Saturday, June 1, 2013

Synology DS213j: review and power consumption test with WD RED 3Tb HDD

I was looking at Synology Nas from long time.
I knew that if I waited enough, they would release the right Nas, with the right spec, at the right price.
And 2 weeks ago this time went. And I placed an order for my new Nas, the Synology DS213j.
I also ordered the HDD for the Nas: 2 Western Digital RED 3Tb HDD (WD30EFRX).

Why the DS213j?
  • because i need an external backup
  • because the price is good
  • because it consume 3.65W in HDD hibernation
  • because it's powerful
  • because it have 512Mb of Ram
  • because I like the DSM (Disk Station Manager, the OS of the Synology Nas) and all it's addons, especially:

Here is the Synology DS213j, in all its glory :-)

Synology Disk Station DS213j Review photos, benchmark, and power consumption testSynology Disk Station DS213j Review photos, benchmark, and power consumption test

Synology Disk Station DS213j Review photos, benchmark, and power consumption testSynology Disk Station DS213j Review photos, benchmark, and power consumption test

Now, one of the reason that pushed me toward the DS213j was one of its specs: a power consumption of 19W when working, and a very low power of 3.65W in HDD hibernation.
The 3.65W in HDD hibernation is very important, because I use my home PC mainly in the evening (19..24) so for the big part of the day (00..19) the NAS will be sitting idle.
Now, if the NAS is powered on 24h/day, even a tiny power consumption will build up.

So, based on my utilization profile, I can calculate the impact on the electricity bill.

Let's try to asses how much will cost to run a DS213j 24h/day for a year.

For each day I have about 5 hours of active utilization, and 19 hours of Nas sitting idle.
lets say 6 vs 18 hours (using a HDD hibernation delay of 1 hour)

So, for the normal working days, we have
1 day power = 6h*19w + 18h*3.65w =  114wh + 65.7wh = 179.7wh / day

But in the week end I spend more time with my PC, so it will be more something like
1 day power = 16h*19w + 8h*3.65w =   333 wh /day

In a year this will build up to:
1 year power = 333wh * 104d + 180wh *261d = 35kwh + 47kwh = 82kwh

You can't ignore 82kwh / year.

The electricity, in Italy, is between 0.2€/kwh and 0.4/kwh (depending on contract), so 82kwh/year will set you back between 16.4€ and 32.8€ / year
Having a NAS that consume about 3.65w during HDD hibernation is beneficial for the electricity bill :-)

About the HDD choice
I bought 2 Western Digital RED 3Tb HDD (WD30EFRX), to use in RAID 1 configuration.
These drives have some advantage over the competition:
  • they are built specifically for NAS usage
  • they consume a bit less than the others WDC models (4.6W read/write, 4.1W idle, 0.6w standby)
  • they are sufficiently cheap

The testing setup
Synology Disk Station DS213j Review photos, benchmark, and power consumption test
The PC (i7-3770k overclocked @4.5Ghz, 16Gb ram, ASUS P8Z77-V Deluxe, SSD Intel 520, bla-bla-bla-yada-yada.... :-) ) and the NAS are connected via a Netgear WNDR 3700v2 gigabit router (not shown in the photo, it's hidden over the furniture :-) ).

The DS213j power consumption test.

The testing equipment is a cheap power meter, that can measure consumption up to 2000w, so I wont  expect a 0.1w precision in the 0w to 20w range... anyway, it's better than nothing :-)

DS213j power consumption during boot process: it oscillate between 5w and 16w
Synology Disk Station DS213j Review photos, benchmark, and power consumption testSynology Disk Station DS213j Review photos, benchmark, and power consumption test

DS213j power consumption at idle, just after booting the Nas: it's stable at 15w
You can see the nas doing nothing, just logged in DSM
Synology Disk Station DS213j Review photos, DSM, benchmark, and power consumption testSynology Disk Station DS213j Review photos, DSM, benchmark, and power consumption test

DS213j power consumption during data reading operation: it's stable at 16w
In the screenshot you can see the statistics in the DSM, I was copying a single big 10Gb file from the Nas to my PC, the data is being copied at a rate of about 71Mb/s.

