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on December 1, 2011
After all of the positive reviews for the Synology DiskStation 2-Bay (Diskless) Network Attached Storage DS211J (White) I saw that an updated model was just released and decided to try it out.

Coming from an iomega StorCenter NAS and a NetGear ReadyNAS, I have one word for the DiskStation: WOW.

The D212J makes these other product lines look like thumb drives - mostly due to Synology's DiskStation OS. This feels like a full-fledged system; more or less a dedicated server. Faster, quieter and exponentially more customizable without being overwhelming. And so far, it's proving to be much more reliable.

Every feature and detail (and there are far too many to list), from start to finish, has been thoroughly developed. From the box, to the installation CD software (which remotely installs the OS on the unit over the network), to the remote access features and mobile apps, no feature has been left out or unpolished. Completely solid, every step of the way. If you're looking for a full-featured media server, backup server or file server, you'll find it all here in top form. You'll even find surprisingly well developed web and database server options.

The whole OS feels like if you took the best of Mac OSX and Windows 7 and blended them together. There's some serious R&D and talent behind this thing. It is rare to find a product so thoroughly excellent.

One of my more 'wow' moments: the DiskStation OS detected my router - with a custom firmware - logged into it, and tweaked it to allow remote access and torrent/usenet downloading through the NAS. In one click. Yeah.

Solid access control, packages/applications support, tons of remote usability, endless list of polished features, constant updates, high performance.

This is a vastly superior experience, and one that I don't expect to ever be topped for a device of this type.

It's worth far more than what it costs. You won't be disappointed.
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on June 26, 2013
(note, my review for this originally appears on Review Lagoon and is reprinted here)

Storage. For almost everyone that owns technology, storage is the very fabric of life. It doesn't matter how entrenched in tech you are - storage need eventually raises its ugly head. When it does, we scramble for a "storage solution" which is commonly equated to "more"; more GBs, more TBs (maybe even PBs for some). Some people are more worried about the format of storage; do I need a bigger old school hard drive or should I go for faster SSD solutions? Unfortunately, the "solution" part of "storage solution" is rarely looked at from an ever-growing need point of view; how do I access my storage?

Ah, yes. "The Cloud". This decade's biggest buzz phrase and an explosive industry all on its own. There are so many solutions it can make one dizzy and each one promises SOMETHING that "the others don't have"; be it more storage, automatic syncing across devices - you name it. Unfortunately, they all have shortcomings - ensuring that none of them provide exactly what everyone needs.

Why the DS212j?

Frankly, I was fed up. I knew what I needed; a lot of space, no restrictions, accessibility from every single device and PC (local and internet) and the ability to easily share with family and friends. This particular combination of needs simply doesn't exist with a commercial service like Google Drive, Box or Dropbox. Drive makes it a pain to access your drive contents without syncing. Box wants to cap the size of your files. Dropbox just doesn't have sharing flexibility. None of them provide adequate storage space for a heavy demand user like me and most of the mobile apps proved completely archaic.

The list goes on and on.

Yes, what I needed was a self-hosted solution. I need to be able to have complete control over my storage solution; that would solve size and restriction issues - but what about accessibility methodologies? I need access from home and work PCs, phone, tablet - and it needs to be accessible using the apps and products I already own; not some custom, proprietary means provided by the storage solution provider.

You are starting to see my dilemma, right? I want the best of every storage solution - with all the strengths and none of the weaknesses. So many have promised; but few delivered. Until now.

The Basics
The Synology Diskstation DS212j (or DS212j from now on) is a "network attached solution" or NAS. Essentially, it is a self-contained hard drive enclosure that exposes the storage via the local area network - or even the internet if properly configured.

The NAS is not a new thing by any means. While originally considered a business-related device, the ever-growing need for expansive storage in the home and small business has made network-accessible, large space storage solutions a real market.

Like any other good multi-bay NAS, DS212j offers redundancy and peace of mind. Hard drive failure is guaranteed; it's only a matter of WHEN - and what you'll lose when it happens. A NAS with multiple drives can offer data redundancy (or backup) between the two drives; meaning if one fails, the stored data is safely contained on the other drive. For a business, redundancy is a must. For home users whose lives are immortalized only in digital format - redundancy is a growing need and concern. You can also throw caution into the wind and "pool" the DS212j's two drive bays into one large volume; allowing you to take a couple of smaller drives you may have retired in favor of larger ones and make them into something bigger.

