Synology’s NAS boxes have rarely disappointed us and, with a beefier hardware specification than any previous model we’ve seen, the DiskStation DS211+ looks set to trounce its predecessors. It uses a 1.6GHz Marvell 88F6282 Feroceon ARM CPU and has 512MB of DDR3 memory. The 88F6282 CPU is far more potent than the 1.2GHz Marvell Kirkwood CPU included with the DS211j , which also has just a quarter of the memory. As with the DS211j, the DS211+ supports up to 3TB hard disks, and you’re able to remove individual hard disks from RAID 1 arrays and replace them with hard disks of a larger capacity; the DS211+ then rebuilds the array.
Cooling the DS211+ is a huge (for a NAS) 92mm fan at its rear, which is rated at 25dBA and spins at 1,800rpm at full speed. You’re able to adjust basic fan profiles in the operating system but even at its fastest setting, the fan was practically inaudible. This, combined with large rubber feet and a press-on front cover equipped with anti-vibration mounts, means that the DS211+ is extremely quiet.
The DS211+’s browser-based setup screen is easy to follow, allowing you to quickly set up volumes on your hard disks, create and assign user privileges, and access the DS211+’s many other features. Help links direct you to an extensive list of guides, all of which have links to the features themselves, which makes setting up RAID, iSCSI or backups quick and easy.
The DS211+ can back up or synchronise your data in various ways. Synology’s Data Replicator 3 software is a Windows-based app that allows you to synchronise files and folders between the DS211+ and another network location. The DMS OS has yet more backup options, undertaken by the NAS itself, and you can also back up directly to Amazon’s S3 backup service.
The DS211+ boasts many media features, such as an iTunes server, a photo server, a separate audio server and a fully featured download manager. From the Download Station you can set up HTTP or FTP downloads, and it’s also the front end of a capable BitTorrent client. The Download Station also offers a fully configurable download scheduler, allowing you to set upload and download speeds to specific values hour by hour. It isn’t as well featured as a fully-fledged BitTorrent client, but it’s enough to help you dodge heavy-handed ISP download limits. DLNA and UPnP media server support is also included to facilitate streaming your files to media streamers or consoles.
Performance was incredible and the DS211+ smashed through the records set by its cheaper sibling, the DS211j, by significant margins. Over Gigabit Ethernet, it managed read and write speeds in our small file test of 46.3MB/sec and 36.9MB/sec respectively – nearly twice as fast as the DS211j. In our large file test, the DS211+ recorded an average read speed of 81.9MB/sec – over 20 per cent faster than the DS211j. When writing the same file, we saw an average speed of 45MB/sec – again, more than 20 per cent faster than the DS211j.
The DS211+ costs around £100 more than the DS211j, and this is before you add the price of hard disks. However, the DS211+ is quieter, has better cooling and is significantly faster across the board. If you’re using 100Mbps Ethernet or powerline adaptors, you won’t benefit from the extra speed the DS211+ offers. If you use Gigabit Ethernet, though, it’s a speed demon.
Local connections Front: USB 2, SD card reader; Rear: LAN, 2 x USB 2, eSATA
Network connections Gigabit Ethernet
Storage Up to 2 x 3TB hard disks (not included)
Cables 2m Cat 5 Ethernet,
Wireless security N/A
Features FTP server, webserver, photo server, independent download (via HTTP, FTP and BitTorrent), iTunes and UPnP AV media sever, print server, webcam host, storage server for external USB hard disks, iSCSI, video surveillance
Software Data Replicator 3 Backup, Download Redirector