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[ADV]Synology DS216+II NAS drive: Reviewed and Revealed – Tell us what you think!

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Old 16-08-2016, 12:01 PM   #1
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[ADV]Synology DS216+II NAS drive: Reviewed and Revealed – Tell us what you think!

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Old 15-09-2016, 10:05 AM   #2
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The DS216+II is one of the selected few to support the advanced Btrfs filesystem - a critical feature in protecting your valuable data from randomware. Btrfs generates a snapshot of the old data before they are overwritten. Needless to say, I am excited to test out its capabilities.
In this trial, I will focus on a NAS’s core functionality in data protection and backups.

First Impression
The DS216+II retains a classic glossy and matt black finishing. Standing at 165 x 108 x 233.2 mm, it is petite and stylish. Users should have no problem blending the DS216+II into their environment. A high-speed USB3 port and a “Copy” button are conveniently placed in front.

Data Protection
I wrote a very simple ransomware to test out the DS216+II’s resilience in this area. The ransomware encrypts all document files with an AES-256 cipher. As shown in figure 1 below, my files have been encrypted and renamed after running the ransomware.

Figure 1: Document encrypted by our simulated ransomware

I then fired up Snapshot Replication and performed an in-place recovery.

Figure 2: Choosing a snapshot for ransomware recovery

All file are recovered successfully and instantly! Pretty impressive! This will definitely prevent any heart attacks should I encounter a ransomware attack.

A minor note is that files in the user home directories cannot be done in-place. They can only be recovered into a new shared directory.

Data Backup and Synchronisation
Data backup is tested using the Hyper Backup package and synchronisation is tested via the Cloud Sync, Cloud Station Server and Cloud Station ShareSync packages.

I tested 5 backup and synchronisation scenarios:
1. DS216+II to cloud services (I tested on Google Drive)
This feature allows us to backup and/or synchronise our files on storage available on the cloud. The DS216+II supports a huge range of cloud storage services. Users should have no problem integrating the DS216+II with their choice of cloud service provider.

Figure 3: Large Cloud services support

2. Backup and synchronise Windows PC to and with DS216+II via Cloud Station Backup and Cloud Station Drive
Cloud Station Backup automatically maintains a backup history of the files from the local PC onto the DS216+II. Using the Cloud Station Server package, I am able to recover my files to the previous version if required.

Figure 4: Recovering previous versions of the files on Local PC

Cloud Station Drive on the other hand allows me to synchronise files on the DS216+II with the ones on my PC. This enables me to always have a local offline copy of the files from the DS216+II. In times where I do not have network access to my DS216+II (e.g. on the airplane), I can still continue to work on those files on my PC. Cloud Station Backup will then synchronise the changes when I regain network access. Cloud Station backup provides an informative user interface, allowing me to monitor the current synchronisation status

Figure 5: Monitoring Cloud Station Drive Synchronisation status

3. DS216+II to another Synology NAS (I tested on a DS415+)
DS216+II have the ability synchronize and backup my files on multiple Synology Diskstations. In a business scenario, users could have a Synology Diskstation in their office that is synchronised with another Synology Diskstation at home. Users can continue to access their work files from the Diskstation in their own home through their own LAN. This will be more efficient compared to accessing the files in their office through the internet. Any changes made to the work files on the home Diskstation will be backed-up and synchronised with the one in the office, ready to be accessed when the users reports to work.

I hit a speed-bump trying to synchronise our files from the DS216+II onto the DS415+. I encountered a “No shared folder available for syncing” error message. The solution is to first enable the shared folder to synchronise on the DS216+II via the Cloud station server. A more detailed explanation could be given to help other users who encountered the same error message.

Figure 6: Enabling shared folders for synchronisation

4. DS216+II to external USB storage device
I tested this on the Seagate Backup plus (8TB) external HDD. Using Hyper Backup package, I am able schedule regular backups of the shared folders to our HDD. This scenario is useful for users who are not ready to invest in another Diskstation, but would still want to have backups of their data on their own external storage device.

