Synology DS211 Network Application Server

Aron Schatz
November 24, 2010
Product Page
Synology DS211 Network Application Server
The Synology DS211 is a worthy upgrade to the older and SOHO targeted DS210j. The real strength is in its horsepower and the upgrade to DiskStation Manager 3.0 software.

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There are a few things that we don't review. When a company comes out with a product that is exactly the same with slightly better specs, we tend to look away from reviewing it. This is a general thing as it allows us to give product coverage to other companies with competing products. When Synology approached ASE Publishing to do a review of their just released DS211, we were skeptical on whether to accept. We've already reviewed the »DS210j with the DSM 2.3 software and the DS211 is the same, just faster... so we thought. Synology released a brand new DiskStation Manager software (version 3.0) and it is the real focus of this review along with the DS211.

If you already have a Synology DS appliance, chances are that you'll be able to upgrade to DSM 3.0. The DS210j that we've reviewed a couple of months ago is running this software now. Check the Synology website for more information.

About Synology


Synology America Corp. located in Redmond, Washington is the North American branch of Synology Inc. Synology has been delivering award-winning NAS (network attached storage) devices to small business and home users since early 2000. Synology is a network attached storage company, with all R&D focused solely on delivering the best in class network attached storage devices with forward-thinking features at an affordable price.

When you purchase a Synology product, you will have peace of mind in the value that our products deliver and if you ever need a little help, our in-house support team, located in Redmond Washington is second to none.

Synology Products

Synology DiskStations include both disk and rack style NAS stations, in multiple configurations from entry-level to business class. With world-wide recognition for performance and reliability, Synology Disk Stations bring value to every day IT functions. Disk Station Manager software, a Synology exclusive, comes with every model, enabling robust functionality, and feature sets, in an intuitive AJAX web-based interface.

Synology's Guarantee

From mid-sized businesses to home users, Synology Disk Stations are designed to bring affordable peace of mind to digital asset management. Synology is fully committed to providing exceptional services, with both pre and post sales support. All Synology Disk Stations come fully backed by Synology's hardware warranty, and 24/7 online product support is available through the Synology online forums, the Synology Wiki and Synology's website.



Synology uses the same basics for the DS211 as they did with the DS210j. You are presented with a standard brown box and the only way you know what product you're getting is a sticker.


By the information on the box, it really is up in the air on what this little NAS can do. It mentions DLNA support and can handle two hard drives.
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There is a large number of specifications that the DS211 has. Here is the entire list from the Synology product page.

  • CPU Frequency: 1.6GHz
  • Hardware Encryption Engine
  • Memory: 256MB
  • Internal HDD1: 3.5" SATA(II) X2 or 2.5" SATA/SSD X2
    (with the Disk Holder)
  • Max Internal Capacity: 4TB (2x 2TB hard drives)9
  • (See All Supported HDD) External HDD Interface: USB 2.0 port X3
  • Size (HxWxD): 161mm X 88mm X 218mm
  • Weight: 0.98kg
  • LAN: Gigabit X1
  • Wireless Support11
  • Fan: X1(70mmX70mmX25mm)
  • Power Recovery
  • AC Input Power Voltage: 100V to 240V
  • Power Frequency: 50Hz to 60Hz, Single Phase
  • Power Consumption3: 22W(Access); 10.8W(HDD Hibernation)
  • Operating Temperature: 5°C to 35°C (40°F to 95°F)
  • Storage Temperature: -10°C to 70°C (15°F to 155°F)
  • Relative Humidity: 5% to 95%RH
  • Maximum Operating Altitude: 10,000 feet
  • Certification: FCC Class B, CE Class B, BSMI Class B


File Browser

File Station

FTP Server
  • Bandwidth Control
  • Custom FTP Passive Port Range
  • Anonymous FTP
  • Transfer Log

Web Station
  • Virtual Host (up to 30 websites)
  • Alternative HTTP Error Page
  • 3rd-Party Applications Support

