Synology, a name that most will not be familiar with being a company that manufactures and focuses on home office, as well as server grade backup solutions. Being based out of Taipei, Taiwan Synology has strived to design and manufacture new generation NAS (Network Attached Storage) solutions for the home user as well as the corporate environment. Founded in the year 2000, Synology has since been manufacturing revolutionary NAS servers, now these are not your average NAS servers. They incorporate one click web hosting, FTP serving, as well as built in PHP, MySQL, and other goodies. While I was not familiar with their name myself until last year when I first reviewed their DS107, they have since then released a new line of products and were kind enough to send me a DS207 for review. This is a dual hard drive unit that features RAID 1, as well as RAID 0 support.
The Synology DS207 comes in a box that is equipped with a carry handle which is mostly only seen on heavier or larger boxes though handy none the less for transport as well as carrying. There is a picture of the unit on the front as well as the back of the box, on the side there is a picture depicting all the features that the unit has.
Once you crack open the box there is the unit itself in its protective end caps, and then the accessories box as well. Unpacking the unit and lying it down to have a look at it I was surprised about the material it seemed to be made out of. A very smooth plastic with a glossy finish, the odd thing was that the unit was almost "sticky" which a plus as it just makes it easier to hold onto.
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Opening up the box of accessories there are two SATA cables, as well as two power cables, the instruction books, a power adapter, and a driver CD. About what I would expect for a unit like this, though I will have to see how easy it is to install these little SATA and power cables as it will most likely be a tight fit.
Moving on to the unit itself it seems to be a very well constructed, very solid feeling construction. The outside of the unit is relatively plain; the bottom of the unit has a vent near the front as well as four non-slip rubber feet. Synology is printed on each side, the back of the unit has the cooling fan, two USB ports, an Ethernet jack, the DC-in jack, as well as a little reset button.
Flipping the unit around to get a look at the front going from top to bottom we can see four LED indicators to show you the status of the unit at a quick glance: Status, LAN, Disk 1, Disk 2.
Moving on down there is an e-SATA port, a button labeled "c" and then the power button.
A Closer Look
After having a look at the outside of the unit it was time to inspect the inside of this baby where my hard drives will be housed. This unit has a fairly unique way of opening. Initially I assume that each side would have come off with a drive on each side, but one side slides forward and then unlatches, the top, side, and bottom of the unit are all one piece. Leaving only one side of the unit with all the mounting hardware on it, in the form of two "L" shaped brackets so that the drives will mount one on top of the other. Near the front of the unit there are the two power adapters, in this case standard floppy connectors. Instead of 5V they supply 12V to the hard drives. At the front of the unit are also the two SATA connectors for the hard drives.
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Installation & Software
Installation for this unit is pretty easy, I chose to attach the cables to the drives before I installed them into the enclosure as the clearances would be pretty tight once they were installed. The shorter cables on the lower HDD (Disk 1) and the longer cables for the upper drive (Disk 2). Simply slide the bottom drive in and secure it with the four screws, after that slide the upper drive in and secure it with the provided screws as well. Once your HDDs are secured in the drive plug in the SATA connectors and then the power input. Once you have checked all your connections its time to seal this baby back up and get ready for testing.
Slide the cover back on, secure it with the provided screw. After I had cleaned off a spot on my desk for this unit it was time to make all the necessary hookups for power, and then network.
This unit comes packaged with some software to install onto your computer to properly access the features of this unit. I will be taking screenshots of the most important configuration options that can be found in the web interface; for the simple reason that if I were to show every menu there would be about 50+ screenshots. I have included the ones that I think will be most beneficial and explanative below. Having a quick look through the web menu gave me a fairly clear idea of some of the more notable things that this little server can do.
With the click of a button this unit will be a web server, FTP server, iTunes server, and BitTorrent download server. This thing will do pretty much anything you could want in a server without all the hassle of setup and maintenance! With the simple click of a button you can turn this unit into virtually anything.