Figure 7: Backup to my external Seagate 8TB Harddisk (mounted on usbshare1-2)

5. External USB storage device to DS216+II for Centralised Storage
Synology has added a “Copy” button to the front of the DS216+II. This makes creating of online backups of thumbdrives or external harddisks very convenient. I plugged in a thumbdrive to the front USB port. A few seconds later, the green LED next to the Copy button lights up, signalling that the Copy button is operational. I pressed the Copy button once. The LED immediately blinks to indicate data copy is in progress. Once completed, the thumbdrive automatically un-mounts and the LED goes out. I do not even need to log-in to the DS216+II.

Figure 8: Files copied using the Copy button are copies to folders are postfixed with timestamps

continues on post 2
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Old 15-09-2016, 10:05 AM   #3
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Continued from post 1

Data Backup and Synchronisation (afterthoughts)
Both synchronisation and backups worked flawlessly.

The DS216+II’s backup and synchronisation packages have proven to be very robust. Users should be able to integrate it into their home and business backups and synchronisation scenarios. I especially liked the backup explorer feature, which allows users to easily browse, examine and restore files that were backed-up in the past.

Figure 9: Backup explorer

I also found out that Cloud Station Backup’s and Hyper Backup’s ability to perform multi-version backup can also be used to recover from ransomware attacks. Using the backup Explorer, I am able to browse and choose a backup that was captured before the attack happened and perform the recovery.

Figure 10: Using Backup explorer to recover from ransomware attacks by choosing an earlier backup

I thoroughly enjoyed the DS216+II trial. Synology has certainly not forgotten on the core features of a NAS and has created a robust system capable of providing data backup and protection.
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Old 17-09-2016, 02:26 AM   #4
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Synology DS216+ II Review For Small/Home Business Owner

Here’s my fair and honest review of Synology DS216+ II with 1TB WD Red HDD.

DS216+ II is a two drive bays NAS, which can hold up to 16TB of storage based on two 8TB HDD size. As a small design agency owner, the capacity is certainly sufficient through the beginning stages of my business. I have a humble team of four, each handling different roles.

Unboxing the contents, the box comes with a standard issued adaptor, LAN cable and a guidebook. The size of the NAS was pretty compact, almost the same height as an iPhone 6S. Setting up the NAS was simple following the guide, I’m able load the HDD without any tools. Upon connecting all cables, powering on wasn’t difficult.

Installation of DiskStation Manager 6 was straightforward, no rocket science knowledge required.

Top left: Set up was done swiftly in 10 minutes.
Top right: Downloaded the recommended packages to get started.
Bottom left: Many other Synology packages are available for download too on Package Center as well as 3rd party packages such as Magneto and Wordpress.

Getting started: Using Control Panel to enable QuickConnect allow easy access to my DiskStation from anywhere with just my QuickConnect ID.

Access of files using File Station was easy and seamless, I can drag and drop files into folders I want. This greatly reduced the time and effort taken to transfer artwork with big file size, a huge convenience for me to dispatch materials to my team members.

Logging in DS file app using my ID enables easy opening of files on my Smartphone and Tablet. I created different user accounts for my team and each individual role can access their own folder for different purposes.

Current situation of the improved workflow

• Designer will access Design Materials folder and do all the design work.
• After which he will upload the final artwork into the Presentation folder.
• The Project Manager will present the work located inside the Presentation folder to our client using a laptop or tablet.

Top left: In my line of work, there are plenty of file transferring to be done with client. I use Cloud Sync to synchronize my Dropbox so that I will be able to download anything my client send me. Now every team member will be able to use a central system to access files.
Top right/bottom left: Note Station allows me to sync my to-do list and personal notes all in one platform. In addition, I can share and export my notes as word document; another convenient feature. With Note Station, I can set project deadlines and my team members can follow a merged calendar on NAS which make collaboration easier.
Bottom right: Snapshot Replication is another useful package; I scheduled replication on folders that I overwrite more often, this way I don’t have to back up everything which can take up a long time. This feature is also useful to back up files to another desktop’s HDD.

Video Station is amazing; it automatically downloads all the meta data of a video clip. I am able to stream movies and TV shows on my MacBook Pro and tablet (using DS Video) and best of all, it reads subtitles!

