SYNOLOGY DiskS­ta­tion DS216J

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VERDICT

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.

SLIPPED DISK

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.

RAPIDLY EXPANDING

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.

NAS PLEASE

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.

David Lud­low

⬆ It’s easy to add new fea­tures to the DS216J via the Pack­age Cen­ter

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