We all know the massive amount of digital content people are creating every day. We also know this massive amount needs to be stored somewhere but most importantly once stored we need quick ways to find and retrieve this information.
Network Attached Storage devices have been around for a while and require almost no technical knowledge to use - the newest models are almost plug and play. The Synology DS209+II is one such device. It's easy to use as in plug the power cord and the network cable, but it's powerful with features that many users will not even know it's there.
It took me a full day exploring all the menu options available - and when I finished I received an email telling me Synology had released a new firmware version with even more features:
The Synology DS209+II NAS is based on a system with a 1.2GHz processor and 256MB RAM. It supports up to 4TB with its two 3.5" SATA bays. It also supports an external HDD via USB 2.0 or eSATA ports. It's very quiet, but not exactly silent. It weighs almost 1kg and it's quite small at 160mm X 218mm X 88mm.
You connect the DS209+II to your LAN via a gigabit ethernet adapter and I was pleasantly suprised it really performed faster than my dedicated Widows Home Server hardware when it came to transferring large files such as virtual machines or a large number of small files such as mp3-encoded songs.
I won't go into details for each option in that long menu list, but there are some highlights on this device. For example the configuration is done through a web browser interface that is easy to use. Synology also provided a wizard that will make it very simple to perform the basic tasks of creating users, configuring a folder for sharing data, creating an online photo album or enabling the ftp server.
The device can be used by home users or small businesses. It offers services such as a web server with PHP support, SSL, multiple HTTP ports and even MySQL database. Each individual user can have her own personal space - and in addition to that the unit comes with a built-in blog engine:
Of course for home users the majority of this digital content would probably be around photos, music and video. Synology worked to create interesting solutions around this and the DS209+II provides support for online photo albums with automatic thumbnail creation, DLNA media sharing, iTunes sharing and streaming support and even an AJAX-based media player - yes you can play your music directly from the browser - and it looks good too:
So what's not to like on this unit? Hard to say: it's small, quiet, offers a lot of features that help users enjoy their content from home or the Internet, and with up to 4TB of storage available it is an interesting proposition. Add to this some redundancy (yes you can have mirror enabled to protect your data in case of a HDD failure), a network backup service that supports rsync and it makes a lot of sense in having a NAS at home if you are the kind of user who is not inclined to build and maintain your own server.