Published on July 14th, 2013 | by Greg0
Sweet NAS: The Synology DS213j
When you need a storage solution for multiple computers, then the best answer is a network-attached storage device. These boxes allow you to connect a set of hard drives to your local network, creating a big pool of shared storage. This means that you can have a centralized backup for your different devices, and also a place to keep all of the documents, pictures, and videos that you might want to use across them. Finally, it’s also a lot more energy-efficient to have a small NAS on your network downloading your torrents than a laptop or desktop computer.
Of course, these sorts of devices come in a few varieties. The Synology DS213j is perfect for the tech-savvy individual who wants to install hard drives in this two-bay NAS solution, and who wants a multi-use system that can be custom configured. Capable of supporting RAID 0 and 1, these options allow you to safely manage your data in case of a hard drive failure. The custom OS is easy to use and flexible, with plenty of first- and third-party packages available. There are apps that allow you manage downloads from your iPhone or Android device, handy for those who want to download the latest shows from on-the-go for later viewing. In our case, we set up a fixed IP and used a dynamic DNS service to give us direct access even from outside of the network.
But Synology does include some software tools that allow external access to cloud storage, for uses like remote security camera viewing. There are built-in photo and video library management options as well, which create nice thumbnails and make it easy to handle your massive sets of pictures and other media. Compatible with DLNA and uPnP, you can share an iTunes library and play via AirPlay too. For those interested in detailed specs, the processor is a Marvell Armada 370 running at 1.2Ghz and there is 512MB of RAM- not enough for intensive enterprise systems, but perfect for SOHO and home users. There isn’t built-in wireless networking, but we always suggest using a wired connection on your LAN. Plugging directly into your router ensures far superior speed, and we did find the read/write speeds impressive here, almost as good as a USB 3.0 drive and up to 100 MB/s reading. Updating the software is simple, and Synology is constantly offering new versions with added features- their support is excellent, which definitely sets this one above many of the others that we’ve seen. The previous model we checked out, the DS212, has held up well since our review last year, and this is a logical upgrade that improves in most every way, even the switch from black to a slightly-classier white.
If you want something dead-simple and just for basic media playback, you might want to look into the inexpensive Seagate Central. For everyone else, it’s a question of capabilities and price, and the Synology DS213j has a great balance that makes it an easy recommendation. We especially appreciated the large fan that keeps it cool, but manages to stay quiet enough to use even in a bedroom. There are two USB 2.0 ports included that allow you to attach thumb drives and such, or printers, but we did miss USB 3.0 support. Transcoding performance is only so-so, which might make a difference to some users but wasn’t a major downside considering the price. At only $200, this is one of the best NAS devices on the market for the sophisticated user. The Synology DS213j is available now, in stores and online.