This post is a follow-up to the Synology DS216play review. There is so much to talk about with regards to the Disk Station Manager (DSM) that we felt like it required it’s own post.
DSM is the operating system which is installed automatically onto your Diskstation – be it a DS216play or another NAS that Synology offers. It’s a web-based operating system, so you would need to log in through your browser (Chrome / Firefox / Edge), which is great as you don’t need to install any software onto your computer, and it also means that you can access it easily from your mobile browser too. Having said that, Synology released a suite of apps for iPhone and Android to manage your NAS more efficiently from mobile.
Upon first logging into DSM you’d be surprised to realize that unlike other NAS operating systems on the market, DSM is a linux-style GUI (graphical user interface) with four default icons:
- Package Center – a sort of ‘App store’ for DSM
- Control Panel – Self Explanatory
- File Station – A file browser
- DSM Help – Also self explanatory
DSM Help also conveniently launches on each login. It has a very good searching feature which helped with every ‘issue’ I had whilst still learning to use it.
Package Center behaves like one would expect an app installer to. You can browse through recommended apps, search, sort by genre (Backup / Multimedia / Security / etc ) and view your currently installed apps. The recommended apps include ‘Download Station’ – a download client which supports multiple download formats, ‘Video Station’ – this provides a sort of streaming service similar to Plex (and just as good), ‘Cloud Station’ – which allows you to sync your data from multiple platforms and ‘Surveillance Station’ – an application that can manage IP cameras, along with many, many other apps!
Here you’ll find all the settings you’ll need – User Settings, Network Settings, Themes, Firmware updates, etc… It’s quite self explanatory really – think of the control panel on your computer – the DSM control panel is similar to that, but related to NAS instead of a whole PC.
User settings allows you to create new users and apply permissions, change passwords, revoke permissions, group users, apply quota, limit download speeds – whatever you can think of. Each user gets their own ‘home’ – a ‘folder’ in the NAS which only they and the system administrator can access, which can also be encrypted if sensitive information will be stored on it.
I won’t get into all of the options in Control Panel, but if you have any problems you need help feel free to leave a comment below or contact us through this form.
An amped up file-browser. In the image below I am logged in as administrator so I had access to all the ‘homes’ of the users I created. File station allows you to create new folders, modify existing folders, search through the whole system, upload and download data through your web browser (especially useful when connecting remotely), compress and decompress zipped files (through a built-in un-archiver), add files to the ‘Audio Station’ app without the need to open the app itself – handy if you like to add new songs as you hear them on the radio – and many, many more features (did you start to get used to the trend here?).
As explained earlier, DSM is very similar to Linux operating system. A ‘Main Menu’ button is ‘pinned’ on the far left in the task bar at the top and shows all the applications installed on the NAS.
Next to the ‘Main Menu’ button the icons of any apps which are currently open will show, in the screenshot below I had ‘Control Panel’ and ‘File Station’ opened in the background.
DSM uses a system of notifications in the form of badges similar to that on mobile devices. When an application (or package) needs to be updated a small ‘1’ (or however many need to be updated) shows in the corner of the ‘Package Center’ icon.
A number of widgets are also available, one can choose to display as many widgets as they like including system health, resource monitor, connected users, scheduled tasks, file change log and some more.
I was really impressed with DSM to say the least. From what I read before using it for the first time, I was expecting a good system, but in fact I was presented with a great system. It’s refined, smooth, easy to use and even gives advanced users the options they require. You don’t feel locked out as you sometimes do with MAC OSes, and at the same time you don’t feel overloaded with options and settings like Windows OS does – DSM manages to deliver what you need, without making you beg for it.
A very detailed user manual for DSM can be downloaded here, directly from the Synology website.