Audio Station is pretty cool as well. Drag and drop music files with no frills. Lyrics plugin was nice for karaoke but part of lyrics was restricted due to licensing issue.

DS Audio user interface is decent, somewhat similar to iTunes.

In conclusion, my experience with Synology DS216+ II for two weeks has been a pleasant one. NAS redefine convenience where data potentially can be accessed by any computer anywhere. It doubles up as more than just online storage, it can be used as a media server, data backup and even a website host.

Process workflow of my job has been streamlined and improved significantly. Transferring of files and dispatching of online materials have been made simple. This contributes to higher efficiency and better communications with my team.
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Old 25-09-2016, 04:47 PM   #5
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Introducing the Synology DS216+II
“Why would anyone need their own “dropbox” at home?”

This is a common response I hear from friends to my description of a Network Attached Storage (NAS) and my reasons for wanting to buy one. Having tried the Synology DS216+II, I would retort that there are many reasons why anybody would want their own in-house cloud storage.

The Synology DS216+II is a 2-bay NAS that sits on the top of Synology’s DS216 range. With its Btrfs file system and on-the-fly video transcoding, the DS216+II serves as both an efficient storage system and competent media server. For this review, I would be using a 1TB WD Red HDD.

Please refer to Synology’s product page for the full list of specifications of the DS216+II.

The Synology DS216+II comes with a AC power adaptor, a RJ-45 LAN cable and a Quick Installation Guide (HDDs are to be purchased separately)

The Contents
The Synology DS216+II comes in a frustration-free packaging with all the necessary items to get started. It would have been great if Synology included used a longer length for the Ethernet and power cables. In order to keep the NAS in a well-ventilated area, some users might be limited in where they can situate the device if the cables are too short.

The Hardware
Synology has employed a utilitarian approach in its design of the DS216+II. The glossy-back front panel covers the two removable HDD trays. I did not require any additional tools as 3.5inch HDDs click and lock into the trays. The hardware installation process was easy and simple.

The matte-black main chassis fronts a handy USB3.0 port and brightness-adjustable LED indicators. With the NAS in my room, I really appreciate being able to schedule the LED indicators to be dimmed at night for comfort. The back panel houses the cooling fan, 2x USB ports and the Ethernet port.

Frustration-free: The DS216+II offers a simple and tool-free installation

The Software
Similarly, the software set-up was straightforward. The Synology Web Assistant (via find.synology.com) quickly located the NAS on my local network and installed the DiskStation Manager 6.0 (DSM) and various recommended packages (apps). The packages are optional and can be installed later via the Package Center (an app store of sorts).

Simple setup: Install DSM, Create Account, Schedule Updates, Install Packages!

Simple and clean UI

The UI is also simple to navigate. On the top left, the main menu button provides access to all installed packages. On the top right, the various icons provide access to the notification panel, user options, search bar and widgets respectively.

Security basics: 2FA

As part of an effort to help improve the security of your NAS, Synology has automatically disabled the system default user (admin) during the creation of the user’s personalised administrator account. It is also highly recommended to enable 2-step verification (or 2-factor authentication). Synology. A mobile device with an authenticator app (i.e. Authy or Google Authenticator) is required. Such basic measures would go a long way in improving the security of your storage device.

Last edited by wilflare; 25-09-2016 at 05:03 PM..
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Old 25-09-2016, 04:54 PM   #6
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continued from previous post

Multimedia Performance
One of the most touted features of the Synology DS216+II lies in its media capabilities, especially its ability to transcode 4K videos to 1080P and stream the content to other devices. For users with limited access to 4K content, the transcoding capability is also useful in converting video content, originally unsupported by the users’ devices, into a compatible format and resolution.

In order to fully utilise the transcode capabilities (i.e. hardware acceleration), Synology’s DS Video app is required. However, my experience with both the transcode feature and DS Video apps on my Samsung 65HU9000 and Nexus 6P has been rather mixed.

