Synology BeeStation 4TB review: This simplified NAS is amazing

Synology knows how to make a great NAS server, and its biggest differentiator isn’t the hardware — its products don’t usually have the best hardware in this segment — but the software. The brand’s DiskStation Manager (DSM) has the best interface combined with a terrific set of utilities, and its this level of polish and refinement that makes Synology the best NAS manufacturer.

But what if you don’t want to get a full-fledged NAS, and are interested in a basic server just to store your files, photos, and videos? Previously, your option was to get something like the DiskStation DS220j or the DS223j, add a hard drive, and set it up in your home network.

There’s now an easier way, thanks to the introduction of the BeeStation. Like the BeeDrive that debuted last year, the BeeStation is a centralized storage solution that’s aimed at users that don’t want to deal with the complexity of setting up a NAS. It is similar to WD’s My Cloud series in that regard; the BeeStation is essentially an enclosure that houses a 4TB HDD, you connect it via Ethernet to your router, and it then backs up data from various devices in your home.

The fact that it has an integrated HDD is a big deal, and the BeeStation is very affordable — the 4TB model is available for just $199. I’ve been using the BeeStation alongside my usual NAS servers — the DiskStation DS1522+ and the massive DiskStation DS3622xs+. 

There are a few limitations with the BeeStation; it’s clearly not a full-fledged NAS, but if you need a basic solution to store data, it may just be what you’re looking for.

Synology BeeStation: Price and release date

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

Synology launched the BeeStation in select Asian markets on January 31, and the product will be available globally starting March 6. At launch, the BeeStation is sold in a single variant with a 4TB HDD that retails for $199. Considering it has a HAT3300 drive that retails for $99 on its own, you’re basically getting a great value here.

Users in India can get their hands on the BeeStation right now, with the server debuting for ₹21,000 ($253).

Synology BeeStation: Specs

Synology BeeStation 4TB review: This simplified NAS is amazing

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The BeeStation is unique in that it has a hard drive built-in, but otherwise it shares a lot of the same hardware as its full-fledged NAS siblings. This is what you’re getting: 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Category Synology BeeStation
CPU Realtek RTD1619B
Storage Synology HAT3300-4T 4TB HDD, 5,400rpm
RAM 1GB DDR4, soldered
Ethernet 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
Ports 1 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, 1 x USB-C 3.2 Gen 1
System requirements Windows 10 (Build 17063 or above), Windows 11, macOS 12.3 or above, iOS 15 or above, Android 8 or above
Dimensions 148 x 63 x 196mm
Weight 820g

Synology BeeStation: Design

Synology BeeStation 4TB review: This simplified NAS is amazing

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The BeeStation has an unobtrusive design that doesn’t attract a lot of attention — just as it should be. The design aesthetic is different to that of most DiskStation NAS models; there are no vents on the side, and other than a stylized BeeStation logo, you don’t get any branding whatsoever. The unit has passive airflow that’s delivered by vents at the top, and there’s no active cooling.

Synology BeeStation 4TB review: This simplified NAS is amazing

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

What you get here is an enclosure to house a 3.5-inch NAS hard drive, and because there’s no need for removable drives, it is significantly smaller in size than most full-fledged NAS models. The design itself is sleek, and you get a single LED that serves as a visual indicator to system status.

Synology BeeStation 4TB review: This simplified NAS is amazing

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

The plastic chassis has good build quality, and there are rubber feet at the bottom to ensure the BeeStation stays planted on a table. There isn’t much else to talk about in this area, and while WD has stylish models in the My Cloud series that stand out, that isn’t the case here, and I like the subdued design.

Synology BeeStation: Features and configuration

Synology BeeStation 4TB review: This simplified NAS is amazing

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

The BeeStation is all about ease-of-use, so you get a limited set of features, and not much in the way of customizability. The server has a Gigabit Ethernet port at the back along with a USB-C and USB-A port, and just like the brand’s NAS servers, you can easily transfer data from an external drive to the BeeStation with relative ease. You also get the ability to use an external drive as a secondary data source, but you can’t use it to extend the storage of the BeeStation.

The BeeStation uses a quad-core Realtek RTD1619B chip — the same as the DiskStation DS223 — and you get 1GB of DDR4 memory. The hard drive is the Synology Plus Series HAT3300-4T, and the 4TB drive connects over the usual SATA 6Gb/s interface and spins at 5,400rpm. It tends to get a bit noisy under load, but it isn’t much more so than equivalent IronWolf or WD Red drives.

Setting up the BeeStation is about as straightforward as it gets. All you need to do is scan the QR code that’s included in the package (it’s also located on the bottom of the product), sign in with a Synology account, and connect the Ethernet cable to your router. You’ll need to hold down the power button for four seconds to instantiate the software, and this is a good way to ensure that no one can take control of the BeeStation remotely.

As soon as that’s done, you can give your BeeStation a name, and get started with the product. There are mobile apps that allow you to view the data stored on the BeeStation from anywhere, and you can access the web interface by going to portal.bee.synology.com. You’ll need the web interface to invite family members to use the BeeStation — you can have up to nine total users — set up integration with public cloud services, and more.

Inviting users is extremely easy, and the BeeStation creates a unique link that can be shared with your family. There’s also the provision to create a local account that’s only available via LAN, and again, this is a good move. There isn’t much else in the way of settings, and going to the Advanced settings tab allows you to set up email notifications for system alerts.

You can also back up the data on the BeeStation to an external drive or the brand’s own C2 cloud service, and similarly restore data if you’ve previously stored data within C2.

