Synology’s DS216se is a network attached storage (NAS) server that lets you centralize all your files in one device and easily access them, at home or remotely. It does not cost much (around 140 euros) but this price does not of course include the two hard drives which must be purchased separately. Installing the drives requires opening the case and removing a few screws. It is not very complicated, but less simple than with models with removable drawers.
Despite its compactness, the case also disappoints a bit with its all-plastic design. The front has four status LEDs and an on / off button, convenient for shutting down the NAS in the event of prolonged non-use.
At the back are the Gigabit Ethernet port, as well as two USB 2.0 ports for connecting an external drive, a USB stick or a printer in order to share them on a network. The power supply is external, but of a size hardly larger than that of a portable PC.
Once the NAS is connected to the router or to the Internet box, you must proceed to the software installation. Synology has done it very well and just type the address find.synology.com in its Internet browser to launch the web assistant which detects the DS216se on the network, formats the hard disk and installs the DSM operating system 6 (DiskStation Manager).
Quiet but not very fast
The two server disks can be configured for Raid 0 (speed) or Raid 1 (security). In Raid 0, the data is distributed on the two disks while in Raid 1, the second disk serves as a mirror to the first, which divides the total capacity by two but allows to recover the data if one of the disks falls into breakdown. In Raid 0, we measured with the CrystalDiskMark review average speeds of 67.3 MB / s in read and 51.6 MB / s in write. In comparison, the DS216play, a slightly more sophisticated (but also more expensive) Synology model, reaches 106.7 MB / s in read and 82.6 MB / s in write.
If it is slower, the DS216se is rather quiet with a measured sound level of 31.6 dB in standby and 33.5 dB in operation.
Simplified remote access
The installation wizard then proposes to create an account on the Synology website and a QuickConnect ID. This identifier is very practical for remote access. For example, if the identifier is 01NET, simply type the address quickconnect.to/01NET in the web browser to connect remotely.
The DSM operating system installed on the discs works with what the brand calls “packages”, that is to say modules that add additional functions. During installation, basic modules are offered to manage audio, photos, videos or download and backup. It is then possible to add or remove them as needed.
A well-designed administration interface
With its system of icons and windows, the NAS web interface proves to be very user-friendly and suitable for beginners.
On the other hand, we noted concerns of reactivity which are explained by the not very powerful material configuration (single-core processor Marvell Armada 370 88F6707 at 800 MHz and 256 MB of RAM) of this model. Thus, the processor occupancy index often jumps to 99%, which explains in particular the lack of responsiveness of this NAS on certain uses that we will discuss below. Because at 99%, the processor is then no longer available for other tasks.
Multimedia is (almost) a celebration
The advantage of this NAS is its management of audio, photo and video files. The Audio Station, Photo Station and Video Station modules allow you to easily organize files and create custom libraries. The manufacturer also offers free mobile applications (DS photo, DS audio and DS video) to listen to music, display photos and watch videos from a smartphone. During the reviews, we did not find any problem for music and photos, but some 1080p videos require significant resources (not very compatible with the hardware configuration of a model of this type), resulting in jerks during the reading. Better to bet on 720p footage to limit this phenomenon, 4K is to be avoided.
Good point, multimedia files are also accessible from a simple Internet browser. You can enjoy it on a laptop when you’re on the go.
Owners of DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) compatible connected televisions can also access NAS multimedia files because the device supports this protocol. Files from this NAS can also be integrated into the media library of Apple’s iTunes software.
Ready for backup and download
The DS216se is compatible with Apple’s Time Machine function, making it easy to back up content from a Mac. Windows PCs are not forgotten, since you only have to download the free Cloud Station Backup program. Synology also provides backup functions from NAS to NAS or from NAS to an external hard drive. Finally, the Download Station module has a torrent file download function but you will have to be careful to remain legal in order not to suffer the lightning strikes from Hadopi.
Synology DS216se one month (close enough) review.
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