Synology is one of the rapidly rising players in the SMB (Small to Medium Businesses) / SOHO (Small Office & Home Office) NAS market. This market is a highly competitive one with many players like QNAP, Thecus, Netgear, Drobo, LaCie, Seagate and Western Digital. Consumers with a necessity to store and backup their home media collection are also amongst the customers in this market.

Synology has a sensible model number nomenclature in which the last two digits refer to the year through which the model is intended for sale. The first set of digits refer to the maximum number of bays supported. Some models have a + at the end, signifying higher performance. Today, we have the DS211+ for review. The DS refers to the product category, Disk Station. 2 indicates a 2 bay model, and the 11 indicates a 2011 model. It is supposed to have a higher performance compared to the DS211 which was released in November 2010.



The purpose of any NAS is to serve as a centralized repository for data while also having some sort of redundancy built in. The redundancy helps in data recovery, in case of media failure of any other unforeseen circumstances. Along with the standard RAID levels, some companies also offer custom redundancy solutions. The OS on the NAS also varies across vendors.

In addition to manual support for the standard RAID configurations, Synology also provides the SHR (Synology Hybrid Raid) option. The OS on the DS211+ is the Disk Station Manager 3.0 (DSM), a Linux variant. Most of its features for day-to-day operations can be accessed over a web browser.

The last SMB NAS that we reviewed was the LaCie 5big Storage Server, a 5 bay model running Windows Storage Server 2008. We introduced our new NAS benchmarking methodology in that review. In addition to repeating the methodology on the DS211+, we also checked up a little bit on the Linux performance. Before we get to that, however, let us devote a couple of sections to the hardware and software that make up the DS211+.

Unboxing and Setup Impressions
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  • Rasterman - Monday, February 28, 2011 - link

    a comparison to the previous model would be nice
  • MadMan007 - Monday, February 28, 2011 - link

    The prices on NASes like this always make me shudder and laugh at the same time. For much less than $400 you could build something like a low-end C2D setup (used parts, if not a new cheapie combo) that is still reasonably power efficient (My e7300 WHS box with 4 HDDDs pulls 50W idle with a 450W 80+ PSU which honestly is a touch large. Spending more on modern parts like a Clarkdale would get closer to this device's power draw.) That costs me an extra ~$22 in electricity each year over this device except I could probably put it together for around $200-ish 8-10 years to make up the difference? Oh, and it' much more expandable and also acts as an emergency backup PC.

    I know these are for 'consumers' who don't know jack about assembling a PC but for anyone who can I just don't see the appeal or economic advantage. I guess it's good to have a little basic PC knowledge, I kind of feel bad for the consumers who 'have to' buy these hings.
  • MadMan007 - Monday, February 28, 2011 - link

    *note: not that price with 4 disks, just the hardware for an apples-apples comparison
  • WackyDan - Monday, February 28, 2011 - link

    "I know these are for 'consumers' who don't know jack about assembling a PC"

    Bull. I have two Synology NAS and I'm a systems engineer for a rather well known tech company. I have several PC's in this house, sitting around idle in my attic. I chose Synology for the energy consumption, to be quiet, and SIZE. They don't crash, auto restart on power loss, and have been bulletproof. *which with my wife, is important.

    If you want to pay likely more than the $22 in extra power than that is your opinion, and right to it. Some of us like more refined solutions, and for NAS Synology is it.
  • V864 - Monday, February 28, 2011 - link

    Power consumption has implications beyond simply cost of energy. Your homebrew system would require more than twice the UPS capacity than the DS211+ to attain the same level of uptime if you lose power.
  • Exelius - Monday, February 28, 2011 - link

    Don't bullshit yourself, you really couldn't build anything comparable for less than $400 unless you have a crapton of parts just lying around. Then there's the issue of your time having any value at all... Old PC equipment isn't necessarily cheaper; after it's been end-of-lifed it disappears from the marketplace pretty quickly. I guess there's always eBay, but anyone who's tried to buy computer hardware off ebay knows what a crapshoot it can be between mislabeled or non-functional gear. You can blow your savings in a hurry.

    There's also something to be said for a headless unit that you can manage through a web browser. At the end of the day, you're going to spend somewhere in the ballpark of $400 and have a device with similar functionality, but you'll put in a LOT more work. Why not just buy the $400 device and be done with it?
  • fteoath64 - Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - link

    Not true. Here is the parts list:

    Intel Atom D525DW OEM = $70
    2GB DDR3 SODIMM = $25
    Thermatake Element Q case = $80 { included 90w PS}
    Total = $175

    Download ZFSGuru in a USB stick install and configure. Done.
    You have 2 SATA ports , 6 USB ports, a PCI slot and mini-PCIe slot for expansions.
  • blckgrffn - Monday, February 28, 2011 - link

    Performance looked OK for raw data access, but how does it stand up to something like iometer? Hit this thing and give us an idea of how its cache works, etc. :)
  • ganeshts - Monday, February 28, 2011 - link

    I agree IOMeter can give info about the cache behaviour.

    However, NASPT is the benchmark which actually gives the real world performance. More info here:

    That said, I will definitely try to integrate IOMeter in the next NAS review.
  • Pandamonium - Monday, February 28, 2011 - link

    I own a DS209 myself, and I think there's a major flaw in the Synology DSM OS.

    There is no way to schedule SMART tests on your disks. You have to manually initiate the tests on each drive. Unless Synology has some kind of unpublished mechanism whereby it verifies data integrity, I'm pretty sure that automated SMART tests are a necessity.

    For most home users, a NAS is a place where you can centralize your music, photo, and video collection. And while I realize RAID 1/hybrid RAID isn't true "backup", it is a relatively acceptable solution. I think we are all more likely to have a HDD fail on us before we are robbed or our houses suffer catastrophic damage.

    That said, say you've got 1 TB of stuff stored on the NAS. That data isn't generally accessed on a regular basis. We all have media that hasn't been accessed in years. When one of your drives begins to go, you might lose a bit here and a bit there. And you would have no way to know that your drive is failing unless you were manually running SMART tests or other HDD diagnostics. When all is said and done, your RAID 1 or hybrid RAID would be inconsistent. What guarantee is there that the Synology DSM could tell which hard drive contains the "right" data?

    As far as the competition goes, QNAP definitely supports automated/scheduled SMART testing.

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