Synology's NAS boxes are pretty versatile when it comes to storage size and features.
Running out of phone or PC storage? Chill! Online cloud storage servers can help you host your entire lifetime of data — be it photos, videos, documents or whatever you create. However, they don’t come in cheap. So what do you do? Storing your data in portable hard drives is the only option, but you cannot keep your data well organized and secure either. To the rescue would be a NAS to storeyou’re your personal/official data locally, privately and securely. Moreover, a NAS can be a lot more than just a data storage box on your network.
Speak of a NAS and Synology is one of the first names that comes to mind. Synology has been in the industry for long and they are renowned for their network storage boxes world over. With a highly secure and feature-rich operating system riding on robust and energy-efficient hardware, the Synology DiskStations create a private data cloud for any home or office. Let’s dive into the 2-bay Synology DiskStation DS218+ to find out how it can help you with all your data management requirements apart from doubling up as a professional server right from and in your living room.
Design and Specifications
The NAS is nothing but a simple low-powered PC that is driven by a Linux-based operating system sans the monitor, keyboard or mouse. The Synology NAS features a DiskStation operating system and is attached physically or wirelessly to your home or office network and can be controlled from any PC, tablet or smartphone. The DS218+ is a 2-bay NAS and can support up to two internal 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch SATA HDDs or SSDs. With a given storage, users can share it stored contents over the network or internet, from their PC, tablet, laptop or smartphone. The DS NAS can also double up as a media streaming box, host a website, serve as an email server, become a personalized iTunes server and a lot, lot more.
The DS218+ looks similar to a small taster, is built in an all-plastic exterior but over a strong metal frame. The front sports the two drive bays that also gives access to the RAM slot for memory upgrade, The power button, some LED indicators, a USB 3.0 port and a quick copy button are also up front. The rear panel is home to all the connectivity, which includes a 1 x Gigabit Ethernet RJ45, 2 x USB 3.0 and 1 x e-SATA ports apart from a fairly large cooling or exhaust fan. The NAS is powered by a dual core 2.5GHz Intel Celeron J3355 processor with 2GB of DDR3 RAM (expandable up to 6GB using the vacant slot) and two drive bays for either 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch SATA drives of up to 14TB each (to total 28TB).
If you are looking for a decent centralized storage solution for your home or small office, the DS218+ is sufficient for up to 28TB. Simply plug in two hard drives and configure them in RAID, JBOD or whatever requirement you have depending on speed or redundancy. All you need to ensure is that the two hard drives should be exactly identical models. Setting up the NAS is simple and you may need a bit of technical know-how. We suggest you enroll a friend if you are wary of doing it yourself. Plugging in the hard drives is child’s play — simply pull out the drive trays, place the hard drives and shove them right back in — a completely tool-less design. Plug in the power and network cable to your router, and off you go. Power on and run the initial software that will hunt for your NAS on the network and the setup process will then take you through options of preparing the internal drives for whatever you need them for — data, entertainment, work,…, whatever. RAID options (Synology Hybrid RAID/Basic/JBOD/RAID 0/RAID 1) can be chosen for speed or security, which will depend completely on the nature of your data storage requirement.
The internal drives can be configured (by default) on Btrfs and you can choose EXT4 file system if you wish. We advise Btrfs since it addresses the lack of pooling, snapshots, checksums, and integral multi-device spanning in Linux file systems. Went bouncer? Relax; you don’t need to know everything about it if you don’t want to. Simply use it as it is a better and faster file system and more reliable than the currently used file systems in desktop PCs and servers.
The DiskStation interface can be accessed through any web browser. The UI is straightforward, clean and pretty simple with help all along the way. Set up your credentials, create shared drives and manage the different modules you need to install. Modules such as web server, email server, video transcoder, media streaming, and hundreds more are available from Synology and third-party developers. Once done simply start dumping your data into the respective folders and let the DiskStation do the rest for you.
