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June 08, 2016

Unboxing & Review: Synology DS216j Value 2-bay NAS



If you're a NAS aka Network Attached Storage enthusiasts, Synology is one of the familiar name among the big list of brands for NAS that offers featured rich NAS with a very user-friendly user interface. While NAS is often related to business oriented solutions, the growing demand has led NAS solution its way to the end users who wants their personal storage.


In today's review, we'll be looking at the latest entry-level solution from Synology, the DiskStation DS216j that is targeted for home users at a more affordable price tag of $169.99 (approximately RM690+). Million thanks to Synology as always, for providing us a unit of the DS216j value 2-Bay NAS for today's review!

Specifications
Hardware Specifications
CPU
CPU Model
Marvell Armada 385 88F6820
CPU Architecture
32-bit
CPU Frequency
Dual Core 1.0 GHz
Floating Point
Hardware Encryption Engine
Memory
System Memory
512 MB DDR3
Storage
Drive Bay(s)
2
Compatible Drive Type (See all supported drives)
·         3.5" SATA III / SATA II HDD
·         2.5" SATA III / SATA II HDD (with optional 2.5" Disk Holder)
·         2.5" SATA III / SATA II SSD (with optional 2.5" Disk Holder)
Maximum Internal Raw Capacity
16 TB (8 TB HDD x 2) (Capacity may vary by RAID types)
Maximum Single Volume Size
16 TB
External Ports
USB 3.0 Port
2
File System
Internal Drives
EXT4
External Drives
·         EXT4
·         EXT3
·         FAT
·         NTFS
·         HFS+ (Read Only, with max. volume size 2TB)
Appearance
Size (Height x Width x Depth)
165 mm x 100 mm x 225.5 mm 
Weight
0.88 kg 
Others
RJ-45 1GbE LAN Port
1
Wake on LAN/WAN
System Fan
92 mm x 92 mm x 1 pcs
Fan Speed Mode
·         Cool Mode
·         Quiet Mode
·         Low-power Mode
Wireless Support (dongle)
Brightness adjustable front LED indicators
Power Recovery
Noise Level*
18.2 dB(A) 
Scheduled Power On/Off
Power Supply Unit / Adapter
60W 
AC Input Power Voltage
100V to 240V AC
Power Frequency
50/60 Hz, Single Phase
Power Consumption*
14.85 W (Access) 
6.95 W (HDD Hibernation)
 
British Thermal Unit
50.63 BTU/hr (Access) 
23.71 BTU/hr (HDD Hibernation)
 
Environment Temperature
Operating Temperature
5°C to 40°C (40°F to 104°F)
Storage Temperature
-20°C to 60°C (-5°F to 140°F)
Relative Humidity
5% to 95% RH
Certification
·         FCC Class B
·         CE Class B
·         BSMI Class B
Warranty
2 Years
Notes
·         Power consumption is measured when fully loaded with Western Digital 1TB WD10EFRX hard drive(s).
·         Noise Level Testing Environment: Fully loaded with WD 1TB WD10JFCX hard drive(s) in idle; Two G.R.A.S. Type 40AE microphones, each set up at 1 meter away from the Synology NAS front and rear; Background noise: 17.2 dB(A); Temperature: 23.6˚C; Humidity: 58.2%.
DSM Specifications ( See more )
Storage Management
Maximum Internal Volume Number
256
Maximum iSCSI Target Number
10
Maximum iSCSI LUN
10
Supported RAID Type
·         Synology Hybrid RAID
·         Basic
·         JBOD
·         RAID 0
·         RAID 1
RAID Migration
Basic to RAID 1
Volume Expansion with Larger HDDs
·         Synology Hybrid RAID
·         RAID 1
Volume Expansion by Adding a HDD
Synology Hybrid RAID
File Sharing Capacity
Maximum User Accounts
1024
Maximum Groups
256
Maximum Shared Folder
256
Maximum Shared Folder Sync Tasks
2
Maximum Concurrent CIFS/AFP/FTP Connections
128
Windows Access Control List (ACL) Integration
NFS Kerberos Authentication
Log Center
Syslog Events per Second
100
Cloud Station Server
Maximum Concurrent File Transfers
128
Download Station
Maximum Concurrent Download Tasks
30
HiDrive Backup
Media Server
DLNA Certification
PDF Viewer
SpreadSheet
Maximum Simultaneous Editing Users
35
Surveillance Station
Maximum IP cam (Licenses required)
10 (including 2 Free License) (See All Supported IP Cameras)
Total FPS (H.264)*
300 FPS @ 720p (1280x720) 
150 FPS @ 1080p (1920×1080)
 
