Most helpful positive review
98 of 102 people found the following review helpful
Rock solid NAS with great GUI, dual disk failure, 802.3ad, and expansion options
on June 10, 2012
As my iTunes folder and iPhoto folder continue to get larger over the past year, I've notice an increasing number of problems leaving the data folders on the Synology.
I recently purchased a Thunderbolt drive to move these two data folders to them to gain speed, and the speed gains are significant. For this reason, I wouldn't recommend putting these data folders in the Synology and access them via NAS.
The Synology is still a powerful workhorse, but it is now reserved file-sharing only. Still highly valuable in that role as I have a lot of data and multiple computers accessing it.
I've been reading some negative reviews about the Synology, and while I have been really lucky, I can imagine that many setup types might not be ideally suited to the synology design.
If you've read some reviews, and are interested in the link aggregation piece but nervous because of the bad reviews, here's what went through:
Initially, i tried plugging both ethernet ports and connecting the two cables to an unmanaged switch. This caused me some issues, and then i realized there is a port bonding that needs to occur. I did that thru the synology interface, but it didn't bond proerly. I then just un-plugged one of the cables and everything worked great.
As i wanted the 802.3ad feature to work, i then purchased a cisco gbit managed switch with 802.3ad. Plugged everything in, and still couldn't get it to work right, until i realized u have to bond the ports on BOTH the switch and the synology. Now, everything works. Bonding is pretty easy, just a few clicks in the synology interface and the same in the cisco interface. I also set jumbo frames just cuz the pull down menu was right there on both interfaces, and then happily noticed that in the osx system references under network/ethernet, the same pull down menu was there.
Just some thoughts to share if you're thinking about the synology because of the ability to bond ethernet ports. Save some headache and get a managed gbit switch. Cisco's sg series can be had for cheap and works great but there are others that are cheaper.
On another note, some reviewrs said they can't mount the synology when their laptops are in wifi mode...can't help there as mine works fine.
Once again, i love the ds1812+ and if you decide to get one, hope you do too.
I still think the Synology is pretty amazing, but I've discovered some limitations.
First, Plex doesn't work very well beyond a few hundred movies or a few tv seasons.
My guess? It all comes down to the limitation of the computer on the Synology itself. As great as it is, at the end of the day, it's a computer, it's a motherboard, it's chip, it's ram. And my guess is that it runs into the same limitations that running server software on a general purpose computer run into. When there's too much load, it slows down, hangs in weird ways, etc.
File copying (writing to the Synology) was also a discovery. When copying, up to about 50GB of data, it's pretty fast and consistently so. But when doing a single copy that exceeds 50 GB or thereabouts, it slows down right around the 50GB mark. Considerably. So fast until then, and suddenly, it's painful to watch... Stare at it long enough and you see bursts of speed of about 10GB or so, but then it slows down again. Very strange. I found that it's faster to copy in about 35-50GB increments. More of a hassle, but after the first copy, I imagine it's not something that would occur that often.
What's there to say about the DS1812+?
in short, If you want a super easy to use and setup NAS that's affordable, reasonably fast, fairly secure and mostly worry free, with a ton of cool server features to boot, this is about as it good as it gets.
Most multi-disk enclosures have one key purpose and one secondary purpose growing in popularity. The primary purpose of these devices is to make multiple disks appear as one big disk and design it so if one disk fails, everything keeps on working, giving you a day or two to take out the broken hard disk and replace with a newer one.
The secondary purpose that is growing in popularity among these multi-disk enclosures is NAS functionality. This means you connect it to your network through an ethernet switch, and all the other computers on the network can access it and mount folders/volumes to use either as production storage or as backup.
There are a few competitors here, and Drobo and QNap are the other two well known competitors in this market.
I own an older Drobo 4-bay enclosure that doesn't have the NAS capability, forcing my desktop computer to be the file server for the Drobo, which was attached directly to the server via Firewire.
The Synology, therefore, is a new experience for me. And it is pretty amazing. You don't actually have to do very much at all to get it up and running. It's pretty....ummm...for lack of a better term....stupid easy. I would, however, recommend checking out the reviews for Drobo NAS products and QNap NAS products, just in case. My research lead me to the Synology, but that just means it's a better fit for me, not necessarily for everyone. For instance, with QNAP and Synology, there is a list of compatible disks. You can't go and buy disks willy nilly because the disks you buy might not work. You have to check the compatibility list first. Luckily, the DS1812+ has a pretty good list, but it's not endless. That's one great thing about the Drobo. You go to your local store or go online and you buy whatever you want, and if it's SATA, it'll work. Simple as that. It does seem that the Synology has a better list than the QNAP. But QNAP has some physical interface advantages over the Synology. I read something about esata III or something like that. I have no need of that, so it didn't factor in my research, but it might be important to you.
