Synology DiskStation DS215+

Synology is one of the most popular brands for NAS devices, with a truly huge range available. The DiskStation DS215+ is a premium two-drive model, with several features that lift it above the more consumer-orientated options. There are two lockable hot-swap drive bays on the front, with two USB 3 ports and two Gigabit Ethernet ports plus eSATA on the rear. There’s a hefty 92mm fan on the rear as well, to ensure the hard disks remain cool.

The dual Gigabit Ethernet links can be used for failover or link aggregation, with the latter improving performance. This could well be worth taking advantage of in order to squeeze as much out as possible, since the DS215+ is one of the fastest NAS drives we’ve tested. Synology claims the dual-core 1.4GHz Annapurna Labs Alpine AL-212 processor provides superior performance, and where writing is concerned our tests bear this out.

Backup performance was particularly impressive: the DS215+ backed up our 10.6GB multi-file dataset at an average of 30MB/sec. This is sure to be a productivity boost, and will make you much more likely to back up on a regular basis. Throughput when writing a large single file hit a terrific 107MB/sec, although its sustained read rate of 78MB/sec was merely average.

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Once your hard disks are installed and the DS215+ is powered up, a simple wizard guides you through configuration and then takes you to the management interface. This is an attractive graphical affair, with a handy configurable widget window in the bottom-right corner, providing CPU, RAM and storage-utilisation readouts. The main menu is found via an icon in the top-left corner, which calls up all the packages you have installed. Most of these open as windows within the main window, but some open in their own tab, such as the Surveillance Station for monitoring and recording from IP cameras.

Synology has a sizeable database of installable packages, although not quite as large as you’ll find with NAS drives from Asustor and Qnap. There are options to set the device up as a mail server, Magento, osCommerce or PrestaShop e-commerce website, WordPress blog and many more. In fact, this is virtually a web appliance rather than a mere NAS device.

The DS215+ has plenty of media features, too. You can easily enjoy your collection from a browser window, or connect to the device with a DLNA-compatible player (such as a smart TV) and access the content that way. But there are equally capable professional facilities, including support for joining domains, LDAP and single sign-on clients. You can set up the DS215+ as an iSCSI device with up to ten targets, so it should fit comfortably into a corporate environment.

Costing £237 for the bare device without drives, the Synology DS215+ isn’t a low-budget option. However, it’s one of the quickest NAS drives you can buy for backing up large numbers of small files. There’s also a huge range of extra applications you can install to extend the functionality, and a good selection of professional features built in, making it our two-bay NAS device of choice.

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