Selecting A NAS Replacement – Which Is Best

Selecting A NAS Replacement – Which Is Best

Synology DS218+ NAS - Choosing A Replacement NAS



Choosing A NAS Replacement

The topic of Choosing a NAS replacement is a little different from what I expected to be posting on OurProjectIdeas.com. But it is a project that I recently went through, and I learned a lot – so I figured I’d share. 🙂

I guess before going into it I should explain what a NAS is. NAS is an acronym that stands for Network Attached Storage.  It’s basically a drive (or several drives) that connects to your network giving you a place to store and share files with other devices on your network. When you can add multiple drives in the NAS device you have the option of mirroring, where one drive is an exact copy of the other. That helps protect you against drive failure. It’s an ideal location to store your important electronic files, things like documents and pictures are perfect for it.

I’ve been using a simple NAS device for about 10 years, it’s worked great all this time… until recently.  Starting a few months ago, every once and a while the NAS would loose it’s network connection and would not reconnect until it was rebooted.

The reboots became more and more frequent, to the point where we needed a replacement.  It turned out to be perfect timing, since we were starting to run out of space on that NAS any way. 

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Choosing A NAS Device

Now that we were in the market for a new NAS device I was looking for one that would be able to sync itself to another remote NAS.

We didn’t have that option with our old NAS but that was always on our wish list. So I started my NAS replacement search with that in mind.

 After a few searches I came across a Synology DiskStation DS218+.  It was about the same footprint as our current NAS, did mirroring (which our current NAS already did) and it was able to sync to a remote NAS… perfect!

I had found the right NAS replacement for us, now to start searching for drives to put in our new NAS device.

Choosing NAS Drives

It’s funny because I thought the hard part of this project would be choosing the NAS device.  Turns our figuring out which drives to get was a lot more challenging than expected.

There are basically only three drive manufacturers to choose from, Seagate, Western Digital and Toshiba.

Each of the manufacturers make all kinds of different drives, even drives that are made specifically for NAS devices.

So I knew I was looking for a NAS drive and I also knew I wanted a drive that was 8 TB.

Since the drives I was currently using were 1 TB and they were almost full, 8 TB seemed like a good next step up.

Easy peasy… until I looked at the reviews.

 

When I look at reviews I focus on the bad reviews. That way I get an idea what the worst things I can expect are… holy cow what mistake. LOL

Bad reviews for one manufacturer would tell you to use the other manufacturer’s drives.

Ultimately all the bad reviews did was make you feel like there are no good drives out there.  There were complaints about drive failures, really noisy drives and horribly slow drives… all very frightening.

One complaint I saw over and over again was the write cache on the NAS drives being disabled when used with a Synology NAS.  As a result those people complained that their Synology NAS was dog slow. YIKES!!

I decided to change my approach.




A Change In Approach

I already knew what size drive I wanted, and that I wanted it to be a NAS drive – now it was a matter of finding one that was supported in the Synology DS218+.

I felt the best thing to do was to look at Synology’s drive compatibility list.

Here’s a link to the Synology drive compatibility list:

In the end, the drives I chose were the Seagate IronWolf 8 TB NAS. A 7200 RPM drive with 256 MB of cache, model number ST8000VN0022.

One thing that I was really nervous about is the write cache not being enabled on the drives.

Even though it was on the compatibility list I was still nervous about it.

To my relief, when I look in Storage Manager on the Synology I see that the write cache is enabled, Yippee!

 

 

 

 

Synology DS218+ - Choosing A Replacement NAS - Write Cache Is Enabled for The Drives

How Is The NAS Replacement Performance

Let me first say I’m not very picky with anything. As long as it does what I expect it to do I am a happy camper.  However, this NAS replacement has gone so far beyond my expectation it’s just amazing.  The Synology DS218+ (and the drives that I put in it) is super fast. I mean night and day fast compared to the previous NAS.

Setup was super easy. The GUI guides you through the entire process. Synology has done a great job making the setup seamless.  I didn’t even have to configure it to mirror, it saw I had two drives and configured itself for mirror.. super simple.

