Synology DS420+ review




A little over 7 years ago, I purchased a DS413J. It was everything I needed; lots of storage, ample power, and served media in the house suitably well. Fast-forward to 2020, the DS413J is feeling rather aged. The Web UI and 2FA login sometimes takes a little longer than two minutes to fully login. Transfer speeds at 30Mb/s feels unimpressive, and it takes sometimes up to 10 minutes to reboot.

I decided it was time to get into a DS420+. This would serve as my main file/media share while to leverage the CPU, upgradeable RAM and much improved performance.



Synology mainly deals in networking products. The company started with consumer network storage, and have expanded into IP surveillance, and consumer router hardware. Synology’s network storage is pliable across consumer to SMB all the way to corporate SAN. This is also where they really shine. A NAS – Network Attached Storage runs file shares without the overheard of a running server that consumes space, cooling, network, licensing, and power. Most of the NAS models – the DS series, which I’ll cover below are small, quiet, and very unassuming.

The consumer NAS market is competitive, with names like QNAP, Terra Master, Western Digital, Drobo, and Buffalo to name a few. While I won’t go into each of those name brands, I typically see consumers here in Canada picking between QNAP and Synology.

If you’ve ever wondered about the naming convention of the Synology NAS devices, I’ve broken it down here:

Synology DiskStation naming explained
  • 1 – Leading letters [DS][RS][DX]. DS – Diskstation (the formfactor you see here). RS – RackStation (Rack mounted NAS). DX – Diskstation Expansion, and so on.
  • 2 – The first number(s). Sometime a single digit. This is the maximum amount of internal drives the NAS can house, with expansion units. [ie. A 1812+ = 8 disks in unit, with 10 extra disks from expansion units allowed]
  • 3 – The last 2 digits. Demarks the year released. [DS413J = released in 2013, DS420+ = released in 2020]
  • 4 – The very last character denotes the performance. This does change depending on the market segment. Generally, the most common ones are J= home entry level, Play = media specific functions with some encoding, Plus (+)= performance level, XS = Top tier specifications.


Who buys a NAS? Who is it meant for? A NAS is meant for anyone with lots of data that needs to be securely and safely stored in a central location. I emphasize ‘central’ because we all know the pain of multiple USB drives. While convenient, they do end up in odd places or sometimes misplaced when you need them.

This is where a NAS steps in. One location for storing all the files, easily accessible by smart devices, and more flexible and cost friendly over cloud storage. A NAS can also stream media; which means you have the option to watch any owned, stored media on your device of choice. And, no streaming service fees either.

The Synology Diskstation Manager also offers a massive menu of different applications; security, webhosting, authentication, and surveillance. For guys like me, there’s Virtual Machine manager, Radius Server, Active Directory integration – the list keeps growing.



Intel Celeron J4025 2-core 2.0GHz, burstable up to 2.9GHz


2GB DDR4 [expandable to 6GB]

HHD Bays

4 x 3.5″ or 2.5″ SATA HDD/SSD (not included)

2 x M.2 2280 NVMe SSD (not included)


2 x USB 3.0 (front and back)


2 x 1Gbe RJ-45


100 V to 240 V AC

HD Drive bays are all plastic and screwless. Everything has markings for sliding into the standard 3.5″ HDD pin holes. Included are screws for 2.5″ HDD’s as well. Once the HD’s are in the unit, they’re snug with no vibration. There’s also a Synology Key for each drive bay to lock each independently. The front of the unit has indicator lights for status, each individual drive, and the power button. One USB 3.0 connection in the front, and one USB 3.0 in the back. Sadly, there’s no Esata connection for expanded / backup storage. The double RJ-45 connections can also be used independently, teamed, or for failover.

