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Synology DS207+: Getting NAS Into Your Home

Synology DS207+: Getting NAS Into Your Home
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The Synology Disk Station DS207+ looks a lot like any number of other network attached storage (NAS) devices. You connect it to a data network and save files on it, across as many as two hard drives. Like many new NAS devices designed for the home and small businesses, the DS207+ also comes with some additional functions that turn it into a home server.

Don’t underestimate the utility tied to centralizing data. By collecting information from individual workstations onto one RAID-protected repository, you drastically reduce the risk of losing important files in the event of a crash.

Synology’s solution under the microscope today provides obligatory UPnP support, iTunes server functionality, and a number of user administration options—admittedly, nothing special so far. In order to stand out from the crowd, Synology significantly extends the device’s capabilities. We did raise one question in response, though: does network performance suffer as a result of a device like this with lots of usability-oriented bells and whistles?

Classical File Server Or NAS Device?

When it comes to delivering hardware able to serve up large quantities of data for several networked users, your choices are at least somewhat limited. There’s the ever-popular classical file server based on an aging Intel or AMD system running Windows or Linux. Of course, going this route requires that you know how to set up a RAID controller, install a server operating system, and set up Linux services like Samba. On top of that, you also have to consider the effort involved in installing updates for the operating system.

We’re well aware that this is the direction many enthusiasts will go. But for users who need a reliable storage solution ready to go, right out of the box, rolling your own dependable NAS can be a time-consuming proposition. If you’re looking to recycle old hardware, though, by all means, recycle away. But don’t write off the convenience of a purpose-built NAS, either.

User-Friendliness

This is where NAS devices come into play. They are usually easy to use and don’t require a lot of knowledge about either storage or networks. The configuration is usually achieved through a Web-based interface, which can also be used to load necessary scripts. The user doesn’t have to touch the underlying operating system or deal with configuring the RAID array. There is usually an wizard of some sort that even helps you with the setup, explaining the benefits and compromises of features like RAID 1 and 0. Synology follows the tenets of ease-of-use with it’s own Web-based interface, the "Disk Station Manager.”

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  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , December 12, 2008 6:43 AM
    It should be noted that Synology currently has an issue with their HD hibernation function and that it has not been solved for a long time
    http://www.synology.com/enu/forum/viewforum.php?f=83
    Synology has to iron out this issue soon or stop advertising their NAS's as having HD hibernation!
  • 2 Hide
    slomo4sho , December 12, 2008 8:01 AM
    To be honest, I don't see any benefits of a NAS device over a budget HTPC build supporting multiple hard drives in raid 0 configuration with dual LAN.

    This is the third NAS write-up with a months time frame. How about a write-up of direct comparison between these NAS devices and a budget built HTPC configuration?
  • 6 Hide
    Anonymous , December 12, 2008 8:29 AM
    This thing is over $300 withOUT HDDs! Why would I pay that much when a MiniPC goes $250? This thing is a box with a chipset. Let me know when the price is sub $100.
  • 2 Hide
    aapocketz , December 12, 2008 12:49 PM
    I agree with previous sentiments about the value of this at $300. You can go out and buy something like uATX or ITX board and a small case for similar money. There are drop in linux distros that will act as NAS boxes and provide web interfaces, rolling your own isn't that hard. Or pay a bit more and get something like the HP mediasmart home server for only $100 more. Lots more configurability.

    However I purchased a Maxtor Shared Storage II single drive unit for about 100 a couple years back (with built in 320GB, awesome deal). I like the simplistic nature of it, low power use, flawless drive standby, and it runs a USB print server reliably so I can print from any computer. I didn't want RAID since I "rsync" the data over the network for redundancy when my main computer is on (good thing too, I had to have the hard drive replaced under warranty). I didn't need gigE though I may look to move to it at some point.

    So for the right price, these things can be nice, but are limiting. For instance my brother has a squeezebox and while the NAS had a itunes server, it cant run the slimserver. That would be no problem on a HTPC type build with linux or WHS. Other NAS have slimserver capability but I still posit that they are less flexible than a full buildup. I can live with that, but not for $300+ dollars.