As you would hope, the NAS is accessible across your local network to all your computers. In the past (and unfortunately, even still often today), NAS solutions required CUSTOM software to be installed on all the machines that were to access it. The DS212j offers standard network sharing methods (CIFS, etc.) to allow access from pretty much any device capable of accessing a network share.

If this was all the DS212j had to offer, it would make a handsome, big storage solution for home or office. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

My digital life has shifted. Just a couple of years ago, I would say I was an 80% PC user and 20% mobile user. Now? The numbers have flipped. I spend 80% of my time on my phone or tablet, while grudgingly getting off the couch to use my PC when I run across something I just can't pull off on my Nexus 10 slate. I need access to my storage solution from my mobile devices; not just local - but while I'm on the road on 4G or McDonald's free wifi. This is where most NAS solutions miserably drop the ball; forcing ugly, half-baked apps to access your remote data - or even restricting it to certain media types. Most of the time, you're required to set up some sort of proxy system on a PC that is connected to the NAS - and access your files that way.

The DS212j offers solutions for your mobile/remote needs - and we'll go into more detail later.

Finally, for those of you with UPnP type devices for accessing digital media across the network (media players, TV set top boxes, video game consoles, etc.) the DS212j has your back - offering a configurable solution for streaming content to those devices on your local area network.

The Hardware

The DS212j comes as a smaller-than-expected, attractive white box with easy access to internal drive bays. The construction is well-above average and putting your drives inside is a breeze. Truly, even the techno-challenged could get the hardware set up. The drives plug directly into the frame of the bay - so there is no awkward cable connecting.

Unlike many NAS solutions, you don't have to have "matching drives"; you can throw in a 1TB drive plus a 500GB drive; or a couple of TB drives - or even a 3TB + 250GB drive combination will work. There are some interesting restrictions to this that we'll cover later, but it's nice to know you can mix and match.

The unit is powered by a custom power supply and features a couple of USB ports on the back (more on this in a bit). The front panel has a series of lights to give you status and activity indications and the unit has some built in cooling to keep the drives happy.

Basic Configuration

I had to use the Synology set up disk to find and do initial configuration of the DS212j. This was fairly straight forward, but they attempt to direct you to a different solution first which might confuse and frustrate some users.

The setup is mostly to install the latest Diskstation OS (we'll cover this below) and do some basic stuff. The real configuration challenge comes later - and might drop this product outside the range of super non-techies.

The Diskstation OS

Once you're done with the basic, disc-based setup of the DS212j - everything else is done using the unit's built-in, web-based operating system called Diskstation. This OS is what really separates this unit from other NAS solutions and takes it from a "good" product to a "great" one.

Using only a web browser, you'll access a friendly Windows-like environment which gives you full control over your DS212j. The interface is simple and pleasant - and things are pretty much where you would expect them to be. The OS really changes this unit from a NAS to (more or less) another dedicated-to-storage-needs server PC - one disconnected from a monitor, peripherals and the required desk space of a server.

Configuring the Drives

From within the OS, you'll start off by setting your drives up in volumes. This is a bit tricky unless you know what you want up front. Instead of using traditional RAID types you might be familiar with, Synology has designed their own RAID system. If you don't choose right the first time, you may be inconvenienced later. You'll need to decide if you want the safety of redundancy or the convenience of "pooled" drives where you have one giant two-disk solution.

Unfortunately, if you go with redundancy, you get the amount of space of the smallest drive and the rest of the bigger drive is lost! For example, let's say you put a 2TB and a 500GB drive into the DS212j and choose to go with the redundancy. You will get a volume with 500GB of space - and that's it. The other 1.5TB of space cannot be created into a second, non-redundant volume; making it completely wasted. I wanted to pool the drives and selected incorrectly. It wasn't until I filled the full 500GB up that I realized I would have to change the configuration and lose all the data on the drives to do it. Sadly, I had already MOVED the data to the DS212j, so I had to move it all back off to change the configuration to pooled drives. The moral of the story? During configuration of the disks, make sure you don't blindly accept the defaults - because they expect you to want redundancy over pooling.

Configuring Users

Being a server in its own right, you'll need to configure more users to make the system work the way you want. You'll want to create your own admin-level user (so you aren't using the admin login) and any users on your network (use their Windows user name and passwords - believe me - this will save you a lot of grief). If you plan to let family and friends have access to the storage, you'll want to make user accounts for them. You'll probably want to create some folder shares first so you have something to assign your new, shared users.

