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Synology DS213Air review

Andrew Unsworth
2 Apr 2013
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
247
inc VAT

A good NAS enclosure with a great OS, but the built-in Wi-Fi adaptor is a convenience rather than a must-have feature

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Specifications

2 disk bays, N/A storage supplied, 1x 10/100/1000Mbit/s Ethernet ports

It may look like numerous other Synology NAS devices, but unlike most the Synology DS213Air has a built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi adaptor that lets you connect to it directly via your laptop’s Wi-Fi adaptor, use it as a wireless access point for your network and let it join your wireless network as a regular client. This is on top of its use as a regular Synology NAS that lets you install two 3.5in disks, two 2.5in disks or a combination of both, up to a maximum capacity 8TB.

Synology DS213Air

Sadly, the method of installing disks in the DS213Air isn’t as elegant as it is with the Synology DS213+. With the DS213+, you just pull the cover off its front panel, pull out a disk tray and install the disk to the tray. You can then reinsert the disk, which will automatically connect with the SATA data and power ports at the back of the DS213+.

With the DS213Air, you must take pull apart the case and screw the disks onto one of two slots. If you want to remove disks from the DS213Air, you must unplug the unit, open it up and unscrew them. Installation’s simple enough, but the DS213+ makes it easier to remove and replace hard disks that might be corrupt or damaged. Although the SATA disks inside the DS213Air are hot-swappable, you have to turn the DS213Air on its side to remove disks, so it's probably easier to turn it off first.

Synology DS213Air

Once the disks are installed, you must then use Synology assistant to find the unit on your network and install DSM, which is the DS213Air’s operating system. This is easy enough, and the tools provided by Synology will guide you through the process. Once installed, it’s worth upgrading to the latest version of DSM. You can do this using DSM itself, with no effort on your part.

We initially connected the DS213Air to our network via its Ethernet port in order to gauge its performance as a regular NAS device and tested its read and write performance with the disks configured in a variety of RAID configurations.

RAID 0 offers the fastest performance but no redundancy, which means that your data has less protection should a disk fail. In RAID 0, the DS213Air scored 55.5MB/s when writing large files and 59MB/s when reading them. It wrote small files at an average rate of 12.2MB/s and read them at 15.45MB/s.

When configured as RAID 1, which mirrors the contents of one disk on the other, thereby adding some data protection should one disk fail, the DS213Air wrote large files at an average rate of 50.7MB/s and read them at 49.4MB/s. It wrote small files at a transfer rate of 11.97MB/s and read them at a rate of 13.84MB/s.

As you can see, the DS213Air only offers a slight performance boost when reading and writing files in RAID 0, which means you should use RAID 1 and benefit from its increased data protection.

The DS213Air also lets you use two other configurations: JBOD and SHR. The former option lets you use the full storage capacity of your disks and offers no data protection. SHR stands for Synology Hybrid RAID and lets you add data redundancy to your disks, even if they’re not the same size. In testing, JBOD provided very similar results to RAID 0 and SHR provided very similar results to RAID 1.

The DS213+ proved faster, scoring 64.5MB/s overall in our large file test and 15.7MB/s overall in our small file test with the drives configured in Synology Hybrid RAID.

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