Functionality Over Performance?
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.
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.”