This is a pretty straight forward process; allowing you to give strict rights to shares and services that might be installed on the DS212j.

Once you have shares and users configured, you can hit the DS212j from most devices that allow Samba/CIFS/Sharing including Windows and many mobile device file managers like X-Plore on Android. Of course, these only work when your devices are actually attached to your local area network - which doesn't solve the problem of "remote" access.

Installing Packages

While basic NAS file sharing will meet a lot of people's needs - others will want more features. Additional functionality is added by means of installing Packages - using a very clean, easy to use Package Center from right inside the Diskstation OS.

While Synology offers tons of packages themselves, you can also access OTHER package communities online and get even MORE functionality. Since Synology's OS is based on Linux, community fans have taken Linux products and repackaged them for use on Diskstation OS. It's a fantastic system.

The Package Center will help you install features like UPnP Media streaming - and if you're a small business? There are packages for mail servers, DNS servers, DHCP services and tons more.

You can even install "real world apps" like discussion forums or surveillance software (for use with IP security cameras - they even have an Android app for monitoring them) - developers will enjoy being able to install web servers complete with PHP, PERL and other development tools. Run your own Wiki.

There is a package out there for everyone and installation is usually very straight forward and simple. Couple of clicks, and you have new functionality!

Other Diskstation OS Features

Those of you budding sysadmins out there will find ENDLESS amounts of configuration settings and tweaking possibilities. Setting up tasks/cron jobs, adding Telnet support, setting up VPN access - it's all available to you; it really is a full service server solution as well. For those that would rather not dig, most of the defaults will serve you well.

You can connect USB devices to the DS212j - including external drives and even network printers. You can even make your DS212j Bluetooth accessible by adding a BT adapter. External drives show up as additional volumes and can be accessed remotely!

As I mentioned earlier, you can set up web based services like a web host, mySQL database - complete with PHP and other languages. There are packages for administration tools and add-ons like CMS apps.

Monitoring your DS212j is a priority in the OS. You'll always know the system health, your free space and drive conditions, who is connected and how they got there. You'll get important notifications; even set up full notifications via email or SMS.

If you plan to remotely access your DS212j, you'll going to need to use some form of Dynamic DNS service to allow you access to your home network (whose IP address is subject to change without notice). No more running your DDNS client on your workstation; DS212j has a built-in app for maintaining that connection. All major DDNS providers are covered including DynDNS (what I use). The boys at Synology thought of everything.

You could probably write a book on the Diskstation OS and all its features. I've merely mentioned a handful of them that would interest the common user. Check out Synology's website for more business level features.

Remote Access

All this is well and good; as long as you're at home. But what about on the go? How does the DS212j expose itself to you from the outside world?

As always, with DS212j you have a number of possible methods. Synology has its own apps (I looked at the Android stuff; iOS people are on their own) you can download for free that give you access to your file shares. Unlike many other storage solutions, you're not limited to just accessing media or particular files - you can get to everything. Unfortunately, they don't make this super easy to set up and use. The app is bare-bones and you'll have to set up WebDAV (in the Control Panel) AND give access to each user to it. This wasn't exactly clear. I eventually got it working, but it was a bit of work. There are also dedicated media apps for audio and video playback - as well as a syncing solution (like Dropbox) called Cloud Sync. They all work, but lack some polish. There is also the issue of getting through your router (more in a minute).

I chose to go with FTP access. This is built into the OS and was quick to set up. Using my tablet or phone and a file manager with FTP capabilities like X-Plore, I can access my files from pretty much anywhere - even over 4G - without any special apps. This, of course, doesn't afford me STREAMING capabilities like the dedicated apps do - but it works for my needs.

No matter HOW you configure the DS212j to remotely access files, there is still the issue of getting traffic from OUTSIDE your network to INSIDE your network. As previously mentioned, you'll want to get some sort of dynamic DNS host set up so that you don't have to remember your network's WAN IP address. For example, you could register "" with DynDNS service - then set it up using the DDNS app on the DS212j. When your IP address changes (which does happen), that domain you registered is automatically updated with the change. It works and works well.

