Synology DS713+ Review

By | August 17, 2014

Synology DS713+ overviewThe Synology DS713+ is a good choice for the small to medium sized business that is looking for a robust, reliable NAS server that can be expanded as the business expands.

While the DS713+ may appear small, having only two-bays with a maximum 8TB capacity, this completely ignores the fact that it can be added to – if you need four bays total, add in the DX213 for the extra two; if you need seven bays total instead add in the DX513 for an additional five. With seven possible HDD bays, this NAS server is suddenly looking a lot larger, with the maximum hard disk storage actually being 28TB. To add to its flexibility, both 2.5” and 3.5” drives can be utilised in the system.

Synology DS713+ has some impressive specifications, including an Intel Atom 2.13 Ghz Dual-core processor, 1 GB of DDR3 memory, two USB 3.0 ports (in addition to two USB 2.0 ports) and an eSata port. It has a 20IP camera capacity. This combination seems to work well together, and is controlled by a proprietary Linux operating system. It appears that even with this base configuration quite a few clients can comfortable access the server simultaneously, with no noticeable drop in performance. It is a pity that there is not an easy way to upgrade the RAM, as this would give even more flexibility and future-proofing. There is only one RAM socket, so the only way to upgrade RAM is to replace the existing 1 GB DIMM with a higher capacity one – once you have dismantled the unit to get at it first, of course (which is not overly easy).

It should be noted that SATA III is not supported by the Synology DS713+, although this is not a major problem as the new SATA III benefits are really aimed at SSDs, yet NAS servers tend to use the more traditional HDDs.

This unit measures 157 (H) x 103.5 (W) x 232 (D) mm (6.2×4.1×9.1 inch), weighing 1.7kg (3.7lb), and therefore is quite compact, at least when you do not add in the extra bays of a DX213 or DX513.

It has an external power supply, rated to deliver up to 72W, but it only uses 30.7W when in operation (again ignoring any add-on drives), so there is no worry about running out of power when it is needed.

Synology obviously rate their own equipment, as they are prepared to offer a three year warranty. It is pleasant to see this and businesses, for whom reliability is key, can feel more confident.

What is in the Box of Synology DS713+?

You can see straight away that Synology is careful with its products. The server is packaged in a relatively plain but sturdy cardboard box. The server is well protected inside two sculptured pieces of styrofoam, and is in turn wrapped in a white protective bag.

There is a smaller cardboard box inside containing the accessories. These accessories are a Quick Start instruction manual, a disc to enable installation (and with a range of interesting software on), the power box and its cable, two Ethernet cables, some keys for the trays and some bolts for HDD mounting.

Of course, the main item in the box is the unit itself. The first impression you get is that the Synology DS713+ is sturdy and well-built. It has a metallic top and side cover (with the word Synology stamped into the side, and acting as a grill on one of the sides). The front and rear are plastic, but they still feel sturdy. The black finish is matte and is resistant to fingerprints.

Synology DS713+ side

Synology DS713+ is well built, and matte paint keeps fingerprints away

The two HDD caddies are at the front of the unit (numbered with dots above each caddie, but not on the actual trays themselves). There are three LED lights, the power button and a USB 2.0 port on the right-hand side, one above each other – I’m not certain why they chose to put a USB 2.0 port in such an easily accessible location, rather than a USB 3.0 one.

Synology DS713+ front

USB 2.0 (?), power button and indicator lights. All what you need.

The rest of the ports, as well as a security lock slot and the place to plug the power pack in, are on the bottom two-thirds of the back panel. A large fan grill (covering a 92mm fan) covers the top two-thirds of back of the unit. It is good to see that they have designed a clear path to get rid of the hot air created. The actual dual-core Atom CPU used has low heat output so it only needs passive cooling, and the DS713+ fan operates at low RPMs during normal operation.

Synology DS713+ back

Good ventilation is guaranteed, back is dominated by a large fan grill. Good connectivity is also provided, 2 x USB 3.0 ports, eSata port and 2x1Gb Ethernet ports.

The two disk trays have a simple securing mechanism, which simply require a push to the bottom of the relevant trays to release it. They can be locked into place if wanted (as they will undoubtedly be in most corporate situations). As the numbering dots are on the system box, not the trays themselves, make sure that you take note which tray is which, should you have them both removed at the same time, otherwise I can imagine some confusion if you accidentally replace the wrong disk drive into the wrong socket.

You do have quite a few options when choosing drives to go into these disk trays, as they can happily fit either 2.5” or 3.5” drives – there is 4TB per drive limit, though.

There is a small mainboard within the box which contains the essential components, and it has two PCIe slots. There are two Gigabit Ethernet controllers that support port trunking and Jumbo frames.

Setting Up the DS713+

Once you have everything out of the box it is a good idea to read the Quick Installation Guide. This should help you get the physical parts of the installation sorted out, i.e. installing your physical drives in the NAS.

There is software to help with set-up included on the attached disk; stick the disk in your optical drive and you can simply use the Synology Assistant Setup Wizard. This will helpfully and painlessly walk you through the setting-up process. It will do such things as finding the NAS on your network, identifying its model and serial numbers, and installing the operating system (if need be).

I suppose there may be cases where firms are operating this on a system without an optical drive. In that case they can download a copy of the DiskStation Manager OS from Synology’s FTP site. Even if you have an optical drive you may choose to download the software anyway, to ensure that you are installing the latest version of the software.

Synology Assistant allows you to connect to the NAS to set up the unit’s parameters, check on the NAS’s resources, check printers or even upload photos.

There is also backup software included on the disk, called Data Replicator, which appears to work perfectly efficiently when it comes to making back-ups (and just as importantly) restoring your data.

Summary

Like most devices the Synology DS713+ has both good and bad points.

Good Points

  • It is very well featured
  • It performs well for its price
  • It transfers data across the network at high speeds
  • It comes with a clear, easy-to-use operating system
  • It includes USB 3.0 ports
  • It gives you a wide range of storage sizes – with two 2.5” or 3.5” drive bays on-board and the possibility of adding 2 (with the DX213) or 5 (with the DX513) more drives, with a maximum capacity of 4GB per drive.
  • It has a range of very useful apps included, including a number that enable the system to be used with mobile devices in innovative and useful ways
  • With its Surveillance Station Module you can attach up to 20 cameras (although you will need to purchase extra licences if using more than one camera)

Bad Points

  • Only one, difficult to access RAM slot
  • The disk trays, themselves are not labelled; the numbering dots are on the system itself above the trays, which means that when the drive bays are removed it is not obvious which drive bay belongs in which slot
  • The USB port on the front is only 2.0, not 3.0
  • The drive bays are the older style, requiring screws

As can be seen, the good points of DS713+ far outweigh the bad points. As long as you select suitably sized good quality drives to go in the drive bays, then you should find the Synology DS713+ will operate exactly how it should, with multiple users being able to seamlessly access data from the drives.

The fact that the system is easily upgradable, with the addition of a DX213 or DX513 module, is very useful, which means that you can easily expand your system if your needs grow, without having to do a full hardware replacement.

The DiskStation Manager software is a real bonus, enabling an enormous range of customisation options. Other “Station” packages of software are also surprisingly fully-featured (considering that they are not the main purpose of you buying the product), and it is good to see that Synology have also provided help for people wanting to use the files in the NAS “on the go” with their mobile apps.

Overall, the Synology DS713+ is an impressive product that is well worth the price charged for it, and which can be easily upgraded when your storage needs increase.

You can find various models of DS713+ from Amazon, like diskless, 4Tb and 6Tb models. Check the deals, current price and availability from the links.



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