Synology DiskStation DS119j Single-Bay NAS Review
Synology has been a household name when it comes to NAS products. For the uninitiated, NAS or Network Attached Storage is a small always-on computer generally used as cloud storage for backing up personal computers and serving files to devices in the local network. It includes one or more hard-drive bays, a Linux based OS specifically optimized for Network storage, a CPU and finally, the RAM. Today, we are taking a look at the Synology DS119j, which is a single bay NAS meant for home users.
NAS devices are typically considered ‘pricey’ and ‘overkill’ for home usage. But that’s not true at all. Consider this particular NAS. The DS119j is priced at $99 and comes in a slim, well-designed slab of plastic with a glossy white finish. It’s really quiet and fit nicely in your lounge or family room without looking too imposing. The front houses a power button and flashing LED lights indicating the Status, LAN and Disk. The back houses a single 60mm fan, a LAN port and two USB 2.0 ports. Ideally, you would need to connect the NAS with the router directly with the provided network cable, but you can also use a supported USB Wi-Fi dongle if needed.
The setup process of DS119j is pretty simple and straight-forward. There is a user manual guide provided within the package, but it’s mostly unnecessary. Installing your SATA drive takes a couple of minutes, but you need to screw and unscrew the back panel as a one time process. Setup involves firing up the web browser and type find.synology.com and your new NAS will appear on screen like magic. The setup wizard guides you through the installation of the latest version of DSM (DiskStation Manager). DSM is a web-based operating system with a Windows-like user interface that contains icons for Package Center, Control Panel, File Station, and Help. Make sure you setup a QuickConnect ID which is an easy-to-remember URL that allows you to access your DiskStation when you’re not at home, but it does require you to sign up for a Synology account. Extremely handy, I tell you.
You will be asked to upgrade to the latest version of DSM (currently 6.2.2), at which point you will be offered automatic installation of a few core Synology apps like Video Station, Moments, Media Server, Audio Station and Drive. If you are getting started with NAS, we suggest you install them all as they will be useful at some point or the other.
Package center is where you will find over 90 apps from Synology and third-party developers. Third-party apps include Logitech Media Server, Wordpress, SugarCRM, Joomla, and others. The Control panel is where you assign user rights, create shared folders, configure network settings, and enable push, email, and text message alerts for when system errors occur. The DSM is a really powerful, yet simple NAS operating system. If you’re using a Mac, you can also integrate the Synology NAS in the macOS Finder.
The DS119j is powered by an 800MHz dual-core CPU from Marvel and 256MB of DDR3L RAM and is cooled by a four-speed 60mm-by-60mm fan. It has a single drive bay that will accommodate a 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch SATA drive and will support a maximum raw capacity of 14TB. Thanks to the couple of USB ports, supplemental external drives can be added to this NAS. In our tests, sequential reads were performed at an average of 70MB/s although Synology claims over 108MB/s speeds.
The DS119j is best suited for media backup and management. Synology has its own set of mobile and TV apps (DS Video, DS Photo and DS Audio) to serve up your photos, videos and music library. You can download them not only on your iPhone, iPad or Android devices but also on many streaming devices like Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV stick and others. The experience of accessing your media files over the same network was decent, but I could still see some latency probably because of the under-powered Marvel chip which has no transcoding capabilities of its own. It can serve up to 4K video just fine.
Sadly, the biggest complaint I have with the DS119j is that it doesn’t support Plex (yet). Again, the reason is probably the Marvel chip inside, but hopefully, Synology will add the support in the future. Thankfully, Synology’s Surveillance Station is supported which means you can use it for your surveillance needs. In case you are looking for RAID support, you will be disappointed again since DS119j is a single-bay NAS and doesn’t support RAID. The alternative to this is to back up your data to the cloud or external storage just in case your hard drive fails.
The Synology DS119j is a solid personal NAS with plenty of user-friendly apps that let you back up your data. It can act as a proper media server to play music, watch videos, and access your photos from almost any device. It can even be your email server or a VPN server or a web server, and lets you manage your surveillance camera system and generate podcasts. It’s super easy to install and manage, the performance is great for a starter NAS and costs less than $100. Having said that, it’s just a single-bay NAS and lacks RAID protection. For those where redundancy is critical, the Synology DS218j is a better option at $169.
Synology's DSM OS is top-class
Easy to setup and manage
No RAID Support
No Plex support
Doesn't come with HDD
Synology's DiskStation DS119j is a slim one-bay NAS that doesn't burn a hole in your pocket. But how good is it? And who is it for? Let's find out in our review.