The second part of the equation is to get "port forwarding" set up on your router to allow outside traffic to be directed to the DS212j. There is a router configuration tool within the OS that promises to help you do that, but I found it unreliable and frustrating. This process sounds a lot more scary than it really is - and most people can easily find help on Google for their particular router. Essentially, you just need to tell your router what traffic to send to the DS212j. This comes in the way of port numbers. For example, if you want to run FTP services on port 8081, then you need to set it up in the OS that way, then go to your router's configuration and redirect port 8081 traffic to the DS212j. The more services you set up on the DS212j, the more ports you're going to need to open/forward on your router.

The Good News is that the Cloud Services package in the OS will provide you with a more immediate, easy to access solution. Pretty much you just need to install the package and install the DS Cloud app on your mobile device. You'll do a little configuration but it holds your hand. Enter a couple of numbers - and POOF. You're in. This will work for many people; but power users like me will need to master port forwarding to get the most out of the DS212j remotely.

Power user helpful hint; once you have all your services set up and working LOCALLY, go to the Firewall and Qos app in Control Panel and see what apps are listed there. For each, click EDIT and then hit SELECT under "port". This will show you what ports that app uses. Take that list to your router's port forwarding and forward all those ports to the DS212j's IP address. You'll be rocking in no time.

No matter what, remote access is going to eat some time in configuration and testing. This may prove too big of a hurdle for the non-techno geek - causing some frustration with the product. Cloud Services offers a pretty easy solution for them overall but might not deliver what may be expected initially. To truly harness the power of the DS212j remotely will require some effort - but it is TOTALLY worth it when it works.

The Dark Side

I like to discuss a product's short comings in this space of my reviews.

First, while the unit is inexpensive by quality NAS standards ($199 at time of writing) it is important to note that this comes without any hard drives; so you'll have to supply your own adding easily $100 or more if you don't have drives laying around the house. There are only two bays - and if you don't use redundancy, you'll have to move ALL the content off the drives before you can change one out - either for defect or to put in larger drives.

Second, while super easy to use for the most part (thanks to the brilliant OS) - there are minor hurdles that will frustrate and deter some users from maximizing the usefulness of the product. The biggest hurdle will be remote access and dealing with manual configuration with their router. The product can be very useful to techno-challenged as long as they stay in a local area network environment. For remote, these folks would do well to tap their "family IT guru" to come over and set it up for them initially.

Final Words

The trick with Synology's products isn't about quality hardware, fantastic software or being worried about it not performing.

It is about ensuring you get a good return on investment.

For the power user? The DS212j is real bargain at $200; essentially a server in a box - giving top notch features in an attractive usable environment that cuts the cords of cloud services and unlocks the restrictions that follow them. No matter what they need, the DS212j is there - ready to provide more functionality.

For the techno-challenged, the DS212j might just become a rather over-priced file share that has the benefits of offering redundancy to preserve the integrity of the pictures from the last trip to Disneyland. For these folks, a cheaper and pre-populated simple NAS solution might make more sense. But, just by turning on UPnP media sharing, this box becomes a media delivery system to feed all the TVs in the house, plus you can get UPnP apps for your mobile devices. This requires no remote connectivity or weird configurations.

No matter what type of user you are, the Synology DS212j can offer an elegant solution at a good price. The question will come down to whether or not you (or the family IT guru) can (or will) spend the time to harness the power the product even if you hit a couple of road bumps.

This product comes highly recommended.

If you're in a business environment, Synology makes more enterprise-friendly versions of this product with more bays that still uses the award-winning software OS. Be sure to check them out!
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on December 8, 2011
Nice, I upgraded from DS110j.
Now i have 2 HDDs in Raid (Mirroring)(2 Seagate Barracuda 1 TB drives)
I use Western Digital green disk for my DS110j, no problems so far. (1 year using 1TB wd10ears)

I use it for:

* 1 Gigabit connection, (It works with your current 5e cable)
* Backups (Faster backups "LAN")
* Remote administration via Web
* Downloads (torrents)
* Documents uploads and downloads (It doesnt matter if i lose my encrypted pendrive)

* No cons here :)

* HDDs setup with error checking can take about 3 hours

Ideal Buy if you are looking for a NAS.
Nice upgrade for home users.
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on January 16, 2012
For the home or small office, the DS212j provides peace of mind for your data. I put two 2.5TB drives and followed the installation instructions to find that I finally had a place for my stuff.

1. Preparation
Make sure you are buying supported drives for the device (note: I put WD caviar greens in mine). Make sure you have a cool spot with power and networking ready.

