Shooting high-resolution stills and HD video with a Nikon D850 means that my MacBook’s hard drive was always data shuffling.
Meaning...my drives would get nearly full and it was time to start saving photos and documents on external drives.
Having a half-dozen external hard drives floating around is certainly a little overwhelming.
Then I got my hands on one of these Synology DS918+'s.
In this Synology DiskStation DS918+ review, I offer up what I like about this rig after putting it through its paces.
Synology DS918+ Ease of Use
Setting up the DS918+ is a simple process, though people unfamiliar with setting up network storage might need a bit of assistance.
The DS918+’s Disk Station Manager operation system is Linux-based, and needs to be set up via the Internet on a computer or tablet that’s connected to the network.
Just plug in your drives, boot up the DS918+, and connect to your network. From there, hop on your favorite browser, enter the IP address assigned to the DS918+, enter your credentials, and you can start setting things up.
The Control Panel makes it easy to access and change the settings.
You can do everything from configure networks to enabling users to starting and stopping specific services, all from the Control Panel. There’s even an Advanced Mode for tackling higher-level tasks.
What makes the DS918+ so easy to use is that help is integrated into the Control Panel. Just click on the help icon and you can find a wealth of information about setup, particular settings, and configuration options.
The Control Panel has access to most of the settings for your NAS. Here you can enable users, groups, start and stop services, configure networks, and a lot more. In Advanced mode, you as an administrator can do more than just tinker with the basics. Help is always around. Clicking on the Help icon can get you answers to basic queries about services, settings, setups and configurations.
Not only is the DS918+ easy to set up, but it can be set up as a web server for your office or at home. You can create an intranet if need be, use backup services (both in-house and via the internet), utilize FTP services, run virtual networks and VPNs, and much more.
All told, you can get this rig setup in 15-20 minutes. That’s tough to beat!
Synology DS918+ Build Quality
The Synology DS918+, which is about the size of a two-slice toaster, has a matte black plastic exterior. It’s a simple, yet elegant look, and it’s something I don’t mind having on top of my desk.
There are no moving parts, save the four swappable drive bays, which is great from a durability standpoint.
There’s a backlit power button on the front of the unit, but all other controls are accessed via any web browser.
Also on the front of the unit are five LEDs, with one to indicate the status of the unit and one LED each for the drives that are installed.
You’ll find a USB 3.0 on the front as well, which makes it quick and easy to access your data and move it to a device like an external hard drive.
Heading to the back of the unit, you’ll find two gigabit ethernet ports, another USB 3.0, one eSATA, and a power socket.
There’s two big exhaust fans to keep the unit cool, and they do so efficiently and very quietly.
In fact, I have a bit of a pet peeve when it comes to electronics’ exhaust fans being too loud, but the Synology DS918+ certainly passes the test for noise tolerance.
In fact, the fans can be set to one of various settings - quiet operation, automatic, and high cooling.
Like the exterior shell, the drive bays in this rig are made of hard plastic. Each bay is lockable and can accommodate both hard drives and SSDs.
The drives slide into a solid metal frame and attach to the internal motherboard’s SATA ports.
Each of the four drive bays has a lever that you pull out from below the drive to detach it. Combined with a secure lock for each, there is no chance that a drive can be accidentally pulled out while in use.
The drives are hot-swappable, though, so replacement can take place when the NAS is operating, assuming of course the drives are in certain RAID modes.
Synology DS918+ Internal Components and Firmware
The internal components of the Synology Diskstation DS918+ include an Intel Celeron J3455 quad-core processor at 1.5GHz that can ramp up to 2.3GHz when in full load.
There’s 4GB of DDR3L RAM, which is expandable up to 8GB, and the NAS can host up to nine hard drives (if you add a Synology DX517 external drive bay).
Each bay can accommodate up to 12TB drives, which gives you up to 48TB of storage or 108TB if you add the optional external drive bay.
You can increase the cache size if you need, thanks to dual M.2 NVMe SSD slots on the motherboard. You can add RAM, too, but to add either one, you have to remove the drives from the bay to access the motherboard.
The motherboard features a hardware encryption engine and H.265/H.264 4K video transcoding as well.
The DS918+ has its own bespoke Linux-based firmware called Disk Station Manager (DSM). There are frequent bug fixes to the firmware and updated features as well, which can be applied automatically, so you don’t have to spend your time making the updates.
If you need speed, you can use the two Ethernet ports on the back of the unit to connect to an internal network and WAN at the same time. You can also connect them to the same or dual networks.
Synology DS918+: Final Thoughts
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more robust network storage option than the Synology Diskstation DS918+.
This thing is powerful, feature-rich, and easy to set up, even if you have next-to-no understanding of servers. That, combined with the fact that it’s a scalable system, makes this a great option for your home or small office.
In addition to all that, this unit supports UPS so you’re sure your data is safe, even during a power outage.
Speaking of safety, you can enable a firewall and install antivirus software to mitigate threats to your data.
In other words, this tiny black box is filled to the brim with features that you’ll appreciate. And with the Synology name - a brand that has a long-standing reputation for quality - you know you have something reliable for all your data.