Most helpful positive review
227 of 245 people found the following review helpful
Synology DiskStation 2-Bay (Diskless) Network Attached Storage DS213+
on March 15, 2013
I have been using this NAS/Server for a while now at home and it has been great. I checked yesterday evening and I'm only using about 66% of the 3.6TB storage on it. Not too bad. I have configured this to automatically update now (it checks in the middle of the night) so I don't really have to touch it much. I love the multiple layers of backups I have on this. I've been thinking about configuring a new Synology for my wife and I, move all of the data over to the new one, and reconfigure this one for my parents house. I could set up a portion of it for them to use there and another portion for my very own "Off-Site Backup" solution. I'm curious how long this will be able to run Synology's OS, though I have yet to run into any performance issues.
***** UPDATED 8JUN2013 BELOW *****
I just received my Synology DS213+ earlier this week. 2 days ago, I received (2) Seagate 4TB 5900RPM drives to put into it. I have some pics sitting on my camera that I'll upload later. I actually received the NAS a couple days before the drives came in. It's really hard to put an accurate Star Rating on this because of my background... I have been doing server and networking IT for the past 7 years and really love my job. This is my first home NAS/Server/etc... so I'm like a kid in a candy shop right now. The problem is that there were a lot of things that most people wouldn't understand or maybe care about, but I will try to hit as many of them as I can. I will say though, the more you understand about IT, the easier and more enjoyable this NAS (or any NAS at that) will be. Just be safe and please try to secure your personal information. If you just do a basic setup on this and put all of your personal documents and photos on there, they are accessible to everyone who knows your "Internet IP" or "Website Name". I'm not saying that everyone out there is a certified hacker, but why take a chance on your personal information? Don't be that guy who sets up a home wireless router and leaves it "Unsecured".
Like I tell everyone that a little research goes a long way.
**Initial Instructions Before You Start On The NAS**
I had read a review that you can't really do anything with the NAS until you install at least 1 internal drive so I tested it and sure enough, all you can pretty much do is access the main setup webpage of the NAS but can't go further. That's fine though because you really shouldn't be doing anything until you have some drives anyway. What I did though while I was waiting for the drives to come in was to log into my Router and put a DHCP Reservation for the MAC Address of the NAS. This so the IP address never changes and it gives me a "static" IP to forward certain ports to the NAS depending on what Synology Apps I want to use. When the NAS is connected to the Router via the supplied Ethernet (CAT5e) cable, the NAS will pull an IP automatically from DHCP running on the Router. If you pull up the DHCP client table, you'll see the NAS. I just used the MAC Address and created a DHCP Reservation with it to the IP I wanted (for example, 192.168.1.5). I rebooted the NAS and it pulled the new IP. So now, it will never change. I opened up my web browser and typed in the IP 192.168.1.5 (EXAMPLE) and the NAS webpage came up. Now, I just had to wait for the drives to come in.
**Getting the NAS Ready**
So the drives came in and I installed them in the trays. Once the trays "clicked" into position, I turned on the NAS. I went back in to the browser and visited the IP 192.168.1.5. I just used Synology's proprietary RAID which is expandable. I don't really care right now because I just wanted RAID 1 which it automatically does with 2 drives. Even though I have (2) 4TB drives, they mirror each other so I still get only 4TB's of drive space. Most would be like WTF, I don't get 8TB??? but with this solution, if 1 of the drives fails (WHICH I'VE SEEN MANY TIMES), I still have another drive and hopefully enough time to buy a new one and swap out the bad drive. There are Youtube videos out there showing the process to replace a failed drive. The Synology makes it easy and automatically populates the failed drive for you. I'm guessing that it would take about 2 days to populate a 4TB drive. But I am only using about 1.5TB of drive space right now so it would be faster.
