I do call myself a digital nomad.
One of the reasons is because I am always working remotely regardless of whether I am in the office or while on vacation. While I’m in the office, I access my cloud storage 80% of the time and while I’m outside, I connect to my cloud storage via mobile devices such as my iPad. And we all in one way or another will have our own free personal cloud storage. If you’re on Android with a Google account, you automatically will have Google Drive storage. And if you have an iPhone or a Macbook, you will have an iCloud account + storage.
But having these personal “free” cloud storage comes with limited storage space unless you’re willing to subscribe to the monthly subscription to increase your storage limit. In the long run, you will end up paying more than you should. Moreover, if you have tons of data stored in the subscribed cloud storage, that can be a long term commitment with more money coming out of your pocket. And with Google finally ended their unlimited free storage on Google Photos, you probably need another cloud storage.
Therefore a digital nomad like me will come up with a solution. It’s not a problem to have a cloud storage subscription but this is more of a cost effective way to store all my data at home while still being able to access my files remotely on a secure connection. Enter the Synology DS220+ Network Attached Storage, better known as NAS. This is probably the best and the cheapest NAS system to start with.
The Synology DS220+ disk station itself isn’t that big, but it’s not that light either. It is, however, a very sturdy disk station that I feel is solid enough to withstand small knocks and can last a very long time. The Synology DS220+ body is all metal, hence the slightly hefty weight. The front panel is glossy plastic which is a little bit of a fingerprint magnet. But it can easily be removed to expose the dual disk slots inside.
I particularly like the clips that hold the disks together. Installation and putting everything together is super easy, even a beginner can easily assemble the Synology DS220+ NAS. Talking about disk, I received two units of Synology HAT5300-4T HDD at 4TB each, so that will make it a total of 8TB storage. There is also a ventilation fan around the back that will suck up all the hot air from the inside and disperse them out to keep everything running cool. There is also a LAN port at the back for direct connection to your home network.
On the front panel, there’s the LED light indicator that lights up to show its current status such as power, network and each disk’s read/write indication. There is also a USB-A slot up front so that you can quickly save your data into an external drive or a flash drive. All this can be done via the onboard DiskStation Manager OS and apps. More on that later.
Once everything is installed and secured inside the Synology DS220+ NAS, time to fire it up for further installation. The Synology DS220+ NAS is powered by Intel Celeron J4025 (2C2T) 64-bit 14nm 2.0GHz burstable up to 2.9GHz processor with 2GB of RAM. It is just enough to manage two HDD or SSD to run the RAID on the NAS for backup.
Setting up the Synology DS220+ NAS to run its own operating system is easy. But before that, it is advisable to download their latest DSM (DiskStation Manager) from Synology’s official website. There are two ways that you can download this file. One, download the file from the website and store it on your PC/laptop. Two, use the automatic setup and it will download the latest file and have it installed by itself. If you’re a beginner, go for option 2. I went with option 1 because I like manual setups.
Even with manual setup, the whole installation process is simple. Searching for the Synology DS220+ NAS on my home network took less than a minute and the installation process starts immediately right after. Since I have downloaded the latest DSM source file, I only have to point to the installer to grab the file from the local drive and it’s all good to go. Auto download and installation is also available at this stage so if you have not downloaded the DSM file, it will be done automatically.
Since the Synology DS220+ NAS will be connected to the internet 24/7, it would be advisable to set it up with SSL connection for that extra security. Synology did mention that the whole setup process will take less than 10 minutes including setting up the RAID and assigning the shared folder. From A to Z, all done within 10 minutes. No kidding. You can see the installation steps from the screenshots below.
That is how simple it is. I got it set up with SHR (Synology Hybrid Raid) which simplifies the whole RAID setup. If you’re new to NAS and don’t know how to set up RAID disks, you can’t go wrong with SHR. It works really well without any hassle. You can say that it is a plug-and-play setup.
Once that is done, you’re sort of good to go from here. You will be greeted with the DiskStation Manager once it booted up and you can go ahead to browse for other available apps to install from here.
The DSM interface is simply gorgeous. It looks like another operating system on your computer. You can access the DSM directly from a LAN network or via the Internet. From here, you can monitor the disk condition whether it’s healthy or otherwise, check the current storage capacity and many others. You can also create a new user, assign another shared folder, update your password and shut it down when you need it to.
You should also install Active Insight so that it can let you scale your NAS system even outside of your home with intelligent monitoring and customization. It will give you all the insights of the current disk status.
The best feature I like about the Synology DS220+ NAS is that it can be turned into a server all by itself. If you’re a software or web developer, you can get all the tools you need for your web development. You can get Apache HTTP server running with the latest PHP7 or PHP8, Perl, Python2, PhpMyAdmin for database administration, WordPress, a dedicated DHCP server, DNS server, iTunes server, movie server and the list goes on. To get all these, just fire up the Package Center from the main DSM desktop and everything you need is there waiting to be installed.
I would recommend you to install Synology Photos while you’re at it. It works very similarly to Google Photos, only that all your photos will be stored on the Synology DS220+ NAS. Consider it as your own personal photo storage and backup utility. I have been using this and from now on, I can ditch Google Photos for good.
All of my photos are now backed up one the Synology DS220+ NAS via the Synology Photos app. It is an app that you can install on your Android or iPhone. With auto sync on, all your photos will be uploaded to the Synology DS220+ NAS automatically. You can choose to start uploading from that point onwards or upload all the photos from the album. I went with all the photos in the album. And now, all newly taken photos will be automatically uploaded for safe keeping.
Same can be said for file management. You can install the Synology Drive on your phone, tablet or PC that also works on Linux OS. It works similarly like Google Drive or Microsoft’s OneDrive. It is a very useful app to have when you’re working remotely so that you will be able to access all your files easily. Any files or documents that you save on the assigned folder will automatically be synced with your Synology DS220+ NAS. Same goes with opening any documents from the Synology Drive folder.
This is my first time ever using any NAS system at home. And I can say that the whole experience is extremely great. I have unsubscribed myself from a few paid cloud storage services because of this. And because of that, I managed to shave off a bit of the extra monthly expenses. It is a great investment in the long run. Priced at only RM1,639.00, it is a steal. No more subscribing to any of the paid cloud storage services for me.
If you’re thinking of getting yourself a NAS system, go for the Synology DS220+ NAS. It is small enough that it doesn’t take up too much space on your table and is very quiet. The Synology DS220+ NAS is probably the best NAS system you can get to start your own home cloud and network based storage.