Synology BeeStation: Software and performance

Synology BeeStation 4TB review: This simplified NAS is amazing

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

The BeeStation runs a lightweight OS called BeeStation Manager (BSM), and it has a limited feature-set. The main use case with the BeeStation is to back up files and photos, and to that effect, you get two utilities: BeePhotos and BeeFiles. Unlike the brand’s NAS servers, there’s no Package Center, so you can’t download any additional apps.

Synology BeeStation 4TB review: This simplified NAS is amazing

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

The biggest downside is that there’s no way to stream media, and you miss out on the likes of Plex. When I asked Synology about the potential for this feature to be added down the line, the brand said that the BeeStation is designed to be an “entry-level preconfigured storage solution” that doesn’t have all the features of a NAS, and that media playback or streaming won’t be coming to this model. 

If that’s something you need, then you will need to consider one of the brand’s budget NAS servers, and there’s plenty of options available in that area — the DiskStation DS223 and DS224+ immediately come to mind.

Synology BeeStation 4TB review: This simplified NAS is amazing

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

When it comes to backing up data, the BeeStation holds up just as well as a full-fledged NAS. There’s a BeeStation utility for Windows that lets you back up folders with ease, and the best part is that you can set up a two-way sync between the BeeStation and that folder. After you’ve selected a folder, the data is backed up automatically, and the utility is just as reliable as Synology Drive in this regard.

Synology BeeStation 4TB review: This simplified NAS is amazing

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

It’s also extremely easy to back up data from a cloud service provider like Google Drive to the BeeStation. Just enter your credentials, set up what folders you want to back up, and the BeeStation does the rest. I already do this with my NAS servers, and it’s great to see this feature make its way into the BeeStation.

Synology BeeStation 4TB review: This simplified NAS is amazing

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

While I was initially worried about the security of the BeeStation given that there isn’t much in the way of security controls on the device, it has a lot of safeguards baked in. BSM uses Synology’s QuickConnect relay service to establish a connection, and it basically creates a secure tunnel, so you can easily access your data from anywhere without having to worry about privacy issues. I would have liked the ability to install Tailscale on the product, but that isn’t the case.

Synology BeeStation 4TB review: This simplified NAS is amazing

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

As we’re talking about remote connectivity, the best part of the BeeStation is the fact that you can access your data on the go. There are mobile apps for BeePhotos and BeeFiles, and BeePhotos is just Synology Photos under a different name. Just like that app, BeePhotos does a terrific job backing up photos and videos from your phones, and it has the same interface. You even get the ability to cast photos and videos to TVs and other Cast-enabled devices.

Synology BeeStation 4TB review: This simplified NAS is amazing

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

I talked about how Synology Photos is a viable alternative to Google Photos thanks to a similar user interface and the ability to sort photos by faces, and you get all of those features in BeePhotos as well. BeeFiles does the same thing, but with files — it is positioned as an alternative to Google Drive, and you get an interface that’s nearly identical to what Google offers.

Synology BeeStation 4TB review: This simplified NAS is amazing

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

In a month of testing, the BeeStation did a fantastic job backing up folders from my Windows gaming machine, as well as photos and videos from the dozen or so devices I tested — including the likes of the Vivo X100 Pro, iQOO 12, and a few phones I can’t talk about just yet. I would have liked more configuration options and the ability to stream media, but the BeeStation is aimed at users that want an easy-to-use storage solution, and it hits that brief perfectly.

Synology BeeStation: The competition

Synology BeeStation 4TB review: This simplified NAS is amazing

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

If you need to stream media or want the ability to install additional utilities, you should consider getting a full-fledged NAS. The DiskStation DS224+ is my recommendation, and it is a great starter model that has plenty to offer. You get two drive bays, powerful hardware, a versatile software platform with a ton of useful utilities, and dual Gigabit Ethernet ports. You have to add your own HDDs, and the barebones NAS itself costs $299, so it is considerably costlier than the BeeStation. That said, you also get much more extensibility.

If you want a more budget-focused solution, the DiskStation DS223 is a great choice. It doesn’t quite have the same caliber of hardware as the DS224+, but it still does a decent job in daily use, and it holds up well as a media streaming server.

Synology BeeStation: Should you buy it?

Synology BeeStation 4TB review: This simplified NAS is amazing

(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

You should buy this if:

  • You need a centralized storage device to store photos and videos
  • You want an easy way to access your data anywhere
  • You need an all-in-one solution that’s easy to manage

You shouldn’t buy this if:

  • You need a storage server to stream media
  • You need more than one hard drive

I really liked the idea of the BeeDrive, and used the product quite a bit over the last six months. The biggest downside was that it would only work when my machine was active, as it needed to be plugged in to a USB port. I wanted Synology to make a dedicated solution that could work over Ethernet, and the BeeStation is that device.

The BeeStation isn’t a full-fledged NAS, and it isn’t designed to be one; you don’t get much extensibility or media streaming capabilities, so if you’re after a NAS server for Plex streaming, you should get the DiskStation DS224+ or DS223 instead. The BeeStation is instead aimed at those that want an easy-to-use centralized storage solution to back up files, photos, and videos, and it excels at these use cases.

There’s also the value to consider, and retailing for just $199, the BeeStation has a lot going for it. So if you don’t need to stream media to connected devices in your home and are instead looking at an all-in-one storage server to back up data, you can’t go wrong with the BeeStation.

Via: Androidcentral

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