Thursday, April 22nd, 2021

Synology DS220+ Review: Slightly Underwhelming but Still Excellent

Synology DS220 NAS Server 20
The Synology DS220+ is the latest dual-bay NAS server from Synology.

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 some 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 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.

READ  NAS Explained: Why You Probably Want a (Synology) Server, Too!

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 is a steal, considering the amount of fun and productivity it has to offer.

Synology DiskStation DS220+ NAS Server

8.8

Performance

8.5/10

Features

9.5/10

Design and Setup

8.5/10

Value

8.5/10

Pros

  • 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 advance shadow backups and replication
  • Link Aggregation
  • Quiet operator

Cons

  • 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

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 face-plate on the front that covers the drive bays. This face-plate a bit loose — it can fall out relatively easily. Not a huge deal, you just need to make sure you press it on the server firmly.

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.

Synology DS220 NAS Server 3
Note how the Synology DS220+ no longer has an eSATA port.

That said, dual-bay servers fit the sweet spot where you have a great 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 which is 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+ support 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+
CPUIntel 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 engineYesYes
Memory2 GB DDR4 non-ECC (upgrade-able to 6GB)2 GB DDR3L (upgrade-able to 6GB)
Compatible drive type2 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 driveYesYes
External port2 x USB 3.0 ports3 x USB 3.0 port, 1x eSATA
Storage ExpansionNoYes (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)
Weight2.86 lbs (1.30 kg)2.86 lbs (1.30 kg)
Network Ports2 x Gigabit (RJ45)1 x Gigabit (RJ-45)
Link AggregationYesN/A
Wake on LAN/WANYesYes
Scheduled power on/offYesYes
Networking protocolSMB, 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 voltage100 V to 240 V AC100 V to 240 V AC
Maximum storage capacity32 TB (2 x 16TB drives)32 TB (2 x 16TB drives)
 Maximum local user accounts2,0482,048
Maximum share folders256256
Camera licences22
Supported RAID typeSynology Hybrid RAID (SHR), Basic, JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR), Basic, JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 6, RAID 10
MSRP (Diskless)$299$329
Warranty2 Years2 Years
Synology Dual-Bay NAS servers’ hardware specifications: DS220+ vs. DS218+.

Synology DS220+’s detail photos

Synology DS220 NAS Server 19
The Synology DS220+’s retail box

Synology DS220 NAS Server 4
Out of the box, the Synology DS220+ looks strikingly similar to the DS218+

Synology DS220 NAS Server 17
Per Synology’s naming convention, Synology DS220+ means: A dual-bay DiskStation server in the Plus family released in 2020.

Synology DS220 NAS Server 16
The server has an array of status lights and another USB 3.2 Gen 1 port on the front. This port works with the Copy button to quickly backup a thumb drive’s content onto the server’s internal storage.

Synology DS220 NAS Server 6
The DS220+ looks like most other Synology server from the right side.

Synology DS220 NAS Server 5
As well as the left side.

Synology DS220 NAS Server 14
The Synology DS220+’s familiar-looking backside with the standard user-replaceable fan.

Synology DS220 NAS Server 18
The DS220+ comes with a relatively bulky external power adapter.

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.

Synology DS220 NAS Server 12
First remove the Synology DS220+’s face plate to get to its two drive trays. Just peel it off.

Synology DS220 NAS Server 13
You then can you can pull each tray relatively easily while pressing its top latch up.

Synology DS220 NAS Server 21
Now place the hard drive onto the tray. Note the two latches that will hold the drive in place.

Synology DS220 NAS Server 8
You can just press the latches, one at a time on the side of the drive tray. Thanks to the design, there’s no mistake to make here.

Synology DS220 NAS Server 10
Finally you can easily insert the tray, with a drive attached, into the server.

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 at the same time, you have the option of using Link Aggregation if the switch or router also support this feature.

Easy software installation

Putting the software on the server is also easy. All you need is the 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 exactly 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 on to a computer and upload it to the server if you want to use it in an off-line environment.

Btrfs support, applications galore

Like most Synology NAS server released in the past couple of years — with the excepting of 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.

DS220 Apps
Here’s the list of some popular apps you can use with the Synology DS220+.

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 core-applications

  • 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 sources. 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 of 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 apps allows for creating multiple virtual environments for you to run other “machines,” like Windows 10 computer or Linux computers, within the NAS server. It’s incredibly valuable when you don’t want to spend money on the real hardware.

Of course, there are a lot 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.

