New Network Attached Storage: Synology DiskStation DS220+

Another tech item I purchased this year during Black Friday sales is a network attached storage (NAS). I want to setup a personal cloud where I can back up data over the internet and share photos and music, but don’t want to store my data with an online cloud provider like AWS or Google Cloud. I ended up getting a Synology DS220+, and here are my impressions unboxing and setting up my new NAS.

No fancy packaging for the DS220+

I’ve been eyeing a NAS in a while to use for securely backing up my data and share media with family. For me, ease of use and setup, and having the software for my uses were the most important factors. Synology is known for having good software for their NAS, so I decided to buy one when it was on sale. I don’t have a lot of data to store, so just went with the smaller two-bay unit DS220+ unit.

Contents of the box: the DS220+, power brick , power plug, 2x ethernet cables, and quick setup guide

The DS220+ came in a plain brown box, but has the specs on a color label. Without the hard drives installed, the DS220+ is pretty light. I like dark paint job. DS220+ comes with a duo-core Celeron processor and 2GB of RAM, so it is basically a compact server. In terms of connectivity, there are two gigabit ethernet ports, and two USB ports (one in the front, one in the back) to add external storage or printers to share.

Back of the DS220+, with a cooling fan, 2x gigabit ethernet, USB port and power port.
Front of the DS220+ with one of the drive trays out.

Setting up the hardware was pretty simple. The hard disk loading bays are accessed from the front. The cover is held in place by rubber knobs at the corners, so it’s very easy to remove. Inside there are two hard disk trays, and an open SODIMM slot to upgrade the RAM. The DS220+ supports two 3.5 inch or 2.5 inch SATA drives. To fill the drive bays, I bought two 8 TB Western Digital Red Plus hard drive made for NAS. Installation of 3.5 inch drives didn’t require any tools, since the drives are held in place by flaps on the side of trays that have little pegs which line up with the screw holes on the hard drive. Just need to put the drives on the trays and then slide them back into the enclosure.

Pair of 8TB WD Red Plus HDs for the DS220+

The next steps are to connect the power and the ethernet cable to my router. After the DS220+ is powered on, it can be accessed via its LAN IP address or you can use Synology’s find my NAS web address. Going through the software setup takes some time, but it’s pretty straight forward of setting up the first user account, the NAS’ name, and the storage configuration. The DS220+ supports JBOD, RAID 0 and RAID 1 and also Synology’s Hybrid RAID (SHR). I chose SHR which goes to to a mirroring (RAID 1) solution for 2 drives. This cuts the capacity by half, but gives redundancy and guards against data loss due to disk failure. 8 TB is plenty for my purposes, since I don’t have a lot of HD or 4K video files.

Synology DSM web interface

After the initial setup is done, I can manage the NAS through Synology’s DiskStation Manager (DSM) web interface. It’s a desktop UI in the browser, and works pretty smoothly. Guessing it’s probably a Linux-based system. There is a control panel for settings, and a package manager to add functionality to the NAS. Synology’s first party packages already has everything I wanted at the moment: file backup/sync, photo sharing, and music sharing. Setting up all of those was not difficult. There are a few setting to tweak in the control panel, but they weren’t hard to find and the instructions from each package are clear. The longest part was waiting for all the files to copy into the DS220+.

Now that the DS220+ is setup, I can backup my files and access my photos and music as long as the NAS and I have internet connection. The experience so far has been very good and didn’t run into any problems. Only slight annoyance is that the DS Audio music sharing doesn’t have a Windows client, but I can share all of the music as a shared playlist that can be accessed via a link, so it still works for my purpose.

Next steps are to set up access for my family, and also upgrade the RAM. The DS220+ officially supports up to 6 GB of RAM, and 4 GB SODIMMs are pretty cheap these days. Hope my new NAS will work reliably for many years to come.

Edit 2022-12-20:

I upgraded the RAM on the DS220+ with a 4GB Crucial CT4G4SFS8266 module, since the module cost less than $20 and more memory is never a bad thing. Upgrading was pretty easy. The memory slot is a standard laptop memory slot (where you insert the module at an angle and then snap it in straight), and is accessible once the hard drive bay closer to the lights and buttons are removed. Powered the NAS down, inserted the RAM, powered the NAS back on and now the NAS has 6GB of RAM.

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