June 23, 2018, 10:39 am
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REVIEW: SYNOLOGY DS 218+ : Versatility, size makes for a powerful network storage solution

STORAGE is fast becoming the problem of many households and small businesses. Not the kind of storage that requires boxes and cabinets to solve. It is the kind of storage that keeps the information currency in binaries and codes. Aside from storage, access anywhere and near-perpetual scalability are related and pressing concerns.

I take my own family as an example. We have five 1 terabyte portable hard drives at home for storage of photos and videos. My sons, taking up film and speech have videos uploaded and often times needs to be shared with class and groupmates for projects. I have my own 2 TB  hard disk that I regularly upload or download data from. Then there is a link that updates files between disks to my Amazon Web Services account, which is a free tier, thus comes only with a limited amount of space.

So when I heard of Synology’s small footprint DS218+ Networked Attached Storage (NAS) I looked at the specs and wanted to check out the performance. Here’s what I found out.

SMALL FOOTPRINT. At 165 mm x 108 mm x 232.2 mm, the DS218+ is about the size of two Robert Ludlum books, but longer. It weighs 1.30 kg without the hard disks, but that all goes to the solid construction. That space is truly desktop manageable. That also means more efficient power use. Many eons ago as a  young administrator for a now defunct website, Carz.ph, I built a networked server inside a Macintosh G4 shell. It took up so much space and ran hot.

The DS218+ with its small size and small internals runs cools and quitely.

Setting up the device took exactly 14 minutes (including unboxing). All that is really needed is to connect the plus and hook it up into a laptop. Its not all high tech too. Following the well-laid out instruction booklet (yes printed!) and turning on the unit then letting the wizard in the web browser guie you. The intuitive set-up interface also features DiskStation Manager (DSM). The nifty on-board tool will handle most of the needed automatic download and updating tasks behind-the-scenes, should you activate this feature.

OPEN SOURCE VERSATILITY. DiskStation Manager is a propriety Linux-derived operating system that runs DS218+ and other Synology NAS. The interface is distinct but being Linux, keeps its open source manageability. The interface feels like you’re using a desktop computer.

All the icons are easy to identify, menus well laid out and there is an abundance of help files. But what really impressed me from the interface was a huge array of custom plug-ins that handle many things including amazing activitites like a personal chat group (Chat by Snynology is the plug in) and file sharing apps for organizing your family photos, torrenting files, and everything in between. 

Other add-on packages expand the value and functionality of you’re the DS218+ and other Synology NAS devices. Here is a rundown of what I am targetting to set it up for—our common home backup device, a media streamer, the personal mail server, the in-house website-hosting device, the BitTorrent box, and connect-via-USB to the home CCTV as a back-up recorder. That is only for uses at home. 

NOT ONLY FOR HOME. This NAS can meet unique needs even for small businesses such as sharing files on the Cloud, including running e-commerce operations via Spree, media server managemet via Plex, and other like BitTorrent Sync, and GitLab. You can also set up a VPN environment, run the AES-NI hardware encryption to protect your data, run an antivirus to protect your system and RAID support to prevent data loss. Everything can be found and done in Package Center, with just a few clicks.

Also find the QuickConnect service that allows those with authorized user accounts to connect while away from home, without the requirement to mess around with router settings.

The end result is a multi-function device that can perform the tasks of a full size computer, while using only about as much electricity as a couple of LED bulbs. Note that even the fuller, bigger footprint DiskStation models consume less than half what a desktop computer would consume running 24/7. 

    MINI POWERHOUSE. Again I have to highlight the small footprint of the DS218+ because it has two hot-swappable drive bays (extra bays can be purchased online) and it runs off an Intel Celeron J3355 (2.0GHz) with a standard 2GB DDR3L. I already upgraded to 4GB on the review unit but there is still 2 more GB available as it maxes out at 6GB. 

    The added memory simply supplements the speed by which the processes are run. At 4GB there was no noticeable increase in speed, perceptibly or measurably. It transcodes at the following definitions; H.264 (AVC), H.265 (HEVC), MPEG-2 and VC-1 and has two Ethernet, three USB 3, and one eSATA port.     

At a Glance: DS218+ Versatility

    A SOLID SOLUTION. The DS218+ is a literally solid solution in overall excellent package. Out side it is smooth and nondescript. Pull out the front disk mask and the swappable bays are revealed. Also revealed is the solid steel construction, nicely machined interiors. The build quality is tough, ensuring the internals are well protected.

    I am particularly obsessed with that huge 90-mm cooling fan that does not even hum to cool the interiors, but ensures the it remains within safe thermal operation limits—even without being in an airconditioned room as in my case. The only thing you will notice is that it will start blowing away anything behind it.  

    The only other indications it is alive are four LED lights, dictating the status, LAN activity, and disk activity. Otherwise it will just sit quietly on the desktop or on a shelf. 

    After a week of solid testing, running all six laptops at home and hooking it up to an updated server I can say that the currently, and at its price range, the DS218+ is the best NAS for most people. It is fast, it offers powerful hardware and for the price of about P18,500++, is truly a solid storage solution. – Raymond G.B. Tribdino
Average: 5 (2 votes)

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