Chronologically, the Synology DS220+ — one of the four new servers Synology announced today — is the defacto upgrade to the previous model, the DS218+, that came out two years ago. In reality, it’s more of a variant. Indeed, the two have more in common than they do in differences.
Here’s the lowdown on this new DS220+ server: If you’re looking for a robust dual-bay server that has the option of hosting up to another five drives via an extension unit, the DS218+ is still an excellent choice today.
On the other hand, if you know that you’ll be happy with just two internal drives, the DS220+ does have some extras to make it worth your while. At $300 (diskless), this server is also a steal, considering the amount of fun and productivity it offers.
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Synology DS220+: A more powerful server with less
Out of the box, the DS220+ looks the same as its older cousin, the DS218+. The two share the same physical size, drive bay design, and weight. Even their ventilation fan and the bulky power adapters are the same.
Both are dual-bay servers — they can hold two standard SATA internal drives right out of the box. Both have a faceplate on the front that covers the drive bays. This face-plate is a bit loose — it can fall out easily. Not a huge deal. You need to make sure you press it on the server firmly.
Link Aggregation in, eSATA out
On the back, though, you’ll see a couple of significant differences. The Synology DS220+ comes with two Gigabit LAN ports, just one USB 3.2 Gen 1 port, and now no longer has an eSATA port. And that implies a couple of things:
- You cannot expand this new NAS server’s storage space via an expansion unit. It’s the first server in the Plus family that doesn’t have this capability.
- The DS220+ now supports Link Aggregation, which the DS218+ doesn’t, allowing users to combine its two LAN ports into a single 2 Gbps connection.
I’d value Link Aggregation more than the ability to host more drives via an expansion. Of many dual-bays servers I’ve used in the past decade, none has made me need the expansion. Also, if I need to use more discs, I’d get a four-bay or even a 6-bay server instead.
That said, dual-bay servers fit the sweet spot where you have an outstanding balance of data security (via RAID 1 or SHR) and cost. Furthermore, hard drives, and SSDs, being affordably available at extremely high capacities, the chance you need more drives is rather slim.
That’s especially true, considering you can quickly scale up a Synology server’s storage without having to rebuild it from scratch, thanks to Synology’s SHR RAID.
Synology DS220+ vs. DS218+: Hardware specifications
On the inside, the new DS220+ server now sports a more powerful processor compared to the DS218+. However, it still comes with a measly 2 GB of RAM soldered on its motherboard.
There’s one free RAM slot to host one more stick of up to 4 GB. So its system memory also caps at 6 GB, which is a bit disappointing. Like the DS218+, the DS220+ supports 4K transcoding. The faster CPU clock speeds mean it’ll be able to do that slightly better than its older cousin.
By the way, of the four new 2020 servers, the DS220+ is the only one that doesn’t have an NVMe slot for caching.
|DiskStation DS220+||DiskStation DS218+|
|CPU||Intel Celeron J4025 (Dual Core 2.0 GHz burst up to 2.9 GHz)||Intel Celeron J3355 (Dual Core 2.0 burst up to 2.5 GHz)|
|Hardware encryption engine||Yes||Yes|
|Memory||2 GB DDR4 non-ECC (upgrade-able to 6GB)||2 GB DDR3L (upgrade-able to 6GB)|
|Compatible drive type||2 x 3.5″ or 2.5” SATA HDDs/SSDs (drives not included)||2 x 3.5″ or 2.5” SATA HDDs/SSDs (drives not included)|
|Hot swappable drive||Yes||Yes|
|External port||2 x USB 3.0 ports||3 x USB 3.0 port, 1x eSATA|
|Storage Expansion||No||Yes (DX510)|
|Size (HxWxD)||6.5 x 4.25 x 9.14 in (165 mm x 108 mm x 232.2 mm)||6.5 x 4.25 x 9.14 in (165 mm x 108 mm x 232.2 mm)|
|Weight||2.86 lbs (1.30 kg)||2.86 lbs (1.30 kg)|
|Network Ports||2 x Gigabit (RJ45)||1 x Gigabit (RJ-45)|
|Wake on LAN/WAN||Yes||Yes|
|Scheduled power on/off||Yes||Yes|
|Networking protocol||SMB, AFP, NFS, FTP, WebDAV, CalDAV, iSCSI, Telnet, SSH, SNMP, VPN (PPTP, OpenVPN, L2TP)||SMB, AFP, NFS, FTP, WebDAV, CalDAV, iSCSI, Telnet, SSH, SNMP, VPN (PPTP, OpenVPN, L2TP)|
|AC input power voltage||100 V to 240 V AC||100 V to 240 V AC|
|Maximum storage capacity||32 TB (2 x 16TB drives)||32 TB (2 x 16TB drives)|
|Maximum local user accounts||2,048||2,048|
|Maximum share folders||256||256|
|Supported RAID type||Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR), Basic, JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1||Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR), Basic, JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 6, RAID 10|
|Warranty||2 Years||2 Years|
Synology DS220+’s detail photos
Standard setup process
The Synology DS220+ uses the same operating DiskStation Manager (DSM) operating system, which is currently at its 6th revision. Like the case of most existing servers, as old as 2013 models, it will also support the upcoming DSM 7.0.
