SYNOLOGY DiskStation DS216J
An impressive NAS with exceptional performance and a huge range of features
SYNOLOGY’S NAS DEVICES have impressed Shopper for years, with their excellent hardware and software making a winning combination. This year’s entry-level DS216J shows just why the DiskStation products are so good, shipping with a range of features that put some high-end models from other manufacturers to shame.
As with all of Synology’s products, the DS216J is a barebones model, which means you need to fit your own hard disks. Taking the side off is easy, as it’s screwless, but the internal drive bays require you to attach the disks using screws. It’s a shame that this part hasn’t been overhauled to include screwless drive bays. Still, a little bit of hassle is all you have to go through, and you’ll rarely need to gain access to your installed hard disks.
Out of the box, the DiskStation DS216J supports 3.5in hard disks, although you can buy optional adaptors if you’d prefer to fit 2.5in HDDs or SSDs instead.
Synology revamped its installation a while back. While you can use the dedicated Synology Assistant application, you can just open a web browser and go to find.synology. com or diskstation:5000. The smart web interface then takes you through installing the latest operating system (currently DSM 6) and automatically configuring your hard disk. By default, Synology chooses to use its own Synology Hybrid RAID. In the case of a system with two hard disks, this means you get half the capacity, but your data remains intact should a single disk fail.
Instead, you can choose to use RAID 0, where data is spread over two disks. This can
boost performance, but the downside is that if a single disk fails, you lose all your data. We know which option we prefer.
Once installed, the DS216J is controlled through a web browser. The interface mimics a Linux desktop operating system and is impressive. Everything is sensibly laid out, making it easy to create new users, add network shares, and manage stored files locally. Likewise, sharing USB storage or printers via the two USB3 ports on the rear of the DS216J is just as easy.
Synology’s approach also means it’s easy to add new features to the NAS via the Package Center. The obvious choices are there, including media servers (DLNA and Plex) and Download Station to automate downloading large files directly to your NAS. The choice balloons out from there, with a huge range of options, including a web server, email server and Surveillance Station, which lets you record footage from security cameras to your NAS.
Out of the list, we love Cloud Sync, which can hook up to a cloud storage service (Dropbox, Google Drive and One Drive are all supported, among others) to synchronise your files to your NAS. Alternatively, with Cloud Station, you can turn things around and use your DS216J NAS as a cloud server. Via the software client, you can synchronise files between multiple computers; in essence, you get your own Dropbox, with your NAS acting as the cloud storage. Synology has given the DS216J a processor boost over the old DS215J. There’s now a dual-core 1GHz Marvell Armada 385 88F6820 CPU, backed by 512MB of RAM. Given the lightweight operating system, this CPU makes the system fly, with a responsive web interface.
Storage performance is excellent, too. For our test we used dual Seagate Constellation ES.3 2TB drives configured for mirroring, and we connected the NAS to a Gigabit Ethernet network. Copying huge files, we saw read speeds of 109.04MB/s and write speeds of 91.48MB/s. Large file performance was just as good at 106.85MB/s for reading and 88.43MB/s for writing files. Small file performance can often cause problems, with lots of operations to perform. Happily, the DS216J didn’t let us down, with read speeds of 56.4MB/s and write speeds of 68.89MB/s. That’s considerably faster than the DS215J.
Switching to the CrystalDiskMark benchmark, we saw sequential read speeds of 117.1MB/s and write speeds of 102.7MB/s. Given that Gigabit Ethernet tops out at a maximum of 125MB/s, the DS216J is almost operating at peak speed. CrystalDiskMark’s 4K file test is tough for most devices, as it involves reading and writing small files at random. However, with read speeds of 5.05MB/s and write speeds of 17.94MB/s, the DS216J is an impressive performer.
While some of Synology’s higher-end products may support more disks or have extra features, such as on-the-fly media re-encoding, the DS216J is the perfect choice if you just want a fast and reliable NAS for data storage. With its excellent performance, great web interface and a huge range of add-ons, the DS216J is the entry-level NAS to beat.
⬆ It’s easy to add new features to the DS216J via the Package Center