2. Installation
Installing drives was trivial with my trusty phillips screwdriver (I call him 'Phil'.) No cables are necessary. The SATA drives mate directly with the built-in board. Then you fire up the provided DS software to install the runtime and get connected. Follow the steps to create the desired volume(s) and turn on the services that you want running. (Note: I had firewall issues with one of my computers when trying to connect.) There's even a "personal cloud" service that you can turn on if you're brave. Since I'm using mine for home I didn't try any of the built in email or LDAP services. Your mileage may vary.

3. Transfer
The DS212j has two USB connections on the back, which was perfect for me. I connected my WD My Book to it, and then was able to transfer my files directly to the new drives (rather than over the network). I was also able to use the Android apps for accessing files, photo, music and video. However, I don't currently have any DLNA devices so I haven't tried that yet.
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on February 25, 2012
I searched a while to upgrade to a good NAS after my 5 years old external Western Digital's USB board failed. I found Synology DS212J model to be one of the best network attached storages for its price, performance, and features. It is a nice minicomputer with a 1.2GHz processor and 256MB of memory, and it has a dedicated operating system called DSM. With current hard drive prices, I decided to use my old WD 500GB drive for now, and this unit formatted/partitioned/checked the drive in less than 3 hours.

The NAS comes with all you need including mounting screws, power cable, power adapter, Cat5E cable, and case screws. Hard drive installation is very easy, and I installed and connected everything in about 15 minutes. I really like the DSM 3.2 operating system. It looks nice, and it is very responsive and easy to setup. You can connect to it via your web browser, and it has lots of features like Download Manager, File Browser, DLNA Media Server, Firewall, Print Server, SMART Reports, and ... .

Operation is smooth, and the fan noise is not noticeable. Later, I found out that you can change the system fan speed in the OS control panel from three available choices based on your preferences. I was able to set up an old HP printer via the print server feature which was neat. The data transfer speed is very good when paired with my E-4200 router and Cat5E cable. I get about 57MB/sec write speed for large files and 28MB/sec for smaller files. For a single drive setup, it is an amazing speed! It is 10 times more than the Linksys E4200 built-in USB share feature. I just wonder how it performs with two drives in RAID 0 configurations!

I considered other brands like Q-Nap, LaCie, D-Link, and even LG before deciding on this one. Synology was not the cheapest, but its price-feature balance did beat all the others for me. Although I want to upgrade mine, I find this DS212J model to be the best buy for home use out of the other two in the series: Synology DiskStation 2-Bay (Diskless) Network Attached Storage DS212 (Black) and Synology DiskStation 2-Bay (Diskless) Network Attached Storage DS212+ (Black). Why? DS212 model is about 1.5 times and 212+ is about two times the price of 212j model, but you only gain about 20% speed increase with DS212 and about 30% with 212plus. In addition, none of these three models support SATA3 (6Gbit/sec) hard drives. Therefore, they are not future proof, and going with the cheapest makes the best sense until they support at least SATA3 drives in the next generation models. However, there are some interesting features like WOL (Wake-On-Lan) and faster processor for simultaneous download tasks that only the bigger brothers offer. For what it counts, I am considering turning mine in for the DS212 model after just one week of use.

I know it is very hard to decide between electronics and computers, and I hope this mini review help you further on your decision and NAS quest. I am going to order the DS212 model soon, and I am going to compare these two side-by-sides. You can check DS212 product page if you were interested.

Update (Sep. 2012):

I recently purchased two WD Red drives, and compared to my old WD RE2 enterprise, these are almost silent. So, I guess if you intend to use quiet hard drives, then the noise echo that I mentioned here is not an issue for you.
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on May 28, 2012
Me and my wife bought one of these to hold our media for the home. When we hooked it up though we were experiencing problems with internet connectivity, the connection gets bad normally when people upload and it was acting like there was upload traffic making it hard to browse on other computers. After some investigation we found that it was because of our router, we had an older 100MB router where MB stands for million bits not megabytes as I had thought. So we upgraded to a gigabit router and also upgraded our modem to a gigabit modem.

All in all with $200 for the DiskStation, $230 for the two hard drives (1 TB and 2 TB), $70 for the router, and $80 for the modem we are now firmly transplanted into the digital age? Was it worth it? In retrospect it wasn't affordable for out income range so I probably wouldn't do it again but I am enjoying it now that it is in place.

