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Synology DiskStation DS210+ NAS review

by Parm Mann on 24 August 2010, 09:04 4.5

Tags: DiskStation DS210+, Synology

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We've had a look at numerous four-bay and seven-bay NAS solutions in recent months, but if out-and-out storage capacity isn't a primary requirement, here's a unit that may be of interest.

Dubbed the Synology DiskStation DS210+, this £300 server was launched as the Taiwanese manufacturer's most potent two-bay solution and promises both "high performance" and "peace of mind" for SMB users.

Sounds useful, and the package became a whole lot more interesting this time last week through the launch of a new version of Synology's award-winning DiskStation firmware.

Version 3.0 beta - available as a free upgrade to the already-impressive DiskStation 2.3 - touts a "breakthrough multi-tasking web UI" that Synology reckons "has raised the bar for a NAS server user’s experience". Those lofty claims aren't too far off the mark, either, but before we turn our attention to the new-look software, let's start by examining the hardware.

Measuring 161mm x 88mm x 218mm, the DS210+ is a compact solution and it's differentiated from Synology's mid-range alternatives - the DS209 and DS210j - through a simple, no-frills matte-black finish.

Up front, a series of four status LEDs illustrate disk and network activity, and both a USB 2.0 and eSATA port are present. As with most modern NAS solutions, a one-touch copy button is provided to duplicate all content from an attached USB drive to the internal disks.

It's a simple-looking affair at the back, too.

A further two USB 2.0 ports are available, as is a single Gigabit Ethernet port, a Kensington lock slot and a connector for the bundled power adapter.

The aforementioned USB ports provide a variety of functions, including the ability to add external storage, network-attached printers, or even USB-powered speakers which - in conjunction with Synology's AudioStation software - enable music playback direct from the device.

You may have noticed that there are no external bays as such, so how do you add/remove your hard drives?

Like many Synology solutions, it isn't as straightforward as it could be, but it's a relatively pain-free process. By undoing two screws, the chassis enclosure is able to split open and reveal access to the innards.

Drive installation isn't tool-free, but Synology provides are all the required screws for installing a duo of 3.5in drives, allowing for up to 4TB of total system storage (2.5in drives are supported, but can only be secured by purchasing an optional disk holder).

JBOD, 0 and 1 make up the available RAID modes, and the DS210+ offers RAID migration (from basic to 1) as well as support for iSCSI targets.

Beneath the drive tray, Synology's mainboard houses a 1.06GHz Freescale MPC8533E processor - complete with a 256-bit AES hardware encryption engine - and 512MB of DDR2 memory.

Keeping it all cool is a single, small 70mm fan that remained quiet throughout our testing. The addition of hard disks does raise overall noise levels, but the DS210+ certainly shouldn't be an audible distraction in either a home or office environment.

Windows, Mac and Linux clients are of course all supported, and Synology's extensive feature list touts all of the usual goodies; including a DLNA media server, an iTunes server, a print server, FTP, a bevy of backup solutions - including support for Apple Time Machine - and support for all the common network protocols.

All the ingredients of a solid two-bay NAS, but it's the new DiskStation Manager 3.0 firmware that helps the DS210+ stand out from the crowd.