Excellent performance, built-in pro features and huge app extensibility make this worth the asking price.
S ynology 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 this month. 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+ took less than half the time of some of its competitors to back up our 10.6GB dataset. Only Synology’s quad-core DS715 beat it at this test. 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 was actually faster than the more expensive DS715’s at 107MB/sec, although it was beaten by several others in our reading test.
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 Qnap and Asustor have on offer. 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 $459 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, particularly when 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. The DS715 might be a little quicker in some areas, but it’s not worth the extra $130 unless you do a lot of multi-file backups. The DS215+ is our two-bay NAS device of choice this month.
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