Synology BeeDrive: Backup Solution for PCs and smartphones

The Synology BeeDrive enables easy backup and fast data synchronization. It also saves photos from the smartphone via WLAN and offers BeeDrop, a Windows alternative to Apple’s AirDrop for wirelessly transferring files from the smartphone to the BeeDrive. The simplicity of the backup solution is convincing.

Synology BeeDrive

When you think of Synology, you think of the manufacturer’s NAS systems, on which not only backups can be managed via a network connection, but they now also take on all sorts of server functions. Synology is now expanding its own portfolio in a completely different direction because with the BeeDrive, the manufacturer is providing an external backup solution for smartphones and PCs, which is supposed to impress with its simplicity in combination with the software. Unlike a NAS, which is potentially available to all users in the network as “Network Attached Storage”, the BeeDrive is a “Direct Attached Storage” (DAS) that is connected directly to the user’s computer via USB.

The external SSD drive is available with a capacity of 1 and 2 TB. The recommended retail price for the 2 TB Synology BeeDrive is $199 on Amazon (America), and £255.77 on Amazon (Europe). Synology offers a three-year warranty.

The Synology BeeDrive in detail

As a portable backup center, the BeeDrive comes in handy housing measuring 65 × 65 × 15 mm and weighing 43 g. The workmanship is good and corresponds to other external SSD drives. The BeeDrive isn’t as durable as a Samsung T7 Shield. Synology says it can withstand drops from 2m, but only onto the carpet.

Synology includes a USB-C cable and a USB-C to USB-A adapter with the drive. A quick guide explains that the BeeDrive must be connected to the computer via USB-C or USB-A and the BeeDrive software for Windows must be installed. The appropriate installation file is also on the BeeDrive itself. The manufacturer does not yet offer any suitable software for macOS to use the BeeDrive on a Mac or MacBook – but support will follow later. Windows 10 (from version 1809) and Windows 11 are officially supported so far. If you also want to use the BeeDrive to back up your smartphone, you must also install the BeeDrive app on it. It is available for Android (from Android 10) and iOS (from iOS 15).

USB-C for up to 1,050 MB/s

A status LED is housed on the top of the drive, and the USB-C port faces forward on the side. This is USB 3.2 Gen 2 (Type C) with a maximum data transfer rate of 10 Gbit/s. Synology itself attests the drive a transfer rate of up to 1,050 MB/s for sequential reading and 1,000 MB/s for sequential writing. Values ​​that will be checked below.

After connecting to the PC, the BeeDrive is reported as a normal drive with 931 GB of free space.

Capacity1TB2TB
Dimensions (H × W × D)65×65×15mm
Weight43g
interfaceUSB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gbps)
speedUp to 1,050MB/s
operating temperatur0°C to 45°C
storage temperature-40℃ to 85℃
BeeDrive for desktopWindows 10 (1809 or later version), Windows 11, macOS (coming soon)
Mobile BeeDrive appiOS 15 or later, Android 10 or later
scope of deliveryBeeDrive, USB-C cable, USB-C to USB-A adapter, quick start guide
guarantee3 year limited warranty
RRP with VAT$119 & £143.72$199.99 & £255.77

ImageName & SpecsPlatformPrice
Synology BeeDriveSynology BeeDrive (1 TB)
Brand: Synology
Feature: Sync files when plugged in
Disk: Solid State Drive
Devices: Windows 10 ->, iOS 15 ->, Android 10 ->, Windows 11
Color: Black
Hard Disk Size: 1562.99 GB
amazon-icon-21121$119 on Amazon (USA)

£143.72 on Amazon (UK)
Synology BeeDriveSynology BeeDrive (2 TB)
Brand: 
Synology
Feature:
Sync files when plugged in
Disk:
Solid State Drive
Devices: 
Windows 10 ->, iOS 15 ->, Android 10 ->, Windows 11
Color: 
Black
Hard Disk Size: 
1562.99 GB
amazon-icon-21121$199.99 on Amazon (USA)

£255.77 on Amazon (UK)

Synology BeeDrive: Setup and Configuration

After installing the software, the BeeDrive can be configured. A Synology account is required for this, because the software cannot be started without it.

Once you have logged in to the account, you can choose between computer backup, file synchronization and mobile device transfer. With computer data backup, files are saved from the computer to the BeeDrive, but there is no synchronization in the other direction if the data on the BeeDrive is changed in the meantime. This option is therefore a classic backup of the data from the PC to the BeeDrive. The backup runs automatically whenever the BeeDrive is connected.
With file synchronization, on the other hand, folders are synchronized between the BeeDrive and the computer so that they are always up to date. It should be noted that this is not a backup, since unwanted changes or deletions may also be implemented on the other device if you did not notice them and did not set sufficient versioning.

