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Synology DiskStation DS213j review

Kat Orphanides
21 Jul 2013
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
170
inc VAT

This relatively low-cost NAS enclosure is faster than you'd expect given its price

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Specifications

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

The Synology DS213j is an entry-level 2-bay NAS device with 512MB of RAM and a 1.2GHz Marvell Armada 370 processor. It can accept two 3.5in disks, two 2.5in disks or a combination of both. Entry-level it may be, but it still comes with the same high-quality DSM operating system as Synology’s more expensive NASs.

Synology DiskStation DS213j

Your NAS device’s operating system has a major impact on its usability and, by extension, its usefulness to your business. If you don't have dedicated IT support, it's especially important to choose hardware that's as clear and simple to manage as possible. The DS213j certainly falls into that category.

It takes a little more effort to install hard disks in the DS213j than Synology’s more expensive models, as you must open the DS213j’s chassis and screw the disks into a cage. Devices such as the Synology DS212+ let you remove drive rails from the front of the device and mount hard disks in those. Once the hard disks are installed and you’ve connected the NAS to your router you'll have to locate it on your network and install its operating system.

You can install the operating system from the supplied CD or by downloading it from the Synology website. If you choose to install the supplied version of the firmware, you can always update it to the latest version later, either through the DSM operating system or by downloading it to a USB drive.

Synology DS213j interface

Synology's Disk Station Manager interface gives you easy-to-use windows and icons

The DSM interface is excellent. It has a helpful quick-start wizard that guides you through critical settings and prompts to help you configure the most essential features. If you go directly to File Station (Synology's file manager), for example, but haven't yet created any shared folders, a prompt gives you the option of going straight to the shared folder configuration screen, also accessible via the Control Panel. Setting up SMB shares is a simple matter of hitting the Create button, naming the folder and then setting its permissions using tick boxes. You can enable guest user access so that everyone on your network can read or write files stored on the DS213j, should you want to.

As well as sharing folders locally via SMB, the DS213j can be easily set up to provide remote FTP access, while additional apps from the Synology Package Centre can be installed to provide features such as mail and media servers, or even internet or intranet sites with full content management systems. The DS213j’s DSM installation feels a little sluggish compared to models with more powerful processors, but it's still responsive and clearly designed. Indeed, if you’re familiar with a Linux window manager or Microsoft Windows you’ll feel at home with DSM.

As this is a two-bay NAS, Synology's default RAID system is Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR). Effectively, this builds you a RAID1 array, mirroring your data between two disks to ensure that you lose no data should a drive fail. You can also configure the DS213j as RAID0 to create a larger combined storage volume, but we strongly advise against this, as it means that your business's data will have no protection against hardware failure.

At the rear of the DS213j, alongside its Gigabit Ethernet port, are two USB ports to which you can attach USB drives. You can then use attached drives for additional storage or use them for storing backups. The DS213j’s Backup and Restore menu makes it easy to schedule regular backups so that vital data is copied from the DS213j to a USB drive. You can then detach the USB drive and store it securely.

Synology DiskStation DS213j

You can also use the DS213j’s USB ports to turn the NAS into a print server, or attach a Wi-Fi adaptor or Bluetooth dongle to increase the NAS's connectivity.

We tested the NAS using two 3GB Western Digital Red hard disks. When configured in Synology Hybrid RAID, the disks gave us a storage capacity of 2.68TB. Every generation of Synology NAS enclosures brings a bit of extra power, which means you'll see faster throughput speeds than previous two-bay j-series NAS enclosures. In our SMB transfer test, the DS213j provided a large file write speed of 74.5MB/s and a read speed of 56.4MB/s, which makes an average 65.5MB/s. Small file speeds are always slower, and the DS213j’s small file speeds are no exception, with a write speed of 13.1MB/s and a read speed of 17.5MB/s for an average of 15.3MB/s.

When a NAS is set up as iSCSI target it looks and acts like a local hard disk, even though you access it through a network. iSCSI targets tend to provide faster transfer speeds, and that was the case with the DS213j. It provided a small file write speed of 42.1MB/s and a read speed of 28.6MB/s, producing an average transfer speed of 35.3MB/s. It wrote large files at 53.7MB/s and read them at 55.6MB/s to produce an average transfer speed of 54.7MB/s. The Synology DS213+ produced faster speeds, but the DS213j outperformed the DS213air.

The DS213j is one of Synology's cheapest NAS enclosures, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that its transfer speeds outperformed more expensive rivals such as the recently reviewed Qnap TS-221. An excellent interface and surprisingly fast throughput makes this a great buy for shared storage. It wins our Budget Buy award.

Basic Specifications

Price£170
Rating*****
AwardBudget Buy

Storage

CapacityN/A
Formatted capacityN/A
Default file systemext4
Price per gigabyteN/A
InterfaceSATA2
3.5in drive bays2
Free 3.5in drive bays2
RAID modesJBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1, SHR

Interface

Ethernet ports1
USB direct access ports (front/rear)0/0
Other USB ports (front/rear)0/2
eSATA ports (front/rear)0/0
Other portsnone

Networking

Ethernet connection speed10/100/1000Mbit/s
Universal Plug and Play supportyes
UPnP media serveryes
iTunesyes
Print serveryes
USB disk serveryes
Web serveryes
FTP serveryes
Protocols supportedTCP/IP, SMB/CIFS, AFP, FTP, HTTP, HTTPS, NFS, SSH, Telnet, WebDAV, iSCSI

Miscellaneous

Size165x100x226mm
Vertical positioningno
Ethernet cable includedyes
Additional featuresnone
Power consumption active14W

Buying Information

Price£170
Warrantytwo years RTB
Supplierhttp://www.cclonline.com
Detailswww.synology.com

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