAID1 and a RAID5?

    3. In a 2-Bay setup I was thinking of buying two 2TB drives for a total of 4TB in RAID0 or 2TB in RAID1. What do you think about this setup?

    4. What processor speed should I be considering for the NAS? 800hz? 1Ghz? 1.6Ghz dual core?

    5. How about system memory? I noticed the NAS Servers in the market can vary greatly in this regard. Some have as little as 128MB and go up to 1GB. How much do I really need?

    6. What brands should I be considering? From what I have read Synology and QNAP make the best NAS Servers and have the best user friendly software. What brands do you recommend and what models within those brands do you think would be most appropriate for my home given what I have stated above?

    Any feedback and/or recommendations you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
    Reply
  • Blimundus - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    Home use NAS reviews always make me *want* to add a NAS to my own setup. I have never really felt the *need* for a NAS. Although I have several computers, only the main Ubuntu desktop is used on a daily basis, and there is automatic backup to an external harddisk.

    In other words, if I would buy a NAS, I would not care much for capacity or performance, I just want to play with the possibilities it offers. That is why I am thinking of getting an entry level system: the single bay DS111. (There does not seem to be a DS112 model?)

    I can see that a dual bay system would have certain advantages (capacity, redundancy). Those advantages are not very important to me.

    I am hesitant about buying a single bay system for another reason: upgrade flexibility. If I ever replace the hard disk, or if I move to another system, will I have difficulties doing so if I have a single bay system? Or will I be able to do this by moving the data (temporarily) to another external hard disk, or even by linking up the old (single bay) NAS with the new (single or multi bay) NAS?
    Reply
  • flight553 - Tuesday, July 31, 2012 - link

    Since Sept 2011 when NAS manufacturers started switching to the updated version of AppleTalk, and how this has annecdotally affected people running OSX10.7 Lion or higher, AFP protocol seems to be faster than SMB now. For me, a share through AFP was twice as fast as the same one via SMB. Reply

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