There are plenty of self-contained NAS boxes out there on the market, but for users wanting more control, or even wanting to use their NAS for more than just file storage, a dedicated NAS device that takes off-the-shelf hard drives is often a better solution.
Synology has been impressing us with its devices for some time, and the DS213 is no exception. It packs a 2GHz CPU and 512MB RAM, with two bays available for hard drives.
This means it can hold up to 8TB of storage if you use the rare and expensive 4TB hard drives – in reality most people will settle with 2TB or 3TB drives.
It is important to factor this in, because it will significantly add to the cost of setting up the DS213, and will ultimately determine just how much you can store.
Drive installation is a breeze, thanks to a removeable front panel and hotswap bays. Simply add drives, boot the NAS and let the inbuilt operating system set up your network storage.
In fact, this is where the real power of the DS213 can be seen – Synology’s DiskStation Manager 4.0 is used as the operating system for the DS213, and it is the best iteration to date of an interface that already impressed us.
Access to DSM is done via a browser, which opens a desktop on the NAS. This features both monitoring information and the ability to configure the various DLNA and sharing settings built into the router.
It also has full support for plugins, which means if you are so inclined you can turn the DS213 into a server, running software like Apache or a DHCP server directly on the NAS.
Using two Western Digital Red drives (its NAS-focused models) we saw write speeds of 105MBps and reads of 63MBps.
There were no perceptible issues with file transfers or media streaming, and when we combine this with the sheer ease of configuration and flexibility of DSM this made for a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
Synology has yet again built a solid yet robust NAS box that should serve most home and even small business needs.
The only real question you need to ask is whether two drives will be enough for your storage requirements, and that is a purely personal call. If two disks are fine, then this is an excellent offering.