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Synology DS211 NAS Review – the ultimate budget NAS?

Those of you who have been following our recent NAS reviews will have noticed that Synology recently released the latest version of their operating system which is fully multitasking, allowing the user to switch between applications and tasks. We think its a fantastic operating system and is worth another look in this review.

When the system is first powered up the Synology Assistant shows any compatible devices on the network. Most Synology devices require the firmware/software to be installed before they are used.

The newest firmware files can be downloaded from the Synology website, but in this case as the product was not released at time of review we used the file on the software disc supplied. The procedure takes about 10 minutes in total.

Diskmanager 3.0 is a low overhead, multitasking operating system which is extremely responsive to use. The interface will appeal to anyone who has used Windows or Linux.

As the software is multitasking capable we can perform many tasks simultaneously.

The first course of action is to set up a drive configuration.

Basic, JBOD, Raid 0 and Raid 1 are supported and RAID Migration is possible from Basic to Raid 1. Raid 1 can be expanded with larger hard drives. We are using two 1TB Samsung drives for this review (none are supplied from Synology).

Setting up shared folders for the network is a straightforward process. 2048 users and 256 user groups are supported with a maximum of 256 shared folders. 128 accounts can connect at the same time over SAMBA, FTP or AFP.

There is full support for Jumbo frames up to 9k, which obviously needs support from the rest of the network, including any switches incorporated. Macintosh networking is also supported, giving true cross platform compatibility.

The operating system has a monitoring system similar to the Windows panels, showing CPU overhead as well as memory demands and network activity. Any partitions can be analysed and hard drive temperatures can be monitored. The interface is fully featured and covers most bases. While we noticed that this system wasn’t as fast as some of the higher end models we have reviewed before, it is still capable of multitasking through various panels, even when mid way through a Raid configuration.

Diskstation 3.0 includes many media and automated options, such as

Download Station functions as a 24×7 BitTorrent, FTP, HTTP, eMule, and NZB download center without a PC. The eMule download engine allows search-n-download capability with a web-browser without installing additional desktop applications.
Audio Station supports music, Internet radio stations, and iPod playback with the optional speakers. An optional direction-free Synology Remote allows you to freely enjoy your music. Streaming mode allows your music to be shared with multiple users over the Intranet or Internet.
DLNA/UPnP Compliant Media Server allows you to stream multimedia files with an UPnP Digital Media Adapter (DMA) to a stereo system or a TV-set. Sony PS3 and Microsoft Xbox360 are also supported.
iTunes Server is an easy way to share music with other iTunes clients over the network. Password protection prevents unauthorized sharing.

Photo Station simplifies photo, video, and blog sharing over the Internet. The flexibility of photo theme customization, blog layout arrangement, visitor’s privilege setting, RSS feed, and the dazzling 3-dimentional photo browsing with Cooliris make Photo Station your state-of-the-art lifestyle sharing center on the Internet.
Web Station with built-in PHP+MySQL allows you to publish your own websites or install numerous popular open source programs.

Frequently used programs can be pinned to the taskbar for easy access later. There are many nice touches throughout which we are sure will be enhanced further as time progresses.

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