The “Transfer from mobile device” function, on the other hand, backs up photos from the smartphone on which the BeeDrive app is set up or makes it possible to simply send files via BeeDrop from the smartphone to the BeeDrive via WLAN. BeeDrop is a counterpart to Apple’s AirDrop, but can also be used with a Windows PC and iPhone with the BeeDrive. In order to save photos from the smartphone to the BeeDrive, the app on the smartphone must be linked to the desktop app via a QR code.

With PC backup and synchronization, the BeeDrive supports up to five file versions, so that an earlier version can be accessed in an emergency. However, this is not activated by default and must be activated by the user in the settings. Files deleted from a backup on the PC are still stored on the BeeDrive in the “Archived files” folder to enable recovery.

Synology BeeDrive: WiFi photo backups from five smartphones

If “Transfer from mobile device” is set up on the desktop and smartphones as described above, the photos from up to five smartphones can be automatically backed up to the BeeDrive via WLAN. The photos saved in this way on the BeeDrive can then be accessed at any time with any PC or Mac. They are stored in a regular folder, not in a special backup container or anything like that.

It is also relevant for iOS users that photos that have already been stored on iCloud and are no longer stored locally on the iPhone in full resolution in order to save storage space are backed up with BeeDrive. To do this, they are first downloaded from iCloud and then stored on the BeeDrive.

For data transfer, it is necessary that the app remains open in the foreground with the display activated. Unlike many cloud apps, the backup does not continue in the background at a reduced speed but stops when the display is switched off – although according to Synology it should actually do so. In the test, however, the transmission paused again and again in the background and only continued when the app was opened again. “Concentrated data backup” can be activated in the app settings, which ensures that the app is always active in the foreground and the display remains switched on. If the backup is paused, it will continue later from the same point. Photos that have already been transferred do not have to be transferred again and after the first full backup, only new photos are transferred from the smartphone to the BeeDrive. Synology should still allow for background photo backup since it’s easy to forget to open the app and keep it open and the display on in everyday life.

When backing up smartphone photos, you can choose to automatically convert them to JPEG if they are in a different format on the smartphone, to back up only the original files, or to back up both original files and JPEGs. HEIF or HEVC media from an iPhone can thus be automatically saved as a JPEG for increased compatibility with other programs and devices. The folder in which the photos are to be stored on the BeeDrive can also be adjusted if desired.

If you only want to back up photos but no videos, you can also specify this in the settings and also exclude duplicate files from the backup.

Synology BeeDrive for wireless data transfer

With BeeDrop, Synology also offers a completely different function, because BeeDrop enables wireless transfer of files and photos from a smartphone to a computer. It is no coincidence that the name is based on Apple’s AirDrop, which enables exactly this for iOS and macOS. For BeeDrop, the computer and the smartphone must be registered in the same network.

However, BeeDrop is not integrated into the iPhone’s sharing menu. It is therefore not possible to quickly send a file or photo to the BeeDrive using the share function, but sharing must be initiated via the BeeDrive app on the smartphone. If you click on the share symbol at the bottom of the app, a selection menu opens in which you can choose between photos, files and the camera. This can then also be used to select several photos or files that are sent to the BeeDrive via WLAN. A progress bar and a queue show how far the transfer has progressed. Files transferred in this way end up in the BeeDrop folder on the BeeDrive and this is automatically opened on the Windows PC after successful transfer so that you have immediate access to the files.

AirDrop for Windows

The transfer of individual and multiple files via BeeDrop worked reliably and very quickly in the test. There were no problems with aborted or non-executed transfers during the test. BeeDrop is an excellent way, especially for iOS and iPhone users, to quickly transfer photos and files from their iPhone to a Windows PC without first having to connect the iPhone to it with a cable. However, integration into the iOS share menu would be desirable to further simplify the function.

Automatic backup when connecting

With the automatic computer data backup, the BeeDrive software initially offers to back up the known Windows folders Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures and Videos. They are then stored in the “PC Backup” folder on the BeeDrive. If data is synced and stored in these folders on Microsoft OneDrive, BeeDrive will automatically download them for backup – great!

When backing up, it can also be set that BeeDrive not only saves the current version of a file but also saves up to five most recently transferred versions. So you have on the BeeDrive, at least to a limited extent, a staggered backup of the data from the PC. With the “Archive deleted files” function, files deleted on the computer are also moved to the archive files on the BeeDrive, but not deleted. If the function is deactivated, the files deleted in the backup folders on the BeeDrive remain in the original backup folders and are neither moved nor deleted, since this is not a synchronization but a backup.