Network protocols


File System

-internal: Btrfs, ext4

-external (connected via usb): Btrfs, ext4, ext3, FAT, NTFS, HFS+, exFAT

RAID types

SHR (Synology Hybrid RAID), Basic, JBOD, RAID 0/1/5/6/10

SSD Cache

-read/write cache support

-M.2 NVMe SSD Support

File Sharing Capacity

-Max local user accounts: 2048

-Max local groups: 256

-Max shared folders: 512

-Max concurrent SMB/NFS/AFP/FTP connections: 500


Vmware Vsphere 6.5, Hyper-V, Citrix, OpenStack


Once again, the Disk Station Manager web GUI is flawless. On initial boot you’re asked to install the latest DSM, then format any installed Hard Disks. After it reboots again, it’s off to configure your RAID storage. Interesting note here, the official spec sheet mentions Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR) as an option. On first install with 2 disks, SHR was available.

Volume Creation Wiz rd 
Configure storage pool property 
RAID type: 
Minimum number of driæs 
r RAID: 
Sto g e_ 1 
1 (SHR with only one driæ will 
able to driæ 
This is the RAID type for uærs. this type 
pu to driæs of siæ in the to optimiæ siæ and 
to data

After installing another 2 disks, SHR was absent? I have a feeling the option was quietly removed to favor disks of the same size to fit industry standards.

Storage Pool Creation Wizard 
Configure storage pool property 
Storage pool description (optional): 
RAID type: 
Minimum number of drives per RAID: 
RAID 5 Description: 
RAID 5 provides fault tolerance and increased 
RAID 5 can sustain the loss of a single drive. I 
reconstructed from parity striped across the re 
performance is severely impacted while a RAID 
space and cost are more important than perfor 
RAID 10 
hree drives is required. 
from the failed drive is 
ad and write 
D 5 is ideal when 

SHR has the ability to protect disks of different sizes. This isn’t a deal breaker to me, but it’s worth noting for someone that’s looking for this functionality. Just to point out, it IS best practice to use disks of all the same size for any sort of RAID configuration.

The Web GUI is incredibly quick and responsive. This largely because of the Intel Celeron J4025 processor and 2GB DDR4 RAM. Even after adding 2Factor authentication, it’s much speedier than my 413J. Creation of shares, installation of new packages, configuring Media services and Video station are easy and intuitive. During my initial burn in period, I mounted some external CIFS shares around my network to copy the data onto this 420+. I was never disappointed, the new DSM even provides an estimated time of completion for large jobs.


Disk Station Manager (DSM) rocks. Simple as that. Super robust, quick, snappy, it just does everything that regular desktop machine would do, just within the browser. Anything is at your fingertips within DSM. Some of the things I use on a regular basis are Hyper Backup, File station (when I want to do CIFS to CIFS transfers), Synology Drive and Storage Manager.

D isk 
Task Manager 
Connected Users 
Speed Limit 
Performance Alarm 
DSM Help 
Memory Composition 
Netvm rk 
Type : 
4.6 Ga 
Click to up nctifiætions. 
utilization 8 
used 3.31 TE 
capacity: 7. IE TB 
O System H It h 
Ym_'r S',molcgy NAS 
Resou«e Monitor 

Everything is intuitively set up. I do recommend setting Control Panel to ‘Advanced Mode’. Just in case you want to see things like the indexing service, external devices, Terminal or Privileges icons. All things are very straightforward, and the help menu is surprisingly, well, helpful. Customization of the login screen, desktop background, color theme, even image or icons are available. I’ve enabled 2FA for login, email notifications, quickconnect, media services all just by clicking around menu’s. The interface is simple enough to get you to your location, yet sophisticated and secure enough to give me comfort when I leave the house.


Super Feature packed. I’ve noticed the Plus (+) series of Synology NAS offers much more packages than the plain “J” series. There’s even a beta package section I’ll be trying out soon. Each new feature brings new items to tweak, and more value to the Synology. Just the other day I configured Replication services, and Synology drive, next up will be Directory server.

It really is a dazzling array of programs this little NAS can run. There’s multiple sites that report using this strictly as a 4K Plex Server. I’ve even seen a few startup businesses using some of the bigger + (plus) models for storage and security with IP cameras. These really are customizable to no end, and based on the new up-and-coming Kubernetes images, these could one day replace traditional server technology.

The 420+ also offers an M2 cache buffer. I’m not quite using it yet, perhaps when I try out mail station or get heavier into web development I’ll populate the drives.