So, how is it? I can watch a movie on my computer, my wife a movie on hers, and the laptop connected to the living room TV can play a 3rd movie all from the DiskStation at the same time with no lag (I did it just for stress testing). We setup shared folders that the Blue Ray on our TV can access although it has problems with the formats (that's why we use the laptop). We also use the media server (universal plug and play) so I can stream from it with my internet radio however it is not secured so I don't turn it on except when I need it.

Transfer speeds are spectacular hard wired at about 60-80 megabytes per second. My connection is via wireless and I use an older card so it caps out at about 12 megabytes per second. The drives are mounted on our computers as networked drives so we click and drag what we want onto and off of the DiskStation just as if it were on our computer. We use it for backup of some files but we are not using the inherent backup programs with redundancy, in the future we may purchase larger hard drives and then set it up in an array but for now we keep copies on the DiskStation and on a DVD for backup.

Setup was a little bit of a learning curve which resulted in some wasted time formatting hard drives then reformatting them with different partitions, don't be surprised to spend a day getting everything perfect out of the box. There is a lot that can be done with this piece of equipment but some of it takes some digging so this is not for the type of person that expects everything to be easy. There are support forums, tech service, and a few manuals that all have most but not all of the information you need. Still, considering it's abilities this is not unexpected.

We setup the DiskStation in January and it's been running solid since with a few system updates. What prompted this review however was our recent migrating of all of our websites to the DiskStation. Currently our websites are all running fine off the DiskStation and have been for a few days but this was considerable work only due to my need to use my own domain name which necessitated learning about CNAME records A records MX records, etc to get my mail severs up and running and get all the redirection working. Still, that saves me $100 / year in fees that I was paying out before. I still don't have it 100% where I want it, my domain names redirect to the Synology name and then I lose my domain names from there but I will get that ironed out in the near future (I hope).

Really, it all depends on what you want to do with it. Look at the apps available on the Synology website. If it's appealing and you feel your tech savvy enough this might be exactly what you are looking for.

Edit: Now that all of my websites are hosted on this I decided to put a P3 International P4460 Kill A Watt EZ Electricity Usage Monitor on the DiskStation to see how much juice it used. The machine is basically always running because the constant hits on websites stop it from going into sleep mode. Under these conditions the DiskStation is currently at a consumption rate of 7.44 kw / 417 hours or about 12.85 kw/month ($1.60 / month at my rate). This rate is much lower than I expected :)

Edit 2: Up above I mention that my domain names redirected as Synology names. This is no longer the case but I had to make an account at a paid subscription site ChangeIP where they do the redirection for me since I couldn't figure it out on my own. There are a number of sites that can do this. Anyway, now my Synology domain name is completely hidden and can't be seen unless someone does some real digging. Now in my opinion it looks perfect!

Edit 3: The diskstation has been up and running for 10 months now. In that time there was one incident, when I logged into the admin panel I saw the CPU usage was stuck at 100%. Looking at the processes running the regular anti-virus check was hung up for some reason and using 100% of the CPU. Usually the anti-virus check only takes 15 minutes or so but this had been going on for a couple days according to the log. I killed the process manually and the system went back to normal. The next time it ran it ran fine and I haven't seen the problem again in a couple months. I never had issues with thumbnails taking 100% of the CPU because I have the "Photo Station" process not running so this was the first time I was using 100% CPU for any length of time. I must say however the diskstation is low maintenance, I only login to the admin panel once a week to check for updates and that's about it. I do not have any RAID setup and use the HDD independently but I am currently looking to upgrade to 2 x 4 TB drives in RAID 1 so that will be the next big upgrade but I am dreading the amount of time it will take to get the formatting done on such large drives. The 2TB in there now was killer!

