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Synology DS220+ NAS Review: An Ideal Entry-Level Storage Solution & Multimedia Hub
Data is an integral part of our digitally-dependent lifestyle. Whether you are a tech savvy person or someone who isn't very fond of gadgets, storage and accessibility of our digital files has never been more important. Since the data size (pictures, videos, documents, etc) keeps on increasing with time, the need for effective data storage solutions is also growing, especially if you have multiple devices with gigabytes of data to store.
- Value For Money NAS Drive
- Easy Setup Process (No Tools Required)
- Easy-To-Use & Intuitive WebOS
- Noise Free Performance
- Top-Shelf Security
- Good Package Support For Easy Data Access & Sharing
- 4K Media Transcoding Support
- Limited RAM Expansion (Up to 6GB)
- 2-Bay Disk Station (Expansion Not Supported)
- No 2.5GB LAN Port & NVMe Slot
The two most commonly used solutions are- Hardware drives (hard disks and USBs) and Cloud services like Google Photos, Apple iCloud, Google Drive, etc. While the former ensures good security, it fails to offer easy accessibility of the stored data on multiple digital devices such as smartphones, tablets, and PCs. The latter offers easy accessibility on multiple devices but is a costly affair and is also prone to cyber attacks, putting your sensitive data at risk.
The third and a comprehensive data storage solution is a NAS drive. It is secure, offers great accessibility of data, and is comparatively affordable in the long run (for data bigger than 1TB or more) as compared to cloud services. Moreover, NAS disk stations are faster, feature-rich (Multiple apps and service support) and less prone to network latency than cloud services, provided that you have a faster internet (Wi-Fi) service.
That said, today we are taking a closer look at the Synology DS220+. Priced at Rs. 35,239 on Amazon.in, the entry-level NAS device can be an ideal connected digital data management solution for users with the requirement of securing and accessing gigabytes of digital data on multiple devices.
Synology DS220+ is a compact NAS (Network-attached storage) solution to help you streamline your storage requirements. It is essentially a secure centralized storage device that allows you to consolidate your scattered digital files at one safe place for easy access on multiple smart devices.
A NAS drive can also be referred to as a private cloud with better security of your sensitive data with no monthly subscription fees. You pay the initial hardware cost and get easy access to your digital files (PDF, JPEG, MP4, Mp3, etc.) on multiple smart devices from anywhere in the world.
But there's a lot more to a NAS device than just storing and accessing your data on smart devices. Let's find out more about the DS220+ and its features. Before we dive any further, let's understand the specifications and setup process of the Synology DS220+ NAS disk station.
Synology DS220+ Key Specifications
CPU- Intel Celeron J4025 2-core 2.0 GHz, burst up to 2.9 GHz
Memory- 2 GB DDR4 onboard (expandable up to 6 GB)
Compatible Drive Type- 2 x 3.5" or 2.5" SATA HDD/SSD (drives not included)
Hot Swappable Drive- Yes, Hardware encryption engine-AES-NI
External Port- 2 x USB 3.0 port, LAN- 2 x Gigabit (RJ-45)
Size- (HxWxD) 165 x 108 x 232.2 mm Weight 1.3 kg
System Fan- 92 x 92 x 25 mm
AC Input Power Voltage- 100 V to 240 V AC
Power Frequency- 50/60 Hz, single phase
File system- Internal: Btrfs, External: Btrfs, ext4, ext3, FAT, NTFS, HFS+, exFAT4
Supported RAID Type- Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR), Basic, JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1
Security- Firewall, shared folder encryption, SMB encryption, FTP over SSL/TLS, SFTP, rsync over SSH, login auto block, Let's Encrypt support, HTTPS (customizable cipher suite)
Supported Client- Windows 7 onwards, macOS 10.12 onwards
Hardware Overview, Design, And Box Contents
The DS220+ is a 2-bay desktop NAS device with a compact design. Thanks to its smaller footprint, the DS220+ doesn't take up much space and can be easily kept on a computer/study stable. The two hard drives sit inside a pop-off cover that can be removed easily with no effort at all. Even the hard drives are easy to take out and one needs no major technical expertise to perform the operations.