When you enable the web server, or any of the other features there is a corresponding folder created on the unit that you simply upload the files to and away you go. Before we can do any of this though we need to setup the unit's HDDs, and RAID options. After connecting and powering on the unit, I popped in the driver disc and installed the Synology Assistant, which in turn readied the DS207 for my use. Once this was done I was able to log onto the unit. Simply open the Synology Assistant, click the search button, it will find the DS207 and then you can log into it from where which brings you to the web based administration panel.
This panel will give you control over every aspect of the DS207, from simple naming, function control all the way to user groups!
Time to navigate through the web interface and make sure that we have everything configured correctly. When you first log into the webadmin you get a nice summary of the unit, the name of it model, serial number, IP address, date, system temperature, as well as some quick links.
Moving over to the status screen of the unit we can see a bit more detail such as the MAC address, all IP related information, the workgroup, the time, as well as information on each disk that is installed in the unit, their model, temperature, size, and what volume they are setup for.
Moving on down the list we have the System link on the left which brings us to the LAN tab. This will allow you to name your server, as well as configure your IP settings, in this case I will be letting my Router assign the IP so automatic will be fine. You can also set your Jumbo frame on or off, as well as the MTU value accordingly (though these will only be beneficial in a completely GigaBit environment). In this area you can also set the power management settings (HDD standby) as well as manage the firmware on the unit, restore the unit to defaults, or update the firmware.
Next on the list is Storage. The only really interesting thing in here is the Volume tab which will give you control over how you want the volumes setup on your drives. In this case I will be setting them up in RAID 1 for better data safety, once you click the OK button it will want to check the consistency on the volume after telling it to do a complete check the unit took about 3-4 hours to complete the check and become ready.
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After setting up the volume and the RAID array it was time to take a look at the permissions, in this menu we have complete control to add/remove users and modify their various permissions, and we can do this for individual users of make new groups if there are to be a lot of users. For my application a single user should be fine, so I will be using the default "admin" user.
Now we have the 'Network Services' tab which is where all the fun really starts. From this menu we have all the control to setup the workgroup, the FTP service with port settings, as well as bandwidth restrictions. Next tab we have the "Web Service" control. In here we can enable secure connections, modify the HTTP port, enable the 'photo station', 'web station', and 'MySQL' options. For my application I will be turning on the web station, as well as MySQL to test with a website. This unit comes with a multimedia server function though for my application I do not need a media server as I have another computer dedicated to that. Last on the list there is the iTunes service configuration tab, allowing to you to share music between multiple copies of iTunes on various computers. Personally I do not foresee this as being very useful as simply sharing the folder across a network would work equally as well, and you would not be limited to use iTunes either.
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The backup section of this very complete web interface gives the user control over all the backup options this unit comes packed with. From backing up the system configuration of the DS207, being able to configure local backups as well we are able to setup backup schedules for files so that they will be backed up unattended without having to worry about it. If you have multiple Synology Disk Stations you are able to set them up to backup to this unit, with this level of backup you could have a VERY redundant and secure backup solution if you had a couple Disk Stations configured this way.
That pretty much sums up all the options that should be gone over, there is also a menu that lists the status of external devices, such as a USB drive, or an eSATA hard drive. The last menu that you can configure is the Download Service, this keeps track of any file downloads that you moved to the Disk station to finish once you had shut down your computer.
This goes hand in hand with the client side software that Synology packages, you simply start the downloads with it, transfer them to the DS207 and then turn your computer off, the files will continue to download even when your computer is off, you can then retrieve them after you have restarted your computer and logged back into he DS207. Now that we have had a peek through the inner workings of this unit, as well as configured it to my liking its time for some testing!
For my performance testing I chose to install 2x750GB Seagate SATA2 16MB cache hard drives in this unit - for a situation like this more space is always better. Testing for this unit will be relatively simple; I will plug the unit into my GigaBit switch and configure it for file sharing across the network. I will copy a large file over to the unit, measure the transfer speeds via an FTP client, as well as through the Windows network file share protocol.