  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , December 12, 2008 1:02 PM
    I agree with Slomo4sho. There have been myriad writeups of these devices, and I suspect that the more avid readers of Tom's would probably prefer to build their own solution. How building one to trounce these purpose-built jobs while saving money? I'd be very interested to see what you can come up with. And why not do it with all Newegg parts, so we can all check it out?
  • 1 Hide
    malveaux , December 12, 2008 1:17 PM
    Good heavens,

    Another NAS writeup. Tom's. We don't need to see these. Folk who actually want/use NAS don't care about these expensive little cute "home/office" NAS boxes that cost as much as a computer minus the drives and minus, well, the computer. These little NAS boxes are basically targeting those `we know nothing and won't hire an IT guy' small office/groups thinking about what they overheard another group's IT junkie saying and figured it'd be easy cause they think they know everything; get home only to find out they just wasted money and have no clue what they're even going to do with the NAS.

    But, whatever. Meh.

    Anyone interested in NAS, this is __NOT__ the way to go about it. This is an expensive silly approach to it. NAS needs to be EXPANDABLE to add more drives to, it needs to have options for OS (Why use this thing when FreeNAS is free, or if you wanted something like windows server).

    You can build a great little computer into a very nice case for this cost.
  • 0 Hide
    aapocketz , December 12, 2008 1:43 PM
    Geez malveaux.

    I don't disagree that these are kinda expensive, thats the listed retail price, they are consumer products and get marked down quickly.

    But its not like its only market is stupid and ignorant people.

    having a plug-in simple way to add basic storage to a network has value. Just like people go out and buy consumer routers (d-link, netgear, linksys).

    Also I would like to be able to put freeNAS on a consumer dedicated NAS hardware, kinda like putting openWRT or tomato on a linux capable router.

  • 0 Hide
    snarfies1 , December 12, 2008 1:53 PM
    aapocketzGeez malveaux.I don't disagree that these are kinda expensive, thats the listed retail price, they are consumer products and get marked down quickly.


    The problem is that this is NOT a new product - I remember looking these over almost a year ago when I was looking into a NAS setup. I'm not at all sure why this is being reviewed now. The price has not, in fact, gone down.
  • 0 Hide
    aapocketz , December 12, 2008 2:02 PM
    Quote:
    The problem is that this is NOT a new product - I remember looking these over almost a year ago when I was looking into a NAS setup. I'm not at all sure why this is being reviewed now. The price has not, in fact, gone down.


    yeah, did a google search, you are right, it was released about a year ago. I feel like i just wasted my time reading this. Tomshardware has become disturbing in the last couple years.

    wasn't there a dedicated small home networking subsite on toms a while back? Where did that go?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , December 12, 2008 2:20 PM
    I have a 207+ and love it. It does exactly what I wanted it to do. Power efficient and set and forget. Not everyone wants a dedicated pc to do something as simple as file hosting. These use less power, take up less space, and in my opinion, more dependable.
  • 0 Hide
    JoeAverage , December 12, 2008 2:27 PM
    My exerience with devices like this one has been unsatisfactory. We purchased 3 different models from different manufactures trying to come up with a cheap file server for a remote office. I found that the embedded processors in these things was weak and performance was slow even running "3 disk" stripes. I'm not sure why it was the case but throughput was lousy across the board like 500k/second to 1 mb/sec on a 100m network. Again, I must say it was not this brand or model that I tried. I ended up using FreeNAS on an old Dell desktop which got me about 25mb/s. (a GX50 I think)
  • -1 Hide
    JoeAverage , December 12, 2008 2:36 PM
    JoeAverageMy exerience with devices like this one has been unsatisfactory. We purchased 3 different models from different manufactures trying to come up with a cheap file server for a remote office. I found that the embedded processors in these things was weak and performance was slow even running Raid stripes. I'm not sure why it was the case but throughput was lousy across the board like 500k/second to 1 mb/sec on a 100m network. Again, I must say it was not this brand or model that I tried. I ended up using FreeNAS on an old Dell desktop which got me about 25mb/s. (a GX50 I think)

  • 0 Hide
    chjade84 , December 12, 2008 4:58 PM
    Should anyone get the urge to build one for yourself using FreeNAS all the equipment comes to about $370 for 1TB of Raid 1 or 2TB of raid 0.