Synology Disk Station DS213j Review photos, DSM, benchmark, and power consumption testSynology Disk Station DS213j Review photos, DSM, benchmark, and power consumption test

DS213j power consumption during data writing operation: the power consumption is stable at 17w.
In the screenshot you can see the statistics in the DSM. I was copying the same 10Gb file from my PC to the Nas. The file is being copied at a rate of about 64Mb/s. (I made my test with HDD write cache disabled, enabling write cache may enhance performance)
Synology Disk Station DS213j Review photos, DSM, benchmark, and power consumption testSynology Disk Station DS213j Review photos, DSM, benchmark, and power consumption test

 Finally, DS213j power consumption during HDD Hibernation: ...wait for it... wait  for it... 4w!
Synology Disk Station DS213j Review photos, DSM, benchmark, and power consumption test
Eureka! It works (as expected)! Just 4w!
My power meter have a 1w precision... so I will simply assume that the Synology specification are correct about the 3.65w consumption during HDD Hibernation)
Here I don't have a DSM screenshot for the HDD in hibernation state, because accessing the DSM will wake up the HDD.

Additional power consumption testing

Power consumption during a scheduled  Power Off
As requested by a commenter, I've tested the power consumption during a scheduled power off.
After a scheduled power off the DS213j consume 0W , so it's effectively turned off.
Keep in mind that a scheduled power off will have a bit of delay.
On my DS213j, when I schedule a power-off at 15:00, the DS213j will effectively power-off at 15:01.47, about 1 minute and 47 seconds later than the scheduled power-off .
Instead, if you request a power off with the Nas GUI, it will effectively shut-down in about 47 seconds.

Power consumption and Wake On Lan (WOL)
On DS213j you can activate the WakeOnLan function.
When the WOL function is active you can Power On your DS213j via the network.
If the WOL function is active, and the DS213j is powered off, the power consumption is still 0W.
(Well... some time the power consumption have a short spike to 1w or 2w for about 1 sec, but this happen every 2/3/4 minutes... with my power meter I cant do a better analysis of the phenomenon. Anyway, this may be totally unrelated to the WOL feature.)
After activating the WOL function I used a free utility (Depicus wolcmd command line) to test it, and the Wake On Lan worked perfectly.

DS213j FAQ, Tips, Tricks... & Quirks

How much time will take a backup?
My first full backup (850Gb of data on more than 700'000 files.) took about 10 hours. I made it using SyncBack. Your mileage will vary wildly (depending on files size, files count, software used...).

How much time take to sync data with Cloudstation?
I started today to use Cloudstation to sync about 8.5Gb of data (about 18'000 files) it took about 6 hours to sync (upload) all the data from my PC to the NAS. Your mileage may vary.
The maximum Cloudstation upload speed I've seen (from PC to NAS) is about 8Mb/s, when transfering a single very big file (2Gb).
Update: After updating the nas to DSM v4.3 the Cloudstation got faster, now it upload data (from PC to NAS) at about 11Mb/sec (on very big files).

How much space will use the Cloudstation sync service?
If my preliminar understanding are correct, it take AT LEAST two times the size of the data you want to sync.
Do you want to sync 10Gb of data? For these 10Gb of data, Cloudstation will employ at least 20Gb of disk space on the NAS.
But It can use much more than 20Gb of  space, because by default Cloudstation save the last 32 versions of any synced file. So If you edit often a 100Mb file, this may occupy up to 100Mb*32 = 3.2Gb of space on the NAS.

Why the free space on the NAS doesen't increase when you delete some files?
If these file are these file synced via Cloudstation, you need to remove the file from the cloudstation history/recycle bin.
Log in the NAS using the account of the user using the sync service (the admin user wont works), then: Open CloudStation, open the Recycle bin, Select the synced shared folder, and remove the old files.

Why the free space on the NAS, still, doesn't increase when you delete some files?
Are the deleted files in a shared folder that have the recycle bin enabled?
Log in  in the NAS as administrator, open control panel, open the shared folder list, then click "Action" and you'll be able to click "Empty all recycle bins" (for all shared folders) .

TimeBackup: dedicated volume required
The TimeBackup package WILL NEED a "dedicated" volume as a destination for your backup.
You CAN'T use the TimeAckup to backup MyShare on Volumne1 to MyTimedBackupShare on Vloume1. If MyTimedBackupShare is the destination of your TimeBackup, it will need to be on a different volume (Volume2, Volume3...)
This have some implications: you will need to do a planing, do some test, and decide beforehand how much space you are going to dedicate to the TimeBackup function, then  you will create a volume of the needed size.
I used 3Tb HDD in Raid 1, these are effectively about 2780Gb of total space.
I've create a Volume1 of 2000Gb, and a Volume2 of 780Gb.
The Volume1 will contain the shared folder for my data.
The Volume2 will contain the shared folder I will use as a destination of the TimeBackup function.