Ports And Indicators
The front portion of the setup has a status indicator, LAN indicator, Disk indicator, USB 3.0 port, copy button, and Power button and indicator. The rear portion houses the system fan, two 1GBE RJ-45 ports, a Reset button, a power port, and a Kensington security slot. Sadly, Synology hasn't provided the 2.5GB LAN port and the M.2 slots for installing NVMe drives. If you have any specific requirements for the NVMe drives, you should consider buying the Synology DS920+ model.
As far as box contents are concerned, the package includes the DS220+ unit, quick installation guide, accessory pack, AC power adapter, AC power cord, and two RJ-45 LAN cables. You can use these accessories to quickly set up the NAS drive. Below is the process to get you started with the centralized solution for all your storage needs.
How To Setup Synology DS220+?
The installation process can be divided into two parts- hardware and software setup and the entire process hardly takes 15 minutes. Since the DS220+ disk station does not require any screwdriver or any other tools, the tool-less setup makes things extremely easy, even for seasonal tech enthusiasts. Let's start with the first part, i.e. the hardware setup. You should also keep the installation quick guide handy for smooth installation.
Simply pull the front plate of the disk station to install the 2-bay hard disks in their respective slots. Just a simple pull-out will do the job and you won't need any tools to remove the front fascia.
Fit The Hard Drives Into Trays
- Slide out the hard disk trays and remove the fastening panels from the sides of the drive tray.
- Load the hard disks on the trays (SATA connector should face outwards). Place the side clips again to secure the hard disks and load the tray inside the disk station slot.
- Use the key to lock the trays at their spots.
- Connect the wireless router with the disk station with the help of the LAN cable (rear LAN slot on the NAS Drive). And make sure your laptop (Setup device) and the NAS drive are connected on the same network (domain).
- Connect the power cable (65W AC power adapter and the power cord) to the power supply to one end and the power port of the NAS drive.
- Press the power button to switch on the DS220+.
We used Seagate's SkyHawk 2TB hard drives. Once the DS220+ is up and running, you need to set up the NAS drive from your connected PC. This is what we call the software setup for the NAS drive.
Software Set up To get Started With The NAS Drive
- You can either download the Synology Assistant Tool on your PC or use the web assistant to find the DS220+ drive on the network.
- Enter the link- "http://find.synology.com/" on your browser.
- Click setup to enter the DSM installation page and install now. Here you must note that the previously saved data on the hard disks will be erased so make sure you keep a backup in case you are using old hard disks.
- Click ‘OK' to install DSM.
Set up DSM Administrator Account
- Create a DSM administrator account by entering server name, username, and password. Keep these credentials handy if you plan to access your digital data stored on the NAS drive from multiple devices.
- Create a Quickconnect account (Can be done later) and click ‘Yes' to complete the DSM installation process.
- Click on ‘Go' to start using the NAS drive.
Create Volume Using Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR)
The software installation process is now complete; however, if you are a first-time NAS user, you need to create a volume (on the hard disks) to store all your files and packages (Services/apps). You can follow the on-screen process during the software installation, which allows you to create a volume on the DS220+ using Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR).
The automated hybrid RAID system is easier to set up and is recommended to users who aren't very tech-savvy. Despite being less complicated, the automated hybrid RAID system is scalable and offers decent security of your data even if the drive fails, although it will operate at a slower rate till you install a replacement drive. The hybrid RAID on the DS220+ NAS recommends you select the ‘Btrfs' file system as it offers more advanced features to your NAS disk station.
Once you create a volume on the hard disk, the system runs a parity check that takes a while (took almost 2 hours in our case); however, you can still use the NAS drive as the parity check keeps running in the background.
The software installation process is now complete and you can go ahead with packages/services to get started with the NAS Drive. Before we talk more about the packages, let's take a look at the intuitive DSM operating system.
