I seem to have had a minor technology meltdown recently. First, it was my MacBook Pro which seemed to die on it’s proverbial backside, thankfully AppleCare came to the rescue on that score. Then, my NAS decided to head off to that great electronic skip in the clouds. So the search was on - which device was going to replace it?
I was caught in two minds here. Ive been a great fan of Drobo’s products since I first used one seven or so years ago. Yet every time I listen to a podcast, I seem to be hearing that Synology has become the new master. I thought I’d give them a try ans see what they had to offer, so I acquired the Synology DS214se 6TB (2 x 3TB WD Red) DiskStation 2 Bay Desktop NAS and boy, was I pleased about it.
The first thing that hits you is the size. At 22.6cm high, it was a good 2 inches smaller than my previous Buffalo NAS. Then, when it was plugged in for the first time, I braced myself for the coming noise of the fan at the back starting up alongside the drives….no. Not this time. Whilst not being silent, it was far quieter than I was expecting and as this device sits in a reasonably social room with people often present, that was a major plus.
So far so good. Let’s get to the interface and configure.
I prepared my laptop with a static IP address so that I could hook a cable up and configure when I first read the instructions (I needed to know the default IP address of the Synology so I could assign my laptop appropriately). Well, no need. By typing the following address “find.synology.com” into a browser window, I was able to get into the configuration settings with ease.
Next, I tried to look for the section that allowed me to configure my RAID 1 (mirroring) array. Once more, no need, the array is already setup, waiting for you to fill it with content.
I cannot speak highly enough of how intuitive and easy to configure this device is. I defy anyone of ANY proficiency level with IT not to be able to pick it up and play.
Let’s move onto the feature set and this made me smile. My old NAS was missing a Plex server option so I set this up first of all. Configuring took no more than a couple of minutes and I was able to connect to it through my laptop/phone/iPad and Smart TV’s. I also currently have it setup as an ITunes Server (just because I can really) as well as a DLNA Server as the Plex service on the Smart TV’s seems to be a little flaky. Whether this is down to the TVs or the Synology unit is something I am still investigating.
I then took the time to look through all of the features on offer. Starting with the basic desktop, there is a Control Panel, Package Centre, File Station and DSM Help icon (you will see from my screenshot you can also place your own icons there for ease of access). I’ll only highlight the key ones that the majority of you will be interested in, otherwise I may as well copy out the instruction manual!
The Control Panel really does contain almost everything you would expect to see from a device of this calibre. Shared Folders can be easily created, as well as User/Group accounts (with permissions and quota management as well). It connects to domain services like Active Directory and Open Directory with ease and the observant among you will see that you can configure External Access as well using DDNS. I haven’t configured this as I am using the built-in E-Z Internet tool to access my DiskStation over the Internet. This will automatically configure the options in the External Accesspanel item for you so a minimal level of knowledge is required for this function. All you have to do is confgure your own hostname that will prepend the .synology.me entry you type into your web browser window.
This is where you go to upload your content. You can see the Upload and Create buttons, where Create will allow you to segment your Share into different folders. You will also see how lucky I am to be subjected to Barbie movies on an almost daily basis.
I’m also really happy to say that I can send Time Machine backups directly to my Synology. It’s easy to setup and I will be covering it in a separate post.
Using CIFS, you are able to mount remote volumes to be presented by the DSM. You can also setup Shared Links to other files on your network if you are in a more business-like environment.
This is where you go to add feature sets to DSM. I’ve included a screenshot below so that you can see exactly what is on offer and available. The Backup Manager is something I recommend you setup, especially if you have Public Cloud Storage account that you can leverage. Currently, Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure, CHT hiCloud S3 (Taiwan) and SFR NAS (France) are available to configure. You can backup to another Synology or rSynccompatible device or attach a USB drive to backup locally.
If we start to talk speed then performance is good without hitting the outstanding level. 50–60MB per second was the average Write speed on the RAID 1 array so there are faster devices out there, however I didn’t experience any Read issues whatsoever. It’s fast and more than adequate for a Home office environment.
There 214se comes in many flavours, see below for links.
I’m so glad my old NAS broke down, mad as it is to say. This device knocks it out of the park. It’s a worthy addition to any household.