Synology DS218J Network Attached Storage / NAS Review - Entry Level Synology

by: Lon.TV

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[1.07]
hey providing its law inside button we're taking a look today at thus analogy ds2 18 J this is their low-end model that starts at around one hundred and sixty nine dollars without any drives installed and I figured it would be good to kind of check in on the low end of the Synology product line and show you what you can and can't do with the entry point here in their product line a lot of times these are good enough for what most people are looking for and then down the road if you need to upgrade you can actually pull the drives out of here and migrate to a larger more robust unit so we'll talk a little bit about that as well in the video now I do want to let you know in the interest of full disclosure this is on loan from Synology we'll be sending it back to them when we're done with this review I should also mention that Synology is an occasional sponsor here on the channel but they are not sponsoring this video so all the opinions you're about to hear are my own nobody is reviewing this content before I upload it and no one has paid for this video either so let's get into this thing and see what makes it work so let's take a closer look now at the hardware in many ways the exterior casing here hasn't changed all that much this looks a lot like the low-end ds2 14 I looked at about three years ago but there are some changes inside so this one is powered with a 1.3 gigahertz dual-core ARM processor it also has 512 megabytes of RAM which is up from 256 megabytes of RAM from that prior edition so it can do a little more as far as the types of services that can put on your network because it just has more memory to play with and it performs a little better too for reading and writing data back to the disk I'm not much to see here on the front we're gonna power it up in a minute but you have some status lights here to give you an idea as to how your drives are functioning in addition to your network indicator your power button is over here on the back you have a cooling fan which Believe It or Not is not all that loud it is a large fan so it's able to keep the entire device here relatively cool without generating all that much noise and my testing I had it next to my little workstation all day today and I'm hearing the hard drives more than I'm hearing the fan on the bottom here you've got a Gigabit Ethernet jack for connecting it up to your network it requires that you can I believe use a wireless adapter which is not included through the USB here but I do recommend always connecting these devices up to your router with an Ethernet cable for the best performance I've covered a lot of this kind of stuff on my NASA 101 video that I'll link to down below in the video descriptions you can get a good idea as to all the specifics about this technology and then we've got two USB 3.0 ports over here and you can plug in external hard drives for doing backups for example I'll touch on the backup process in a little bit but you could also connect up a printer to it and have it work as a print server so you can do quite a few things with these USB 3 ports that will make your life a little easier the best way to think about these devices is that they are little servers and what's nice is that they consume less power than a computer might running 24 hours a day so they rate the power on this one to be about 17 or 18 watts when it's under load and operating and then the standby power consumption when the device is on but the drives are sleeping are about 7 watts so it'll be a lot less than having a computer with a couple of hard drives installed in it for example yet when you're transferring files back and forth on your network you'll get about the same performance which is where these things come into play now as I mentioned these do not come with a drive installed you have to get your own drives now they packed in a couple of large ones for me to test with your 210 terabyte drives now it's important to note when you're looking at a dual at nasse device like this one is that the fault is to have these drives mirror each other so I don't have 20 terabytes available to me I just have 10 because these drives are synced up together so that if one drive were to fail I can pull this one out put another one in and not have any loss of data and what's really neat about the way these Synology drives work is that they keep operating even if the drive is out so you can basically swap out drives here and keep going this one I don't believe supports hot swapping just because you have to take it apart to get these drives installed on it but generally you will have very little downtime if you lose a drive but if you lose both drives of course you're in trouble which is why you always need to make sure you back these things up so the hard drives go in here you just put the cover back on and then it will automatically configure itself to get everything up and running now if you really wanted to get the full 20 Tara you can configure it to do that but again you have let less redundancy and in some configurations you might lose the entire storage array altogether even if one drive goes down now four drives one of the things that I recommend doing is looking at a NASA certified drive Seagate has one called the iron wolf which is what they put in this loaner unit we're running with right now and then WD also has a line of drives called their red drives that are also designed for network-attached storage and in fact I've been using red drives on my Synology Drive is from running for the last three and a half years and have had zero issues with those drives and they are constantly getting pinged and are used usually under load here during the day when we're transiting video files back and forth said very good luck with those I've heard good things about the iron wolf here one thing on the iron wolf drives is that they do have a special diagnostic screen on the control panel for the Synology drive here to do some additional Diagnostics so again these things are really geared towards this I have run chief desktop drives in NASA's before but I have found that they do fail a lot faster especially given that they're going to be running longer perhaps in one of these than they might be in a PC that might get shut down at the end of the day so you can save a little money on the drives but my advice is get the peace of mind and a drive that's designed for this usage and usually these Nash drives have a little better warranty on them also I looked on Amazon before I started shooting you can get a two terabyte Nash Drive both from c jnwd for about $85 right now so get two of those about a hundred and seventy dollars plus the cost of entry here and you'll be up and running for just under four hundred dollars so let's take a look now and see what you can do with one of these things namely the least expensive one in the product line so I've got everything hooked up now you can see the lights are blinking so we've got some good connectivity going here I'm going to show you first the interface for this that you access through your web browser so I'm on Google Chrome here I've connected to the IP address here on my internal network of the Synology NAS device and I have a lot of stuff that I can do just within my web browser here and in many ways it feels like I'm logged in to another computer you can move windows around you can browse all the files on the drive here in some cases you can actually playback videos or look at text files and that kind of thing as a bunch of other additional functionality that I'll touch on in a minute so they've really got a nice interface here it's very easy to go in and add users for example so you could have folders restricted that only you can get access to or you can bring in additional users like I've done here with this test user and allow them to access different shares on your particular device so you do have a lot of flexibility as to what you can offer people and one of the things that I like about using one of these out-of-the-box solutions is that's analogy does a very good job of giving you regular updates to this so it's running essentially Linux inside of an open source software for the most part there's obviously some proprietary Synology things going on in there but they are constantly pushing down updates and basically maintaining this for you without any fee required so I think it's kind of a nice thing that you can get this thing plug it in not really think about it all that much and have it continually update itself in the background which has been really helpful and of course you've got a lot of deep configuration that you can do on it you can really spend a good amount of time accessing the device now in addition to having this interface you also will see this thing we go over to the right window here it'll also show up on your network as a drive that you can access like any other computer so you can see here I've got all the different devices currently on my network and then we've got the ds2 18j here showing up as a much more robust icon in Mac OS 10 here but I can click on that and get access to all of my file shares once I connect in with my username and password this will look very similar on Windows as well so you can log in and basically just use this like any network drive would be used from your computer directly so you can use their apps and their connectivity through their web browser application there or you can just connect your computer up over the network with it and access it that way now when you are away from home you do have to access the drive in different ways and I've covered some of those different things you can do down below