It isn't the fastest two-bay NAS, but the sheer range of features and excellent web interface at this price make it a winner.
2 disk bays, N/A storage supplied, 1x 10/100/1000Mbit/s Ethernet ports
The Synology DiskStation DS211j is a twin-disk NAS enclosure. It looks almost identical to the company’s previous two-disk models and, as we’ve observed before, it isn’t much of a looker.
It’s just as well that fitting disks is straightforward. Simply slide open the plastic case and slot one or two SATA hard disks into place. Unlike older models, there are no SATA and power cables to fiddle with – the combined connector is fixed in place. Once you’ve secured the drives to ensure they don’t rattle, it’s simply a case of sliding the case closed.
It’s easy to see where your money has gone as soon as you start configuring the DS211j. The web admin interface looks like a Mac/Linux desktop, with links to all of the controls represented as app-like icons in a Mac OS-style control panel. You can drag your most frequently used controls to the desktop as if they were program shortcuts on a Windows desktop. If that sounds too messy, there’s a Search box so you can search for the controls your need by keyword. It’s all very slick and works well.
Its beauty isn’t just skin deep. Creating user accounts was especially easy. A single tabbed window allows you to create an account, set a storage usage quota, give access to certain shared folders and even decide which of the DS211j’s extra features it can use. You can even email the user their account details.
File copying performance isn’t quite as impressive as Synology’s models without the ‘j’ suffix. This is mainly down to the slightly slower 1.2GHz processor and half the amount of RAM: 128MB. We saw very little difference in speed between RAID 0 and 1, so your choice is between capacity and security. While speeds weren’t chart topping, they were still respectable, especially for reading small files, which it did at over 18MB/s.
The DS211j gains ground back with its impressive array of extra features. If you don’t want to leave your NAS on constantly, you can set the DiskStation to power itself on and off according to a schedule. It’s very flexible too – you can have multiple presets which can kick in daily, weekly, monthly or just on particular days. We had no trouble sharing a USB disk and a USB printer across our network. A wealth of more advanced features, such as the useful IP camera support, are also available.
Like all other DiskStation models you can use this one as a media server, although media files have to be stored in the default Music, Videos and Pictures folders – surprisingly restrictive for an otherwise flexible NAS. Although we had no trouble getting them to work, we did notice some occasional stuttering when playing high-definition video using a UPnP network media player. We suspect this might be a UPnP glitch, since the problem disappeared when played the same clip through Windows.
We’ve been hugely impressed with previous Synology NAS enclosures, and it’s no different with the DS211j. Although Zyxel’s similarly priced NSA320 seems to match the DiskStation on paper, the DS211j’s interface and extra features make it the better choice.
|Default file system||ext4|
|Price per gigabyte||N/A|
|3.5in drive bays||2|
|Free 3.5in drive bays||2|
|RAID modes||JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1|
|USB direct access ports (front/rear)||1/2|
|Other USB ports (front/rear)||0/0|
|eSATA ports (front/rear)||0/0|
|Ethernet connection speed||10/100/1000Mbit/s|
|Universal Plug and Play support||yes|
|UPnP media server||yes|
|USB disk server||yes|
|Protocols supported||TCP/IP, SMB/CIFS, AFP, FTP, HTTP, NFS, SSH, Telnet, WebDAV, iSCSI|
|Ethernet cable included||yes|
|Additional features||Download manager, IP camera support, photo and music server|
|Power consumption idle||11W|
|Power consumption active||23W|
|Warranty||one year RTB|