100 FPS @ 3M (2048x1536)
 
40 FPS @ 5M (2591x1944)
Total FPS (MJPEG)*
150 FPS @ 720p (1280x720) 
75 FPS @ 1080p (1920×1080)
 
50 FPS @ 3M (2048x1536)
 
25 FPS @ 5M (2591x1944)
Notes
Surveillance Station throughput is tested with Axis network camera, using continuous recording with live view from Surveillance Station and motion detection by camera. Live view and recording are sharing the same stream from the camera.
Video Station
Video Transcoding
Group 2 (See more)
VPN Server
Maximum Connections
5
Environment & Packaging
Environment
RoHS Compliant
Packaging Content
·         Main Unit X 1
·         Welcome Note X 1
·         Accessory Pack X 1
·         AC Power Adapter X 1
·         AC Power Cord X 1
·         RJ-45 LAN Cable X 1
Optional Accessories
·         Camera License Pack
·         Disk Holder: Type C
·         VS360HD




Unboxing


Just like most Synology products we've seen on the market, the DS216j ships in a recycle-able cardboard box that saves both the overall cost and the environment. 



On the box, you'll find highlighted features of the DS216j that give users some idea of what they can do with it if it's the first time they came across a NAS.


The accessories included consists of the Quick Installation Guide, power cord, AC to DC adapter, HDD mounting screws, cover screws and a CAT5/e Ethernet cable.


Other than limited to only the white color selection, features such as front USB port and one-touch copy button which can be found on the more advanced DS216+ is not available as well for this entry level NAS. 


At the back you'll find the exhaust fan that helps to get rid of the heat trapped inside the small enclosure, 2 x USB 3.0 ports for external storage devices or perhaps a USB dongle, a Kensington lock slot for security reasons and DC-in port that is responsible for powering up the DS216j unit.


Unlike the more advanced DS216+ with removable hard drives bracket for easy installation, installing hard drives requires the removal of the enclosure and screws are required to secure the drives in place.  


We've chosen the WD Red NAS 3TB drives for this test, as one of the recommended choice from Synology as it is specially designed for NAS storage and it's backed by a 5-year limited warranty from WD. 

Setting Up The DS216j

The DS216j doesn't come as a plug and play unit as it requires initial setup for the DSM before it can be used. If this is your first time dealing with a Synology NAS, there's nothing to worry about as the installation wizard is very user-friendly and you'll be done with the setup before you even know it.


You can perform manual install if you prefer to stick with an older version of the DSM (DiskStation Manager), else you can just proceed with the latest version of DSM from Synology. In our case, we're installing the latest DSM 6.0 to find out what kind of new feature we can expect from it.


The installation will take a while to complete if you haven't already downloaded the latest DSM for manual installation. 


Once you're done with the installation, you'll be guided to setting up the necessaries. Starting off with the administrator account, a strong password is recommended to protect your data and Synology has it covered with a password strength indicator that helps to determine if your password is safe against malicious users.


You can configure for DSM update and maintenance according to your preference here. 




Up next is to configure the QuickConnect ID for your ease of access from somewhere outside of your local network, it's optional though and you can skip it if you don't need this feature.


Once you're done with the configuration, a list of recommended package will appear on the screen at the end of the setup and you can choose to install now or save it for later. Once you're done with that, you're pretty much good to go with your brand new NAS!