With every 1TB that is advertised, you only get a little over 910GB of space before formatting. Then subtract a little more for formatting. So after 4TB of space the hard drive advertised, I get about 3.64TB of disc space. Then after formatting, I end up with right at 3.58TB of useable space. That should be enough for now. Whats cool about Synology's NAS is that later on when for example, 8TB hard drives come out, I can buy 2 of them. Then I remove 1 of the 4TB drives and replace it with one of the 8TB drives. After the NAS copies over all the data from the 4TB that's still installed, I can replace the other 4TB with the second 8TB and then the data from the first 8TB will copy to the second 8TB. Then I'll have increased my space from 4TB's total to 8TB's total ( that's (2) 8TB hard drives mirrored in RAID 1) of redundant space. I could then buy enclosures for the old 4TB drives and use them for backups or something.
**Getting Back On Topic and Configuring NAS**
Ok, I know... I'm getting off topic... So I was talking about... oh yea, So I now have the NAS initially setup. Now, I can access the NAS with my "192.168.1.5" IP and login. I just guessed the account was "admin" with no password and got it on the first try. First thing I did was slap a 16 character password on the admin account and created an account for my wife and I. I also created 2 "service" accounts for the Time Machine backups I'll be doing with both of our Mac laptops. I have a 1TB external hard drive full of data and stuff so I plugged it into the front USB 2.0 port on the NAS and a folder in the NAS popped up showing the new drive. I started the copy since I knew it would take a while being a USB 2.0 drive. I was copying over at about 25MB/sec which is not good at all but it was my old external hard drive that was at fault. While it was copying over, I wanted to set up "internet" access. I went over to DynDNS and got one of their domain accounts. You can get the free one, but I got the $20/yr one so I don't have to worry about it getting cancelled or something.
I set up the DDNS service on the NAS and entered my credentials (my username, password, and domain) for DynDNS and BAM, it updated DynDNS with my modem's IP address!!! Most people don't have a static internet IP address so you have to do this if you want to be able to type in a website NAME instead of an IP address all the time. I went a little further since I already had my own personal domain name through Godaddy. I logged in, created a subdomain off my main one and forwarded with masking to the DynDNS domain name. I also forwarded to "HTTPS" instead of "HTTP" so it would automatically redirect as HTTPS every time. This way, no Star Bucks hackers can see my traffic lol. This requires you to go into the DSM settings in the control panel of the NAS and enable HTTPS.
**Forwarding Ports on Router for Remote Access**
Ok, before I go any further, I want to talk about port forwarding. I went into the router and forwarded the following ports to my NAS (192.168.1.5):
Single Port Forwarding:
5000 TCP - this is only so I don't have to type "HTTPS" every time I want to access my NAS remotely. I'm using a setting in the DSM settings that converts HTTP to HTTPS, but you need port 5000 if you want to do this, otherwise, it won't work.
5001 TCP - this is for HTTPS access
5006 TCP - this is for WebDAV
6690 TCP - the synology cloud service
80 TCP - same reason as forwarding port 5000. The Photo Station uses the traditional HTTP port (80). In order for the NAS to convert to HTTPS, you have to enable port 80 for the initial contact to reach the NAS. Then it changes to HTTPS via the DSM setting in the control panel.
443 TCP - this is the traditional HTTPS port. It's only used for the photo station at the moment. Will also be used for a future website.
Port Range Forwarding:
9025-9040 TCP - the Video station
50001-50002 Both TCP/UDP - Media server
9900-9901 TCP - surveillance
Without enabling these ports and forwarding them to the NAS, you won't be able to access the different parts of the NAS from outside of your home network.
**Talking about Remote Accessing your NAS**
*Like I said in the paragraph below, I cannot type entire links. They get blocked by Amazon. This is the only way I could post a link without it getting blocked. Hopefully you can understand them.
