Create your own powerful cloud or a no-fuss and full-featured file server with the Synology DiskStation DS216j.
If you use Dropbox or Google Drive you are already familiar with cloud storage. They are networks of servers connected together to provide centralized data storage and access to various services and resources. Among all kinds of clouds, the two basic categories of the cloud are public and private. Private cloud is what Synology DiskStation does best thanks to great software and services.
The network-attached storage (NAS) device based cloud, acts as a central secure location where you can backup or store and access your files. Connect to with using media players, gaming consoles and smart TVs. As opposed to desktops and laptops, the NAS device can execute tasks in a secure and efficient way using a custom OS.
Founded in 2000, Synology strives to re-define what a network-attached storage (NAS) can achieve, and to bring versatility to the way data is managed with the help of a great digital experience. They merge the accessibility of public cloud with the security which private cloud possesses to form a hybrid cloud solution with a web-based platform.
Thanks to the great team at Synology we received a DiskStation DS216j to test and give our honest opinion about what it can do and how well it does it. In this review, we will look at the build quality, the installation process, the software and how it performs when up and running.
The DiskStation uses a simple capsule design with an all-white enclosure. Nothing edgy here, opting for an understated design that serves its purpose. On the front, you see a vertical gray cutout that houses the power button and indicator lights. Both sides of the case have the Synology logo cutouts that allow for ventilation. Moving on to the back we see a huge fan for cooling and connection ports for the LAN, USBs, and power as well as a Kensington lock.
The case sits on black rubber feet that help it reduce any type of vibration from the HDDs and ultimately reduce noise. In order to open the case, you need to unscrew the two screws on the back making this type of setup a permanent one as there is no hot swapping possible. All the edges are beveled or rounded making this case look very modern. You could say it looks like a tiny PC sitting next to a monitor or a TV and that’s a good thing because it blends in with your home setup.
Using the device is done through the Synology DiskStation Manager (DSM), a browser-based operating system which makes managing your Synology NAS a breeze. Offering plenty of RAID configurations and a maximum internal volume number of 256 means you have a lot of flexibility on how you use your DiskStation. The local user accounts can go up to 1024 while the number of shared folders can be as large as 256. You can concurrently transfer 128 files while downloading 30 concurrent files with this machine. These are just a fraction of the great features that the DSM can offer for your DiskStation DS216j.
You get a lot of great hardware inside this little case minus the actual storage which you have to buy and install. Inside there’s a 32Bit Marvell Armada Dual Core processor running at 1.0 GHz with a Hardware Encryption Engine paired with 512 MB DDR3 memory. You can mount twoSATAa 3.5 or 2.5 drives for a maximum internal raw capacity of 20TB. In terms of external connectivity, you get two USB 3.0 ports which are standard these days on any device.
Keeping everything cool is done with the massive 92mm fan that has three modes: cool, quiet and low power. Working with it is the British Thermal Unit which pushes 50.63 BTU/hr when the HDD is in use and 23.71 BTU/hr when the HDD is in hibernation. The case has a compact size of 165 mm x 100 mm x 225.5 mm and a total weight of 0.88 kg.
Synology is a mature company and this shows in their packaging design. In order to make the product stand out, they went with a simple cardboard box with little branding and printed information. For better graphics, they opted for stickers with product images and detailed information that are compact. There are some general features printed on the side of the box itself in black ink and the model number and company logo on the front and top. This is a clean look that gives the product a more serious note
An interesting decision is the added black handle like you get on a laptop box which makes it easier to carry. The case itself is light enough but with the installed HDDs you need a safe grip on the box. Inside we find a power cable with a converter (like the ones for your laptop), an ethernet cable, some screws and accessories, the quick start guide and the main unit. Overall this is a clean look that gives the product a more serious note while providing all the information you need about the device inside.
You can never have enough storage let alone precious cloud storage. When we read what the Synology DiskStation DS216j can do we were very curious to see how it compares to our existing solution, a Western Digital EX2 cloud drive. Synology offers a more custom solution where you can choose the storage brand and capacity according to your liking.
Knowing this we order ourselves a pair of WD Red 4TB NAS HDDs to mount in the Synology case. As soon as they arrived we were ready to start the setup. We opened the case and mounted the two hard drives in the two slots, securing them with the provided screws.
After you power on the device, you then need to access Synology’s browser interface to start the setup which is fast getting you up and running in no time. In order to use it you open a browser window and from there you can start creating folders and syncing files with a transfer size limit of 2GB. You can transfer larger files by using Finder on your mac which is really what you’ll be using most on your home setup or even activate an FTP connection. We tested the transfer speeds and everything was running smooth and fast on both methods of connection. On our WD EX2 cloud storage, we seem to be getting all sort of corrupt files and that really turned us down from the device. With Synology, we haven’t seen any issues so far so that’s a big plus for us. We need a reliable cloud solution that will not only keep our files safe, back them up but also we need to make sure the files are usable at any time and corrupt files will be a thing of the past.
The browser interface is similar to an OS which makes it easy to use with proprietary apps and a control panel. This really is a simple solution for home users who can set it up and use. While on, the fan runs on the low levels of noise and when it goes to sleep you can’t hear it at all.
With that being said we recommend the Synology DiskStation DS216j to everybody who likes a more custom NAS solution that is upgradeable and reliable. Again, with close to two decades of experience, Synology know what their consumer needs. Set it up and let it do its thing which is giving you a great cloud storage solution with ease of use thanks to a great user interface. No need to pay for monthly subscriptions to use certain cloud services, instead own your own cloud. You can also even set it up to work with certain services such as DropBox or Amazon S3.
If you like to know more about the DiskStation DS216j and the rest of their lineup check out their website and their entire product line.