Surveillance Station
  • Default IP cam #: 1
  • MAX IP cam # (licenses required): 8
    (See All Supported IP Cameras)
  • Recording Modes:Manual, Continuous, Motion Detection, Alarm, Motion Detection and Alarm
  • Event Playback:Sync Mode (4 Channels), Time Slicing Mode
  • Centralized Management
  • Compression Formats:MJPEG, MPEG-4, H.264

Photo Station
  • Supported Image Format: BMP, JPG (jpe, jpeg), GIF, RAW (arw, srf, sr2, dcr, k25, kdc, cr2, crw, nef, mrw, ptx, pef, raf, 3fr, erf, mef, mos, orf, rw2, dng, x3f)
  • Supported Video Format5: 3G2, 3GP, ASF, AVI, DAT, DivX, FLV, M4V, MOV, MP4, MPEG, MPG, QT, WMV, XviD, RM, RMVB, VOB, RV30, RV40, AC3, AMR, WMA3

Download Station
  • Supported Download Protocols: BT/HTTP/FTP/NZB/eMule
  • Custom BitTorrent Port Range
  • BitTorrent / eMule Bandwidth Control

Audio Station
  • Supported Audio Format: (USB Mode) AAC, FLAC, M4A, MP3, Ogg Vorbis, WMA, WMA VBR; (Streaming Mode) MP3, M4A, M4B
  • Supported Playlist Format: M3U, WPL
  • Internet Radio: SHOUTcast, Radioio

DLNA/UPnP Media Server
  • PS3/Xbox 360 Support
  • Supported Audio Format: AAC, FLAC, M4A, MP3, Ogg, Vorbis, PCM, WAV, WMA, WMA VBR, WMA PRO, WMA Lossless
  • Supported Video Format: 3GP, 3G2, ASF, AVI, DAT, DivX, DVR-MS, ISO, M2T, M2TS, M4V, MKV, MP4, MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4, MTS, MOV, QT, SWF, TP, TRP, TS, VOB, WMV, XviD, RV30, RV40, AC3, AMR, WMA3
  • Supported Image Format: BMP, JPG (jpe, jpeg), GIF, ICO, PNG, PSD, TIF (tiff), UFO, RAW (arw, srf, sr2, dcr, k25, kdc, cr2, crw, nef, mrw, ptx, pef, raf, 3fr, erf, mef, mos, orf, rw2, dng, x3f)
  • Supported Subtitles Format: srt, psb, smi, ass, ssa, sub, idx, ifo

iTunes Server
  • Supported Audio Format6: MP3, M4A, M4P, WAV, AIF
  • Supported Video Format: M4V, MOV, MP4
  • Supported Playlist Format: M3U, WPL

Printer Server
  • Max Printer #: 2
  • Printing Protocols: LPR, CIFS, AppleTalk

Synology Packages
  • SqueezeCenter
  • Mail Station
  • Webalizer
  • phpMyAdmin
  • Time Backupbeta

iPhone/Android Applications
  • DS photo
  • DS audio
  • DS cam

General Specifications

Networking Protocols
  • CIFS
  • AFP
  • FTP
  • WebDAV
  • iSCSI
  • Telnet
  • SSH
  • NFS
  • SNMP

File System
  • EXT4
  • EXT3
  • FAT32 (External Disk Only)
  • NTFS (External Disk Only)

Volume Management
  • Synology Hybrid RAID
  • Max iSCSI Target:10
  • Max iSCSI LUN:10
  • Volume Type: Basic, JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1
  • RAID Migration: from Basic to RAID 1
  • Expand RAID 1 volume with Larger Hard Drives

File Sharing Capability
  • Max User Accounts: 2,048
  • Max Groups: 256
  • Max Shared Folder: 256
  • Max Concurrent Connections(SAMBA, FTP, AFP): 128

Windows Access Control List (ACL)

Windows ADS Domain Integration
  • Domain Users login via Samba/AFP/FTP/File Station

Backup Solutions
  • Network Backup
  • Local Backup
  • Desktop Backup (using Synology Data Replicator 3 or Apple Time Machine backup application)
  • Time Backup - Max task number:2
  • USBCopy
  • 3rd-Party Backup Support