You CAN'T shrink a volume
On Synology DSM, you can grow a volume (if you have free space) but you CAN'T shrink a volume.
So, I have 2 volumes: Volume1 = 2000Gb, and volume2 = 780Gb.
If I want to grow Volume1, The only way is to delete volume2, then grow volume1, then recreate volume2. You CAN'T shrink volume2, even is it's totally free and unused.
This mean that if you want to use the TimeBackup function, you need to think carefully about how to size your volumes.

Wake On Lan function after a blackout
During my testing I discovered a tiny quirk of the WOL feature.
If you power-off the DS213j 'normally' (by the GUI, or by the button) the WOL function will work perfectly.
But if the DS213j is powered off, and you detach it from the power, the WOL function get 'deactivated', and wont work. In this situation, to power on the DS213j, you need to push the button.
Clearly the WOL function still use a very tiny bit of power, and unplugging the power cable disable the WOL function.
To sum it up: the WakeOnLan function wont work after a blackout :-)

Additional speed testing over WiFi/Smartphone
I've tested the files transfer speed between the Nas and a smartphone over a WiFi network.
  • Smartphone: Samsung Galaxy S4
  • Router: Netgear WNDR3700v2
  • WiFi: 5GHz,  WPA2/PSK
  • The Galaxy S4 link speed: 150Mbps.
  • The Galaxy S4 distance from the router: less than 2 meters
  • The NAS is connected to the router one a Gigabit Lan port
The test: I downloaded 6,89 Gbytes of data (1534 files) from the Nas to the internal memory of the Galaxy S4 using the DSFile App.
The DSFile App is setup to use an HTTP connection.

The files got transferred to the phone in about 1427 sec, the mean download speed is 4,95 MBytes/sec
I think this is s not bad at all, after considering that it's a real data-transfer speed over WiFi for a smartphone.
The network transfer speed reported y the Nas Resorce Manager oscillated between 2MBytes/sec and 8MBytes/sec.
The maximum speed is clearly limited by the WiFi connection, and/or by the smartphone.

I'm very happy about my brand new DS213j, I love the DSM and it's packages.
I'm also very happy about the HDD choice, using a pair of 3Tb WD RED the maximum power consumption is about 17W when writing, 15W when idle, and less than 4W during HDD hibernation.
Exactly what I was expecting :-)

If you have any questions about the DS213j: feel free to ask. :-)


  1. Thanks... that was a great review!!

  2. Hi, did you try the photo station function in the DS213j? I can't seems to make it works.

    1. But does it give you some kind of error?
      I gave a very fast try to the "photo station" package, I accessed my photos via the web interface. It worked, but it was some somewhat slow at thumbnail creation... but this is normal due to the low power of the ARM CPU that power the DS213j.
      The fact is that I have about 300Gb of photos in RAW format... Maybe I'll retry the PhotoStation in future, but first I need to pre-elaborate my photos to a more Nas-frindly size :-)

  3. Hi, did you try the photo station function in the DS213j? I can't seems to make it works.

  4. what about power usage when you schedule a switch off of the nas (say at night)... does that eat also power ?

    1. I just got back from my honeymoon, when I find a bit of time I will try to schedule a switch off.

    2. Ok, I've tested the scheduled power-off. After a scheduled power off the DS213j consume 0W (zero watt), so it's effectively turned off.
      Keep in mind that a scheduled power off will have a bit of delay.
      On my DS213j, when I schedule a power-off at 15:00, the DS213j will effectively power-off at 15:01.47, about 1 minute and 47 seconds later than the scheduled power-off.

  5. Hello,
    Thanks for this interesting post.
    I just bought the same item, and I see on your photos that you use teracopy for writing and reading on the NAS. I don't understand how this is possible, because when I copy a file from the NAS to the computer (which is linked to the router by ethernet cable), the files are downloaded (visible on the download queue at the upper right corner of the DSM desktop), and at around 10Mb/s only!
    Any idea on this?

    1. The DS213j have a Gigabit Ethernet port.
      But 10Mbytes/s is the typical maximum speed of the typical 10/100Mbit LAN.
      To reach speed over 10Mbytes/sec you need a Gigabit network setup. This mean that both your computer and your router need to have Gigabit Ethernet port. Most router only have 10/100Mbit Ethernet port, and this can limit you to a maximum speed of 10MBytes/sec.