DS220 Interface
The DS220+ uses the same Linux-based DSM OS and web interface as the rest of Synology NAS servers.

Synology DiskStation DS220+: Fast and reliable performance

At publication, I have used the DS220+ for more than two weeks and 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 with it, was what I had expected.

Synology DS220 Performance Chart

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, be it RAID 1, RAID 0, or SHR, the server delivered around 110 MB/s.

Interestingly, even when I used it with 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.

Conclusion

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.

38 thoughts on “Synology DS220+ Review: Slightly Underwhelming but Still Excellent”

  1. As you recommended, I bought a DS220+ instead of the j model, and am now in the process of setting things up. Many thanks! In addition to photo storage and file backups, I’d like to store images of each of my computers, probably using Macrium Reflect to do so. Here’s my noobie question on cloning/imaging that’s been breaking my brain:

    Each of my windows computers has two user accounts (mine and my wife’s – both are administrator accounts). If I want to either clone or image the drive of such a computer to the DS220+, must I make a clone or image from each user account on the computer, i.e., two images per computer? That doesn’t seem right to me. Also, if only one clone/image is needed, should it be from a particular user account, or doesn’t it matter?

    Your website is my go-to for network and product reviews and advice. Keep it up!

    Reply
    • You can image using any account and all accounts will be part of that image, Tom. I’d recommend making the image once a week or so and then use Windows File History to back up the data of EACH account every 15 minutes or so. That way you can keep the data safe from accidental editing or deletion. Make sure you have Snapshot turned on for the server’s shared folders.

      Reply
      • Thanks for your quick reply and excellent advice. So far, I’ve imaged our main computer’s drive to the NAS using Macrium Reflect, and enabled Windows File History for each of our two user accounts. Now WFH updates each account’s selected folders to a corresponding user folder in the NAS’s shared folder. I think this will do the job for us. The only area of confusion I still have involves your advice to turn on “Snapshot”. I did some research and it looks like you may be referring to the Synology Snapshot Replication. Is that correct? Thanks again for your site and your insights!

        Reply
        • That’s correct, Tom. You want to create shadow copies of the shared folder in case of accidental deletion or malicious attacks like ransomware. In which case, you can restore the data from the previous version. This is important because if a computer is compromised, the bad guy can also make changes to a shared folder that the account owner has access to. But they can’t access the shadow copies of that shared folder. Keep the server’s admin account(s) safe and don’t use it to access shared folders.

          Reply
  2. Thank you for this great review. I’m thinking of buying a DS220+ to replace my DS218j. I want to continue using SHR, but I’m unsure whether to use BTRFS or EXT4. Since SHR is a type of redundant RAID, do I need the extra data security of BTRFS? Also, I have read that EXT4 is faster than BTRFS and I want my NAS as fast as possible.

    Reply
    • A couple of things Robert.

      1. You don’t need BTRSF, you WANT it. It’s a much more powerful file system. Among other things, you can limit storage per share folder which is great for applications like Time Machine backup. But most importantly, you can use Snapshot Replication. Snapshot alone is the best way to protect your data against corruption, including ransomware.

      2. I wouldn’t worry about speed, the Plus has more than enough to handle BTRFS.

      3. You can’t convert Ext4 into BRTFS (or vice versa). That said, I’d recommend getting new drives for the DS220+ (you should anyway) and keep the DS218J as a backup server.

      Reply
      • Thank you for the quick reply. So let me check my understanding on what you have said. Is it correct to say that the additional overhead of BTRFS will not be a bottleneck for NAS throughput because the R/W speed of the drives and/or the speed of my network will will be the bottleneck? i.e. the NAS cpu will be done with its BTRFS chores before the next packet arrives or gets sent out?

        Reply
          • So, the DS220+ and two drives arrive tomorrow. I plan to set it up as SHR. What process to you recommend for moving my data from my old DS218j to the new DS220+. Online, people talk about several ways : 1) using Hyper Backup & Vault, 2) Physically moving one old drive from the DS218j into the DS220+ and let it rebuild SHR (then put in the other new drive and rebuild SHR again), 3) copying across the LAN, etc.

            What method would you use?

          • For your situation, I’d go with #3, Robert. You can backup and store the settings first. Alternatively, you can use the Migration Assistant app (from the 218J) and copy everything to the new server. After that, you can use the J for backup purposes.

  3. Thanks for another great review and help for the uninitiated (me!). With my modest home network of 2 Asus XT8 units and 15 or so devices (ranging from a couple of PCs to a Nest thermostat to several Google Home units and a Samsung smart TV or two), my main goal for an NAS server would be security and backup. I don’t have a need to store movies/videos or anything really technically complex.

