The functionality offered by Synology products with their basic firmware is rich and goes beyond that of a standard NAS. However, many power users may ask for even more. For them, there is an opportunity to install prefabricated packages in the Package Management section of the web interface. When installed, a package may add its own setup, management and logging options into the NAS’s interface.
Time Backup is a recent addition to the list of available packages. It allows to create multiple copies of folders basing on a schedule, similar to the Time Machine tool in Mac OS X. The minimum time internal is 1 hour. The number of tasks is limited to only one or two, though. The disk volumes of the source and destination can be different. External disks must be formatted in EXT4 because this package doesn’t support NTFS. There are a number of ways to restore a folder. You can just move its copy back into the source folder or into another folder. Or you can copy only certain files, having selected them in your web-browser.
Having multiple copies of the same data is important when you want to have an opportunity to roll back to an earlier version of your document, for example to undo some unwanted editing.
The NAS also offers packages to enable console access (telnet and ssh) and supports Optware.
We use Western Digital Caviar Black WD5001AAL and the Intel NASPT 1.7.0 benchmark for our tests. The diagram shows what performance the DS211 can offer with a single disk or with two disks in RAID0 or RAID1 arrays.
The numbers are very high, actually. The top read and write speeds are about 90 and 110 MBps, respectively. Rather surprisingly, it looks like even mainstream dual-disk NASes from Synology can be limited by the bandwidth of a Gigabit Ethernet network. We guess we’ll need to find heavier tests so that we could benchmark NASes without such limitations.
Comparing the results to those of the top-end DS1010+ model, we can see that the speeds of reading from and writing to a single disk and a RAID0 array differ by less than 20%. It means that Synology can squeeze out everything from their hardware and proves that a fast NAS doesn’t have to be based on the x86 platform. We guess we will yet see more Synology NASes with processors from Marvell and Freescale.
The next diagram shows the performance of an external disk connected via USB. We used a WD5001AAL disk and a SATA-USB adapter for this test. When connected directly to a PC, the HDD with adapter would deliver a speed of 35 MBps (with NTFS) which is quite typical of such devices.
We can see that the DS211 can work with the external disk very effectively, the top read and write speeds being as high as 32 and 42 MBps, respectively. You can achieve them if you format your external disk in EXT3/EXT4. NTFS is slower at writing, which might be expected since it lacks native support in the NAS’s operating system.