Edit 4 1/5/14 : Upgraded my 1 TB drive to a 3TB NAS drive. Interesting experience. I went out and purchased a 4 TB external HDD. Then I backed up all my hard drive data to that drive. The diskstation made this easy, never did a backup before. Then I had to back up the settings. The backup took about 24 hours mostly because it is only USB 2.0 and it was even slower than that. After everything was backed up, shut off the diskstation then replaced the drive and started it back up. I had to re-partition the drive. I partitioned it was 2 TB and 1 TB with the plan to use the 4 TB external to backup the remaining 2 TB drive and the 2 TB partition and a separate 1 TB external to backup the remaining 1 TB monthly. Transferring the data back was a bit of a pain the butt. I had to stop the restore a few moments after starting it but when I did that it had already re-built the directories and it wanted to restore everything on both drives. Also because the partitions did not match up with what I had started with it wanted to put it all on the wrong partitions. A few of the diskstation APPS also stopped working like the Surveillance station and the website service. For the most part though all the programs were working fine after the drive was replaced. The total amount of time (hands on) that I spent upgrading the hard drive was about 5 hours. A bit much for one HDD upgrade but most of the time was due to me learning to use the built-in tools along the way. The biggest pain in the butt though was that I attempted to use a HDD docking station to hook the old hard drive up and copy it onto the new one but the format that these drives are formatted in made the drive unreadable for a Windows PC or a Linux PC or even the diskstation itself even after going in with fdisk and changing the flags. Essentially I would consider the data lost.

Edit 5 10/10/14 - The new HDD that I had put into the DiskStation failed. I woke up one morning to the DiskStation making a horrid series of beeps. Logging into the control panel I saw that there was a fault with one of the drives and it was unable to recover. Oh boy.... So I turned off the DiskStation, pulled the drive and plugged it into a different computer to run diagnostics on it. Toast. Although it was SMART protected there was no warnings to that point, it went suddenly, all at once. I sent it in and got a new HDD and plugged it in then ran my restore from my external drive. This caused some issues. I did not have a list of all the folders that I had on each drive, you have to build the folders yourself. Also I am backing up 1 TB on one external drive and 4 TB on the other. All of the data I needed to backup was on the 4 TB drive but so where some of the other files on the other drive. But the restore would not start, there had been and issue with a bitcoin mining virus on my DiskStation and after that I changed the name of the DiskStation. The restore would not start because it thought it was restoring to the wrong DiskStation! Then the folder directory was not properly made because as I mentioned before I didn't have a list of which folders were on which drive. I ended up writing over most of everything and then resetting most of the settings. It took somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 hours of hands-on time. Pain in the ampersand but a good portion of it was my fault, i.e., renaming the DiskStation and also not knowing which folders where on which drive. (Oh, and my partitions, it doesn't keep track of their size either so I had to re-partition and wrongly sized on of the partitions). Pain in the butt but a learning experience.

Edit Nov 1, 2014: Seems Synology has been having trouble lately being a target of hackers. A few months ago I logged into my DiskStation and saw the CPU usage at 100% and holding there. Checking the programs running I was able to determine that my DiskStation had been hacked and turned into a bitcoin miner. Synology quickly released a update to fix the vulnerability within a day. Got that fixed then a few days later got an e-mail from Synology to update my DiskStation again. Since then it seems every few weeks there is a new update. I have not been hacked again as far as I can tell, however some of the updates do include information about how to get the update installed if you are hacked so I know it is an ongoing issue. Updates seem to be pretty prompt when they find out there is a problem but with so many I hope they buckle down and tighten up their coding to make future updates less vulnerable to compromise since I don't see this issue going away.
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on August 11, 2012
After all of the glowing reviews, my expectations were high. They were met, but my first impressions were less than stellar.

The pros of this box are well-stated elsewhere: it's basically a Linux box with very slick software (as well as a robust NAS, of course).

But let me emphasize the cons:

Cheap plastic box that slides apart and then is held together with screws. Not nearly as slick as most enclosures in this price range.

No hot swap. The disks are held in by screws. I'm used to fairly simple hot-swap insert and eject in this NAS price range (e.g., DLink, NetGear, etc).

Will not accept pre-formatted drives. Your data will be lost when you add a drive, and the format process takes hours.

Requires external software to setup. Not plug and play.

Requires the O/S image (DSM)to be installed before you can start. And in my version of the install software, I had to hunt for the correct DSM image -- it wasn't automatically presented (not even the right directory).

HOWEVER, once you get past these first impressions, the installed software is SLICK, the features are RICH, and the system is FAST.

Oh, one more thing: Synology (and Amazon) are pretty bad about letting you know the differences among the various models. You need to look elsewhere for that information, and some of it is key. For example, I read that these boxes can function as a Plex server, and that's what I had hoped to do. Only the x86 versions can run Plex, though. This box is ARM-based and is lower-clocked and has less RAM than most (all?) other models.
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on February 7, 2012
The Synology DiskStation DS212J is well built with software (DSM 3.2) that provides amazing flexibility and features. I can offer some important advice based on my experience.