DSM 6.0 User Interface

If this is your first time with Synology's DiskStation, don't be surprised as that's a working desktop you're looking at now on your web browser. The DSM or DiskStation Manager is the foundation of Synology's DiskStation that is based on the Linux Kernel, and it's so lightweight that you can operate it through your web browser. 

PackagesThe packages that we've installed at the end of the installation wizard is something like an App you install in your smartphone or the program you install on your operating system to access a specific function.  


Other than the recommended packages from the end of the initial setup, there are tons of other packages available in the Package Center for you to choose from.


In the menu screen, you'll find all the installed packages which can be added to the desktop as a shortcut.  

Photo Station 6

Photo Station 6 is one package that's worth highlighting among the giant list of packages. If you find insecurity for storing your personal photos on image hosting sites, the Photo Station package got you covered and it comes with a handy watermark feature. While there are users of higher-end Synology NAS uses it as a personal image hosting alternative, home user who just want their photos stored in a personal NAS that can be viewed any where, any time can find a good use of it as well - Since the DS216j is targeted for home users instead of enterpise level.

Cloud Station

Nowadays, cloud storage is gowing rapidly not only on enterprise level, but also for end user. Many NAS pioneers has been making use of technology for the growing demand for personal cloud storage and Synology too, has that covered with both of its Cloud Station and Cloud Sync package. There are software for PC and apps for smartphones and tablet that will automatically sync with the cloud server so you can always have the latest version of the document available on your smartphone, tablet or laptop whenever you need it.

Note Station

The Note Station as we know is a great tool for those who create content on-the-go, but what about home usage? Family and friends can access the Note Station to create personal notes, leave notes or reminders for everyone who has access to the drive, and more. 

Download Station

Have a huge bunch of things you wanted to download but leaving you PC overnight to handle the download doesn't seem to be the long term solution? Need to monitor your download status while you're away from your PC? Well, say goodbye to those hassles when you have the Download Station installed. You can download files from the internet ranged from HTTP, FTP, BT, eMule, Thunder, etc  with the DS216j using Download Station and manage them through Synology's DS Download app on your smartphone or tablet.

SpreadSheet

Here's one of the new package that is also our favorite, SpreadSheet. We've been keeping track of our schedule for events in Microsoft Excel for quite some time now and it's hard to manage the schedule when there's some unpredicted changes. With the spreadsheet running, we can always access the schedule when needed and make neccessary changes on-the-go.

Video Station

Video Station has been a well known package for Synology NAS users who has been using their Synology NAS as a video streaming server. There are changes going on throughout the years and the new Video Station now supprots streaming to Chromecast directly from browser, DS video for Windows and Apple TV 4, support DLNA, AirPlay, and Bluetooth.


Final Thoughts
While the debate of going for FreeNAS as better solution goes on, we should really look into points where user experience takes count. It's no doubt that going for FreeNAS on your unused PC is the best cost saving solution, do note that it takes a while even for first time user with intermediate experience in the technical field to get things done. Users with no knowledge in the field wouldn't have to go through the hassle to setup their own NAS with the help of both DS216j and DSM 6.0 as everything can be done easily in minutes with minimal configuration that is fully guided by the installation wizard - something that you won't find on FreeNAS.

While the DS216j has limited performance and function compared to the DS216+ which we're using now in our office, the basic features as what we've listed above will do just well to satisfy the needs of most home users. Personally, we find paying $169.99 (approximately RM690+) for the DS216j is a pretty worthy investment that can really gives you a piece of mind when it comes to a personal NAS storage solution.

Pros
  • Cost effective solution for first time NAS user
  • User-friendly and interactive web UI
  • Very easy to setup
  • Lots of awesome packages that can be installed from the Package Center
  • Supports USB Wireless dongle for wireless connection

Cons
  • Drive installation requires the removal of the enclosure and screws to secure the drives
  • No front USB ports for easy access with USB external storage devices
  • Expansion is limited to only 2 hard drives

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