Add the disks, plug in power, plug in ethernet cable, turn it on....from a physical setup perspective, that's about it.
- having said this, installing disks on the Drobo is a tad easier. With the Drobo, the naked SATA disk just slides into the enclosure slots on a simple rail system. With the Synology, there are actual cradles you have to unlock and remove, and then you screw each disk into a cradle and then slide it in and close the corresponding door. Not a big deal, taking just 1 minute per disk or less, but still a hassle compared to the Drobo.
Then go to one of your computers on the same network, load the Synology auto-discovery sw, and it'll automatically find the disk (assuming both the computer and the Synology are on the same subnet) and after that, it's just a web page.
What makes the Synology DS1812+ especially cool is that the web page looks basically like a computer desktop.
Which brings me to the third advantage.
With Drobo, you have a special software that really just helps you to maintain and monitor the health of the Drobo. With the Synology, and this desktop like GUI inside the web page, you can do all that the Drobo software can do, but so much more.
Synology has several native and third party application packages that are normally only available on general purpose PCs that you can install and run, giving you tons of cool server features. After all, as a NAS, there's a computer in there, and there's no reason why it shouldn't be able to run some applications. What an inspiring idea. I have a Plex server and file server and print server running on my computer. I can now off load those server functions to the Synology DS1812+. Some others include: Cloud Station internet file sharing, DHCP Server, LDAP server, Photo Station, Surveillance station, Mail server, Syslog and VPN servers, plus third party apps like iTunes server, OpenERP, Python, WordPress server, php, Logitech media server, and others. The Control panel has native apps for file sharing and network mounting for Windows, Mac, NFS (CIFs, of course), FTP, WebDAV, anti-virus, and some other cool features. Oh, did I mention Synology support double byte/unicode?
Even better, the Synology has Link aggregation capability with two ethernet ports, each of which is Gbit ethernet. how cool is that? Of course, you need an ethernet switch that supports Link aggregation (a.k.a. 802.3ad), but if you do this, you have two ports that support each other fully and can load balance, thus giving higher throughput. TrendNet has some low cost 802.3ad supporting switches as does Zyxel. It also of course supports jumbo frames. Something which i wish OSX supported.
It comes with 1GB of RAM, but in actual use, I've noticed it hit that 1GB ceiling pretty easily, so I'd recommend getting the RAM upgrade (2GB, totaling 3GB altogether). It helps. Now that I installed the upgrade, when monitoring the NAS, it appears to rarely go above 60% RAM usage.
But wait....there's more...
This is the coolest part of Synology solution. You can actually expand the Synology and have a large single volume by adding extension kits. You can add two 510's, and each of these 510s holds 5 disks. So you can aggregate to 18 disks total. Is that crazy or what? I haven't bought an extension kit yet, so can't say how well this works.
Now, given, the 4 bay Drobo I have is a few years older, indicating older motherboard technology, and the 4 bay Drobo is much cheaper, but it continues to blow me away just how far NAS has come that a device has come out at this price point that can store that much data and still work reasonably fast with dual disk failure tolerance.
On another note, I'd also say that the Synology is quieter than the older 4 bay Drobo. There are two fans on the Synology, but they don't spin up very often, at least not yet.
Incidentally, the 4 digit model number "1812" I think divides into two parts. the "18" stands for total number of disks. The "12' is really a generational indicator, I think. Right now, the "12" seems to be the latest hw/fw/sw you can get and comes with the DSM 4.0 software, which I believe is a Linux OS and allows for the cool web GUI which emulates a computer desktop.
If you're looking for a multi-bay storage solution, you would be hard pressed to find a more cost effective RAID solution than the Synology DS1812+.
For Q2 2012, this is my #1 pick for performance to cost effectiveness, with some temporary future proofing in storage.
As photos, home movies, music, document files and email databases continue to grow and grow, the importance of data integrity, when considering the nightmare of lost data is strong enough that a solution like this, despite the price (which while reasonable compared to others, is still expensive), is becoming increasingly critical for me. If it is for you as well, then this might be just the ticket.
Whatever you decided, best of luck!