MyBroadband recently received Synology DiskStation DS220+ network-attached storage (NAS) units and asked our readers to try them out.
The goal was to get a variety of viewpoints from real-world users.
We therefore found MyBroadband readers who had strong technical knowledge and were interested in using these units, and asked them for honest feedback.
Abridged versions of these reviews can be read below.
The DiskStation DS220+ is incredibly easy to assemble and it took me less than 10 minutes to insert both drives and hook the NAS up to my PC and router.
The drive bays can be accessed and removed without the use of any additional tools, with just a screwdriver required to fit the hard drives.
While Synology does have a list of hard drives that it recommends you use, I opted to just use two spare drives I had lying around and planned to change them out in case I ran into any hiccups.
However, it turns out this was unnecessary and upon booting up the device I was given the option to format them, as well as a graph showing how ‘healthy’ the devices are and how they are operating.
It is during this initial setup process that it becomes clear how powerful this little NAS is, as you are given a range of options to access it outside of the home as well as several unique format options, including one for Linux users.
You are also able to setup password-locked accounts, allowing you to share the device with roommates and family members without any fear of your precious data being accidentally deleted.
While I expected to spend some time searching up how programs on a NAS work through a wiki, Synology helpfully directs users to several important features through a dedicated desktop.
This includes a help section which walks users through file sharing and how to access media files through their home networks. The desktop also has Synology’s equivalent of an “app store” allowing users to install programmes through the click of the button.
After I setup the NAS for sharing on my home network, I was able to quickly setup my Plex Account and begin the process of phasing out my current media PC. I also setup an anti-virus and automatic backup software for my work laptop, all with a couple of clicks.
I am genuinely impressed with how easy the DiskStation DS220+ was to assemble and setup, with a much wider range of features on offer than I expected. A NAS has now gone from a nice-to-have to a necessity, and the DiskStation effectively replaced my media PC in an evening. I am looking forward to exploring the other features that are available — including the ability to access content outside of my home.
Setting up the NAS was easy, thanks to the short and simple installation guide which started with three bullet points printed on the outside of the box.
Inside the Synology box was the DS220+ along with a range of cables, including power and network.
Alongside this sat the installation guide, which was short and very helpful (the perfect combination).
It shows you how to open the front of the NAS and install your hard drive, and then guides you through connecting the unit to your home router.
Invoking the “amateur” part of my amateur techie title, I selected the quick installation options and left the default file system settings in place — bar the custom NAS unit name, password, and shared folders which you are required to create.
I then ran a hard drive and security check.
The first task was to make the 1TB of new storage space available to my media PC and other devices in the house.
For both Windows and Mac, this is very simple and the “Help” section in the Synology browser interface for your NAS is useful here.
For my media PC and my gaming PC — a Windows 10 laptop and Windows 10 desktop, respectively — I went to File Explorer, This PC, and then selected the Map Network Drive option.
You then enter the name of your NAS unit, along with the name of the shared folder on it which you would like the PC to access.
Access is granted after you enter your NAS username and password, and you can use the shared folders on the NAS as you would a folder on your PC’s native hard drive or SSD.
After setting this up, I was running 1TB of shared storage which could be accessed by all PCs in the house, and immediately started transferring my media files to it.
We have a Samsung TV in the lounge which runs a native Netflix app, and connected to this TV via HDMI is our “media PC”.
When there is nothing good to watch on Netflix my partner wants to use the media PC.
I have to stop what I am doing, go to the lounge, turn on the laptop and the fan stand, switch the TV to HDMI, and unlock the PC’s user account which is password protected.
The help menu in the NAS dashboard provided a solution here, and suggested I try the Synology Media Server package.
After installing the package, default photo, music, and video folders are created on the NAS. The media files in these folders are then available to watch on “DMA devices”.
The help menu stated that DLNA/UPnP and DMA devices include the likes of smart TVs which are connected to the local network which the NAS is running on.
On top of this, the Media Server menu has an option which allows you to see DMA devices which are available on your network – with our Samsung TV listed.
Accessing the series on the TV was then easy.
I ran several videos in .avi format and they worked perfectly — and my partner was happy with the process of how to access the content.
More exploring ahead
The steps above took about three hours in total to execute, and there is a lot more I will be exploring with the NAS.
Plex is available, which I want to test, and I am also keen to try out automatic file backups to the NAS from local PCs.
The DS220+ is also a 2-bay NAS, and the available slot is begging for another hard drive to be put in.
Time to start saving for that 16TB unit.
The delivery arrives and like a kid on Christmas day I unpack the box, check I have the stated contents, grab 2×2TB drives that I had lying around and put it all together.
Assign the device some static IP’s and download the Synology Assistant software. Really excited that there is a Linux desktop version, a little disappointed that after finding the device immediately all the connect button does is open a web GUI.
The guided install of the Synology DSM (DiskStation Manager) software is easy, in less than 5 minutes I was up and running and logged into the main screen.
First job, set-up the drives, again a guided exercise to create storage pools, volumes, RAID levels, file systems and shared folders.