• Samsung 65HU9000 (65inch 4K Smart TV)
• Google Nexus 6P (Android)
• Synology DS Video for Samsung
• PLEX for Samsung
• Synology DS Video for Android
• PLEX for Android
• Puppies Bath in 4K (Found on 4ksamples.com)

TV - Comparison between Synology DS Video for Samsung and Plex for Samsung

DS Video for Samsung – Blocky artifacts on the arms

PLEX for Samsung – Smooth arms, clean image quality

Evidently, the PLEX for Samsung app provided a cleaner and better-looking image than Synology DS Video app. However, the increase in image quality comes at a cost as the frequent buffering creates a disruptive playback experience. This buffering is a result of the lack of hardware acceleration support for the DS216+II in PLEX. It would be great if the two companies can work together to offer hardware acceleration support.

Conversely, the Synology DS Video app provides a smoother playback at a noticeable expense of image quality. Thinking that it may be a configuration issue with the video settings, I was dismayed to find out that the app settings offered almost no options beyond switching the video transcoding on and off. Comparatively, the PLEX app offered much more options to control the playback quality of the video.

Barebones settings: Only Medium or Large for Subtitle Size

The Synology DS Video app, with its hardware acceleration support, definitely has the potential to be a solid player. Its web interface, Video Station, offers a contrastingly modern and intuitive interface for users to organise and playback multimedia content. But I do hope that Synology improves the transcoding quality and also the app on Samsung TVs. Alternatively, users can also opt to use the more updated and more comprehensive version of DS Video app via devices such as Apple TV, Chromecast or Android TV.

It is important to note that while the DS Video app may be lacking when compared to the PLEX app, such a comparison does not undermine the benefits of the DS216+II. Both apps highlight one crucial significance of ownership – the convenience of having a centralised media library that can be accessed by different devices and apps (i.e. DS Video and PLEX).

Mobile - Comparison between Synology DS Video for Android and Plex for Android

DS Video for Android – Blocky artifacts in the foreground, loss of details on the puppy’s face

PLEX for Android – Cleaner and sharper image quality, details remain on puppy’s face

In the mobile space, PLEX for Android provides a sharper image quality than DS Video for Android. Again, without the hardware acceleration support, PLEX for Android playback of the video is interrupted by frequent buffering. While DS Video for Android plays the video smoothly, the image quality suffers. Arguably, the smaller screen of a mobile phone mitigates the difference in image quality.

However, what is more bothersome is perhaps the whole process of getting DS Video for Android to work. Initially, DS Video for Android could not play the test video. Upon further investigation, Synology’s app recommends a third party player such as MX Player for an enjoyable playback experience. Arguably, such playback issues might be specific to the Android platform but I do hope Synology can work on reducing the friction for Android users. It is also important to note that PLEX for Android is not without its caveats. While DS Video for Android allows offline playback of content, PLEX for Android offers it as one of its many premium features locked behind a paid subscription.

Remote Streaming – Friend’s Comparison
For remote streaming, I invited a good friend to help test this function from the comforts of his home. The setup was fuss-free. He simply had to login to the NAS via the DS Video app with (1) the QuickConnect ID of the NAS (no dealing with IP address) and (2) the login account I created for him.

Blocky top arm (DS Video for Android TV) vs Smooth top arm (PLEX for Android TV)

Without belabouring the point, the same difference can be seen in my friend’s experience with his Sony Bravia 55X8500C. It was again a trade-off between better image quality and smooth playback. For him, PLEX for Android TV also proved to be more intuitive and less cumbersome to use. However, his Android TV’s DS Video app was more updated and offered more playback options than my Samsung TV variant.

Hopefully, Synology would consider improving the overall UI and UX of the DS Video apps and ensuring parity across all supported devices (which is a challenging task considering the sheer variety of supported devices).

Last edited by wilflare; 25-09-2016 at 05:11 PM.. Reason: Correct spelling and grammar
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Old 25-09-2016, 05:00 PM   #7
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continued from previous post

The (Mobile) Apps
Besides the 4K transcoding capability, Synology also provides a wide range of mobile apps that help users better utilize the NAS via their mobile phones. On the Google Play Store alone, Synology boasts 10 different apps, ranging from streaming apps such as the aforementioned DS Video, DS Photos and DS Music to sync apps such as DS Download and DS Cloud.