***** Sorry about the links below getting blocked. Amazon sure is smart. They must have someone sitting behind a computer just to block links. I put spaces and spelled out "dot"... *****
After this is done, you should be able to access your NAS by typing in the domain name instead of typing in 192.168.1.5. Remember, the "192.168.1.5" IP only works from your own home network. You have to use the Internet IP that your modem gets to be able to reach the NAS from outside your home. The fact that the Internet IP you get from your Internet Service Provider is dynamic and always changes, it would be hard to keep track of it every time it changes. That's where DynDNS comes in and gives you a "website name" to use that will update it's records every time your Internet IP address changes. They give you a (***YOU WILL HAVE TO PUT THE LINKS TOGETHER YOURSELF***) ([...] ) which is easier to remember than 10.25.267.34 (EXAMPLE). Like I said earlier, I have my own personal domain name ( [...]) that I forwarded (with masking) to the ([...] ) domian name. While I could still use the domain name that DynDNS gave me, my personal one piggy-backs off theirs and mine looks a lot better and is shorter lol.
I type ([...]) and that gets turned into ( [...] ) which forwards to my NAS to access the desktop on the NAS. This gets turned into HTTPS from the NAS via the setting called "Automatically redirect HTTP connections to HTTPS (Web Station and Photo Station Excluded)". This is located in the Control Panel under DSM Settings and in the "HTTP Service" tab.
I type ( [...] ) and that sends me to my Photo Station. By enabling the conversion to HTTPS at the NAS level, it's automatically converted to ( [...]) and because I have port 443 (HTTPS) forwarded to the NAS, it hits the Photo Station 5 application on the NAS. Remember, HTTPS(443) is secure and HTTP(80) is not, but I need port 80 open for the initial communication with the NAS before it forces communication over port 443.
**Building Folder Structure**
*****I have since ditched the following folder structure. The "Homes" folders are actually not bad and required for the Cloud Station to work properly*****
I like my folders to work for me. I have a wife who just likes things to work so when I first saw the initial folder structure, I was a bit confused. A folder gets created in the "Homes" folder for each new account. Then there is a "Home" folder that is linked only to the account that is accessing it. So I only see my own "Home" folder. I didn't like this for a few reasons and prefer static folders with permissions. In the Control Panel, I clicked on "User" and clicked the "User Home" button and unchecked the box for "Enable user home service". If you plan on using the Cloud Station, you will have to enable this service. Being that only my wife and I are using this NAS, I deleted the "Homes" shared folder and created a shared folder for each of us giving only permissions to our own folder. This will keep what we "see" clean and not over populate the screen with all the folders. I also created a shared folder called "Shared" and gave us both read/write permissions on it. The last shared folder I created is my "Root" folder. This will serve as the root for all other files. For instance, I created a sub folder called "Torrents" and directed the "Download Station" application to drop all completed downloads in there. Basically, I can put other folders and files in the root that just don't belong in our own "personal" folders or the "shared" folder.
When I log in to the NAS, I only see Root, my personal folder, Shared, photo, video, and surveillance. For my wife, she only sees her personal folder, Shared, photo, video, and surveillance(Note that you cannot change permissions on the Surveillance folder. You can only gain read-only permissions on there which if you sit back and think about it, that is smart on Synology's part. Give's you no reason to accidentally delete the video out of there).
*I have enable the Cloud Station. I know, I'm a hypocrite. I could tell the wife was getting confused as to where her files were. See below for how I set up the Cloud Station.
I have no use for my 1TB external USB hard drive anymore so I reformatted it and it now just stays plugged into the NAS via USB. I setup the "Time Backup" (not to be confused with Time Machine for Mac) and pointed the destination for the backup location to the external drive. I chose to backup both of our personal folders, our shared folder, the photo folder(created by the NAS), and the surveillance folder(also created by the NAS). For those of you familiar with Mac's Time Machine software, it works almost the same. It does a full backup to start with and then only backs up files and folders that change after that making it seem like you get a full backup every hour. No sense in backing up everything ever 60 minutes. It allows you to pull previous versions of folders and files at your own discretion.
