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Synology DS218+ Review

synology ds218+ review

First off, let’s understand what a NAS is, NAS or “Network Attached Storage” as its name suggests, is a storage device that is connected or attached to your network and can be accessed locally or remotely, which is why some NAS vendors call it a “personal cloud.” It has its own operating system which manages the NAS’ users, policies, rules, and its security protocols; plus, a bunch of nifty applications that can be used via mobile or desktop.

Synology’s DS218+ is one NAS device that not only acts as a “personal cloud,” but is also buffed with security protocols to safeguard data and numerous applications for all kinds of devices. The DS218+ is best for small offices and home offices, but is also a great device for those who want their data with them anytime, anywhere.

What’s inside the DS218+ package?

synology ds218+

The DS218+ comes in a recyclable box that can endure a beating and can withstand a sitting weight of around 50 pounds. With that in mind, anyone who purchase it from overseas can be confident enough that their Synology device will arrive in one piece.

Inclusions

What's inside the box

Inside the box is the DS218+ unit which is neatly covered, and just right above it is a box with all of its accessories. The included accessories inside the box are an Ethernet cable, one power brick with a three-pronged power connector, and a bunch of screws, which will be used for HDD or SSD mounting, inside a resealable pouch.

Easy-on-the-eye and without compromise

Design-wise, the DS218+ comes with a compact body with an all-black color scheme which easily fits in any themed setup. And because of its color scheme and small footprint, it’ll easily fit at any place in a house or in an office environment.

Synology DS218+ Cooling fan & ports

Aside from having an easy-on-the-eye color scheme with a small footprint to boot, the DS218+ is also equipped with a 92mm fan placed at the back, which acts as an exhaust, to dissipate the heat coming from the hard drive(s).

synology ds218+ review

And to help the 92mm fan in dissipating the heat and maintain good operating temperature, the Synology etched logos, which are seen on both of its sides, also act as additional exhaust vents. Breathing holes are also present underneath, so there's no need to worry about airflow.

Inside, out, expand and beyond

synology ds218+ review

Adding to its remarkable design, the DS218+ comes with front cover, which features a combination of matte and glossy finish, where the labels for the LED indicators are, and serves as a shield for its drive bays. The LED indicators, which are also seen upfront, give hints about the hard drives’ status and its network connectivity. The power and restart button are also placed upfront.

Synology DS218+ has an easy access to RAM Slot

The DS218+ is equipped with an Intel Celeron processor, which features two cores and AES-NI encryption, partnered with a 2GB RAM that can easily be upgraded via a conveniently accessible SO-DIMM slot inside the unit. Aside from having capable hardware, the DS218+ also features 4K H.265 transcoding. It lets users enjoy 4K videos at 30FPS max.

Two hard drive trays that support 3.5” and 2.5” hard drive form factors are found inside the DS218+. Each of the drive bays can support up to the latest 12TB enterprise hard drives that are out in the market. With that, the DS218+ can easily support a total combined storage capacity of 24TB. Furthermore, being in the "Plus" series, the DS218+ storage capacity has an expansion option with a Synology Expansion Unit. The expansion unit connects to the NAS unit through its eSATA port.

2-bay that can accommodate two 3.5 HDD and 2.5 SSD/HDD

Additionally, the hot-swap feature is also present in the DS218+, which is why the trays feature a quick pull and push action design. 

A reminder:

All Synology Disk Station products don’t come with an HDD in the package. So, to start the setup of the Synology DS218+, a compatible Hard Drive is needed. The DS218+ and other Synology Disk Stations are compatible with almost all Hard Drives that are currently available in the market.

For this test, we opted for a 4TB Seagate Iron Wolf NAS HDD. The reason behind our hard drive preference is the Iron Wolf Management that was introduced early this year. Synology and Seagate strengthened their partnership with the release of Iron Wolf Health Management, which is exclusively available with Synology andSeagate bundles.

To check if the hard drive(s) that you have or would want to use is compatible with a certain Synology product, just head on over to Synology’s website and search for the specific Synology product, then look for the compatible hard drives list.

Getting started is fun

Setting up and getting started with the DS218+ is as easy as counting from 1 to 3 with the help of the quick installation guide that comes with the package. A good habit to have tho, especially, when dealing with IT components is to always check on the compatibility of the components that would be used along with any Synology product or any other IT equipment.

Synology DS218+ review drive compatibility

First off is the installation of the hard drive to the drive tray. The installation is pretty straightforward because the drive trays feature integrated locks that are easy to use and fits perfectly with any hard drives that are of the 3.5” form factor. With the integrated locks latched on the hard drive, there’s no need for additional screws to ensure that the hard drive is securely tucked on the tray.

Synology DS218+ drive bay integrated locks

Once done with the tray and hard drive installation, pushing the tray to the desired bay is next. The dots on top of each bay correspond to their disk assignment. Push the tray into the desired bay and ensure that it’s perfectly locked in the bay.

Lastly, connect the power cord to the DS218+, and connect the DS218+ to a working router that has internet connectivity to start the network installation and the update of its DSM (if the DSM is not updated).

Setting up: IP, QuickConnect, and having fun with Apps

The DS218+ or any other NAS equipment needs an IP address for it to be accessed via Local Area Network. Just like the physical setting up of the DS218+, the IP address setup is also as easy as 1 to 3.

DS218+ UI

To make the setup easier, download the Synology Assistant from Synology’s officialwebsite. The Synology Assistant will search for all Synology products visible on the LAN.

On our setup, we only had the DS218+. So, once the search finished and the DS218+ was up on the list, the next thing to do was to click on it, then click on the Connect option just above the list. For first time setup, the Connect option will open the online web assistant that will guide the user through the setup process of the DiskStation.

