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Synology DiskStation DS215j review

Tom Morgan
12 Apr 2015
Expert Reviews Recommended Logo
Synology DS215j
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
140
inc VAT

Performance has never been better and Synology's DSM interface continues to impress - the DS215J is an excellent home NAS

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Specifications

Capacity: N/A, 3.5" hard disk bays (free): 2 (2), Networking: 2x 10/100/1000 Ethernet, DLNA media server: Yes, Print server: Yes, Dimensions (WXHXD): 165x100x226mm, Weight: 870g

The DiskStation DS215j might be Synology’s entry-level NAS, but the two-bay enclosure doesn’t appear to be lacking much in terms of features or flexibility. It has room for two 3.5in disks for a maximum capacity of 12TB, but will happily accept 2.5in disks, too.

Installing hard disks takes slightly more effort than in other NAS devices, as you have to open the chassis and screw the disks into a cage. There are no tool-free rails or quick release trays here.

You’ll also need to install the DSM operating system manually, although Synology has streamlined this process from previous years. Although it’s still possible to use the old Synology Assistant application to locate and set up the NAS, going to find.synology.com from any computer on the same network as the NAS will now search for any networked devices and walk you through the setup process, including downloading the latest version of DSM.

Once installed, which typically takes around 20 minutes, DSM can be accessed through your web browser and acts in a very similar way to a desktop operating system. Everything is sensibly laid out and customizable, and DSM gives you access to Synology’s comprehensive package center, which lets you add applications like media servers, mail clients, IP camera controls and a full set of multimedia playback tools, which can be accessed outside your home network via your smartphone after a very simple setup process.

The DS215j's Marvell Armada 375 processor might run at a relatively sedate 800MHz, but this dual-core chip still outperforms Synology’s previous models, which used single-core CPUs. Paired with 512MB of RAM, the processor helps make the DSM interface feel incredibly snappy.

Synology DS215j rear

We tested the DS215j using two 4TB Western Digital Red hard disks, which are designed specifically for NAS devices, configured in Synology Hybrid Raid mode. This works in a similar way to RAID 1, where your data is mirrored between two disks to ensure you don’t lose data if one disk fails. You can manually configure the NAS as RAID 0, which creates a larger combined storage volume as well as brings potential speed benefits, but if one disk fails you will lose all your data.

In terms of performance, the DS215j managed to give last year’s more expensive DS214+ a run for its money, with large file write speeds of 88.4MB/s and read speeds of 100.1MB/s. NAS devices are always slower to transfer small files, but write speeds of 14.8MB/s and reads of 24MB/s were actually faster than the more expensive unit.

Synology hasn’t changed its basic design for some time, meaning you can expect a power button and activity LEDs at the front, and Gigabit Ethernet and two USB ports at the back. One is the faster USB3 standard, and is better suited to external hard disks for adding extra storage capacity, while the slower USB port could be used to turn the NAS into a print server or for attaching a Wi-Fi adapter for wireless connectivity (a list of compatible dongles is at tinyurl.com/synologywifi). You can configure the ports easily for all three uses with the DSM Control Panel, and the functions worked flawlessly in our testing.

You can also set external disks as a target for Synology’s backup tools. It’s easy enough to schedule regular backups through the Backup and Restore menu, giving you an extra layer of protection.

Synology’s entry-level enclosures have always offered fantastic value for money, and the DS215j is no different. At £140 without disks, it’s reasonably priced, even once you factor in the cost of disks, and it's fast for the price. DSM is still the best NAS operating system we’ve used, too, making this NAS the obvious choice if you don’t mind installing disks yourself.

CapacityN/A
Default file systemEXT4
File attribute supportYes
Price per gigabyteN/A
Hard disk interfaceSATA3
3.5" hard disk bays (free)2 (2)
RAID modesJBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1, SHR
Interfaces
Networking2x 10/100/1000 Ethernet
Front USB ports0
Rear USB ports1x USB3, 1x USB2
Other portsNone
Networking
Universal Plug and PlayYes
DLNA media serverYes
Print serverYes
USB disk serverYes
Web serverYes
FTP serverYes
Mac file sharingYes
SSHYes
WebDAVYes
Other servicesPackage centre with extensive app support
Features
Dimensions (WXHXD)165x100x226mm
Weight870g
Buying information
WarrantyTwo years RTB
Price£140
Supplierwww.ebuyer.com
Detailswww.synology.com
Part codeDS215J

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