Synology’s ds209+ is one of the most expensive NAS devices on test and it’s also the only one that isn’t available with drives preinstalled. Extricate the ds209+ from its packaging and there isn’t much of a clue as to why it’s so very expensive.
The chassis is made from insubstantial black plastic, and there’s no removable tray system for quickly replacing failed drives. Setup isn’t simple, either – you have to transfer the Linux kernel before you can even start setting up the hard disks in a RAID array, or as a pair of single drives.
Once the Synology is up and running it’s impressive. The web interface is well presented and, despite the myriad options, easy to navigate. It’s even possible to drag the icons of your most used options into a quick-start bar.
And, when it comes to features, the ds209+ has few peers. eSata and USB ports allow external hard drives and printers to be shared over the network, and there’s also support for IP cameras thanks to the Surveillance Station.
You also get web hosting, iTunes and UPnP media serving, a BitTorrent client that supports Usenet (.nzb) files, and a comprehensive range of remote access functions.
It’s fast too. Fitted with a pair of 500GB Western Digital 5000AVJS drives, the Synology wrote at 35MB/sec for large files and reading was even faster at 44MB/sec. Put performance-oriented drives such as WD Raptors in there and you can expect even more.
So, while it lacks the hot-swap capabilities and rugged build of the Netgear and Thecus, when it comes to features and performance the Synology is in a league of its own.