in the video description a Synology does offer a service so that you can connect to your drive remotely without having to do anything crazy with your router and you can point there iOS and Android apps at it and there's also some desktop clients you can use to get at your files while you're away my favorite one is one that actually work kind of like Dropbox you specify which folders you wish to sync up on the NASS device here it'll copy those files to your computer's hard drive and then as you update or change things it automatically synchronizes back and forth even over the Internet back to the Nass device here so you can kind of roll your own Dropbox essentially which is one of the strengths of this product line they have a lot of flexibility for that and that was something I covered a little earlier so you can check out how that feature works in depth down below in the video description now this is a low end device but there are a lot of different features you can install on it but you have to be careful because if you put too many things on you might slow down the device or cause some other issues for yourself because as you can see here right now I've got about 64% of my RAM already occupied by a lot of the stuff I have running here in the background and they have this thing called the package center that is basically their App Store and you can spend a lot of time here just grabbing all this free stuff to add functionality to your device but all of this stuff is going to start eating up RAM on here so you kind of when you first get these things you're kind of like a kid in the candy store installing all these open-source apps that are so easy to get up and running but eventually you might run out of memory so just be careful about what you put in and kind of narrow it down to the few things that you wish to use and I've covered a lot of these different features in other videos so again check out the playlist down below to see what those things are this one runs most of the things that a consumer might want to run so all that cloud syncing stuff that I talked about is built into this one you can have this sync up with popular cloud services the hyper backup which is an awesome way to get your data backed up both locally onto an external hard drive but also out over the Internet is on here there's just about everything I'm seeing on some of the higher-end models - some of the enterprise things that you can get access to on this the one thing that this thing does not do well with is video serving because this does not support transcoding video and if you have been following my plex series which is a popular media server that's something that people often want because if you have a huge video file on your Nass device but you want to stream it to your phone while you're away from home that video does need to get converted into a smaller version so it can be played on a mobile device this will do any of that so even with their own application it will not transcode nor will it do that with the plex server that you can install on here too so that's a limitation that you'll run into with this but a lot of the other stuff is freely available here you can run an Apache web server a database server you can even have this work as a VPN server for getting into your network remotely and securely when you're not at home against so much stuff here to play with that really can all be installed on this device and be a really good starting point for even web development for that matter and again because they're keeping an eye on all of the backend stuff and the OS updates you don't have to worry about any of those things those packages will just update as they go so for example a my Synology device in the closet I have it running a my sequel server I play around with some little web development hobbyist things that I've been playing with on there as well I can do all those things behind my firewall just through this analogy nast there in addition to just serving up files around the network now one thing I did notice is that the 2:14 J is a lot faster than the 2:14 se we reviewed about three years ago in fact it writes data over the network about twice as fast we're getting speeds of about 104 megabytes per second right now as we're running with black magic disk speed test and reading a little bit faster around 110 megabytes or so if you do the math here we can look at let's do the 104.3 there and we're getting about 834 megabits per second over the network my laptop here is connected via Gigabit Ethernet as is thus analogy Nass you never get the full gigabit on your gigabit ethernet network because of overhead and everything else so all in very very good performance and in fact as good as much more expensive nass devices are on the same gigabit ethernet connection here one thing to note though is that you might see a performance decline as more people start hitting the device and if people are running some things in the background using some of those apps they installed that of course will impact performance on this one a little more than it might on the more expensive one but for an office of maybe four or five people this is really good performance here and you can also have it do some additional things now one thing that I was doing with my old low-end Synology NASA after I was done with it I brought it into my office and we used it for the marketing department to store all of our graphics and imagery and we were having that data sync up automatically with Google Drive as well so we were able to serve all that media out to everybody in the office at adequate enough speed for everybody and also have it sync up to the cloud in the background we had unlimited storage on Google Drive also so we had no limit to what we could put up there and it handle it at all very nicely in the background we never had to think about it in fact I think it's still running over there doing that tasks and they also have an encryption feature on here where you can encrypt the folder in addition to locking it down with usernames and passwords and that will bog this down a little bit more from a performance standpoint so we're gonna take that same speed test now and point it at that encrypted folder and you can see here we're writing at a significantly slower speed we're over a hundred megabytes per second before now we're doing about 29 megabytes per second or so and seeing about 50 megabytes on the reads and you can also see what that is doing currently to the CPU on the device because it has to encrypt and decrypt all of that information that's being written out to disk so it can do it but that's something that will certainly impact the drive a lot more and if you are in a multi-user environment where everybody is hitting these encrypted folders that might be an area where this thing might start to get bogged down a little more than it might be with just a general unencrypted files going back and forth with it so there's things you can do with it that might be better for one or two users and there are things they might be able to serve more users depending on what those tasks are but again because you're on the low end here you have to kind of keep an eye on the system health widget here just to see if the things you're installing and running are going to negatively impact performance but by and large I think it will work well for most small offices that are looking just for a basic Nass that can do a little bit more than the basics so all in not a bad little device at the low end it certainly performs better than the prior Edition we looked at a couple of years back it's saturating my Gigabit Ethernet connection as we saw earlier so you're able to move files in and out like I said I think this is good for a small office or maybe even a single use kind of purpose if you're getting into some larger stuff you might want to go for one of the more expensive units and what's cool is that you can get this one and try it out and see if it works for you and if you do eventually need to go to a more robust device you can just pull the drives out of here put them in a larger Synology device and everything will just migrated over automatically without having to go through a big restore and rebuild I did a video on that down below in the master playlist so you can see what that process was in fact I upgraded from my 240 Nessie over to a Ford drive unit that was a little faster and then I was able to after doing that migration put in two more drives and automatically expand the amount of storage that I had available to me - it's actually a pretty easy process in the video wasn't all that long demonstrating it so there are some very easy ways to upgrade down the road once you might outgrow perhaps what you've got running on the one here but all in a pretty nice way to get started with a Synology nass drive and I think it might work well in a single user environment for sure and maybe even a decent size small office - depending on the kinds of things that you're running in the background on it let me know if you have any questions down below in the comment stream we've got a big playlist of hours of content on all these different Sonata G features down below in the video description so check out those videos and if you want to see something in more depth let me know in the comments section as I'm getting caught up here at the end of the year I'm going to try to get to a few more Synology videos talking about some of the features that I am using on a regular basis this is LAN Simon thanks for watching this channel is brought to you by the lon TV supporters including gold-level supporters the black item blues music our podcast Chris Allegretto and Kali and Kumar if you want to help the channel you can by contributing as little as a dollar a month