      If your computer and router are both gigabit ethernet capable, maybe it's the cable. Theoretically you need to use LAN cable that specifically support gigabit speed (Cat-6 cable but in my experience, for short cable, a typical Cat-5 cable should work

      If you use Windows, in the LAN connection status you should be able to see the connection speed between your PC and your router, if it say that your connection is 100.0Mbps, this is the factor that limit you to a maximum speed of 10Mbytes/sec

    2. Thanks for the answer, that must be it.
      About teracopy, I just figured out how to navigate to the NAS inside windiws explorer...

  6. Try to schedule a switch on from. 19-24 that should save some energy also

    1. No need to do that, I have some scheduled backup form my computers to the NAS between 20 and 22, so with a 2h HDD hibernation delay, this effectively translate to a guaranteed 20-24 NAS-ON state :-)

  7. Hi,

    Great review. Thank you.

    Just bought this with the 2 x 3TB Reds, like you.

    Why SynBack? Isn't there better back-up software around?

    1. About the backup software, I still have not found the backup software that do the backup the way I like.
      I mainly look for a backup software that can do efficient differential/incremental backup. The main issue I have with standard backup software and differential backup, is that they all use the "file attribute logic", which wont work in some situation (you can fine more detailed explanation of these issue here and here
      I would like to fine a backup software that doesn't use the "file attribute logic" to decide which file it need to copy, this software should simply keep its own DB of "already backed up" files, and use this to define the files that need to be backed up. But I'm unable to find a free software that work in this way...
      I'm looking for a free software because these are only "home backup", of photos and similar things.

      I'm a long time user of Syncback, its a good software that works reliably.
      And it's a good compromise. It's more a file-sync tool than a backup tool, but you can use it for backup with proper configuration. And it's free.

      Now I'm using Syncback, for some type of backup, and Cobian Backup (also free) for other kind of backup.

      I still need to give a deep test to the Synology "timeline backup", to see it it works in an efficient way. But I'm probably going to wait for the new DSM 4.3 (in beta at time of writing) before doing this test.

      As of today, I setted up SyncBack to copy any files from my computers to the Nas, and, when I delete a file from my computer, wait some weeks before deleting it form the Nas.
      This is a good compromise... but this way I still miss an "historical" backup of the old version of any modified file. Maybe that the TimeLine backup will help me attaining this. Or, on some folder, I can use the CloudStation sync, that can keep up to 32 old copy of the modified files (but tis is ok for a 20Gb of documents, but using CloudStation on a photography folder of 350Gb is not practical...)

      So I'm still looking for a "definitive" solution.
      Any advice? :-)

    2. Well I've always used Comodo in the past (and at work). Free, and I could schedule for overnight work and it would synchronise and do an incremental back-up (only changed files - ).

      Sounds like you want something like Apple timeline. Windows 8 has something like that built in already, in case you have it (I do). Lots of other free stuff to try out though, as I'm sure you know (e.g. ).

      I like the idea that files deleted on PC are later deleted from NAS. I'll give Synback a try.

      This little baby is very neat and quite.

      Thanks again for the review.

    3. Thanks for the advice, I'll check out your suggestion

  8. Thanks for all the tests (i was the one as long for the scheduling)... Will see if I can use wol now

  9. PS This article has a few good ideas about back-up:

  10. My synology never goes in idle.
    I have not idea why and there is not easy way to find this out.

    Additionally most of the addon have serious flaws and bug and I cannot understand how people rate this device so positively unless they are paid for by Synology

    1. About your Synology that never go IDLE there is something you can try:
      1) Disable Usage History (Resource Monitor\Advanced setting)
      during my testing I've had the sensation that enabling usage history kill the ability to go IDLE of the synology... but I'm not sure, I didn't do any serious testing... and I'm not really interested in usage history, so I left it disabled

      2) You can try to enable the "hibernation logs" under "Control panel\Hardware\HDD hibernation"
      so you can check in the System Logs of you synology when it woke up from hibernation

      3) try to uninstall all addon, check if hibernation works, then star adding addon/package one-by-one, to understand which is the package that wont left your synology to enter hibernation

      Clearly, any package/addon that work 24h/day (like download station/bitTorrent) wont permit your snology to hibernate.

      Other than that, the only issue I found during my usage was an update to the CloudStation Addon that gave me some problem (and I stopped using Cloudstation for some time), but it was a beta update... after updating DSM to the latest 4.3 version, the issue disappeared, and I restarted using Cloudstation without problem.

      And no, Synology is not paying me for writing this review, I'm a genuinely satisfied customer.

  11. Thanks for the Review. I am thinking about buying two DS213J. One for home and one for my small office. Do you know if I can sync both over the internet? And do you think I can do this with dymanic IP adesses?

    Thanks in advance for your answer.