  • FTP over SSL/TLS
  • IP Auto-Block
  • Firewall
  • Encrypted Network Backup over Rsync
  • HTTPS Connection

  • Firmware Upgrade
  • Email Notification
  • SMS Notification
  • Customized User Quota
  • DDNS Support
  • PPPoE
  • Resource Monitor
  • UPS Management
  • Scheduled Power On/Off
  • Custom Management UI HTTP/HTTPS Ports

HDD Management
  • HDD Hibernation
  • S.M.A.R.T.
  • Dynamic Bad Sector Mapping

  • Synology Assistant
  • Synology Download Redirector
  • Synology Data Replicator

Supported Clients
  • Windows 2000 onward
  • Mac OSX 10.3 onward
  • Ubuntu 9.04 onward

Supported Browsers
  • Internet Explorer 7
  • Internet Explorer 8
  • Firefox 3
  • Firefox 3.6
  • Safari 4 (Mac)
  • Safari 5 (Mac)
  • Chrome 5

Supported Mobile Devices
(Photo Station, File Station)
  • iPhone OS 2.2.1 onward
  • Android OS 1.5 onward
  • Windows Mobile (IE Mobile or Opera 9.0 onward)
  • Symbian OS 9.1, S60 3rd Edition onward

  • Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese Brazil, Portuguese European, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Swedish, Traditional Chinese, Turkish

Environment and Packaging

  • RoHS Compliant

Package Content
  • DS211 Main Unit
  • Installation CD
  • Welcome Note
  • Assembling Kit
  • AC Power Adapter
  • AC Power Cord
  • 2M RJ-45 LAN Cable

Optional Accessories
  • Remote
  • Camera License Pack

Newegg Link, Amazon Link
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Marketing Summary


Feature-rich 2-bay NAS Server for Workgroups and Offices

Synology DiskStation DS211 is an affordable and full-featured 2-bay NAS server designed to increase productivity for business workgroups. Cross platform file sharing, rich office applications, data backup and security are easily achieved in a flexible solution. Running on DiskStation Manager 3.0 (DSM 3.0) operating system, it delivers ease of use and variety of features.

Package Contents


Synology packs along an AC adapter, some screws, literature and software, a power cord, and a CAT5e network cord. This is along with the DS211. The software works with Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X. It should really work on anything that has shell and GTK support.



If you took a glancing look at the DS211, it looks remarkably like the DS210j we reviewed earlier. There is a simple model number in the front bottom of the unit to let you know this is the DS211. Seemingly classic Synology looks return for the DS211. This is targeted to one step above the SOHO crowd. Synology also has even faster units with a black finish for larger businesses.


The back of the DS211 has a locking port (on the right), a 70mm fan for keeping the drives cool, 2x USB 2.0 ports, a gigabit Ethernet port, and the AC adapter port. The hard reset is located just above the AC adapter port. The back also contains the sticker for the serial number as well as the MAC address of the ethernet NIC. The two small screws on the right of this picture (top and bottom) release the unit to be opened for drive insertion.


The cost savings continue. It makes sense for Synology to use the same layout to save on costs and pass them to the consumer (hopefully they are). The DS211 front contains the same LED indicators and USB port along with the button layouts of the previous DS210j. The bottom button is the power control. When the unit is on, the LED is a subdued blue and will flash if the DS211 is in the process of booting up or turning off. The button above is the soft reset button for restarting the DS211. Two LEDs for the drives, the LAN LED, and the general status LED round out the front of the DS211.


After sliding the unit out from the case and removing a few more screws, you can see the ARM based layout on this PCB. It is basically an entire computer on a small motherboard. While the DS210j was similar, this has twice the speed and memory.


Synology provided us the DS211 with drives already installed. The two drives are Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB drives in a RAID1 array. You can mix and match any drives you want to setup any sort of volume you can do on two drives. The DS211 supports RAID and JBOD.

