When most people are looking at a Synology DS918+ or any NAS for storage, it is often for a network hard drive for a centralized storage area for – well, everything. Some want the best home NAS solution on the market, not just for price – but in features, too. One that is capable of crystal clear serving of media or sharing files from a remote location. Nobody wants their NAS falling over whilst streaming the latest episodes of their favorite show.
Speaking of great shows! You can see the full video here:
A NAS is ideal for local network storage – much like accessing your PC files via your Smart TV. Whilst there is still a certain amount of mystery for the consumer, being a “big black box of tech”, there doesn’t necessarily have to be.
Synology make their products extremely simple to use for the end user. You don’t have to be a basement dwelling geek to get network storage in place for your files. You can be done within an hour, and be streaming Plex to your TV, your next door neighbor, or your parents who live thirty miles away! Run a photography business, and need storage solutions for RAW image files and video? A NAS is your friend.
Online results would suggest that a lot of the people reading this are not just small business owners who want to have files whizzing around their office, and there’s a great mix of users, such as those wanting to use the NAS for Plex.
Unboxing and first look
The Synology DS918+ has a small and light footprint. This took me by surprise, but to be fair – these guys normally have hard drives in them! The shell, aesthetically, ticks all the boxes. Your Uber-Geek will be as happy as someone who wants to tuck it away in a corner of their living room.
On the front panel you have access to the four drive bays. You have LED status lights for all four drives, a USB 3.0 port. Round the back, you’ll find two quiet fans, a Kensington lock, another USB 3.0 port, two Gigabit LAN ports, and an eSATA port. On the bottom of the Synology NAS, you also get access to the two M.2 NVMe 2280 SSDs drives, which are conveniently labeled 1 and 2.
The Synology DS918+ comes with a Quad Core 1.5Ghz CPU inside, which can burst up to 2.3Ghz. Combine this with the 4GB of DDR3L (which is scaleable up to 8GB), and you have a great package. The Synology DS918+ is capable of over 225 MB/s and 221 MB/s encrypted sequential reading and writing, if we’re talking real numbers. Its important to not that by using the M.2 bays, and installing some SSDs, you would experience fast system cache creation, too. If you had to pick a word to describe this little box, it would be “beast”, I’m guessing.
Practical NAS Usage
Essentially, this NAS case is considered ideal for a small business, allowing a central storage location, which can be accessed via network quickly and efficiently. Now, if we’re honest, there aren’t many small businesses that have an IT section in their company they can call to come and hook this up. Of course, we all know “that IT guy” who can find his way around a Homegroup or fix that blinking light on your printer. So, with that in mind, I was particularly interested in how easy the Synology DS918+ would be for the average Joe to get set up and working.
The Synology DS918+ is X86 architecture, meaning its perfect for Plex, and transcoding (2 channel 4K transcoding + hardware encryption engine). The hardware speed in handling these types of files and tasks could only be marred by the software that runs it, so it is refreshing to note that Synology provides a control panel that is more WYSIWYG that OMG. There is a whole raft of apps you can install direct from the package center. Sybology pride themselves on ease of use in this department, but just remember not all the apps will be up to date. To ensure you have the current version of the software you want to install, visit the publisher’s website and check the changelog and version number against the app you are installing. Plex is a good example of this. Some of the compatibility in the last few Synology NAS boxes has been under scrutiny, with both Plex and Synology trying to ensure the software runs smoothly. At the time of writing, it is stil advisable to install the software direct from Plex.tv.
I thought it would be pertinent to highlight some of the best and most practical features & spec of the DS918+. If you are looking at buying a NAS right now, you will probably see a good enough reason to pull the trigger in this little list.
- Seamless, high speed backup of files
- Synology Hybrid Raid technology that requires just basic knowledge of RAID to get going
- Easy setup and running of Virtual Machines
- Future-proof expansion slots making upgrading a breeze
- Linux based Diskstation Manager is pretty much a Linux PC at your disposal
- Upto 48 terabytes of storage with 12TB per drive
- Easy access memory & drive bays
- Provides a very easy switch from cloud storage solutions
- Very secure hardware and software
- RAID technology that will prevent data loss should a drive fail (automatically rebuilding a lost drive after new install)
- Local storage means you’re no longer reliant on your ISP for your stored cloud files
- Superb organization software built in
As time goes on, a NAS will be just as accessible in price as it is in technology. Whilst it is very easy for a new user with a little tech savvy to get up and running, it might still be out of budget for your common-or-garden home user. The price tag, however, stacks up against cloud based storage, if you consider Dropbox or Amazon fees. You will certainly get your money’s worth, and might save a bit of money moving to a home based NAS. Generally speaking, though, the benefits of the local storage are what will tip the scales for most people. As business users all know, your ISP can cost you money if you have an outage, so this is a major plus point. In today’s storage hungry world, home users may start looking at a NAS like the Synology DS918+ as a viable solution.
The main take-away for me and most people will be the streaming capabilities of this beast. 4K streaming over Plex or other apps is simple to set up and will not fall over as easy as other methods.
I wholeheartedly recommend the Synology DS918+, and if your budget allows, then there aren’t many NAS boxes out there that can compete pound for pound.