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Synology DiskStation DS212+
Synology's two-bay, $670 (as of March 23, 2012) DiskStation DS212+ provides great performance and state-of-the-art connectivity, but it lacks the expandability and physical security of its sibling, the DiskStation DS712+. With 512MB of memory and a 2GHz Marvell Kirkwood mv6282 CPU, the DS212+ easily surpasses the performance of its DiskStation DS211+predecessor--and most of the other two-bay boxes we've tested.
The DiskStation DS212+ has a pop-off faceplate; behind it are two readily accessible drive bays. Since drives must be secured with screws in the plastic drive trays, however, they're not truly quick-change. Also, though the trays secure in place, they don't lock, as the trays in the expandable DS712+ do, so the DS212+ isn't optimal for businesses or nonsecure locations. A large, exceptionally quiet fan at the back of the unit keeps things cool.
New for the DiskStation DS212+ is USB 3.0, in the form of two ports on the back of the unit. The box also has a single USB 2.0 port on the front for copying data off of thumb drives and the like. USB 3.0 thumb drives are arriving in the market, and Synology's decision not to offer USB on the front of the unit seems a bit miserly for a box this pricey. On the other hand, the DS212+ does have a front-mounted SDHC card slot so that you can quickly offload photos via the unit's quick-copy button.
Among the five two-bay NAS boxes we reviewed for our May print issue's NAS box roundup, the DS212+ ranked behind only its pricier DS712+ cousin in overall performance, writing our 10GB mix of folders and files at 46.1 megabytes per second and reading them at 48.3 MBps. With large files, it's a scorcher: It completed our writing test at 61.9 MBps, and our reading test at 108.7 MBps. That last number is actually faster than the one posted by the DS712+, and it's only slightly lower than the large-file data rates posted by the more capacious (and pricier) QNAP TS-459 Pro II and QNAP TS-879 Pro.
All Synology NAS boxes use the same well-designed operating system with the same cornucopia of features, which include remote access via HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, SFTP, and Webdav; iTunes and DLNA-certified media serving; Wi-Fi connection hotspot hosting; remote synchronization of the box via Rsync; and video surveillance (free for one camera, more requires pricy licensing).
The DiskStation DS212+ is not cheap by any measure. At $400 without drives, it costs about the same as one of the 4TB boxes from vendors such as LaCie, Netgear, and Western Digital; add the price of 2TB of hard drives, which our tested configuration contained, and the total jumps to $670. But its superior speed makes it suitable for handling multiple users in a home environment; and its feature set is, along with the two QNAPs' sets, among the best available. In the long run, features such as Web site serving and remote backup can save you quite a bit of money, making this NAS box worth the extra bucks.
Synology DiskStation DS212+
Synology's nonexpandable, two-bay consumer NAS box is fast and has a useful, feature-packed operating system.
- Wide variety of built-in features
- Great performance
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