You can also configure the device to help you design your own personal streaming service right from your living room into your bedroom. Simply fire up any compatible streaming module/app on the NAS, dump your media files (audio/video/photo) into the respective default folders and the DS218+ will stream the same straight to your phone, tablet, laptop, or TV. The DS218+ is also powerful enough to transcode videos up to 10-bit H.265 HEVC at a max 60 frames a second using its built-in hardware transcoding engine. So chill out and don’t think on how your phone or TV will play your content, simply leave it to the DS NAS. Alternatively, you could also use it simultaneously as a web server, surveillance DVR, email or FTP server and a lot more. Pretty versatile aren’t they? Hence we recommend NAS units for those who have a lot of data around.
Well, this portion cannot be explained as easily as it will completely depend on where, why and how you use it. But to put things in perspective, if you have the right networking setup (CAT6 Gigabit), a fast enough dual band Wi-Fi router, and compatible or fairly new smart devices, you are all set for the best performance and solution. As for power consumption, this little box can use up to a maximum 17.5 Watts when in full swing, while as little as 6 Watts when sleeping.
Backing up your data is as simple as copy + paste — simply access the shared folders from a networked PC or smartphone/tablet and copy + paste your data across. If you want to backup data from your pen drives or external storage drives, plug in the same to the USB port up front and press the copy (C) button and your data from the storage will be backed up to a specified folder in the NAS (needs to be configured accordingly).
Streaming audio/video/photos is pretty simple and needs to be initially setup too. You can choose any media server module and configure it to pick media files from respective folders on the NAS. Then on the network, you can use any compatible media player to hunt for media title stored on the NAS and the device will stream it to your device in a jiffy.
Other services that the DS218+ can offer?
Web server: Create your own internal website for your home or office and host it on the NAS for free.
Email Server: Have internal emails for all your employees without having to pay for external email service providers
Transcoding server: Store high-end media files such as 4K videos and seamlessly play them on any media player or device, even if they support below 4K videos.
iTunes server: Save audio video files and stream them across your Apple devices
Backup server: Store, access or work on your data by centrally storing all your data for all users on the network to access.
Download server: Setup the service and leave the NAS to download all your stuff in the background, be it FTP, torrents, or whatever.
Cloud Backup: If you wish, you could set up the NAS to store a copy of your data on the external (private or public) cloud too. Services from Amazon, Microsoft, DropBox, Openstack and a few others can be hooked up to your NAS and synced online so you don’t lose your data, ever. With Hyper Backup, you can also design your own second backup facility to ensure you have your data saved for sure, and with multiple backups if needed.
Active Office 365 and GSuite backup: Great for small businesses where users can safeguard their important data from Office 365 such as mail, contacts, calendar and OneDrive and GSuite.
Virtual machines: Small offices can use this feature to help better productivity and superior control over all computers or stations that users use.
Surveillance Station: Hook up IP-based security cameras and make your NAS work as a CCTV recording station for surveillance at home or office.
Others available modules: DHCP server, DNS server, FTP server, Proxy server, Chat server, and hundreds more.
You are free to use any of these modules as and when you require them. While some are pre-installed, others need to be downloaded. Some would also be offered by third-party developers too, which are perfectly ok to install. Remotely manage the NAS to start or stop services, and some of these can be controlled from a smartphone app too. To make it even more robust and accessible, simply release a live internet static IP connection to the NAS or use the QuickConnect feature and you can access your NAS data from anywhere around the world.
Synology DiskStation DS218+ Verdict
If you are reading this piece, we are sure you are probably looking for or interested in a data storage solution right at home or office. Trust us, having a NAS at home or small office is a blessing if you are generating lots of content. Home users can use this to their benefit — dump all your family photos and videos or simply offload all your music into one single box and allow your family to feast on them. Alternatively, professional users can have this box at their office and help users increase their productivity as well as ensure a centrally accessible and reliable data server. Multiple offices can also take advantage of data storage and synchronization that can benefit multi-location offices and businesses. The Synology DiskStation DS218+ Network Attached Storage (NAS) is available at an MRP of ₹37,999.