[1029.97]
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(affiliate link int'l below) - Synology has upped the performance on their entry level NAS device. It should work well in small office and home environments. Video index below the fold. See my Synology videos: http://lon.tv/synology

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This link also has my recommendations for hard drives. This will direct you to Amazon in your home country (including the USA). Start with my first Synology video for the basics. It's an older video but I run through the offsite syncing and cover the basic functionality: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amkdWd153u0

VIDEO INDEX: 00:59 - Hardware overview 02:03 - Ports 02:52 - Power Consumption 03:34 - RAID 1 - Mirrored Dual Drive Scenario 04:37 - Choosing the right hard drive 06:05 - Web based management interface 06:51 - Configuring multiple users and access 07:50 - Accessing the drive from Windows / Mac 08:30 - Remote Access 09:23 - Memory limitation / installable features 10:41 - No video transcoding 12:03 - Network Performance Tests 13:48 - Encryption and performance hit 15:07 - Conclusion and final thoughts What I've always liked about Synology's products is that the devices function the same at both the low and high ends of their product line. Obviously with the limited RAM and processor on this device you'll be limited in how much you can do, but most of the key features are here. It's a great starting point and easy to migrate to higher end devices in the future. I found in my testing that the device performed better than the 214se I reviewed a few years ago, delivering full gigabit throughput for both reads and writes. Using encryption will reduce that performance, however. Be sure to check out my other videos in the playlist where I detail many of the features I mentioned in the video. Subscribe to my email list to get a weekly digest of upcoming videos! - http://lon.tv/email

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