The wife didn't like the way she had to dig around to find her files so I just got done messing with the Cloud Station. I had to enable the "User Home Service" that I had turned off earlier in the "Building Folder Structure" part. Then I enabled the Cloud Station. The way it works is it places a folder called "Cloudstation" in my "Home" folder (the Home folder is linked to the respected account folder in the "homes" folder). Then I downloaded the client software to place on my laptop from Synology's website (I googled "synology download"). Once installed, I entered in my credentials and the client software made a folder on my laptop that will sync to the folder on my NAS. I also downloaded the iPhone app and it created a folder on my phone as well that will sync with the other 2.
The way it works is I have my account cloudstation folder on the NAS. I also have a folder on my laptop and iPhone that mirror each other. So if I place a file in my cloudstation folder on my laptop, within about 3 seconds (tested and true), it shows up in both my iPhone and NAS. Pretty cool I must say. Now, what about that "Shared" folder I created so the wife and I could have a place that we could both share?
In the Cloud Station app on the NAS, I clicked on the "Sharing" tab on the left side. It shows all the shared folders that either the NAS's applications created or I created in the "Shared Folder" in the control panel in the NAS. Since I've already created a shared folder and named it "Shared", I was good to go and selected the checkbox next to the folder and then clicked "Save". After that, I noticed a window pop up on my laptop and it was wanting to add the shared folder on my laptop to sync with the one on the NAS. I also noticed our "Shared" folder changed it's icon from a folder to a cloud. Cool beans.
After configuring my wife's laptop as well, it was time to test. I placed a file in my cloudstation folder on the NAS and it replicated to my phone and laptop almost instantly. Then I moved (cut & paste) it from my cloudstation folder on my laptop to the shared cloudstation folder on my laptop. It deleted it from my cloudstation folder on the NAS and my iPhone and placed it in the "Shared" cloudstation folder on the NAS and my iPhone. I checked the wife's laptop and it was sitting in her "Shared" cloudstation folder as well. Then I moved it from the shared cloudstation folder on her laptop to her own cloudstation folder and i saw it disappear from all the shared cloudstation folders on all devices. So it works really well.
All this and it's SSL encrypted as well. On the computer side of this, there is an icon that you can click on to open the cloud folders. You are opening a folder on your own computer that syncs to all the other folders. You are NOT opening the folder on the NAS unless you open it on the NAS itself. If you lose internet on the road or something, you still have the files on your computer. If you end up modifying the files then, once you get internet back on the computer, the modified files will push out and sync to the other folders. Ok, enough on Cloud Station.
**Configuring Time Machine backups for MAC**
I feel a lot more comfortable knowing that my laptop has "hourly" backups out there. What I did first was create a shared folder on the NAS called "Time Machine Data" or something like that. Then I set the permissions to read only for my wife's and my account. Reason being is that I don't want write permissions for that account for either of us in case we delete the folder by accident or something but still at least need read permissions for Time Machine to "find" the folder. But the laptops still need a way to "write" the backups to the NAS. How? I created 2 extra accounts on the NAS and gave them read/write permissions to the "Time Machine Data" shared folder ONLY. I called them TM1(for mine) and TM2(for hers). Then I set a quota to 500GB each. This will keep the accounts from writing Time Machine backups to the NAS and filling it all the way up. I don't need that many backups lol. I also granted "Network Backup" and WebDAV" permissions in the "Applications" tab on the user account window. Since this account is only going to be used for backups, there no sense to allow it to do anything more.
Then in the Mac, I configured Time Machine. I selected the file share "Time Machine Data" (Time Machine found it from the network). I instead used one of the extra TM accounts for the credentials in Time Machine. After that, it started backing up and has done so since.
I haven't hit the 500GB limit yet but when I do, I'll post what behavior takes place. I hoping it will start writing over the oldest but it might just lockup (the backup should be "unlocked" oldest file deletion should take place). I'm not sure yet. Maybe a hole will rip through the entire space-time continuum??