This also has an upgradeable RAM slot on the right of the unit to compliment the current 2GB DDR4. I’ve already got a 4GB stick in there – not best practice, I know; it should ideally be a matching 2GB stick. But I had an extra stick that matched the voltage lying around and thought I’d give it a shot. It’s been 3 weeks without any sort of hiccup.

The Android App store also has many of the general items, like file, video, audio, moments and DS cam. I also noticed there’s a Synology Chat icon in there, which I’m sure complies with secure communications between you and some friends. I’ve been using the DS finder since I have 2 NAS’s in the house, and it’s been great looking over the current usage when I run backup jobs or kube containers.


Absolutely worth every penny! Speed, security, feature rich, and reliable name brand. Synology is really improving their DSM with every release, DSM 7.0 is already beta testing, which hopefully is a general release within 2020. My only complaint is a missing e-sata connection in the back of the unit. I could use some of the bigger DX expansion series – if I ever could fill that much space! For the price, the included features, the never-ending applications for any sort of business or personal need, this is another near perfect offering from Synology.

Synology DS413J review

DS413J-oh yeah (Small)

I was overjoyed to get a bigger NAS device.  Mainly because my Dlink 323 was running out of space, and I yearned for something with a little more usability and functionality.  I shopped around looking and compared the QNAP, Synology, Thecus, WD, and even some Drobo units.  Smallnetbuilder’s NAS charts were a huge help in getting what I wanted.  I’m not here to plug them, I just think they have a lot of useful content and reviews that were suited to what I was looking for.
Moving away from the very consumer based Dlink 323, which was tapped out at 12MBps, I found myself in want of something faster and up to date. Synology’s hardware was sound, with a proprietary hybrid RAID, and a kick ass WebUI that simply destroyed the competition.  I originally was hooked on getting the DS1512 +, the price being the breaking point factor in this scenario.  I eventually went with the DS413J with 4 x 2TB 7200RPM Seagate Drives.  Consider that I was able to purchase the DS413J and four hard drives, the cost of the DS1512+ without hard drives was still MORE expensive.

All the reviews put the Synology Disk Station Manager (DSM) as the multi-faceted powerhouse to which all other NAS devices should follow, and it’s easy to see why.  You can drive the unit entirely from a browser any where, has plentiful plugins and offers usability for beginner to expert levels.

First Impressions
The DS413J came in a very marketing-manager-friendly box, plenty of pretty pictures and an overall glossy feel at least made me feel like I had made a worthwhile investment.  I was a little shocked to discover there was no manual with this unit, Synology smartly eschewed a physical one for a PDF attached to disk.  A nice little touch.  The unit was immaculate, pristine and wrapped with care in a sheen of plastic wrap and free of dust and any other particulates.  Unboxing the NAS felt more like working with a professional scientific instrument instead of a toy, it’s well put together and presented that it just has that feel to it.  I wasn’t crazy with the white plastic encasing the unit, the brushed aluminum top and back likely does more for cooling, but if it was entirely black or entirely aluminum that would have been a nice touch.  As it is, the white will do – if you’re nit-picky about that sort of thing.

Synology DS413 Box (Small)
The Box the Disk Station arrived in. Plenty of pretty picture on all sides and top. There’s even links to partner companies listed in bullet format

The power brick is a large, unflattering chunk of plastic – if only the power supply was embedded in the unit it would have saved me a little more space on my Rack.  There’s ample screws for hard drive installation, from 1.5mm to 2.5mm, flat and flushed heads: more than enough for 4 drives.  The drive trays are simple flat gray plastic with no rubberized anti-vibration absorption, but the engineers have  tightly integrated them into the NAS chassis, so there’s no movement anyway.  The front of the unit has seven LED indicator lights: Power, Status, LAN, and one LED for each hard drive inserted.  The colors are straightforward for anyone to understand as well: Green=Good, Red=Bad.  The middle power button is always blue, probably because it just looks cool.

