Review: Four NAS Machines

Synology DS209

Recycle Bin

If there's one feature on the DS209 that almost went unnoticed, it's the Recycle Bin. Although some people might find it unnecessary, anybody who's ever accidentally deleted a file on an external hard drive or even a NAS system will almost certainly disagree. If you don't turn this feature on, then any file you delete is gone for good. Make sure you empty it on occasion.

The Synology DS209 is one of our favourite NAS systems.  Just like the DS207+, it has two bays, but slightly different hardware: this model has a 1.2 GHz CPU with 256 MB of RAM and a 70 mm fan to keep the whole thing cool.

The case is in white plastic, with some nice details that give it a stylish appearance.  The DS209 won't look out of place on your desktop or in your living room.

The configuration utility is simple and intuitive.  Despite the wide range of features available, the interface is easy to navigate, even for a beginner.

Other Features

As well as working as a file server, the DS09 offers several other useful features.  It can run a web server with PHP and SQL, for instance, which is perfect for hosting your own website.

If you connect a printer to one of its USB ports, it can also act as a network print server, which is great if you only have one printer but several computers.

Synology includes the Audio Station and Photo Station 3 software with the DS209.  These tools allow you to share music, photos and videos with several users in the form of a blog that's accessible over the Internet.  Along with that, there's a fully-blown multimedia server that covers music, photos and videos, which gives DLNA-compatible devices the ability to launch a photo or video slideshow of the content on your DS209 over the network.

As well as a Gigabit Ethernet connection, there are also three USB ports.  That means you can connect external hard drives that you would like to back up, or to serve as extra storage space if your NAS system is beginning to get too full.

To finish with the features on the DS209, it also includes Emule and BitTorrent clients, so you can keep on using these peer-to-peer services without needing to leave your computer.

Speeds over USB, CIFS/SMB and FTP

Like the majority of NAS systems, the speeds over USB were disappointing.  We measured 14.9 MB/sec. and 14.6 MB/sec. for writing and reading data respectively.  Note that the DS209 doesn't offer eSATA.

Synology beat all of its competitors copying files over a Windows network.  When configured in RAID 1, it reached speeds of 23.7 MB/sec. and 41.2 MB/sec. for writing and reading respectively.  Moving to RAID 0 provoked a slight improvement in performance, with speeds rising to 25.4 MB/sec. for writing and 42.8 MB/sec. for reading.

Over FTP, the speeds were even more impressive.  Configured as a RAID 1 array, the DS209 obtained speeds of 23.5 MB/sec. and 43.9 MB/sec.  As you can see in the graph, it sailed out ahead of the Qnap TS-219P with nothing short of 24.6 MB/sec. for writing data and 49.7 MB/sec. for reading it.

Noise and energy consumption

As well as having a stylish finish, the DS209 system is quiet, too.  It's almost impossible to hear the fan turning.

Synology DS209
  • Intuitive, attractive interface
  • Great CIFS/SMB and FTP speeds
  • Quiet
  • Wide range of features
  • Attractive design
  • Disappointing video speeds

We really liked everything about the Synology DS209. It has excellent speeds, a wide range of extra features and a very rich, easy-to-use interface.

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  • malici0usc0de
    One of the things I would like to see in a NAS before I actually purchase one is hardware encryption of some sort. It would be nice to know if the unit were stolen that the data on it couldn't be accessed without proper credentials of some sort. For this very reason I still choose to run my storage from a real PC is so I can fully encrypt all the drives.
  • SuckRaven
    Ignoring price for the moment, I would love to see these, or some other future NAS boxes assessed in a RAID 0+1 configuration, where u get the benefits of both striping, and redundancy. Four 1TB drives though, only to end up with 1/2 the total storage of 2TB is a b*tch though, I know... =)
  • d_kuhn
    There are 4-6 drive NAS enclosures out there relatively affordable.

    Do yourself a favor - if you're interested in Network Storage, DON'T get a 2 Drive appliance. Get a larger unit and populated it as funds allow. Something like the Intel ss4200-e ($160-$200), 4 drives.
  • awaken688
    Good article. Obviously these commercial solutions are nice. For pure interest sake, I'd love to see a NAS DIY build thrown in to see performance and usability comparisons. A lot of us have spare stuff around to build one minus the hard drives. Thanks for the review though.
  • wildwell
    ^^ Yeah, a DIY description or follow-up article would be cool!
  • smokinu
    just do a google search on NAS DYI review and you will find several sites dedicated to NAS reviews and comparisons. There are so many ways out there to build one depending on which OS you plan on using.
  • g00ey
    Why not build your own NAS from a cheap computer using OpenSolaris and ZFS? That's what I would do if I need to extend my storage capacity. ZFS also offers features that are way more reliable than what RAID can offer.
  • I was disappointed not to see my ReadyNAS Duo in the line-up; I think it easily matches the features, it has an active community producnig "add-ons" e.g. in development is a feature for ip security cameras, there's one to stream music over the net, there's an itunes server, at least 3 torrent clients, plenty of local media streaming, as well as normal stuff like storage, RAID, UPS support, backup management
  • What the hell is this reviewer talking about. I just purchased the Lacie NS2 - i have a constant transfer rate of 11 MB/s over my LAN using a Dlink Dir-635 router standard G.
  • This review is just plain wrong. I recieved my Lacie NS2 a few days ago, and the speed is fine.
    I use mine on a gigabit lan, and my speed is around 30 MB/s read, and 20 MB/s write on a normal explorer transfer.
  • msi911
    My sentiments exactly. This is a link to a danish review but you can see the transfer speeds under "Benchmark":
  • There is a huge difference between the NetworkSpace 2 and NetworkSpace Generation 1. The first/older model has a ridiculous transfer rate. I can confirm the 4 MB/s measured here.