When backing up data, however, it should be noted that only one data backup can be configured at a time. A second backup that contains different folders than the data backup set up first is not possible. If you want to add more folders to the backup later, the backup task in the desktop app must be adjusted accordingly. This is possible at any time, simply and easily.

Synchronization between PC and BeeDrive

With “Standard” the software creates a new folder called BeeDrive on the desktop and on the BeeDrive, which are then synchronized. Files that you want to synchronize between the PC and BeeDrive in this way must first be copied or moved to one of these folders. In the advanced synchronization settings, you can set whether only the current version (default setting) or the last versions of a file should be saved. Up to five old versions can be backed up in this way to avoid unwanted data loss. If the number of specified versions is reached, the oldest version is overwritten by a new one.

In addition, you can set whether it should be a real two-way synchronization or whether data should only be synchronized from the computer to the BeeDrive or from the BeeDrive to the computer.

Files that exceed a self-defined size can also be excluded in the settings. The same applies to file names and file extensions. Files with the extension tmp, link, pst, swap and temp are excluded ex works.

If you do not decide to create and synchronize a new folder called BeeDrive, you can also select an existing folder from the computer and BeeDrive via “Custom”. However, only one folder can be selected for each task, it is not possible to specify several folders that are synchronized in one task. If you want to synchronize your documents and pictures, you have to create two synchronization tasks to avoid having to synchronize the entire user folder.

It should be noted that the drive letter should not be selected as the synchronization target on the BeeDrive if you want to synchronize a folder, because then, on the one hand, all files in the folder selected on the computer end up in the main directory of the BeeDrive and on the other hand you can no longer create a second synchronization task since all files from the BeeDrive are already synchronized with the selected folder on the PC. To avoid this error, it would make more sense not to be able to select the drive letter as the synchronization target at all.

Synology BeeDrive performance benchmarks

Basically, the only interesting thing about the Synology BeeDrive is whether it achieves the transfer rate advertised by the manufacturer of up to 1,050 MB/s for sequential reading and 1,000 MB/s for sequential writing. CrystalDiskMark is used for the measurement.
In the benchmark, the BeeDrive almost achieves the values ​​advertised by Synology with 975 MB/s in sequential read and 981 MB/s in sequential write. It should be noted that the transmission speed always depends on the computer on which the drive is used.

Use BeeDrive without software and on several PCs

Can be used as an external drive

The Synology BeeDrive can also be used as a normal external drive without software. Windows recognizes it as such and access via Explorer is possible like any USB stick and any other external drive. If you just want to transfer a few files to the BeeDrive on another PC, this is possible at any time.

Synchronize multiple PCs with software

The BeeDrive can easily be used on multiple computers and on different computers for backups. If automatic transfers are to be carried out, the software simply has to be installed on the second PC and configured accordingly. In this way, you can not only create backups of multiple computers but also keep folders between different systems in sync if you wish.

And what works (not) on the Mac?

Since the BeeDrive desktop software is not yet available for macOS, the above functions for automatic backup and synchronization as well as BeeDrop cannot be used yet. Irrespective of this, the BeeDrive also acts like a normal external drive on a Mac, which can be accessed normally via the Finder and files can be transferred in both directions. The BeeDrive can be used as an external drive until the software is released.

Conclusion

The BeeDrive and the software from Synology also enable less experienced users who have previously shied away from purchasing a NAS, for example, to intuitively create backup and synchronization tasks and also to back up their smartphone photos offline. The BeeDrive carries out the tasks assigned to it reliably and without any problems.

It is commendable that Synology does not use a proprietary format for the backups, but that all files transferred to the BeeDrive can be accessed normally via Windows Explorer or macOS Finder without having to have the software installed.

The biggest criticism of Synology BeeDrive is that the backup of photos and videos from a smartphone is only carried out when the BeeDrive app is open and the display is switched on, but not in the background.

Synology has already announced that password protection for the BeeDrive will be provided later because the drive can currently be read by any user on any computer. The planned macOS support is still a long way off and it is to be hoped that the manufacturer will be able to provide it soon.

The Synology BeeDrive thus simplifies backup and synchronization tasks, which can of course also be implemented with other external drives and suitable software. Thanks to the easy accessibility and intuitive operation, BeeDrive is also an option for all those users who are less experienced and do not want to deal with the configuration of backup programs. The target group of the BeeDrive is not primarily the experienced PC hobbyist who already has three do-it-yourself NAS in the basement, but even for him, it can be a useful addition to everyday life. The intuitive operation, the software and BeeDrop also justify the higher price of the BeeDrive for laypeople or all those who appreciate the convenience of such a solution, SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD V2 1TB ) is much cheaper without the right software.

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