DiskStation_DS413j_1 (Small)
Blinking LED indicators tell you at a quick glance what’s going on with power, LAN, and your Hard drives. No LCD display, but you can do everything from the DSM web GUI

This is where the Synology really shines, after setting up and formatting hard drives (surprisingly quick), you are given a choice to either install the DSM from the Synology external update site or manually (you first download the package and point to it).  I did the latter and installed it from my laptop via a wireless connection.  Immediately after logging in, DSM tells you such items as uptime, resource monitoring, logs and current connections all as a pop up in the bottom right hand side.  The wizard can help you configure backup, router configuration for firewall and external port access and offers easy to read configuration items in the control panel from the start.

DSM Image 1
DSM treats your experience like another desktop, complete with icons, and Windows-esque useful health ‘gadgets’ such as health monitors, transfers, logs and whatever else you can decide from the drop down menus

Easily the most user friendly NAS device I’ve ever come across; the hardware is straightforward – plug in your drives, provide power and ethernet, and press the power button.  The Synology Disk Station Manager (DSM) AJAX web server is incredibly powerful and lightning quick, even from external access where my uploads are slower.  Mounting files from within the DSM was a snap, just open their File Station (equivalent of Explorer, or if you prefer, Finder) and mount the remote folder share you have on your network.  Creating users and groups is intuitive and fast, the linux style of read/access based on shares makes things much easier to figure out. The Packages are well put together and definitely have great business potential; such as the multiple CRM’s, Wiki abilities, Mailstation and VPN server.  Even the backups are dead simple; I configured my old linux based NAS into an Rsync location for the DS413J.  The dual USB ports even allow for plugging in of external hard disks for USB copy / backup jobs, and everything can be scheduled.  The system log is also very useful for tracking down changes and logins, as well as the health monitor that tells you every task-manager-esque what’s going on, who’s doing what and what processes are using CPU and memory.

Quick pic of currently installed packages on the DSM GUI.  You can add even more 3rd party applications that are handy like 'currently connected'
Quick pic of currently installed packages on the DSM GUI. You can add even more 3rd party applications that are handy like ‘currently connected’

I only have great things to say about the DSM, it’s like logging into a new computer each time you add a new package.  The new features add a new dimension each time, allowing for further tweaks and functionality that wasn’t before present.  Some such as Media Server didn’t appeal to me, but others such as 3rd party add-ons like Switch Service and Current Connection make the experience much more informative.  With such features like Radius Server, I could now change my wireless encryption to an enterprise level format capable of local and ldap authentication protocols.  I’m sure the next time I’m a party, I’ll have to drop that nugget of information.  Other features such as media station helps create an internal website complete with thumbnails and auto-playing movies and streaming audio (even over the internet).  There’s so much power at the DSM’s disposal, that it would take a whole article for each add-on feature.

The DSM package center has endless possibilities with different configurations and applications with categories such as business, productivity, web and mail serving and more
The DSM package center has endless possibilities with different configurations and applications with items for business, productivity, web and mail serving and more

I struggled with the price and (theoretical) performance of the much meatier Synology 1512+.  When weighing price vs. performance, the 413J came out ahead and I save a few hundred dollars a result.  Synology Claims a maximum 53MBps Upload (write) and 108MBPs Download (read) on their website when working with a 5GB file and 1500MTU max over a 1Gbps LAN environment.  My own benchmarks were not far from the result, although I did tweak my settings with 9000MTU on the Synology and Intel NIC with Win7 64x Ultimate edition with a 5GB file and the speed was little over 50MBps for a write, and around 55MBps for a read.


I am definitely sold on the Synology name brand.  The DSM software gives a user complete control of data, backups, security, and a whole plethora of other features with the additional Synology packages available for download.  With features like SSH ability at the flip of a switch, remote management that’s both easy, intuitive and icon based, I only have great things to say about the Synology DSM unit.  The price is right for this unit, larger Synology units can accommodate more hard drives, have greater integration with virtualization platforms and even greater transfer speeds.  For the home user with storage needs, it’s a near perfect offering.


Closing Thoughts
I wrote a ‘love letter to Drobo’ some time ago.  I revisited the Drobo box with hope that I my opinions would have changed.  Not surprisingly, I’m still disappointed with drobo’s performance and lack of options.  I stand by my original post,   the product feels unfinished and flaky, and under performs in simple tasks like file transfers.  Presented with both choices for a NAS device, I would pick the Synology 10 times out of 10.