Synology DS112J NAS detailed review

Akashtaker001

Right off the assembly line
Summary
The Synology DiskStation DS112j offers an ideal entry product for those looking to start moving their files to a network storage location. The DSM software is class leading and will allow users massive potential to improve their network functionality.


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Review Synology DS112j

A special thanks to Synology Inc and Thinkdigit for providing this device for review.
The Synology DS112J is a new NAS server intended for small business and personal home uses. For those who are unfamiliar with NAS concept. According to Wikipedia, A NAS unit is a computer connected to a network that provides only file-based data storage services to other devices on the network. Although it may technically be possible to run other software on a NAS unit, it is not designed to be a general purpose server. For example, NAS units usually do not have a keyboard or display, and are controlled and configured over the network, often using a browser. NAS not only operates as a file server, but is specialized for this task either by its hardware, software, or configuration of those elements. NAS is often manufactured as a computer appliance – a specialized computer built from the ground up for storing and serving files – rather than simply a general purpose computer being used for the role.


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Synology’s DS112J is a budget-friendly NAS from Synology, small, yet powerful NAS best suited for those who are looking for a ready to use NAS device without configuring with the internals to set up the system. This NAS offers excellent performance and many advanced capabilities, the DS112J offers excellent Read/Write speeds for its class, its award winning DSM OS from Synology.



Synology DS12j Specifications
ProcessorARM, single core, 1 GHz
Operating SystemDSM 4.0 (4.1 released as of today)
Memory128 MB DDR2
Storage3.5" or 2.5" SATA(II) X1 (With optional 2.5" Disk Holder)
Capacityup to 4 TB
Networking1x Gigabit LAN
Additional Connectors2x USB 2.0
Dimensions166 X 71 X 224 mm
Weight0.72 kg
Power ConsumptionSleep: 4.4 W
In operation: 12.1 W
Power SupplyExternal, 100-240 V
Fan1x 60 mm
Warranty2 years
Price excluding VAT
(at the time of the review on Amazon)
$149.99



A single core ARM CPU powers DS112j and despite its low computing power it is more than enough, since this NAS doesn't support power demanding advanced RAID levels. Also the low frequency CPU consumes less power resulting in higher power saving, something important in NAS servers which usually work 24/7. The available RAM is only 128MB but the highly optimised and resource friendly DSM OS runs pretty smoothly on the available resources.

Regarding networking, a single Gigabit Ethernet port is available and the remaining I/O ports include only a pair of USB 2.0. An eSATA port is highly missed.
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The minimal small white packaging is sturdy enough to protect its contents, and is made from recycled paper. The most interesting features and device specifications are printed on outer packaging.



Software and Installation


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The software CD provides the software required to start your device. The Synology Assistant installer is a pretty straight process of few clicks.

After we have the Synology Assistant up and running, it should find the DiskStation location on our network. At this point the DiskStation will be showing as not installed, so we need to install the DSM software.

After Synology Assistant is up and running it should find the DiskStation location on our network. At this point the DiskStation will be showing as not installed, so we need to install the DSM software. Which can be found on the installation CD or you can download the latest version from internet.


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Now it should show device as ready. You can now right-click on the device and click ‘Connect’.

DSM 4.0, Initial setup and UI

DiskStation Manager 4.0 is the current incarnation of the OS for Synology NAS devices. DSM 4.0 allows us to manage all aspects of the DiskStation via a single web browser tab utilising multitasking and personalisation. DSM 4.0 uses HTML5 and CSS3 to allow us to drag-n-drop windows around the browser tab giving us complete control over what we are viewing, you need to enable Java version in your browser if you want to browse your drives on your computer.

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[FONT=Helvetica Neue Light, HelveticaNeue-Light, Helvetica Neue, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif][/FONT]To use DSM we first login using the password and username we selected during the initial setup on our client PC. This presents us with the NAS desktop and quick links to some key features which include updates of the DSM from within the OS.

After login is successful, the DSM Quick Start wizard will greet you and help you configure your NAS quickly.


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From the desktop you can manage most of the functions of your NAS. The Control Panel is one of the first place to go when you first first start your NAS device.

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Here we find a plethora of options that allow us to control File Sharing, Network Services, System Settings and Application Settings.
First, thing you need to do is create a shared folder.
Here you can assign privileges to to different users. E.g Here we have created a folder named ‘Data’ which can be accessed by ‘admin’ but will remain inaccessible to ‘guest’.


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All the folders in your Diskstation are also accessible from My Network Places.


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The DSM is Linux based OS as a result it has a full fledged Package Manager to install applications to enhance functionality of your device. Just like Linux you can get install application from official sources and add third party repositories.


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Some the softwares available in Package Manager are


Wordpress - it can be used to host a Wordpress site on your Diskstation.

Photo Station - features Facebook integration and support for a wide range of photo and video formats to share and manage our files.

Surveillance Station - can be used to record feeds from different IP cameras to safeguard your home or office.

Download Station - allows us to set up the DiskStation to download files autonomously. The DiskStation can be used as a 24/7 download centre for BitTorrent™, FTP, HTTP, eMule and NZB news server. Downloads activities can be restriction to certain hours of the day by setting up a download schedule.
Web Station - allows us to host our own web sites on the DiskStation. Using a virtual host we can have multiple web sites on our DiskStation, up to 30 web sites. Web Station has built in support for PHP and MySQL. (The unit can also be set up as a mail server with support for POP3, SMTP and IMAP).

