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The Synology ds211j comes under the category of Network Attached Storage (NAS) device. In simple terms, a NAS device enables you to store data (such as your photos, music, videos, other or misc files) on hard drives connected to your network without having to have any computers switched on. There are several advantages of using a NAS drive. For example if you have a laptop or notebook which only has a small hard drive which can't hold much data, the NAS device can be used as your main data storage area where your files are held. Also if you have multiple computers in the home, all devices can access your centrally stored data from the same area, instead of having to store multiple copies on each device. Alternatively, NAS drives can be useful to provide a place to automatically backup your computer over the network. And much more.
There are other, cheaper, NAS drives on the market today admittedly. But, The ds211j stands out for the sheer number of high quality features and stability compared to the competition.
You can read about the full spec and feature list on the Synology website (http://www.synology.com/us/products/DS211j/index.php). There are far too many features to review here, but, for me, the main reasons I purchased the ds211j are...
1. Full RAID support - the ds211j allows two hard drives to be installed, allowing you to configure them with all RAID options for maximum flexibility of back up options.
2. Full DLNA / UPnP support - if your TV, home theatre, etc support DLNA, then you can store all your movies, photos and music on the ds211j, and watch / listen to them around the home! PS3 and XBox also support this feature.
3. Software features - there's a hole raft of software on the dj211j device, such as 'Download station' which functions as a Bittorrent, FTP, HTTP, eMule client allowing you to share files 4x7 without leaving your computer turned on. Also Autio Station, allowing music sharing with all your mobile devices, even across the internet. iTunes server - all your music is available to play on iTunes over your home network. WebStation turns your ds211j into a Webserver with PHP and MySQL, avoiding the need to pay for hosting services if you wish to host a website on the internet!! Many other software features exist, too many to mention here.
4. Backup - various forms of back up are configurable, including good support for Mac users who want time machine backup too.
5. Low running costs. All the features of a server, yet very low power compared to having a PC / Server running in your home 24x7. Also includes several power saving options for scheduled sleep etc too if you really want to consider the cost of running it.
To sum up, I've been giving the ds211j a thorough test for several weeks now, and to be honest it's faultless. Stable, secure, fully loaded with features which are so useful and usable and I'm entirely happy with it. Strongly recommend to any potential buyers... The Synology provides lots of info and support for new users, including a well established list of supported hard drives for example.
NOTE: If you're thinking of using existing Hard Drives to put into the ds211j, just be aware that you will need to format all the data on them first! So you'll need to make sure all your data is backed up on your computer first. I ran into this problem to start with thinking I could just use a pair of existing disks with all my movies/music on! Oops. Nope. To set the device up, the drives are formatted whilst you choise your RAID options and so on.
Synology DiskStation DS211j is designed to provide a cost-effective file storage and backup solution with RAID protection for your home environments. The operating system, Synology DiskStation Manager, delivers rich features for multimedia enjoyments, worry-free backup, Internet sharing, and energy-saving options.