Synology DS120j Review - Swiss knife of NAS at a Budget


Broken In
First of all, thanks to Synology in association with Digit team for providing me an opportunity to get my hands on a Synology DS120j for review. The review is solely based on my own experience and all the opinions are my own.

A few weeks ago, I received Synology DS120j NAS and a 1TB Seagate Barracuda 7200RPM HDD. This was my first time actually using a NAS, hence the DS120j was a perfect fit for an amateur like me to delve into the world of NAS.


What is a NAS?
A NAS or Network Attached Storage simply means storage that is connected to a network, either via LAN or Wi-Fi, that enables the user to access the storage and its contents from anywhere in the world. Benefits of a NAS include low power usage, zero downtime and quiet operation. With storage requirements growing more day-by-day, a NAS ensures that all the data is organized at a place and can be accessed remotely.

I received the Synology DS120j in a sealed corrugated box, which is appreciated. The contents of the box are:
  1. DS120j main unit
  2. AC power adapter (rated for 12V, 3A for a total of 36W)
  3. Euro-plug (Type-C) head module
  4. RJ-45 LAN Cable
  5. Screws (2 pouches)
  6. Quick Installation Guide

Design and Build Quality

The design of the Synology DS120j is pretty basic and has a solid construction, though the plastic is quite glossy and attracts a lot of dust and fingerprints. Both sides of the NAS have perforated vents inside the Synology logo to keep it cool. There is also a 60x60 mm fan in the rear that supports four modes; full-speed, cool, quiet and low power mode. There is a 3.5” HDD bay for hard disk installation which can be accessed by sliding front the left side panel.



Model NameDS120j
CPUMARVELL Armada 3720 88F3720
CPU Clock Rate800 MHz
CPU Cores2
Total Physical Memory512 MB
DSM VersionDSM 6.2.4-25556
File Types SupportedInternal Drives – EXT4
External Drives- EXT4, Ext3, FAT, NTFS, HFS+, exFAT (needs to be bought separately from Package Center for $3.99)
Ports1 LAN (1Gbps), 2 USB 2.0, Kensington lock, Power port

Setup and Installation

Setting up a Synology NAS is fairly simple. Plug the ethernet cable to the NAS and a wireless router. In my case, I plugged the ethernet cable directly to my laptop. The installation process is quite straightforward. Visiting the Synology Web Assistant website from a browser will run a web interface that will initiate the setup. After detecting the NAS on a local network, it will prompt to download the latest DSM (Disk Station Manager, the OS for the NAS) from the Synology website Download Center - DS120j | Synology Incorporated. Following the onscreen instructions, the installation was done in around 10 minutes.

Snology Startup1.png

  • After installation, it will recommend the user to setup a QuickConnectID which is super useful, if anyone wants to access the NAS remotely. For that, the user needs to have a Synology account, which I would recommend to create prior to the setup of the NAS by visiting Synology Account and linking your NAS to that account.
  • If anyone is directly tethering the NAS to their PC/Mac via the ethernet, they need to enable internet access to the NAS, otherwise the QuickConnectID setup or anything that requires the NAS to download resources over the internet would not work. For that, the user needs to bridge the connections (the internet connection with the NAS ethernet connection). A guide for bridging connections can be found here Windows: How to bridge WiFi with Ethernet in Windows 10? Mac: Bridge virtual network interfaces on Mac

After enabling internet connectivity on the NAS, the first priority is to download and install packages (or apps if you may) which can be done from the Package Center. The Package Center allows to download a whack load of packages, either from Synology or from third-party (like Python, WordPress). Packages can be installed manually, if the user needs. The square button at the top left hand corner is used to access all apps.

Start Screen.png
Synology All Apps.png

While the downloading process was quite smooth, the installation process needs a lot to be desired. The installation time was quite high and the CPU would reach 99% of its utilization during installation. Also, multiple packages cannot be downloaded simultaneously and has to be downloaded sequentially, as the DSM would put the packages that are to be downloaded in queue, thus making it a time-consuming process. Some packages need additional third-party software to be installed for the package to be downloaded, and that would not queue, hence only downloading when there is no other package needs to installed.

Synology Install process.png

File Station aka the File Manager

The File Station is the file explorer for the NAS and can be used to upload files to the NAS (only files, no folders can be uploaded directly). The folders can be created and the required files can be uploaded using the Upload tab.
Synology File Station1.png
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Broken In
For testing the transfer speed of the NAS, I uploaded a 1GB test file to the NAS over the ethernet and the maximum speed achieved was 61.9MB/s (it took 20 seconds to upload the test file). The max speeds are a bit disappointing as the 7200RPM HDD inside the NAS is capable of write speeds up to 135MB/s and the network is a Gigabit ethernet (around 120MB/s). While downloading the same 1GB test file to my PC, it downloaded in less than 10 seconds (max speeds achieved was 89.6 MB/s), which is great. Also, the CPU utilization while uploading or downloading was at 99%, thus confirming that the CPU is bottle necking the upload and download speed.

Synology Download.png
Synology Upload.png

Video Station

While the inbuilt File Station can be used view images and videos, the ideal package for viewing the video content would be Video Station. It has a nice layout and has tabs for various categories of videos that a NAS may be storing (Movie, TV Show, Home Video, TV Recording). Upon setting up a default folder for searching the videos from, it automatically categories them and if there is a movie, it pulls a short summary along with the rating and various details in a nice splash screen. It is a lot like Plex server and those who want to use the NAS as a video streaming server would be delighted.

Synology Video Station.png

Photo Station 6 and Moments

There are two apps in Synology official packages that allow users to view and organize their photos into albums and share them. Photo Station is more suitable for organizing various photos into specific folders and is user customizable.

There is also Moments app which Synology claims has an AI which enables it to categorize various photos into albums according to shared, tags, places, videos and recently added, similar to Google Photos. The problem with Moments is that it converts the uploaded pictures into a suitable format, and this takes quite a bit of time. Also, Moments app only display photos within the Moments folder created in the NAS during installation. To show all photos present in the NAS, the user has to go Settings> ‘General’ tab> Enable ‘Display all the photos and videos in My Drive of Synology Drive’. This creates an unnecessary confusion and should be enabled by default or an option to enable it during setup of Moments should be provided.

Synology Photo Station 6.png

Synology Moments Interface.png

Synology Drive

Synology Drive is one of the most useful packages which is used to manage the contents of the NAS over the network. After installing the Synology Drive on the NAS, Synology Drive Client needs to downloaded for PC users to take the remote backup and access facility. Once installed, you have to use your QuickConnectID to login to your NAS account. When done, setup the Client to either Sync Task or Backup Task and create a folder on the computer where the Sync or Backup will occur. There is also a mobile app that allows to remotely access the drive called Synology Drive. Once installed, the NAS can be accessed using the app via the internet akin to Google Drive.

Synology Drive Client task.png

Synology Drive Sync.png

Synology Drive Web Interface.png


Synology Drive Client.png


The Synology DS120j is the cheapest offering from the stables of Synology, and it delivers a wholesome experience for the first time NAS buyers. The Synology DS120j was launched on October 31, 2019. It has been almost 2 years since the NAS launched and I think the NAS is due for a refresh. The CPU should be upgraded and atleast 1GB of RAM should be provided for a more fluid and consistent experience. That being said, for a NAS priced less than ₹10,000, it offers a glimpse what a NAS is capable of and allow users to experience a whole new world. Though not perfect, it manages to deliver the fundamentals of a NAS along with some extra features at a list price of ₹8000 and is a great starting point for most users looking for a NAS.
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