DSM OS User Interface, Apps & Settings
NAS drives can be complicated, especially for first-time users. Thankfully, Synology's DSM makes things a lot easier with its intuitive and easy-to-use DiskStation Manager (DSM). The DSM 6.2 version is a user-friendly web-based operating system with a clean GUI that makes it quite easy to manage and access your data on smart devices. Once you have successfully signed in on the network, you will be greeted with the minimally designed home screen with the most useful icons placed on the left and widgets on the right side.
The ‘Main Menu' is positioned on the top-left corner and works just like the start button on a Windows PC. It provides access to all important stuff related to your NAS drive such as Resource Monitor, Storage manager, Control Panel, Support center, Universal Search, and installed packages, which we will discuss in the next section. Notably, you can just drag and drop any icon from the main menu screen to populate the home screen for quick access.
Control Panel For Important Settings
The control panel further gives you access to all important settings of the NAS drive including themes, notifications center, user profiles, security module, network settings, etc. You can and must enable the QuickConnect service from the control panel. It serves as a shortcut to access your NAS drive from any device from a remote location by just typing in your QuickConnect ID from a browser. Also, at any point in time, you can use Synology's smartphone apps to access your stored files on the disk station.
The DSM 6.2 also features ‘Migration Assistant' that allows you to migrate data, packages, and even system configurations from one server to another. Syncing and data changes to the target server are done in real-time.
What Are Packages And How To Use Them?
Similar to Google's Play Store and Apple's App Store, Synology has a Package center to let you browse and install apps for the disk station. The package center offers neat categorization and effective search capability. Coming onto the packages, these allow you to access, sync, and share different types of files stored on the disk station on a variety of devices and interfaces.
For instance, the Photo Station and Moments are excellent packages/apps to upload and access your photos from any smart device. You can download the DS Photo client on your smartphone to quickly access all uploaded pictures. Alternatively, the QuickConnect also gives you access to the uploaded files on the disk station.
Similarly, you can install various other packages depending upon your requirement and data type. Some must-have packages are- Document viewer, Active backup for Microsoft 365, iTunes Server, Audio Station, Video Station, and third-party utilities like the Plex Media server, which is a sheer joy to use on the DS220+. You must install a Video station to streamline your video library if you are a movie buff. The package lets you stream your videos stored on the disk station to Apple TV, Android TV, and a range of digital devices. The smartphone client for the Video station is DS Video.
Synology DS220+ Performance
Data sharing, video streaming, and data syncing tasks worked seamlessly on the entry-level NAS drive. Various packages responded smoothly and we were able to access different media files on a range of devices and interfaces without any latency or performance issues. The updated CPU and RAM combination (2.0 GHz Intel Celeron J4025 dual-core CPU with enhanced DDR4 RAM) and Intel HD Graphics 600 enables smooth performance round the clock for all data-related tasks. However, the 2GB default RAM and the upgrade to 6GB seem somewhat restricting.
We also noticed slight issues while transcoding heavy files on the Plex server. The NAS drive worked wonderfully for 1080p resolution files on Plex servers. There are three fan modes to choose from- Quiet mode, Cool mode, and Full-speed mode.
For connectivity, the drive offers adequate ports but misses on some important ones. For instance, the additional 1Gb port is a good addition but the drive lacks a USB-C port. The lack of M.2 slots for installing NVMe drives for better overall read and write speeds is another disappointment. Also, the disk station has just two bays which might be limiting for some users who are looking for a four or five-bay NAS disk station.
The DS220+ is an ideal NAS disk station for home use and basic office setups, especially for first-time NAS users. It offers a neat design, easy setup process, excellent and easy-to-use software, and smooth performance. The feature-rich package center offers useful apps to enhance your NAS usage on a variety of devices and interfaces. It even supports smooth video transcoding on Plex servers. Although there are some compromises in the form of limited RAM support, non-expandable storage bays, and lack of NVMe slots, the overall package is a good start for most users.