    Albert (from Brazil)

    1. After some research it seem that, as of today, is not possible to have a 2-way bidirectional sync between 2 Synology Nas.

      Having a 2 way sync between Nas is a "requested feature" on the Synology forum, you can check the thread here

      Another guy ( here ) write that he asked this question at Synology, and Synology responded that:
      "At present with Synology our shared folder synchronization is one way only, this does not yet operate in a master / slave configuration. We are however currently developing the ability of a bi-directional folder sync we expect this to be released in a further version of our DSM operating system."

    2. Massimiliano, thank you for your answer.

      I read the links you posted. It seems to me that I will have to wait for the new version of the DSM.

      My issue is that I work at home and at the office, and I don´t want to always have to take my files with me.

      The second goal was to have my files elsewere than at the office, in case my NAS is stolen, the office burns, or whatever.

      Anyway... Thank you for the posts.

    3. If the size of "your files" is not too big, maybe you can use the Synology Nas with the included Cloudstation package:

      Say you have Nas 1(at home), Nas 2(at office), PC 1(at home), PC 2(at office), PC3(at office)...

      Nas 1 will be the "Master Nas"
      You create a shared folder "MyFilesOnNas1" on Nas 1, and put your file here.
      Then you Use CloudStation to Sync the MyFilesOnNas1 folder on PC1, PC2, PC3... this way you have a full copy of MyFilesOnNas1 on PC1, PC2, PC3... and all these copies are kept in sync by Nas1.
      With Synology cloudstation you can keep the folder in sync even over the internet (so, PC2 in office will sync with Nas1 at home over the internet)

      Then, you setup Nas1 to backup everything on Nas2 (you should be able to do this with synology nas)

      Maybe this can be a workable solution, even if not optimal, because it only works because any computer you use have a full copy of your files.

      In case you think about trying this way, keep in mind that Cloudstation have some limits: max file size of 10Gb, and it keep track of older version of files... that is good for excel documents... not so good if you job is editing 200Mb TIFF files :-)

      My wife is using Cloudstation to sync her data, that is about 60Gb of DOC/XLS/PDF/JPEG/Videos and it works pretty well.

      But I never tried CloudStation over the internet, maybe it can get a bit slow...

    4. Keep also in mind that "a mirror is not a backup" because if you accidentally delete your data from PC1, your Nas+Cloudstation will diligently delete all your data from PC2, PC3, and Nas2 (maybe you can restore deleted filed from cloudstation file history... but if you deleted 10'000 file this is going to take a bit of time...)
      So I think you should also find a way to have a "historical" backup of your data (you can try the Synology TimeBackup package, it should works, but I only briefly tested it )

    5. Well, I think this would do the work. Anyway I always have an USB backup off the NAS.

      My files are usualy less than 100MB big, so speed would not be an issue. Usualy I work with CAD files, images (JPG/TIF/PSD) and 3D models (3DS,MAX,SKP)...

      Thanks again for the post and the hint. I will buy the Synology 213j as soon as I can.

    6. Hi massimiliano,
      I'd like to buy this but, my concern is not to keep always online ...
      how about to turn off the ds213j to further reduce the consumpion ? This is surely a silly question but, apart from the obvious advantages on the power supply side ... what are the cons of turning off/on disk and nas once or two in a day ? would it damage all the stuff on the long run ?

    7. Hi,
      on my ds213j I've scheduled power-off at 00:30am and power-on at 7:00am, and I've used it this way for some months without any issue.
      When it's powered off it consume nothing, so this is good for the night when I don't use the NAS :-)
      You can also set a time after which the HDD go to sleep/hibernate if not used, I set this time to 2 hours just to be sure to not force the HDD in too many power-on/power-off cycle. During the HDD Hibernation the nas consume just 4w.

      Today, after some month of constant 24/7 use, the HDD inside my nas have the following relevant SMART values:
      Start-Stop count: 327
      Power on hours: 2714
      Power cycle count: 259
      Load cycle count: 364
      Power off retract count: 7 (some blackout...)

      As of today I didn't have any issue :-)
      I think that turning the the disk on/off some time at day pose no risk.

  12. Very nice analysis and blog!

  13. I supose that RED allso did run in cooler temperatures than the reference drives? It should have meaning when using NAS 14/7...
    Could you measure the temperature of drives and temperature of the air inside the NAS box. It would be interesting to read......Web Designing Training in Chennai

    1. I run the NAS 24/7, I set it up to run on "cool" setting, so the fan is always spinning.
      The HDDs are usually around 30 °C / 33 °C