**WILL UPDATE AS I GO**
--That's it for now. I will update further. (BUSY RIGHT NOW). I have been testing the iPhone apps that Synology has and they all work great. I also tested the download station and activated a 3.3GB torrent to start from here at work and the torrent gets saved directly to the NAS. --
***** UPDATE 8JUN2013 *****
I Have been running this NAS for a few months now and have nothing but great things to say of it. The remote access has been going strong with no hiccups. We are crazy workaholics with full time jobs and full time (online) school. I haven't had much time to dedicate toward the NAS which is awesome because there haven't been many issues other than the initial learning curve.
We both use the NAS all the time for our school. I created a folder in my own Cloud Station folder (Remember that this is located in my personal "Homes" folder) called "School". Inside that I create folders for each semester (like "2013 Spring" or "2013 Summer"). Inside those, I have folders for each respected class. Then I can drop all my files in the classes folders. The other weekend we went on a vacation from work but couldn't escape our school work. We were able to use my parents internet (It's super slow as they don't believe in paying for internet) and maintain a positive connection with our NAS over 800 miles away.
Now to the minor issues I had so far:
First, the Time Backup (REMEMBER THAT THIS IS NOT MAC'S TIME MACHINE BACKUP. THIS IS SYNOLOGY'S TIME BACKUP FOR LOCAL NAS BACKUPS) service is going strong. I use my old 1TB external USB 2.0 hard drive for it currently (Eventually I will be buying a 4TB external USB 3.0 hard drive to plug in the back of the unit for dedicated Time Backups) so I have to plug it into the front USB port on the NAS. The 2.0 USB hard drive just won't work when plugged in the back (It's my external hard drive's fault as I've researched online and it has had many problems. It's actually a USB 3.0 hard drive but doesn't work as one.). At one point, I needed an external hard drive at home to transfer around some files and decided that since the Time Machine backup hard drive wasn't even barely full, I used that. I unplugged it from the NAS and went on my way in transferring files from an old desktop to the NAS. When I was all done, I plugged the hard drive back into the front port and went to start the Time Backup and it wouldn't work. After a ticket opened up with Synology, I still couldn't get it working. I let it go as I was about to order the 4TB external hard drive that I initially wanted and then it dawned on me. Maybe I should restart it... One of the last ditch troubleshooting steps in IT is to reboot. I did and everything is working again. I'm guessing the Time Backup service or the NAS itself does something on boot-up with the hard drive in order to see it properly even though I was browsing through the drive while it was hooked up to the NAS. Weird. I haven't had any other problems.
I plan on getting an UPS (uninterrupted power supply. Basically a battery with a battery charger that plugs in between the NAS and the wall). I have had about 3 power blips in the middle of the night over the past few months and every time I wake up and look at my phone, I see a message from the NAS saying it has restarted based on power issues. I don't think the power is going out for more than a few seconds so an UPS would alleviate this issue by allowing the NAS to run for a while if the power goes out. This depends on how big of an UPS I get though. I will probably just get a 1500VA UPS and be done with it as that should run the NAS, Router, and Modem for 30-60 minutes without power.
I love how this has made our lives easier and more organized. It is something that has bothered me over the years with all kinds of data (both personal and miscellaneous) being scattered over multiple computers and external hard drives. Now it's all in 1 redundant place. My next step is to get some type of off site storage albeit payed for or I set up something at one of the parents houses to copy to over the internet. I will probably go the latter route and set the parents up a Synology NAS. Then because I payed for it, I will be sure I use it for the wife's and my personal files. Then in the event of our home getting burglarized or burnt down, we would have some type of backup somewhere else. Remember that it's all about the layers. You could spend $10,000 on a full server setup at home with backups going to an external hard drive but if your home burns down, you lose everything. When we go on vacation, I bring an encrypted hard drive with all of our most important files. That way, I'll have them on my person in the event of a tragedy at home. Also, if the hard drive I take with me gets stolen, the thief can have fun decrypting 256 AES encryption. But most likely they'll just wipe it and reformat it if they are even that smart.