In the US, Synology sells the NAS with the hard disks bundled and also in a diskless version. The review unit had 2 Seagate 1 TB disks pre-installed. The disks also had the Disk Station Manager (DSM) installed, and so, it was almost pure plug and play.

The contents of the 2 x 1TB DS211+ box are as below:

  1. Synology DS-211+ chassis
  2. 2 x 1TB Seagate Barracuda 7200rpm drives inside the chassis
  3. Cat 5E Ethernet cable
  4. 72 W external power supply
  5. CD with Synology Assistant and miscellaneous software / user guides
  6. Getting Started guide
  7. Screws for hard disk installation

The DS211+ chassis is aesthetically pleasing, and the drive slots are nicely covered up by the front panel (which is also quite easy to remove). Upon removing the front panel, we can see the two hard drive chassis. The chassis can be pulled out by pressing the button at the top.

The front panel has the status LEDs, a memory card slot, USB 2.0 host port and the power buttons. At the back of the chassis, we have a large, but quiet, fan. There are 2 USB 2.0 host ports, an eSATA host, GbE port and the power adapter input.

Setup was very straightforward. In our testbed, the unit was directly connected to the computer. The Synology Assistant on the supplied CD was installed on the testbed, and it promptly detected the attached unit. Alternatively, one could have just navigated to the IP of the NAS in a browser for the setup / administration process.

The volumes can be setup in any RAID configuration. Synology provides the SHR (Synology Hybrid Raid) option which provides 1-disk redundancy. It has some advantages over the classic RAID with 1-disk redundancy as outlined here. All our benchmarks were run with the volumes managed in SHR configuration.

DSM 3.0 is a pleasure to use, and it provides a multitude of management options as shown in the gallery above. There are also options to enable Telnet / SSH into the NAS for the more adventurous users. As is evident from the gallery, many features are targeted towards the home user. These include options to enable the NAS to act as a DLNA DMA and iTunes media server. DSM 3.0 also has apps for Bit Torrent and eMule download management. There is also a surveillance station app to use the NAS as a DVR for a set of IP cameras.

Introduction System Teardown
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  • Rainman200 - Monday, February 28, 2011 - link

    I've been a long time Synology user so I'm pretty familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of the platform. All things considered you did cover most areas fairly well in the review but Synologys major weak spot is their DLNA server and iTunes service.

    The DLNA server is their own in house variant but it has languished over the past year or two and compatibility has gotten steadily worse though thats not exactly Synologys fault as the AV vendors (Sony, Panasonic, Samsung etc) produce all sorts of DLNA devices with little changes that break functionality.

    The iTunes service is the abandoned mt-daapd/firefly service which isn't really that useful at all and has been replaced by forked-daadp but Synology have not implemented it.

    I strongly recommend anyone doing network media playing use a samba capable media player.

    Lastly about Synology itself;
    * The wiki is often out of date.
    * Synology themselves rarely ever let users know whats coming down the pipeline in fixes/firmware updates until they release a beta.
    * New features are usually poorly explained to users.
    * They only release maybe one or two firmware updates in a year.
    * Their own English forum isn't that helpful (Synology employees seem to prefer to avoid posting comments in most areas) in comparison the German Synology forum is much more active.

    All that said they do produce some of the fastest samba NAS you can get with a nice GUI.
  • 7Enigma - Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - link

    Thanks for the great comment. This is why I love Anandtech so much.
  • ypsylon - Monday, February 28, 2011 - link

    Who in the right frame of mind would require such solution at home. 2 drive bays, max 2x2TB over RJ-45... Running RAID0 is pretty much out of the question, because whole point of external storage is backup/redundancy. With USB3 now and Thunderbolt just around the corner, small NAS solutions are totally bonkers. NAS is the only option for unattended backups with much more disks and data (in large networks). At home waiting for transfer (e.g.) simple movie file over Ethernet will test even most patient of man. Watching HD over Ethernet is totally out of the question. And if you intend to regularly backup large amounts of data every day, it will seriously affect work flow. USB3 (or eSATA) is the only way for home when it comes to small scale storage/backup. Transfers will reach easily 125MB/s with only 2 drives. Add another 2 disks for RAID10 or 5 and up to 200 MB is not a problem. No need for expensive RAID cards or NAS at home.
  • Visual - Monday, February 28, 2011 - link

    WTF are you on about?
    HD over Ethernet is no problem at all, what with Gbps rates now and all. Hell, HD over a 54Mbps ancient wifi is no problem at all too, as the files are compressed.
    USB3 or eSATA would only make the disks accessible by one computer, not by a home network. After that, you will still rely on Ethernet for access from the rest of your home. And you have to keep that one computer in which the disks are plugged always on, essentially turning it in a NAS box. Except a hot and noisy one in all likelihood, exactly what this solution is meant to replace.
  • jmelgaard - Monday, February 28, 2011 - link

    "because whole point of external storage is backup/redundancy"

    No... The point of Network Attached Storage is to Share Storage...
  • conejo99 - Monday, February 28, 2011 - link

    Exactly, I have a DS411j that I use as a central source for three popcorn hour media players and several PCs. I actually use my PC hard drives as a backup for the NAS.
  • dcaxax - Monday, February 28, 2011 - link

    Are you mental? Why do you talk nonsense as if you have a clue and mislead other users?

    Running RAID0 is not out of the question, though it is pretty pointless since they device will easily stream 2 1080p videos concurrently even when using 2 low power green drives over gigabit ethernet...

    USB 3 and Thunderbolt are technologies that will likely never e put onto NAS systems or any other type of server except to connect external drives to that system.

    The average home network can easily benefit from unnatended backups of user files, photos, music etc on such a small NAS and as far as lanrge networks go, they are very unlikely to use NAS but more likely to go to a SAN or some enterprise class solution.
    There is no problem at all with "workflow" or whatever you mean by that.

    At home streaming or just plain downloading any 1080p movie is fine over ethernet, especially Gigabit.

    Basically everything you say is wrong! Do us all a favor and don't talk about things you have no clue about.
  • Exelius - Monday, February 28, 2011 - link

    So performance of Synology devices is SIGNIFICANTLY better than cheap NAS solutions from a company like WD that you may be used to. Synology makes good hardware. And 125MB/s is more than adequate for home usage; it's a hell of a lot faster than the write speed of whatever computer you're copying the file to.

    HD streams don't take that much bandwidth. I can stream 720p over a cable modem. Home users often significantly overestimate their bandwidth... USB3 or Thunderbolt aren't going to improve drive speeds, which is where the real bottlenecks are. Hell, it takes a 9 spindle SATA RAID5 to saturate iSCSI over gigabit ethernet.
  • BigMik3 - Saturday, March 17, 2012 - link

    Oh my gawd I must be bonkers. I use Syno NAS at home. Store all my media on it including HD content, music, photos so that I can watch anywhere in the house via XBMC and media clients built into Panny TV/Samsung TV. Use it as centralised backup server for 3 PCs and Macs (time machine). It all works like a dream.

    Me Bonkers? Ypsylon - you need to take a look in the mirror!
  • jabber - Monday, February 28, 2011 - link

    I saw 'Security Centre' mentioned somewhere.

    Does it have encryption on the drives? I install a lot of NAS boxes for real world customers and in the real world they don't give a damn about disk or network transfer speeds.

    What they do care about is their data being encrypted within company guidlines so if the kit is stolen they don't get sued.

    So I ask again if a NAS has encryption facilities please can you cover that and also how its implemented.

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