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Synology DS212J NAS Build-out – 2x3TB drives

May 13th, 2013 Posted in geek out

I recently built out a NAS for our condo. Our friends Art and Raquel were visiting us from Philly. They have two awesome little kids, and a really sweet DSLR, and they love to take pictures of their kids. Art wants a nice NAS to store the pictures and backups, and asked my opinion. I was like “CHING!” Why don’t I buy one and find out what works.

Edit 10/20/2013: I skipped one optional step and it cost me a LOT of downtime. See “Preparing your hard drives” for new instructions.

I looked at a lot of the online options and considered building my own. It would have to be Linux based in order to serve my Mac, Android, and Ios devices. There is no way I’d build an Windows solution with NTFS partitions in this day and age. Linux would be great, and free, but it takes a lot of time to configure, get right, and then keep up to date. I wanted something hassle free, with easy to configure features like backup and a Media Server to stream to an Xbox 360.

Out of the list of the 5 best NAS solutions over the past two years, I picked the Synology DS212J. It cost $200 with no drives, runs Linux, has 2 bays, supports RAID1, is low-power, and has a ton of add-on features. The kernel is a modified Linux kernel, hopefully with many of the optional and vulnerable services turned off. The interface is nice. Here is a great review of the device:


Power Consumption
Synology stats that the DS212J “consumes only 17.6W in operation and 5.5W in sleep mode”. I plugged it into my Kill-A-Watt and found that it actually uses less – 3.8 watts in Sleep and around 15 watts under load. Mine is built with two WD Green 3 TB drives running in RAID1. I think that the Green drives use less power than the ones Synology tested with.

The goods have arrived

The goods have arrived

The NAS is very compact

The NAS is very compact


Let's build!

Let’s build!


Small and Unassuming

Small and Unassuming

Very low energy consumption!

Very low energy consumption!

I could write for hours about it. I configured it with ext4 volumes (heard it was the best) with a RAID1 setup. I want redundancy, but not to such a serious degree that I’d splurge on RAID5. I remember how slow writing to RAID5 can be from my Cisco days when my boss gave me a beast of a server to run early VMWare images from. So….Slow… RAID1 should do, and I’ve configured Synology’s remarkably well designed DS-Station to email me if either of the disks start to degrade.

I should have done this to prepare the disks before installing them in the DiskStation: http://forum.synology.com/wiki/index.php/How_to_prepare_your_hard_disks

I did not, and after ~4 months of use, bad sectors started cropping up. Bad sectors are totally normal, and modern hard drives re-map around them. But the DiskStation cannot, and it has to be done proactively and somewhere else. Click that wiki post to see how. It’s totally worthwhile, as I wasted ~10 hours trying to fix bad sector errors retroactively.

Mission accomplished. $497 was the grand total from Amazon. Here are the parts I used.

And two of these:

I could have done 2x4TB but I didn’t really feel the need. Try this out and enjoy!

  1. 5 Responses to “Synology DS212J NAS Build-out – 2x3TB drives”

  2. By John on Jun 15, 2013

    Hi, great blog! Do you have any recommendations for wireless routers? Thanks!

  3. By rajat on Jun 15, 2013

    Hey John,
    I’ve been using a trusty Linksys WRT54G2 for a few years now. It’s pretty dated. After adding this SAN my network is significantly bogged down. I’m thinking about getting this as it’s really highly rated and will offer ridiculous bandwidth:
    ASUS RT-N66U Dual-Band Wireless-N900 Gigabit Router

  4. By Martin Jansen on Jun 25, 2013

    Hi, thanks for your article. Which applications do you use your synology for? Only as a storage? I’d like to stream films, is it therefore better to buy a DS213(+)?

  5. By rajat on Jun 25, 2013

    My synology has built in apps that enable:
    – avi, mp4, etc streaming. Streams to my xbox 360 flawlessly
    – itunes server, shows up in iTunes of all of our pcs and macs
    – backup server, both with mac time machine and Synology’s backup software
    These apps are all free and available through the synology app store.

    Wasn’t able to get the VPN to work.

    I don’t know what the difference between the 212j and the 213 are.

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  2. Aug 7, 2013: enerjee » 2 Tips to Speed up your Synology NAS

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