Synology recently provided MyBroadband with several DiskStation DS120j network-attached storage (NAS) units to give to our readers.
In return, Synology wished to receive feedback from these real-world users.
After advertising the availability of these devices, they were quickly snapped up, and our users put these NAS units to the test.
Summarised versions of these reviews can be read below.
Have you ever lost a best friend? You know, the one that you can count on time and time again?
Well, I have. And that best friend’s name was Windows HomeGroup: it was easy to set up and allowed you to share files between all PCs on your home network.
As you well know HomeGroup is no more and it is a mission to achieve the same effect with the same ease using Windows 10.
Enter the Synology range of NAS, specifically the DS120j that I received courtesy of MyBroadband. Whether you are using Windows, MAC, Linux, ioS or Android they have a package ready-made for you.
Being totally ignorant of this type of device it came as quite a shock to open it up and find a very lightweight, compact and smart-looking white box that looks awfully similar to a slightly larger case for an external hard drive, save for the ports that are available on the back: 1 x Ethernet and 2 x USB.
It comes complete with all the necessary cabling and its own 12V power supply. Included is a little pamphlet that calls itself “Quick Installation Guide”.
There are many packages and options available: from Media Players & Servers, an Anti-Virus to various Backup Systems.
It can be used as a media station or a Backup Station or as a VPN Server – all available at the click of a button in Synology Assistant’s Package Manager (the possibilities are endless!)
The DS120j is quiet – only the blue “ON” LED and green status LEDs (flickering when being accessed) is the only indication of its existence. And it is FAST! (capable of 1GB/s if your network allows it).
- Easy, quick installation
- Easy to use
- A myriad of packages to choose from
- Neat, quiet and unobtrusive
- 1 x HDD bay
- HDD not included
- Only USB 2.0 (this model)
- Only 1 x LAN port (this model)
When I got home on Friday the 23rd of April I had a box waiting for me on the dining room table. I was very excited to have a dedicated NAS again, but only did the setup the next day.
In the box was everything needed except a screwdriver.
After adding the drive and powering it on I used the DS finder app to setup the device.
The first surprise was just how quiet the device is! I must check if the fan is even working because I have not heard any noise except for the built in buzzer.
Checking the network interface I noticed I wasn’t getting 1Gbps with the supplied cable, but I switched over to one of the cables I know provided 1Gbps to my Pi 4.
The web interface gives it a nice desktop like feel that makes setup and usage intuitive.
The next step was to create users for everyone on the network. This was easy as pie, Synology sent out emails to the new users.
I then proceeded to install apps that I would be using/testing. Installed Video/Audio station, VPN server, Download station, Surveillance station and Plex Media server.
Accessing the files on the Synology in Windows is as easy as accessing the SMB network share at \synology-ip.
You log in with your user and in your home folder you can put all your sensitive personal documents only accessible to your user.
Any USB drives will also be in the root of the share, as well as the recordings from surveillance station.
- Low power
- Easy setup
- The convenience of installing more apps to tailor your NAS to your needs
- Would have loved a tool less experience
- Feels underpowered
- Low ram, don’t even try running anything in docker
- Only USB2 ports, but this isn’t an issue for me personally as I will be consuming data directly from the drives and not coping onto the Synology itself.
I think this is a great device for a small business or household, would recommend as entry level NAS with 4 users max.
My setup is as follows:
- Synology NAS 120j
- 320GB SATA Seagate Hard Drive (I unfortunately didn’t have an extra larger drive at the moment of writing this).
- Huawei B535 Router
- Wireless Network.
- NAS connected via LAN. WIFI devices can access it without any problem.
The device unboxing is easy. The Quick Start booklet provided is short and to the point.
The build quality of the device is good. The white colour is appealing. The LED indicators flash nicely, without being an eye-sore.
It’s actually a pretty neat and great looking device. that should fit nicely with any interior design.
The actual hard drive install is quick. Just open the Synology 120j, slot in the physical disk, fasten all the screws (which are provided in the box),
Close the device, fasten the screws. Open your browser to the link provided in the Quick Start booklet. Start the setup process.
The device installed its OS (DSM) in under 10 minutes. Going by the time, I would say it took 5 minutes max. No issues, smooth sailing.
I created a new Synology account during the setup Wizard, since I didn’t have one and it worked flawlessly. No issues and a quick sign up process.
The device is fast. It’s easy to manage. Once you have set it up, just take your time to get accustomed to the interface.
Browse the interface a bit. Check the options and once you are confident enough with the layout and how everything works, then it’s really easy going.
My intended use:
- I intend to use it as a Plex media solution.
- I also intend to setup a complete backup and synchronisation to Cloud Storage.
- I will add a larger, faster Hard Drive in future, when I’m able to do so.
- I’ll be using it for Home purposes and not Business use.
- I’ll definitely go more in-depth with it in future. I believe it has great possibilities.
- I’ve tested Plex casting from my PC and phone to my Chromecast and it works beautifully, so I’ll use it without a doubt for Streaming.
It’s a perfect first-time NAS. Easy to setup (your Mom could do it).
Why would you need it?
- External hard drive solutions are sometimes tedious to use, attach, remove, re-attach etc,
- You won’t be able to get the same benefits from external storage, like you could with a Synology 120j NAS.
- With a NAS it’s almost a Set-and-Forget solution. Just like your trusty Router, but instead for your Media, Data, Backups and general memorabilia.
I had a 4-bay NAS that supported me for 10 years (nearly non-stop) until it failed in December 2020.
This was replaced by a HP SFF PC with an external drive to provide me with a Virtualisation platform for my HASS and Plex Server, plus becoming the single backup repository for all my family’s OneDrive and iCloud backups.
I also have a 1-bay NAS used for ‘backup’ of some critical data. Professionally, I have been using top end NAS for ISCSI targets and Fibre Channel SANS.
I hate losing things, so I have backups of backups – all automated as much as possible.
For example, my existing 1-bay NAS turns on automatically once a week, just for a backup of some core data to take place to it.
- The Synology OS called DSM is really great. The high end Synology devices with faster CPUs must be so brilliant to use. I can see myself getting one in the future. Synology has nailed this.
- Setup was easy. Installing 3.25 drive was simple but note that 2.5 drives require an adaptor that is not provided with the device.
- You can connect an external drive to this device which helps to make backups or increase space.
- Beautiful device. It’s a shame that most of us would hide it in a cupboard but if you don’t, it’s very quiet.
- Cool Customer. Considering the NAS was running at 99% util for over 1.5 days, it was still cool to touch
- User Management and permissions seem to be easy to set as an experienced IT guy. Unsure if the lay person could understand it with regards to groups, etc. But for me, it was up my alley!
Other cool features include:
- Ability to set startup/shutdown times – so the NAS is available when you want it. As a media server, you may only want the NAS to be running when you are at home, so in the evenings and all weekend long. This saved electricity if required.
- HDD Health monitoring
- Push Notifications on nearly anything. You don’t have to setup mail to get this to work
- Apple Time-Machine Backup Target. I can finally fully backup my partner’s MacBook again.
The Synology DS120J is a perfect device for someone who is dipping their toes in building a storage solution for their home or very small office.
It is more than capable of meeting needs to store documents, media and video.
It is actually very fast for on-network transfers and I got 100Mb/s copying files to the NAS (while the CPU was pegged at 100% doing the cloud sync!).