One of the things I have been meaning to do for many years is to set up my own home server to store all my music, videos and photos (as well as data) for central access. Up until now I have not had the time nor the technology to accomplish this. I had used the Western Digital network attached storage (NAS), but found it extremely slow and not usable – but that was many years ago when the router was also the very slow 802.11g standard. Now that I have the BT Home Hub 5 with 802.11n and 802.11ac, which allows for really fast wireless data transfer rates.
Enter the Synology DS214play, which is fairly compact (165mm x 108mm x 233.2mm), has two bays to mount 3.5″ hard drives. For the storage, I chose to use the Western Digital Red 4 terabyte hard drives, which were designed for server use. I have set them up in Raid 0, which simply means that the data is split between the two drives equally for maximum storage space and fastest speed of access (as half of the data goes to and comes from each drive); I therefore have nearly 8 terabytes of superfast storage. I have opted for backing up my data to another drive separately, so I do not need to fear losing my data should one of the drives fail.
The Synology DS214play is well packed and the packaging does look the part (a mini server in a box) – in fact, I still have it sitting in my room as it reminds me I have a small server sitting beneath my wall-mounted router.
It comes with a few different ports for external devices and network port for connecting to the router. There is a fan in the rear to keep the hard drives cool – I have set the fan for cooler running so the hard drives can last longer.
I chose the Western Digital Red hard drives, as they are meant for server use and are reputedly very reliable. These are mounted in the two drive bays. I did not require any tools for the installation (simply follow the enclosed instructions). And once the disk station is accessed through a computer, it can be setup very quickly and the DiskStation Manager (DSM 5.1) software installed.
So why did I choose the Synology DS214play?
1) It has a fast dual core 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor, allowing it the power to stream (and transcode) videos without breaking a sweat.
2) It will be able to transcode video of various formats (including .mkv and .dvr-ms amongst others) for playback on different devices i.e. it will allow me to play different format videos on the Apple TV or other devices.
3) It has relatively low power consumption (20.1W during access, 13.58W during HDD hibernation)
4) It uses the excellent DiskStation Manager (DSM 5.1), which allows for many useful applications (on iMac, PC, iOS and Android devices) to access and manage various media format and data.
5) It has the Quickconnect feature (in the DSM 5.1 control panel), which allows for registered users to easily access the server from anywhere in the world where there is a connection to the internet. There is no need for the complicated setting of Port forwarding on the router, which many devices require to allow external access i.e. outside the local network through the internet e.g. network cameras.
I am very impressed with this system so far, its usability and speed. I will write about each different component as it gets fully setup (audio, video and photos). I am still ripping my discs to digital format, which may take a while to complete.