    Foxconn TLM776-CN300C-02 Black Steel MicroATX Mini Tower - $39.99
    ECS AMD690GM-M2 AM2 AMD 690G Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - $49.99
    AMD Sempron 64 3400+ Manila 1.8GHz - $19.99
    COOLER MASTER DK8-9GD4A-0L-GP 95mm CPU Cooler - $15.19
    Kingston 512MB 240-Pin DDR2 - $8.49
    (2x)SAMSUNG Spinpoint F1 HD103UJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA HDD - $99.99
    PNY SPU5103PPB PCI SATA S-CURE Storage Card - 33.99

    It's probably more powerful than any 'consumer' level NAS you could buy, and supports up to 5 HDD's and can do almost any RAID configuration you want. I will be building one soon!
  • 0 Hide
    aapocketz , December 12, 2008 5:59 PM
    good info chjade, makes for a decent comparison. I built a computer recently around the 780G and 45w X2 processor which is a bit more powerful than your setup but similar.

    power consumption is a killer feature of NAS though, and I would bet this system uses twice the power while active at least.

    How are standby options? Most NAS boxes use minimal power, especially when idle. I have had issues getting S3 standby and ACPI stuff working in linux before. I would like the machine to be in S3 standby until it receives traffic directed to it and wake up automatically as described in this article http://www.exoid.com/?page_id=47. I don't mean magic packets wake-on-lan I mean any traffic. That would be sweet.

    I mentioned openWRT for routers, apparently they have a hack of the linksys NSLU2 http://www.nslu2-linux.org/. Anyone try that out?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , December 12, 2008 8:31 PM
    Unfortunately this test was done with on old FirmWare, 640. Synology is doing a good job with improving their devices (I own a CS407), and they're now at FW 728. (640>702>722>728). HD hibernation is still being addressed, and has been improved in newer FW's, but for myself, I have no issues whatsoever, my 3x WD 500GB's hibernate perfectly. When my Mac Mini is online, it keeps an active connection to my CS407, and therefor hibernation is no good. But with my Windows PC online, they hibernate when no use (10mins). Dumping my Mac anyway, so I'm happy.
  • 0 Hide
    nukemaster , December 12, 2008 9:32 PM
    LOL.....My "NAS" is my old A64 3200+ with a tv card and hard drives for recording and saving files. My only regret is the 120-130watt power use(considering my Q6600 @ 3.0 idles at ~180 and has WAY more hardware in it).

    Changed out the video card to a geforce 4mx400 and the power use is now 75 watts at idle :) 
  • 0 Hide
    JonnyDough , December 13, 2008 3:49 AM
    The best deals for NAS can be found on the Egg. $177 nets you a D-Link NAS which may not have every option but is fine for home use. The previous reviews for the item were with older firmware. It seems they've fixed the problems. There are other NAS boxes with the same story for even less.
  • 0 Hide
    wirelessfender , December 14, 2008 12:24 AM
    I agree with Jonny, D-link makes some really nice NAS solutions. I just got a D-link DNS-323 for $145 at buydig.com. They also make a DNS-343 that has 4 drive bays and supports raid 5. Much better solutions IMO.
  • 0 Hide
    zodiacfml , December 15, 2008 12:23 PM
    if i'm going to have a file server/NAS, it will have an intel mobo with built-in Atom. :) 
  • 1 Hide
    fattyboy , December 15, 2008 6:14 PM
    Tiny Config with Atom Processor: All prices via newegg.com 12-15-08

    MSI Wind PC Intel 945GC Black Barebone - $140 (and a $10 rebate)
    CORSAIR ValueSelect 512MB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 533 - $7.50
    2 x SAMSUNG Spinpoint F1 HD103UJ 1TB - $190
    StarTech BRACKET Metal 3.5" to 5.25" Drive Adapter Bracket - $10.00
    (Wind PC only has one 3.5" and one 5.25" bay.)
    Kingston 2GB Compact Flash Card - $8.50

    Total - $356 ($346 with rebate)

    One cool thing - FreeNas can be loaded onto a flash card - and the WindPC has a CF card slot.

    I didn't spend tons of time on this so there might be problems I missed. However, I'd like to see Toms build it for us, put it through the motions and give us the verdict. Low power, Full Featured, and WITH 2 GB of storage costs only a little more than the empty synology.
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