1) Go Fast and Go Big
I made the mistake of going cheap. I didn't realize how much I'd use this thing and how good the software is. Don't make the same mistake. Get a plus (+) machine. My wife and I love being able to turn off the desktop PC and stream content from the DS212J to an Onkyo TX-NR609 multimedia receiver and Roku XD/S; both connected to great speakers and a flat screen. I'd probably love it more with a faster CPU!

2) Indexing and Thumbnails Tax the CPU
We stored 5000 songs and 8000 photos. While creating indexes or thumbnails, CPU utilization is pegged at 100% for DAYS. If you move files, as I did while organizing things on the box, the whole process was repeated. Did I say not to go cheap on CPU and RAM?

3) Jack of All Trades?
Almost. It will host a website, serve movies, music, and photos, share files, process TimeMachine backups, download torrents, provide a secure VPN connection, and even run an OpenERP solution -- just don't expect too much. You didn't buy enterprise class hardware! (tip: use cat5 cable for first TM backup to speed things up!)

I would strongly recommend this device to anyone wishing to share access to iTunes Libraries, photos, videos, or TimeMachine backups. The DLNA features are pretty cool too, but curiously, you can't create a smart playlist using song ratings. I'm begging Synology to fix that in the next release of DSM!!

Just remember to buy the biggest baddest box your wallet can handle, you won't regret it. Read the Synology Wiki for more features. If you're good with Linux command line, search for "iPkg bootstrap for Synology" (or similar) for more info.
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on January 3, 2012
I bought this to act as a file server and backup device. A primary requirement was to be able to access the data over both a local network and the internet - this does both.

The system is very quiet, the configuration process is well explained and easy to achieve (with a bit of IT knowledge).

One recommendation: Use Firefox as the interface - not internet explorer. There are a few Java scripts used by the systems software which are too flaky on IE!

Note: You need to purchase your hard disks separately. I used a single Western Digital Caviar Green 2 TB Desktop Hard Drive WD20EARX to start with, which is also working fine.

Overall I think this is a great product and would not hesitate to recommend it for home use and small business users.
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on January 25, 2012
Initial review - after one week of usage.

First the gotchas:
* The Surveillance Station license only allows for one camera out of the box. If you want additional cameras, you need to purchase the per Camera license. Synology IP Camera License Pack for 1 (CLP1)

* Although we can see the FOSCAM on Surveillance Station, we cannot save it. A new issue with the latest release of DSM 3.2 according to the forums.

* Hibernation mode does not put the CPU to sleep but does turn off the case fan and drives, according to the forums.

* Windows ACLs in order to work, appear to require an Active Directory Domain. The built-in Read, Read/Write, No Access permissions work fine.

* According to other reviews here, the first time you load photos onto this unit, at least for Windows users, you have to wait until after the thumbnails have been created by the Synology to view them (a workaround is mentioned with no details or links to a set of steps provided).

* The built in file manager can skip entire folders when copying from one NAS to another.
-- end of initial review gotchas --

Now for the good stuff:

* It works with Windows 7. Our old SimpleShare (bought by Hitachi and canned), and very old Buffalo Linkstation (1.0) NAS could not be accessed directly* from our Windows 7 machines. With the Synology, my RoboCopy scripts work again from our Windows 7 machines.

* You can get around Windows 7 issues with accessing older NAS by adding them as a Remote Folder/Share in the DSM. This allowed our Windows 7 machines to access the SimpleShare and the Buffalo NAS' as a share within this "server" in Network Places. I am pretty sure I can also map a drive to the old NAS by using the Synology's server name and remote share name. Which means I can use a script to copy from the old NAS to this new one.

* It appears to support more printers than what is listed on their website. Our Epson CX9400 was not listed but was able to be attached to. It can turn any supported USB printer in to a network one using the tcp/ip port printer option in Windows. It also supports printer access for Macs via Bonjour/Air Print - something the Belkin F5L009 5-Port Network USB Hub never quite got right.

* It can be used by Vista/Windows 7 Pro+ built-in Backup Control Panel to backup files and system images across the network. In fact restoring from the Synology works as opposed to trying to get Windows Backup to even see an attached USB drive while booted to the Windows system repair disc. Note: If you run Windows 7 Home Premium, Microsoft apparently prevents the Backup and Restore control panel from using non-Windows Home Server network shares.
--- end of the good stuff from intial review ---
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