I also let the system do a check on the drives, not really necessary but a good idea if you are not sure what condition your drives are in.
This ran in the background for about 4 hours, increasing the CPU and memory usage slightly. The drives are accessible during this but access times are increased.
After the disk checking is complete it’s time to actually use the NAS. In this instance I am using this as purely storage.
Mounted to my server I run rsync on a few picture folders, check I can get to the SMB shares, start copying some large media files and sit back and watch.
On the control screen there is a nice system health widget showing CPU network traffic and memory usage.
CPU usage jumps around a little, the 2GB memory running at around 14% utilised and network speed tracks at between 80 MB/s to 90 MB/s.
My next task was to plug in external storage, in this case a 4 bay chassis.
Immediately picked up the drives but they had an unsupported files system, xfs.
Quick and easy to format to either ext4 or FAT32, set-up a folder on each drive and straight away available to the shares on the remote desktops.
This makes adding extra external storage a breeze and allows the Synology DSM to configure and share external drives through a simple GUI.
So for my first few days of using the DS220+ I am very happy with its basic function of storage. I will continue to explore what is on offer but my old NAS is definitely now redundant.
I will see if moving my larger 6TB drives from a dedicated server to the NAS and running various media operations is a viable alternative to the server at a later stage.
What I liked:
- Very easy to unbox, add drives and plug in
- Easy guided set-up of DSM
- Looks very nice
- Set-up of drives, folders, shares is intuitive and should not be too difficult for a non technical person
What I didn’t like:
Not really anything I didn’t like, except the front cover pulls off, would prefer a proper door and the option to add RAM, a nice option but perhaps offer the extra RAM as a higher specced device.
I have looked around and there doesn’t seem to be stock of the RAM at the moment, priced at around R1500 when available.
I would probably do this, even though my initial testing didn’t require it, when I start to use it more than I suspect it would come in handy. Also just because there is an expansion slot (which is convenient to get too, no major disassembly required).
I had a blast so far testing a device that I have only heard of before.
My understanding of how a NAS (network attached storage) works is growing every single time I explore more and more of the functions that this powerful device has to offer.
Impression so far
- Hardware installation was a breeze.
- Installation of the DSM through the assistant is very easy.
- Volume creation and Shared Folder creation was also very easy.
- The DS220+ DSM interface speed is not too bad.
- The device itself is very quiet. I can hardly hear the fan.
There are far more advanced features packed into the device that people in the IT industry will also utilize like VPN connection setups, advanced folder encryption, secure key management, static IP addresses and port forwarding, cloud sync backup solutions and advanced RAID setup solutions to just name a few.
I will, with some time, familiarize myself with more and more of the functions and applications the Synology DS220+ DiskStation have to offer.
What I liked / pros:
- Easy hardware and software installation
- Some of the mobile applications is very useful.
- Excellent Software. The DSM interface is user friendly and perfectly categorized.
- Runs very cool and silent (except for when a drive fails, lol).
- Video and Audio Transcoding gets a big thumbs up from me.
- DLNA/UPnP compliant.
- Automated raid management system (SHR) is easy to use when you do not have RAID knowledge.
- The 2GB memory can be upgraded using the extra memory slot if needed.
- Wake on Lan is a handy function if you do not want to run your NAS 24/7.
- Push Notifications to alert you on security breaches or system failures.
- 2 Bay for the win! No more losing precious photos, files, and media.
- I find it very easy to access the NAS from anywhere using QuickConnect.
- Sharing of media via a link to my friends and family.
What I did not like / cons:
Wow, this is a difficult one, as I like almost everything about this DS220+
- Surveillance Station: you can only add 2 cameras for free.
- The Schuko plug I had to physically pound into my power socket I had available.
- Too many mobile applications you need to download, each with only one or two functions. One mobile application (similar to the DSM interface) would be awesome.
- Some of the mobile applications timed-out when trying to log in (only happened once or twice, especially with DS File).
It never even crossed my mind to consider getting a NAS. I just didn’t think I would have any use for it.
Unboxing and adding a drive was a breeze. Everything that is needed is included in the box, even two LAN cables for the link aggregation.
All components neatly wrapped in plastic and are of high quality.
A nice feature was that DSM checks if there is any new updates and if those updates affect any issues you might have had.
Thinking that this is only a NAS, I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the Package Centre to find a lot of additional features and applications.
These include a DNS server, mail server, SQL server and even Node.js server. Tomcat and Docker is also there.
The latter is the one that I got really excited about. I wanted to replace my Pi-hole instance and move it from the cloud to a local machine.
Running a 400watt desktop computer 24/7 for DNS queries seemed a bit excessive so that is why I decided to move it to the Synology NAS.
- High Quality/Durable build
- Extremely quite
- Low power consumption
- Easy to use interface
- Contents in box includes everything that is needed except drives
- Link Aggregation
- Third Party Applications
- Celeron processor
- Only two drive bays
- Closed Operating System
- Need to format drives upon adding
Thank you to MyBroadband and Synology for allowing me the pleasure of reviewing this wonderful piece of hardware.