The D-Link DNS-320L does the basics well, but its fiddly user interface means it's worth spending more money if you can
Capacity: Bare drive, 3.5″ hard disk bays (free): 2(2), Networking: 1x 10/100/1000, DLNA media server: Yes, Print server: Yes, Dimensions (WXHXD): 90×193.3×144.3mm, Weight: 0.63kg
The D-Link DNS-320L is one of the cheapest two-bay NAS devices we’ve ever reviewed, but despite the inevitable compromise on performance, this little enclosure could find a happy home for anyone with modest backup and storage needs.
As with many cheaper NAS devices, the initial setup and installation is clunky. The DNS-320L doesn’t feel particularly sturdy and is made with cheap-feeling glossy black plastic that attracts dust and fingerprints easily. In the box you’re supplied with a pair of handles, which you attach to each of your hard disks. This is important if you ever want to remove them, because once they’re in, they are held very firmly in place. Putting the disks into place is a bit uncomfortable, mostly because you feel like you’re going to break the internals of the NAS because of the amount of force that’s required to slot them in.
The set up process is short and simple, allowing you to choose your desired RAID configuration. You can also opt to register your device with the Mydlink service. We recommend that you do, as this makes remote accessing your NAS a lot easier, no matter where you are in the world.
Once the DNS-320L is set up, you can make configuration changes via the ShareCenter software that is installed to your PC when you first set up the NAS. The main function of this program is to schedule backups from your PC to your NAS; you can make multiple jobs and schedule them to take place daily, weekly or monthly. The software also mounts your NAS as a network drive, meaning you’re instantly ready to start moving files to and from the device without any further tweaks.
^ D-Link’s web-based file explorer is functional, but not pretty
The real meat of the DNS-320L is to be found via the web interface, and this is where you can set up the applications that take the device beyond being just network storage. The NAS has DLNA-compatible UPnP media server, so you will be able to store and stream your media library with ease. Setting up UPnP is relatively simple, but in general the web-based user interface of the DNS-320L is unattractive and fiddly to use, thanks to slow response times and a lack of tooltips.
Once we’d successfully indexed our media folders and enabled UPnP, all of our photos, music tracks and video files appeared in our Windows Media Player library and were accessible from a connected TV, too. There is a separate tool to make your library visible to iTunes, although Apple’s notoriously tricky software could only locate our music and not our video files.
You can create file shares, too, although the means to do this are hidden behind menus and submenus, ultimately located under “account management”; not the place you’d expect to find a key part of many NAS setups. Nonetheless, from here you can create folders and manage which users can access and modify them, and enable or disable access via FTP, NFS and WebDAV.
^ The user interface for the D-Link DNS-320L is much more akin to an old router than a new NAS
Also pre-installed are tools for managing peer-to-peer downloads and a security camera suite. You can set automatic local backups from your NAS, although you only get a single rear-facing USB2 port, so backing up to a USB disk will be slow, and connecting a disk isn’t that easy if you have your NAS tucked away in a corner.
With a NAS costing under £50 you wouldn’t expect particularly fast file transfer speeds, and while the performance we measured with the DNS320L wasn’t in the least bit startling, it achieved better speeds than we expected. In RAID 1, large files were written at 40.7MB/s and read at 52.9MB/s. Small files were written at 7.7MB/s and read at 12.5MB/s. In reality, this leaves the DNS-320L a little way behind the competition, but it isn’t bad for the price.
D-Link has a smartphone app, which lets you remote access your files. Considering how basic the web interface of the DNS-320L is, the app initially looked promising. It has a rudimentary media player, which can play mp3 audio files, MKV, MOV and MP4 video files and BMP, GIF, JPG and PNG images.
You can set the app to automatically upload every photo you take on your smartphone, plus you can upload other files stored on your phone, too. However, the Android app hasn’t been updated since March and has a couple of very annoying bugs that we found almost immediately. These include playing a previously-played music track upon opening the app, as well as the fact that you can’t open non-supported video formats in another app that can; you can’t open a WMV file in VLC, for example.
We didn’t have particularly high hopes for D-Link’s budget DNS-320L: sometimes a price that low is too good to be true. While its has an incredibly fiddly user interface and lacks the extra features of many of its more expensive rivals, it does the simple things well. You’ll have no issues using it as a backup station or a media hub, and even for file shares you should be able to get it set up for your liking. However, if you have a higher budget, the LaCie 2Big NAS is a better all-rounder.
|Default file system||EXT3|
|File attribute support||Yes|
|Price per gigabyte||N/A|
|Hard disk interface||SATA2|
|3.5″ hard disk bays (free)||2(2)|
|RAID modes||JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1|
|Front USB ports||None|
|Rear USB ports||1x USB 2|
|Universal Plug and Play||Yes|
|DLNA media server||Yes|
|USB disk server||Yes|
|Mac file sharing||Yes|
|Other services||Smartphone apps|