Synology DS-213: A good NAS box for SMB, SOHO and Home users

Synology offers the DS-213 NAS (Network Attached Storage) box for SMB/SOHO/Home users. Let us take a deeper look at the product, in this article.

First of all, why would you buy a NAS? Why not just buy an external hard-drive and back-up all your content over there? That may be cheaper, but the level of automation and reliability offered by a NAS box is much more than any external hard-drive. You need to buy a NAS box for all the reasons mentioned here and below.

For starters, consider these advantages of NAS box:

  • You can have two mirrored hard-drives within the same enclosure in a RAID 1 configuration. That means, one disk is the exact duplicate of the other and hence even if the first disk fails completely, the other disk will take over. The possibility of both of them failing at the same time is very less and hence you can be sure that disk failures will not erase all your data. Of course, if you use RAID, you get only half the storage space (one disk) for storing files.
  • A NAS box is almost like a server. You can keep it running 24×7 and access applications/files from it, anytime. That’s the reason you want to back-up stuff, right? To access them again. NAS makes it easier than you can ever think. In fact, for small businesses, a NAS box like this maybe enough to do a lot of work hitherto done by dedicated servers. And servers do not come cheap. Anyone connected to the network can access the files stored in the NAS server and the NAS can even stream media (audio, video) to network devices (PC, tablet, mobile, etc.), anytime.
  • Automate all your back-up. A NAS box can save a lot of time for you because you can set it up to back-up files from certain locations in your computer (to the NAS box, over the network) automatically, without user-intervention. This NAS box can even back-up your data in multiple locations like an external USB powered hard-drive connected to it or to a cloud server, over the Internet.

If you run something critical on your network, you need to consider having a NAS box and not just storing all your valuable data on an external hard-drive.

The Synology DS-213 is a two-bay NAS box that allows you to insert two 2.5″ or 3.5″ hard-drives from various vendors, allows you to connect it to your network, allows you to connect external peripherals over the high-speed USB 3.0 port, allows you to download apps, allows you to run various server functions, allows you to automatically back-up data, and much more. This NAS box is not only for Small businesses, but it can also be used by home-office users and home users working with a lot of data/files. Well, who isn’t?

Important Specifications of the Synology DS-213:

  • 2-Bay Diskless NAS (There are two slots where you can insert hard-drives, but hard-drives are not included)
  • CPU: 2 GHz
  • RAM: 512 DDR3 RAM
  • LAN: 10/100/1000 Mbps Wired LAN Port; Wi-Fi (through a Wi-Fi dongle, not included with the device)
  • Average Speed: 108.23 MB/sec Reading; 65.41 MB/sec for writing in Windows environment. In practical situations, speeds vary.
  • USB 3.0 x 2 Ports; USB 2.0 x 1 Port; SD Card Slot
  • NAS OS: Synology Disk Station Manager (SDM). Supported Client OS: Windows, Mac, Ubuntu.
  • Hard-drive capacity: 8 TB; 4 TB x 2 (Max); Both 3.5″ and 2.5″ SATA (II) drives are supported, no additional mounting accessories needed to mount either of them inside the unit.
  • Dimensions: 11″ x 8″ x 9″; Weight: 2.8 Pounds
  • Data Replicator program for PC users and Native Time Machine integration for Mac users

Synology DiskStation Manager OS/features Video Introduction:

Striking Advantages of Synology DS-213 NAS box:

  • Centralized storage, back-up system for SMB, SOHO and Home users
  • Since the two hard-drives can be set up with RAID configuration, data is not lost even if one of them completely fails
  • Simple system installation, easy to use, short learning-curve
  • Relatively quiet, energy-efficient
  • Good price/performance for NAS system of its class. Offers many more features than others
  • Hot swappable drives enable users to insert/remove hard-drives without switching off the system/rebooting the same
  • Front panel USB and SD card slots make them easier to access
  • Wake On LAN allows users to set up the NAS box to wake from sleep only when some data is sent to it/requested from it. Scheduled Power On and Off enables people to specify times when they want the system to be on or off. These features save a lot of power
  • The build offers good vibration resistance for the hard-drives housed inside
  • 24 x 7 continuous operation
  • This NAS box offers good support for Windows and Mac operating systems
  • Synology has excellent on-line support resources on its website
  • Synology offers its own Anti-Virus software to protect the disk-drives
  • For advanced institutional users, the Synology DS-213 will allow to specify iSCSI target/LUN – 10 max (SAN feature)
  • Synology has an impressive collection of one-click, ready-to-use apps
  • Synology DDNS service allows users to set up their own (sub)domain names for their NAS box in order to easily access it from anywhere (remote locations) using smart phones, computers, etc. using the Internet connection
  • You can set-up the Synology DS-213 for performing various server functions like File server, Email server, LDAP server, DHCP server, Syslog server, iTunes/Audio server, Video streaming server, DLNA/UPnP media server, VPN server, etc
  • Shared folders on different devices and the DS-213 can be synced with each other. That means, changes in one folder will reflect automatically in others. This is a very useful feature for back-up
  • Mobile apps from all major mobile platforms are available for accessing the DS-213 from a mobile phone

Limitations of Synology DS-213 NAS box:

  • The housing is rigid, but is made of plastic
  • Fan-cooled device – There will be some noise during operation and the chances of failure for moving parts (fans) are higher
  • The same applies for hard-drives that are housed inside. They are rotating disks and not SSD’s and hence the chances of failure are higher. That said, these technologies have been there for long and are reliable beyond expectations.
  • It is possible to remove the case for cleaning, but is slightly difficult.
  • Sometimes, it maybe required to manually press refresh button on the screen to see the USB peripherals connected to it.
  • It takes some time to complete a large back-up. For example, you may have to leave it overnight during the first (large) back-up. But this is common with all NAS/storage systems.
  • Support only for RAID 0,1. Other RAID levels are not supported.
  • Only one license for its IP Camera management software is included with the device
  • It supports VPN (Virtual Private Network) based secure connections, but offers a maximum of only 5 simultaneous connections.

Other points to be noted:

  • If you are going to use RAID mirroring (recommended), use two similar sized hard-drives. For example 2 x 2 TB or 2 x 3 TB, etc. in order to utilize all the space
  • It is possible to use Hard Disk Drives from different manufacturers. One can even configure RAID between them using Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR).
  • Users can get more space out of their drives by archiving/zipping (compressing) files before uploading them to the Synology DS-213.
  • There is a low-power (sleep) mode and users can adjust the time after which the device goes to sleep.

Lots more information: Refer to the official Synology web-page for DS-213.

Accessories to buy along with Synology DS-213:

Seagate Barracuda 7200 3 TB 7200RPM SATA 6 Gb/s NCQ 64MB Cache 3.5-Inch Internal Bare Drive ST3000DM001 (3 TB Hard-drive)

Seagate ST2000DM001 Barracuda 7200RPM 2 TB SATA 6 GB/s NCQ 64 MB Cache 3.5-Inch Internal Bare Drive (2 TB Hard-drive)

Western Digital 1 TB WD SATA III Intellipower 64 MB Cache Bulk/OEM Desktop Hard Drive, Red WD10EFRX [Amazon Frustration-Free Packaging] (1 TB Hard-drive)

Other models/options to consider: Synology DS-212j, Synology DS-213+

 

Where to buy (Synology DS-213): If you live in the United States (US), you can buy the Synology DS-213 from Amazon.

 

Also have a look at Synology DS-213+ review, which is similar to this model, but offers more.

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