That said, it shares the same setup process as any Synology server.
Tool-free hardware installation
To use the server, you need at least one SATA drive, though it’s recommended that you use two for redundancy. The server can work with standard SATA internal drives of 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch (drive bay bracket required) designs.
In either case, installing the drive into the server is a walk in the park. You can do that entirely without tools, as shown in the pictures below.
And that’s it. You can repeat the process with the second hard drive and mission completed. Now plug the server into the network using the included network cables, and you can start installing the OS on it.
Note that you only need to use one network port for the server to work. However, when using both simultaneously, you have the option of using Link Aggregation if the switch or router also supports this feature.
Easy software installation
Putting the software on the server is also easy. All you need is Synology Assistant software, which will detect the server and help you install the operating system directly from Synology’s server.
In my testing, everything worked the same as I had described in this overall piece on the Synology NAS server.
The whole process took me less than 15 minutes via my modest broadband connection. Alternatively, you can also copy the OS data file onto a computer and upload it to the server if you want to use it in an offline environment.
Btrfs support, applications galore
Like most Synology NAS servers released in the past couple of years, except for the sole DS419slim, the DS220+ supports the latest Btrfs file system for Linux.
As a result, among other things, it can use shadow copies to keep data it stores safe from ransomware attacks, as well as accidental deletion or edits. But, as part of the Synology ecosystem, the DS220+ can do a lot more than that.
In all, the server comes with some 60 additional Synology applications and about the same amount of third-party ones that you can add/remove via the Package Center. Each of these apps further extends the server’s capability, making its potential almost endless.
It’s important to note that most of these apps are also available to all other Synology NAS servers. Below is the list of my favorites.
- Synology Chat: This app is a Slack-like chat system that includes a back-end server and front-end applications. It works exceptionally well as a collaboration tool for a small office.
- Download Station: This is a well-designed self-download app that can take care of downloading files from any source. It also has a powerful torrent search engine.
- Cloud Station Server: This is a must-have app. It turns the server into a personal cloud and allows you to sync and back up data between and on multiple devices. It’s like Dropbox, but much better.
- Snapshot Replication: This app includes the shadow copy backup and replication functions. The former can automatically save a version of the data based on a schedule, allowing you to restore it to a point in the past. The latter can automatically replicate the data in real time to a different location, such as an external drive. The two keep data safe even when it’s accidentally deleted, damaged, or altered.
- Hyper Backup: This is a versatile backup app that can automatically backups files stored on the server to multiple types of destinations, including a host of online storage services — Google Drive, Amazon Drive, and Microsoft Azure, to name a few.
- Surveillance Station: This app turns the server into a comprehensive surveillance system when coupled with supported IP cameras. Note, though, that the server can handle up to 25 cameras but includes only two camera licenses, and additional licenses cost some $60 each. If you can stomach that, this app is so cool; it deserves a separate review.
- Video Station: If you have a personal collection of movies or TV shows, this app will turn your NAS into a private Netflix-like streaming server. Alternatively, you can also use Plex or Media Server apps. By the way, in my testing, the DS220+ could handle 4K transcoding.
- Virtual Machine Manager: This app allows for creating multiple virtual environments for you to run other “machines,” like Windows 10 computers or Linux computers, within the NAS server. It’s incredibly valuable when you don’t want to spend money on real hardware.
Of course, there are many more apps, but depending on your situation, you only need so many. And no NAS serve can run all apps available to it. By the way, the apps above are all well-developed and have in-depth functionality. Each deserves a review of its own.
Synology DiskStation DS220+: Fast and reliable performance
At publication, I have used the DS220+ for more than two weeks and have been happy with it. It wasn’t the fastest NAS server I’ve worked with, and it didn’t have everything, but still, it delivered.
I tested it using the stock hardware specification, without upgrading the RAM or using SSDs, and the performance with two 8 TB Seagate IronWolf NAS drives was what I had expected.
It’s important to note that, without a Multi-Gig port, the DS220+’s throughput speeds are limited by its Gigabit network ports and the internal drives. And for the most part, the fastest speeds you get from it will be that of a Gigabit connection.
And that was the case in my testing. No matter what RAID configuration I used, whether RAID 1, RAID 0, or SHR, the server delivered around 110 MB/s.
Interestingly, even when I used Link Aggregation and a Multi-Gig connection, there was still virtually no improvement in throughput speeds. So it seems that was the speed of the internal drives themselves.
Synology DiskStation DS220+ NAS Server's Rating
Fast and reliable performance
Robust operating system with tons of useful home and business applications, including virtualization
Straightforward setup process and easy to use
Btrfs file system support with advanced shadow backups and replication
No eSATA port for drive bay expansion
Memory maxes out at 6 GB
No multi-gig or NVMe caching options
Only two camera licenses included
The Synology DiskStation DS220+ is not a must-have. While it has some extras over the previous version, the DS218+, it’s not entirely better — the lack of the eSATA port is an example. In other words, it doesn’t qualify as an upgrade.
However, if you’re in the market for a dual-bay robust network storage machine, this server still makes an excellent buy. You’ll highly likely be happy with your purchase.