A glimpse at some of the DS mobile apps

In particular, DS Photo proved to be a really useful app in my family. By installing DS Photo on every family member’s phone and enabling the “Photo Backup” function (similar to Dropbox’s Camera Upload), the NAS has become a central depository for all our camera photos. Under Photo Settings, each user can be configured to upload to a specific folder with configurable permission settings. Thus, each family member can have his or her own album without conflicting with another. I do hope that Synology can update the app to include more granular controls such as (1) upload while charging only and (2) upload only from a particular source folder so that users can better decide what gets uploaded and when they get uploaded.

Another notable function of DS Photo is its “Smart Albums”. It must be first enabled via Photo Station 6 in DSM. It allows the automatically grouping of photos and videos according to their tags (default ones include location, people and general). Such automatic groupings provide an alternative way for users to look at their collection of photos.

Sharing is caring and a big part of DS Photo

Beyond its storage and organization function, what makes DS Photo useful is also its sharing capabilities. After going through the albums and finding the photos they want, my family members can easily share the photos via the share menu. The share menu can share the link and also send the photos to the various messenger and social media apps.

Arguably, the only awkward aspect of its sharing feature is the auto-caption “Your friend wants to share this with you!”. It would be great if we can remove or edit the message before the photo is sent. If we were to nit-pick, the share menu should also use the Android’s native share menu where the frequent contacts are at the top two rows and the remaining apps at the bottom rows.

There is no doubt that Synology has built a rather extensive library of mobile apps to leverage on the mobile market. However, the plethora of apps may not be the best option. On the one hand, specialised apps could possibly sharpen the functionality of each app and help with reducing the file size of individual apps.

On the other hand, such a large variety of apps could also prove confusing to the end-user and creating unnecessary clutter. For those who are not savvy, it would require remembering the specific uses of each app. Moving on, I hope Synology can look into improving the overall UI and UX of their mobile apps and consider consolidating them to reduce the clutter and streamline the experience.

Final Thoughts

Catty’s review: “It’s not PURRFECT meow! You had my curiosity but now you have my Cattention!”

With its rich features and ease of use, the Synology DS216+II has certainly impressed. I would love to thoroughly examine all the features. For example, Cloud Sync (integration with public cloud storage services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.), Cloud Station (private “dropbox”) and Hyper Backup (think Apple’s Time Machine on OSX). These features would prove very useful to users seeking alternatives and additional storage solutions. Personally, these features offer back-up redundancy and more importantly, the freedom to be able to change between devices without having to wonder if all the content has been properly backed up.

After trying out the Synology DS216+II and its various apps, I am tempted to get at least another 1TB WD Red HDD and possibly upgrade the RAM too. With all the multimedia content centralised at the NAS, I can now have the option of leaving my computer off without having to worry that my family and friends would no longer have access to photos, videos and more. Family and friends can also enjoy the convenience and assurance that they can access the content anytime. Based on what I have observed so far, leaving the NAS on (with its LED indicators dimmed) definitely makes for a more comfortable sleep than having my computer turned on with its bright blue LEDs and case fan turned on.

Everything said, the Synology DS216+II, with its storage system and media server capabilities, would be a valuable addition to any home.
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Old 23-11-2016, 11:25 PM   #8
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I wonder if the WD Red will uplorry soon since no one mentioned anything about Hibernation...
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Old 02-01-2017, 02:26 PM   #9
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I wonder if the WD Red will uplorry soon since no one mentioned anything about Hibernation...
Shld be OK bah. WD red is designed for 24/7 usage.

If uplorry during warranty then go and RMA lo
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Old 02-01-2017, 08:20 PM   #10
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How much is this going for now?

Is it a very noisy NAS?
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Old 16-01-2017, 07:30 PM   #11
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Shld be OK bah. WD red is designed for 24/7 usage.

If uplorry during warranty then go and RMA lo

Anyway did you turn on Hibernation so can save some electricity?

You should have it turned on to save the earth man

Last edited by batniss; 16-01-2017 at 07:44 PM..
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Old 16-01-2017, 07:32 PM   #12
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How much is this going for now?

Is it a very noisy NAS?
The NAS is pretty quiet.

You wan a quieter NAS, go for SSD instead of mechanical drives.
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