Synol­ogy DiskS­ta­tion 216+

A smart NAS drive that bends – but doesn’t break – the bank

Mac Format - - APPLE CHOICE - Re­viewed by NICK PEERS

£273 FROM Synol­ogy, synol­ fea­tures Celeron N3050 1.6GHz pro­ces­sor, 1GB RAM, 2x SATA II/III HD bays (max 16TB)

The Synol­ogy DiskS­ta­tion range is aimed at peo­ple look­ing for a net­work hard drive that does more than pro­vide a con­ve­nient place for ev­ery­one to back up their files to. You do have to fac­tor in the cost of sup­ply­ing your own hard drives, but in re­turn you get a NAS that’s more of a mini com­puter than a sim­ple hard drive.

Synol­ogy’s rather large range is split into four, and the DS216+ sits at the bot­tom of its sec­ond tier, the Plus Se­ries. It’s aimed at de­mand­ing home users and small of­fices, with a price tag to match. The drive it­self is black, rounded and sleek, and made from tough­ened plas­tic. A soli­tary front-mounted USB 3.0 port is joined by a power but­ton and handy ‘C’ but­ton for one-click copy­ing from any at­tached drive. Around the back there are two ad­di­tional USB 2.0 ports and a sin­gle eSATA port for at­tach­ing ad­di­tional drives and other sup­ported pe­riph­er­als, such as print­ers and se­cu­rity cam­eras. The clev­erly de­signed plas­tic front plate pulls away for you to slide out the plas­tic drive en­clo­sures. It’s sim­ple – just like the set-up process.

The DS216+ uses Synol­ogy’s DiskS­ta­tion Man­ager (DSM) soft­ware, which works in a sim­i­lar way to a Win­dows PC’s desk­top, with short­cut icons, a Con­trol Panel for ba­sic ad­min­is­tra­tion and a Pack­age Man­ager for ex­tend­ing the drive’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Here you’ll find over 70 pack­ages cov­er­ing a range of server and on­line uses. DSM 6.0 has just been re­leased, and be­cause it’s used across the en­tire Synol­ogy range, you can be con­fi­dent that it’ll be well sup­ported and de­vel­oped for a long time to come.

The premium you pay is money well spent: the dual-core In­tel Celeron CPU and 1GB RAM out­class all of the cheaper drives we re­viewed back in MF294’ s group test. You have a choice of Ap­ple File Pro­to­col (AFP), NFS and SMB con­nec­tions, but you’ll want to re­strict AFP to Time Ma­chine use only, as Quick­Bench bench­marks re­veal far su­pe­rior SMB per­for­mance. When con­nected via SMB, Quick­Bench recorded 54MB/s and 45MB/s for stan­dard read/write trans­fers (com­pared to just 23 and 21MB/s over AFP), plus con­sis­tent read/write speeds of 106MB/s and 109MB/s in the large and ex­tended tests.

Plex Me­dia stress test

We like to stress test NAS drives by in­stalling Plex Me­dia Server, and while the DS216+ was un­der­stand­ably less re­spon­sive than our quad-core Mac mini me­dia server, it’s a def­i­nite step up from bud­get drives, ca­pa­ble of transcod­ing HD streams as well as be­ing nippy and re­spon­sive when ac­cess­ing me­dia.

The drive hum is no­tice­able, and it’s a shame the rear USB ports aren’t USB 3.0. The flash­ing LED lights can be dis­tract­ing too, but you can eas­ily rec­tify this via the Con­trol Panel. The price tag feels a lit­tle steep given the Zyxel NSA520 of­fers 1GB RAM and a dual-core pro­ces­sor for around half the price, but the In­tel Celeron CPU is a def­i­nite step up.

Ul­ti­mately, the DS216+ has found a niche: it may be pricey, but it’s smart, ag­ile and pow­er­ful enough to ful­fil your net­work stor­age and server needs for years to come.

The Synol­ogy DiskS­ta­tion DS216+ is proof that some­times you re­ally do get what you pay for – in a good way.

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