While the DS211 is a big step up for the DS210j, the real star of the new DSM 3.0 software that is included with the DS211. Hardware-wise, you can't compare the two products since they target different segments of the market and the DS211 is $100 more than the DS210j. The speed is very welcomed if you need it.
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DiskStation Manager 3.0

Initial setup is like all Synology units. If your unit isn't setup already, you can use the Synology Assistant software that is located on the CD. There are binaries for Linux, Windows, and Mac. Finding the DS211 is as simple as starting the software. We're showing this software on Kubuntu Linux.


The model and other information will be displayed after it finds the DS211. Our test unit is already setup with a manual IP ( for DS211) and the DSM 3.0 software is installed. If you didn't have anything installed, you'd be able to do it from this screen.


The next tab allows you to see some vital statistics of the DS211 such as volume space and system utilization. We were copying 16GB of files when showing this tab off which is why things are fluctuating.

After you have the DSM 3.0 software installed, you can setup volumes and such on the DS211 internal website. Navigate to the IP address given in the software and connect to port 5000 over HTTP.


This is where things really diverge from the DS210j review. The DiskStation Manager 3.0 is a total revamp. Instead of looking like a web page, it takes the Web 2.0 cue and makes the software into a web desktop. The welcome screen gives you quick access to setting up and creating volumes, shares, users, and privileges to make quick work of your new NAS.


The DSM 3.0 is totally multi-window. You can open any number of "views" just like a real OS. In actually, the DSM 3.0 is the OS of the DS211, so the analogy fits. While it is intuitive to work with (coming from a desktop OS), it also gets out of the way when needed. The menu at the top controls the majority of the functions through the control panel so you aren't buried in window hell. As you can see, we've already setup a volume and assigned a public share.


One very useful information that the DSM 3.0 software presents is the status of the drives inside the DS211. You can even access the raw SMART data to make sure everything is working nominally. The shot was done while we were transferring files and the drives were still at a reasonable temperature.


The menu is located at the top left (GNOME/Mac style). You can access it at anytime and it presents all the needed control interfaces for the DS211. The control panel is the most important bit after setting up a volume since you can get to everything from that area.


Think of the control panel as the base of operations, just like any other OS. It is from here that you can make the DS211 anything you want it to be. Do you want to enable the PHP webserver with MySQL? Click the Web Services icon and enable it. The DSM 3.0 software allows you to gain SSH access to hack the unit anyway you would want.


Unlike the DS210j review, we're operating on a gigabit LAN for this. Still, we opted to use the default MTU value of 1500 since jumbo frames are non standard and some switches don't support them. From the network settings page, you can setup the network name and even IPv6. If you have a Linux compatible USB 802.11 NIC, you can setup wireless support from the next tab as well. Since the DSM 3.0 software runs on Linux 2.6.32, you get all the features it provides.


If you have an IPv6 gateway, you can tunnel over IPv4. The software allows a great deal of customization and it allows you to use the DS211 in a variety of network configurations.
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DiskStation Manager 3.0 - Part 2


File-sharing support is the same as the DSM 2.3 software. CIFS is the most common for Windows and Linux nowadays and uses Samba for the support. You can also setup FTP shares, Apple file-sharing, and NFS. The CIFS recycle bin is still present and is a good option if your network users are always deleting files by accident. This allows them to have an "undo" option in case they really didn't want to delete them. Just don't tell them it is enabled, let them beg!


The workgroup is easily setup and if you have a domain controller, you can also assign the DS211 to use it. If you are using this in a Windows Active Directory network, the DSM 3.0 can integrate very well. Still, I'm a Linux person so we don't need much other than CIFS or NFS.


The DSM 3.0 software can allow the DS211 to join an Active Directory domain. This is pretty interesting for those small business that still rely on Windows. Joining the AD domain will allow you to assign Windows ACLs to file-shares.


The application support for the DSM 3.0 has grown, but all the standards from the older software have been updated. The Download Station is still present and the interface has been slightly improved for the new software, but it works the same. Make sure you setup limits in the settings for transfer speeds and such. It always helps to limit BitTorrent uploads to less than your maximum upload. We're working with a 25/25Mb connection so we set ours pretty high.


