Network attached storage devices designed for two hard disk drives seem to be the most popular type of NASes. Being but slightly larger and more expensive than their single-disk counterparts, they are much more attractive than four-disk products in these parameters. Considering the incessant growth of hard disk capacities, two disk bays can hardly be a serious limitation. So, if you’re considering buying a NAS, we’d recommend you to take a look at dual-disk ones in the first place.
Synology offers four models in this class right now: the entry-level DS212j for SOHO users, the DS212 for workgroups and demanding home users, the DS212+ for SMBs and the top-end DS712+, which is based on the x86 platform and can be transformed into a 7-disk model by means of the DX510 module. The rest of the models run on ARM processors and differ in such parameters as processor clock rate, amount and speed of system memory, I/O ports, and the design and color of the case.
It’s rather hard to say what performance is required for particular NAS applications. You just can’t predict what tasks your NAS will have to solve in the future and what features will be added into its firmware by the manufacturer. That’s why your shopping choice should be based on technical specs and your budget. For example, the junior dual-disk model from Synology doesn’t support hot-swapping of HDDs and WoL technology and only offers USB 2.0 ports for external devices. If you don’t like these limitations and can afford something more functional, you may want to take a look at the midrange DS212 model.
Package and Accessories
The packaging hasn’t changed since our last review of a Synology NAS. It is a unified box with a plastic handle and icons denoting supported technologies and usage scenarios. The specific model is only indicated by stickers that provide such information as product name, accessories, and technical specs. There’s also a picture of the NAS on the box.
The accessories include an external power adapter with cord, an Ethernet cable, screws to mount 3.5- and 2.5-inch disks, documentation and a CD. The latter contains DSAssistant (a NAS setup utility available in versions for Windows, Mac OS and Linux), a firmware image, electronic documentation and Data Replicator (a backup tool for Windows).
You may want to get updated versions of the software tools, firmware, documentation and other stuff from the Synology website. The support section of the site offers a FAQ, how-to and video guides, and compatibility lists. A forum and a wiki are available as well.