Note: First time setup wizard can also be accessed through Synology’s Web Assistant at find.synology.com, and for a quicker access, just type in http://diskstation:5000 on the address bar.

Synology DS218+ UI

Once done with the first-time setup, the next thing to do is to setup the DS218+’s QuickConnect. The QuickConnect enables outside or remote access to the DiskStation without the hassle of routing and tunneling. Also, some Synology Apps, especially, those that will be accessed remotely require a QuickConnect ID.

Note: Synology Apps are readily available to download through Google Playstore for Android devices and for Apple devices, through the Apple App Store. The software counterparts can be downloaded from Synology’s official website. We’ll run-through some of it as we move along.


Synology DS218+ DSVideo

The DiskStation Apps for mobile devices make it easy to connect to the DS218+ locally and remotely. There are a lot of different Synology mobile Apps available for download, each of the Apps handle different user needs. Such as for video, Synology has the DS Video app that automatically compiles all the video and movie files in the DiskStation and outputs them to the DS Video App with its movie poster, information, and ratings if the DS218+ has internet connectivity.

While for the photos, Synology has the DS Photo which handles all image files on the DiskStation. The DS Photo also allows users to have their own private photo gallery, however, this feature will only be available through admin’s permission.

The DS Audio, on the other hand, handles all the audio files in the DiskStation. It enables the users to have their personal audio gallery that they can take anywhere they go.

Synology DS218+ admin page

Note: Access to the Synology mobile apps will only be available once the packages are installed in the DiskStation and Access Accounts are made available by the DiskStation Admin. Also, other features will only be accessible when it is permitted by the Admin.

Users, Groups, Policies, and Privileges

Just like a Windows Server, the DiskStation offers an integrated directory that holds all users’ information, policies, and permissions.

how to create users, groups, policies and privileges on DS218+
how to create users and groups on DS218+

With Admin access, one can create user profiles and groups and allow them access to certain features and capabilities such as files manipulation, access to certain installed packages in the DiskStation – just like the ones mentioned above, the DS Photo, DS Video, and DS Audio – and bandwidth regulation; data and storage capacity limits can also be regulated by the Admin.

how to create policies on synology ds218+

how to create policies on Synology DS218+

how to limit speed on Synology DS218+

Note: By default, and as a security feature, newly installed packages will not be accessible to existing users and groups. The Admin would need to grant selected users the access to the newly installed package.

Business Packages

Synology DiskStation has a robust ecosystem with users who have freedom to develop their own Apps and Packages which they can also share with the Synology community through the Package Center.

Synology DS218+ packages center

Aside from having multimedia Apps and Packages, the Synology Package Center also offers packages and apps for businesses such as Surveillance Station, Active Directory Server, Radius Server, Proxy Server, Mail Server, DNS Server, Cloud Station Server, and more.

Note: Synology developed packages and third-party packages are available for download via the Package Center, and most of these packages are free to download.

Business Continuity with C2 Backup

Setup Synology C2 Backup on Synology DS218+

User errors and unforeseen disasters are the main reasons of losing precious data. One, if not the most, important feature that Synology products have for users, and especially, for businesses is the C2 Backup.
Setup Synology C2 Backup on Synology DS218+

Synology’s C2 offers users and businesses a slice of the Synology cloud. This backup service replicates your files to the cloud which will ensure business continuity in an event of data corruption or unforeseen disasters that would render the data in the Synology NAS unrecoverable.

The Synology C2 is available for both home and business usage. So, keeping their commitment to be a user-friendly NAS, Synology had made C2 with a simple UI that only needs a little of getting used to.

To use Synology C2 backup service, first, install the Hyper Backup package which can be downloaded for free from the Package Center. After installing, you'll be prompted by the backup wizard and you'll have to choose your backup destination.

Pick Synology C2 Cloud backup and it will send you to the Synology C2 webpage which will ask for your account. Use your Synology Account if you have one, but if you don't have, you can just create from that page and move one with the rest of the process.

Setup Synology C2 Backup on Synology DS218+

Note: Synology C2 is a paid service, but there is a free 30-day trial which you can opt for if you want to try the service out first before subscribing.

Final Thoughts


The DS218+ is a near excellent device for people who want to have their own piece of the Cloud life without the hassle and the confusing IT protocols that some NAS devices use.

Its DSM and its UI are both straightforward and fun to use. Beginners and those who have almost zero knowledge about NAS devices and networking in general would be able to deploy the DS218+ without even asking help from an IT or networking professional.

It’s fast, fun, and most of all reliable. The only thing that would be a downside about it is, its compatibility issues with some routers, but Synology keeps their compatibility list accessible at all time. So, better check their website for router compatibility.

Overall, the Synology DS218+ is a remarkable device to have for SOHOs that need their data accessible at all times, while being kept secured at the same time. And without a doubt, the DS218+ is a must have for starting professionals, especially, those who work in the video and photo editing industry which has large storage capacity and fast data transfers in and out on top priority.

Furthermore, the DS218+ can quickly answer to a business’ or individual’s growing data storage needs with the help of Synology's Expansion Units. Plus, with its fun and easy to use applications for mobile and desktops, the DS218+ can also act as a private multimedia server for individuals and families.

We recommend the DS218+ to SOHOs who don’t have a proper IT department, but are looking to have their own server that won’t cost a fortune. With its user-friendly UI and an easy to understand environment, the Synology DS218+ and its DSM are, by far, our most recommended NAS device and OS.

PROS:

-Solid Build.
-User-friendly UI.
-Easy to setup.
-Offers wide array of packages for Home and Business.
-Expandable

Cons:

-Vents don't have filters for dust build-ups.
-Compatibility issue with some routers

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