If you’ve ever wanted your own cloud storage service with the ability to access your files wherever you are at any time without a monthly fee, you may want to consider the new Synology BeyondCloud series.
Network-Attached Storage (or simply referred to as NAS) is usually pretty complicated and takes an experienced user to set up and manage, but Synology aims to change that with its new lineup of BeyondCloud DiskStation NAS boxes.
Synology’s DiskStation series is one of the most popular NAS solutions on the market, and the company wants to make them even easier to set up and manage, thus introducing BeyondCloud.
Synology BeyondCloud NAS boxes come pre-configured, so there’s no set up to do other than plug in the storage box, turn it on, and go through the initial setup menus that involve signing up for a login account, naming your NAS box, and installing any software like a music manager or video manager.
This makes BeyondCloud ideal for users who want networked storage, but don’t know how or don’t have the time to set it all up from scratch.
There are three different Synology BeyondCloud models to choose from, with prices starting at $180. There’s the single-bay 2TB model, as well as a single-bay 3TB model for $240, and lastly a two-bay 3TB model for $370. The two-bay model actually consists of 6TB of total storage split between two 3TB drives, but since it’s set up in a RAID-1 format, the drives are mirrored, meaning that any file stored on the NAS box is duplicated to prevent data loss if one of those drives ever fails.
Despite Synology touting the ease-of-use of its BeyondCloud series, are these NAS boxes even worth considering when looking for an easy solution to network storage? Let’s find out.
Setting Up BeyondCloud
Synology isn’t wrong when it says that they’re BeyondCloud storage drives are easy to set up. Simply plug everything in, power it up, and wait for the “ready” beep. This process can take just a few minutes.
Then, you go to find.synology.com and it will automatically locate your BeyondCloud DiskStation unit. From there, click Connect. The next page takes you to a sign-in page where you’ll enter the default login details for the unit, similar to that of accessing the admin settings on a router.
After that, you’ll set up a login account with your own username and password, as well as choose how you want the BeyondCloud unit to update whenever it gets new updates.
The next page will ask if you want to install some recommended software called “packages,” like Audio Station, Media Server, etc. Some of these are actually pre-installed, so clicking “Install” will simply update them to the latest version. You can skip this step for now, as you can install them later if you want, as well as install a ton of other packages. After that, you’ll be taken to the DiskStation Manager, which is where all the magic happens.
The setup process makes Synology’s BeyondCloud one of the easiest NAS solutions to set up and use, and its DiskStation Manager provides novice users with an interface that’s easy to navigate.
DiskStation Manager looks and acts a lot like a computer desktop, with icons, a task bar, and even wallpaper. This makes the software easily recognizable from the start, even if you’ve never used a Synology product before.
Once you reach the DiskStation Manager, you can begin to actually use your NAS box. You can install packages and even add widgets to the desktop like storage levels, system health, and a resource monitor. Packages include software like Audio Station, Media Server, Video Station, VPN Server, and Surveillance Station. You can even install the WordPress package to host your own WordPress website right on your NAS box. And just like with setting up the NAS device itself, all the packages are pre-configured and require minimal setup.
Now, one of the big reasons to own a NAS is to be able to access files on it from anywhere on any of your devices, including mobile devices.
In order to access your files from outside of your home network (like if you were at work and needed access to something on your BeyondCloud NAS), you can set up QuickConnect to make that happen. You’ll just need to create a MyDS account with Synology and then create a QuickConnect ID, all of which is really easy to set up, but it’s a little odd that you need two different accounts for this. It would be easier and less of a hassle to just have one account for everything.
In any case, after you set up these accounts, you can go to the app store on your mobile device and download any of the Synology apps. There are quite a bit of apps to choose, each with their own focus, but DS File is the basic one that I’ve enjoyed using the most. From there, you can access all of your files right on your smartphone or tablet.
For example, Cloud Station allows you to essentially turn the Synology NAS into your own personal Dropbox. By installing Cloud Station on your Mac and the DS Cloud app on your mobile devices, you can have your very own Dropbox service that works really well. This is especially useful if you need more storage than what Dropbox provides, but you don’t want to pay the monthly fees for more storage.
One gripe I do have is that the drive comes with three folders pre-installed: music, photo, and video. However, there’s way to delete these folders and come up with your own folder organization system. You can’t even rename them, which is a little odd. It’s certainly not a deal breaker, but it’s definitely something that you’ll just have to live with.
As far as read and write speeds are concerned, it’s pretty typical of a network drive over a local network. I averaged around 67 MB/s with write speeds using Black Magic, and around 80 MB/s with read speeds.
These speeds certainly aren’t anything to write home about, but they’re not bad either, as it’s what you’d expect. Your mileage will vary, obviously, depending on your home networking setup, but this is a good indicator as far as what can be achieved on a simple home network.
One thing to be aware of as far as the performance of the BeyondCloud NAS box itself is that the Marvell Armada 370 processor that’s running the entire show on the inside isn’t exactly the best around, and simply updating the DiskStation software would use up 100% of the CPU’s resources. This justifies the low cost of these units, but it definitely shouldn’t be enough to turn you away.
In the end, Synology’s BeyondCloud NAS boxes are essentially just re-branded DiskStation devices with pre-configured software, but that’s not a bad thing at all, because the whole point of BeyondCloud is to provide novice users a way to use NAS storage without hassling with a reall technical setup process.
NAS boxes are usually fairly complicated to set up, and even I’ve thrown in the towel when I’ve tried other NAS boxes in the past, but Synology’s DiskStation BeyondCloud is about the easiest NAS box I’ve set up, and the desktop-like experience with the control panel makes it really easy to manage the software end of things.
It’s also a fairly cheap way to go for a NAS solution, with prices starting at $180 for BeyondCloud boxes. Most NAS boxes can cost a few hundred dollars, and that’s without included hard drives.
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