This unit comes with the native ability to work as an FTP server as well as Web server; these features will be tested using file transfer to an offsite location, as well as simultaneous transfers to offsite locations as well. All testing on this unit will be performed with the drives in RAID 1 (mirroring) so that my data is extra secure.
After seeing the results it still seems like these units prefer the Windows drag and drop method as opposed to the FTP client approach (for LAN that is). In the initial transfer I moved a 1.2 GB movie (.avi) to the unit which I will be testing now by streaming that piece of media to three different computers at the same time. When this file is streaming I will also transfer a new file up to the unit to record the transfer slowdown.
For further testing i preformed a basic Read/Write test on the unit, to do so I created a 100MB, as well as 1000MB dummy file and then copied the files to and from the drive (one at a time.) While i was doing the copying i recorded the times with a stop watch and rounded the numbers to the nearest second. Please note that since these times where hand recorded there will be a bit of variance in them, this is intended to give you a rough estimation of the read/write times.
The streaming files played uninterrupted until the end of the file transfer. When the unit resynced, or refreshed its files there was a brief video lag (about 2-4 seconds) on all the machines that were streaming the movie. This transfer slowdown was to be expected and is acceptable considering the load the unit was under.
For my last phase of testing I will be setting up a simple test website, along with the FTP server aspect of this unit. Setup of both was a breeze as I covered in the Web Interface section. Once it was all setup I logged into the FTP aspect of the server (connecting to my IP and logging in with the information that I had setup) from a friends house. Transferring the files over was nice and speedy as well they came across at my full home upload speed (120 KB/s). I was happily copying and transferring files via the FTP interface. The website worked exactly as advertised as well, I simply copied the files I wanted to be displayed into the "web" folder on the unit and viola I was away and hosting my own website!
Value and Conclusion
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<td>The Synology DS207 retails for about $350 USD without any drives, once you factor in drives that number can easily turn into $800-1000 depending on what storage capacity you want to use. For the target audience I find this to be an acceptable price, as well as an outstanding value.</td>
<td>Synology has hit the nail on the head once again with this outstanding product. They have taken the DS106 and all of its success, packed in some more features and added support for another drive. What more could a person want? This unit leaves little to be desired as it comes out of the box ready to do anything the home user, or even the corporate user could want to do. From FTP serving to automated backups, right down to basic home file sharing this unit has it all. Packaged in an attractive case, easy installation and best of all virtually no maintenance make this latest Disk Station from Synology a star. If you are looking for an all-in-one backup solution, an FTP server, or even want to host your own website from home then please take a moment to consider this DS207.</td></tr>
Nice review. It's your first one for TPU I assume so welcome aboard. :toast:
Nice review, but this Synology box also forgot what the DS106 forgot, they forgot to include NFS. Its not all Windows out there, there are also a few Unix people who think this box could be an addition to their services.
We ourselfs got two boxes in a multivendor Heterogeneous environment (aka a mix of vendors in a Windows/unix environment), for unix we can only use the ftp option, for our linux boxes we use Samba but a native NFS client would be preferable. I hope that the people at Synology will think of the unix community and include a NFS client in their next firmware release....
Nice Work Tau. Agreed I have never heard of Synology before. I thought this was gonna be like Symbology or something :)
I purchased a DS-207 in late June 2007. The unit seemed to work OK for about 3 weeks, when it began locking up, requiring a complete power off to restart. After restart, the unit would function for a number of hours, less if moving large files. On Aug 1 2007 I contacted Synology about the problem, and I've had numerous emails back and forth with them. They finally admitted on Aug 14 there is a problem with the unit. Unfortunately they don't seem to want to send me a replacement. Now, they are suggesting that they might be able to fix the problem with a software update, but that "might" be available in 1 or 2 weeks. I'm beginning to think the 1 year warranty is useless.
If I had to do it again, I would go looking for a product from another manufacturer.
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