There is a new file browser with the software and not only can it connect to the files on the DS211, a piece of Java allows it to connect to your local computer (with permission, if you accept). You can move files to and from the DS211 using this, but using a CIFS share is much simpler.


Our SkyIPCam777W still wasn't support out of the box, but once we pointed the MJPEG stream to the new Surveillance Station 5, it was up and grabbing the live feed. We also setup some motion detection and it works very well. The updated speed of the DS211 allows more functions to go on at the same time. We wouldn't do surveillance on the DS210j for fear that it would bottleneck the system. More on that later.


The Audio Station still suffers from the same streaming problem as the last software. We've got Flash 10 installed, but the DSM 3.0 complained that we needed to have Flash 9 or higher installed. The DS211 happily played music through a USB sound device and since it is a UPnP AV server, it pushes music and video to any other devices on the network.


One additional thing is that the embedded help pages are very useful for finding out how things work. Since there is no printed manual, having them accessible from the internal website is the next best thing and even allows you to search for topics fast.

Remember those USB ports we mentioned? You can do a number of different things using them. If you have USB printers, you can use the DS211 to share them with the network. Do you have some additional USB disk drives? Create another volume and share it on the network. With USB the DS211 can be extended for so many additional use cases.

The DiskStation Manager 3.0 software is a very worthy upgrade to the older series. Since Synology supports their older hardware, the DSM 3.0 is probably available for your Synology unit, even if it a couple of years old. Support like this is rarely seen from a company.

The DSM 3.0 comes with Linux 2.6.32 (Linux ASEDS211 #1354 Sat Oct 23 00:49:24 CST 2010 armv5tel GNU/Linux synology_88f6282_211), PHP 5.3.3, Apache 2.2.16, and MySQL 5.1.49. You can hack up the DS211 by logging into it using SSH. The root password is the same as the admin password. You need to enable terminal support in the control panel. Once you do, you can install anything you want. It is an open Linux computer.

We installed BackupPC on our DS210j. It was much slower than a normal, beefy, computer. It did get the job done and in a quiet way. The DS211 has our hopes up for a much faster system and we'll have a guide in a week about how to install BackupPC on the DS211. The ipkg management system for installing software is great and is a simplified version of Debian's dpkg. This means that most base software is easily added with a simple command and less compiling is needed overall. Since BackupPC took up so much CPU power of the DS210j, the DS211 is a welcome addition to the network.
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Since we've upgrade to gigabit, we were hoping to see what the DS211 can do. Synology states that the DS211 should pump 100MB/s on reads and 50MB/s on writes. Sadly, our network seemed to be capping our throughput to 25MB/s in both directions. It seems that we need some better network equipment to handle high-throughput gigabit speeds. Still 25MB/s is nothing to balk at and is double what you would get with Fast Ethernet.

The 1.6GHz ARM CPU coupled with 256MB of RAM is much, much faster than the slower DS210j setup. Even with the upgraded speed and RAM, the power draw didn't change that much. The highest reading was 29 watts on boot and nominal draw was 17 watts. As you saw from the images, the hard drives weren't even pushing near 104 degrees F at load. Most of the time they were near 95 F (35 C).

Video Review

The video portion has two parts since it is a bit over 26 minutes long. Please give us some feedback on the video review by leaving a comment here or at the forums.


While the DS211 is an excellent unit, it is in a market against its own brother. The »DS210j is a worthy system, but not for moderate or heavy use. The DS211 is simply a better and faster design. The added horsepower allows for all kinds of speed improvements, some very noticeable. Whether you'll need to have that extra speed is up to you and your wallet. The DS211 is $100 more than the DS210 at $300 (Newegg Link, Amazon Link). Still, for a step above the SOHO product, this is an excellent price. The speed and support you get are really amazing.

The DSM 3.0 is really the focus on this review and any Synology product you get will have this. Take your pick of devices based on whatever your needs are. We happen to like the faster speed of the DS211 and consider it a worthy upgrade. We highly recommend the DS211. It simply gets the job done and more if you need a network server.

ASE Labs would like to thank Synology for making this review possible.


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