    At first I thought the DS220+ at $299 plus a couple of Ironwolf 4TB disk drives would be just the ticket. However, Amazon is offering the DS220j at $170, a substantial savings over the DS220+. I understand both models use the same software, so I’m wondering whether the DS220+ would be over-spec’d for my present and future needs and that the DS220j would fit the bill as well as save me a few bucks.

    Reply
  4. Hi Dong,
    Looking to purchase my first NAS device. I will be using it to store video editing projects from Final Cut Pro, audio recording for podcasts, photos, and documents. For my use case, should I get the DS220+ or DS920+?

    Reply
      • Hi Dong,
        Might go with the 220 depending on the total storage capacity. My only concern is outgrowing it as my my library. expands. I will definitely be using SSD’s – any brand recommendations? Still new to the space so I’m confused about the 10Gbps port & M2 caching. Could you point me to an explanation?

        Thank you

        Reply
  5. Great review thanks. I’m considering the DS220+ with 2 x 6TB IronWolf drives configured with SHR. I’m assuming that after formatting and set-up the available disc space would be greatly reduced so can you tell me roughly how much space would be available for my data please? Thanks.

    Reply
      • Thanks Dong for your reply but I was thinking about the loss of space from the formatting (and not the halving from RAID 1). So I’m just guessing that from a 12TB (2× 6TB) RAID 1 configuration I would probably be left with about 5TB for actual data storage. Would that be about right?

        Reply
        • There’s no space lost after formatting, Alan. The discrepancy in numbers is caused by how the data storage unit is interpreted. Commercially (incorrect but easy to remember) 1GB = 1000MB, technically (and correctly) 1GB = 1024MB. To make things work, computers (and all devices) use the latter. So, if you go with the advertised face value, it seems like you “lose” 24MB for each GB. That adds up.

          Reply
  6. Which would be better to have, the DS218+ or the DS220+? I am new to NASs and am trying to figure out which one to get. You have sold me on Synology.

    Reply
  7. If I’m using it basically as a library for family photos/videos, does the quad core ds720+, or having a SSD cache, make moments faster? Or is the ds220+ enough?

    Reply
    • The DS220+, as is, is more than enough, Joey. All you need is two high capacity hard drives. But the other, plus caching will make things faster, mostly in apps where you need real time interactions.

      Reply
  8. Synology NAS setup and configuration newbie. Just bought DS220+.

    Is it still possible to use this NAS system DS220+ locally only with a network switch and PC – without a router ? and, no Internet connection.

    Is it a must to have router in the LAN for the DS220+ to be connected with the PC ?

    Reply
    • No, you don’t need a router, DG, but a router will make things MUCH easier. Without one, you need to config IP address of all parties involved manually, and that’s a huge pain in the rear, if you can get that done at all. Considering you use he word “newbie”, I’d say that you NEED a router. 🙂

      Reply
  9. FYI, Link Aggregation doesn’t combine the 2 ports into one, it allows 2 computers on the same network to link to the NAS using the full Gig-E. This does require a switch that also supports LACP. So you won’t see any performance increase using only one client, but in a small network, this can make a huge difference. Especially when used with a server that can do some very aggressive caching. It’s too bad they didn’t include the M.2 slot for a cache.

    Reply
    • Nothing can combine two ports into one, Stephen. But LA does combine two ports into ONE CONNECTION for a single device. And it works well. You’re right about the lack of the M.2 slots.

      Reply
      • Avg 3.5 5400 rpms HDDs have like 200-220 Mb R\W speed so one more concurrent user connected to that router can access NAS connected via LA with pretty much same 1Gbps speed as first user or close to it.

        Reply
  10. If I wanted to do a 1 time transfer of a large amount of data to this NAS (say moving 4-5 TB from other drives to the NAS on initial setup), instead of connecting via LAN, would it be possible to connect directly to the computer to use like a DAS to take advantage of the faster USB transfer speeds, then connect it back to the network as a normal NAS?

    Reply
    • Yes, Kane, via a USB external drive. Just plug the drive into the NAS’s USB port, then use the File Station (within its web interface) to drag and drop.

      Reply
  11. Thank you for this review. I’m a complete newbie in setting up NAS. With regard to copying files, if I have two drives installed, can I control which drive I copy the files to? Or does the OS view the two drives as one?

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Appreciate the content? ☕ Let Dong know via a Ko-Fi ❣️