Print Server - is a complete print server solution for both inside and out-and-about. By connecting a printer via USB to the DiskStation we have instantly created a network printer. DiskStation Print Server supports Apple Airprint and Google Cloud Print.

iTunes Server - the DiskStation can work as an iTunes Server to share Music within a local network. After enabling iTunes service in DSM, iTunes will recognise the DiskStation as an iTunes server under the SHARED list.

Audio Station - utilises AJAX technology to bring us an innovative and enjoyable listening experience. Once enabled we can listen to music stored on our DiskStation from anywhere via our iPod, Internet Radio or other UPnP/DLNA media servers. All of the key formats are supported by the unit, including FLAC, MP3, AAC, WMA.
Antivirus Essential - is a full fledged free antivirus to protect your NAS device from harmful viruses.

Data Replicator 3 - allows us to back up our desktop date, Outlook® or Outlook Express® emails to the DiskStation. Data Replicator 3 is provided free on the installation CD that comes with the DiskStation.

Mobile Support - Synology offer a number of mobile apps to access the DiskStation. These apps are available on Apple and Android platforms, including smartphones and tablets. Apps such as DS Audio allow us to play our music on our mobile device from our DiskStation.

Cloud Station - it provides a Dropbox or Skydrive like alternative to to backup and synchronise your files over the internet across various devices. The service is connected through Synology's dynamic DNS service, while UPnP should mean you don't have to worry about opening any ports. This feature is still in beta for DSM 4.1, and currently only Windows and Mac OS X clients are available with the full release of the update, which is typically a couple of months after the Beta, while Linux version is still not available. For this feature you need to sign up for a Synology account which is free. For this feature to work both your device and your NAS should be connected to internet.


Miscellaneous Features

Media Playback - With this device you can stream your videos and audio directly from to your device, like a mobile or PC. If you are on same network you can stream FullHD movies from this device flawlessly.


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Download Manager - as mentioned before, this device supports various downloading options like ftp, http, https, sftp, magnet, torrent etc.. This can be used as a low powered download manager.


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[FONT=Helvetica Neue Light, HelveticaNeue-Light, Helvetica Neue, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif][/FONT]Time Machine (MAC OS X) - this device can also integrate with Time Machine feature of MAC OS to take regular snapshots of the files on your system. This feature is right now unavailable on Windows. In future, same concept can be used to backup snapshots from Linux distros when ‘btrfs’ format becomes stable.


Manage your PC and USB drives - The File Explorer in this device can be used to manage files on your PC and USB drives. I regularly use it to open Pen Drives instead of PC, since DSM is Linux based OS most virus which are targeted on Windows PC become useless in this device. Therefore it can also add a an extra layer of security from some unknown wild virus.

Mobile Apps - If you have a smartphone you can easily manage your device without even touching a PC using mobile apps provided by Synology on Google Play on Android and Apple App Store. You can also login into this device using a mobile browser. It will automatically redirect to a mobile version of the site.


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[FONT=Helvetica Neue Light, HelveticaNeue-Light, Helvetica Neue, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif][/FONT]The mobile site has limited functionality but you can also redirect to a full fledged desktop version if you have a capable browser that can handle HTML5, and CSS. We tested the desktop version on default Android browser on Android ICS and the site was usable.

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Synology apps are also available to to manage your device more efficiently.

Update DSM4.1
Synology has announced an update to DSM. The DSM 4.1 is available from today, which unfortunately could not be covered in this article.

[h=2]Value and Conclusion[/h][FONT=Helvetica Neue, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][/FONT]
Pros
Price/performance ratio
Very capable OS
Great transfer speeds
Mobile apps
Lots of features
Intuitive and windowed operating system
Optional application packages boost functionality
Low energy consumption
Very low Noise
Decent build quality
Ease of use
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Cons
No support for hot-swap disks
An x86 Atom CPU to increase Application Packages available
USB 3.0 is not supported
Νο eSATA
Cannot format an external disk to NTFS
High CPU utilization during USB transfers
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The Synology DS112j is a NAS server which addresses budget oriented users or small offices, that don't need four-bays or even larger NAS boxes, and can live without RAID arrays. It may not have hot-swap disks, USB 3.0 support or an eSATA port but it has most of the functionality and features of more expensive Synology NAS servers thanks to the DSM operating system it runs. Thanks to its small footprint it doesn't draw a lot of attention and its power consumption is very low, so is output noise. The build quality is top notch and the setup and management is quite easy for this device.
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[FONT=Helvetica Neue, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]For value, Synology also score well. Pricing the DS112j at a competitive $149.99 and bundling all of the cables and connectors to get us up and running. Few NAS systems offer as much functionality for this price, at such a good price I can't ask for many things, that's for sure, and the fact that the DS112j achieved by better performance/power than my previous NAS, which was a Pentium IV PC with FreeNAS installed. All in all the DS112j is a very good choice for all who want to enter the NAS world and explore the numerous capabilities that these marvelous devices have to offer.[/FONT]

[FONT=Helvetica Neue Light, HelveticaNeue-Light, Helvetica Neue, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif]Please give your responses to this review on this [/FONT][FONT=Helvetica Neue, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]forum[/FONT][FONT=Helvetica Neue, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif] and here[/FONT]
 
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