 

What I Like About The Synology DS 218+ NAS (Besides the basics like drive mirroring)

 

The only features that I was initially looking for in a NAS replacement was for something to do what the old NAS did and have the ability to sync itself to another remote NAS. 

Little did I know how many new features I was going to get with this new NAS. The Synology NAS DS218+ is a completely different way of doing things.

It’s actually way more than a NAS, it’s a beefy Unix server with drives attached. Whatever a Unix server does it can do.

The Synology NAS can just about anything, even a mail server or a wordpress server.

Something that I LOVE with Synology is the Apps that allow you to do what a lot of websites like google do for you, the difference is that the data stays in your NAS.  It’s something I’ve always wished existed, but never thought there would be something out there that could do it.

 

Here’s a list of the features or Apps that I love

Recycling Bin

Most NAS devices in our days probably do this but my old one didn’t, and I love this feature.

Moments

This is a Google Photos replacement. The interface is very similar to Google Photos and it does facial recognition, location detection and subjects (categories like cat, dog, garden, sky, beach, etc…)

The facial recognition isn’t as accurate as Google’s but it is pretty good. It’s definitely WAY better than not having it.

There’s Also a Moments app that you install on your smart phone that will automatically download your pictures to your NAS for you. How hot is that!

Oh, and you can also create albums that you can share with others. You send them a link and they can view your album. 

Universal Search

This is a great feature! It basically creates a full text index of all your stuff, including the contents of PDFs, documents and spreadsheets and gives you the ability to search. Holy cow this is a great feature when there is something you are looking for but for the life of you can’t remember where the heck it is.

Chat

Chat does exactly what you think it does, and your chats stay on your NAS. They have a mobile app for phones as well as an app for the desktops.

Notes

This is similar to One Note. I’ve just started using it. I again think it’s great because it stays on your NAS.

Office

This is similar to another Google-like product Google Docs. This gives you the ability to edit office docs without having Microsoft Office and the security of not storing your precious documents on Google.

Drive

This is like DropBox, but having your files stored on your NAS. There’s an app that you install on your Phone or your Desktop that will sync the folder you designate with a folder on your NAS. This gives you automatic backups of folders on your Desktops and/or mobile phone.

Storage Analyzer

This app tells you how you are using your storage. Things like what percentage of your data is pictures, video, documents, etc. The thing I really like about this app is that it reports on duplicate files.  It makes it really easy to clean-up your files

There are a bunch of other Apps available for use on the Synology DS218+ NAS that I have yet to play with, the ones above are currently my favorites. 

Audio Server

This app lets you stream the audio files from your NAS to your mobile devices, remotely.

And A Ton More Apps

There are a bunch of other Apps available for use on the Synology DS218+ NAS that I have yet to play with, the ones above are currently my favorites.

Some of the other apps that I’m planning on trying out are Plex Media Server and the Logitech Media Server.

Securing Your NAS Replacement Device

One thing to keep in mind when setting up your Synology NAS is security. Now that the NAS can communicate with devices outside your internal network you need to make sure you protect yourself from hackers.

Here are a couple of threads that I came across and used to secure my NAS device. If you will have your NAS communicating with anything outside your internal network that please please please look through the articles and harden your devices security.

This was a great article on creating a super-duper secure password that you can remember:

https://theintercept.com/2015/03/26/passphrases-can-memorize-attackers-cant-guess/

This goes into detail about what settings need to be changed on your Synology NAS to make it more secure

https://www.reddit.com/r/synology/comments/cdleki/suggested_precautions_when_exposing_your_synology/?ref=share&ref_source=embed&utm_content=title&utm_medium=post_embed&utm_name=cd0e1a92f1f343daa1f9670406a9f4fb&utm_source=embedly&utm_term=cdleki




That Wraps It Up

That concludes the raving about my new NAS replacement.  Whether you’re looking for your first NAS or a NAS replacement, the Synology DS218+ is definitely one you should take a look at.

I first set out to find a replacement NAS.

Not only did I get that but I also got:

  • a recycling bin
  • Photo backup from our mobile devices to the NAS
  • Photo Album sharing
  • Automatic facial recognition and filing of photos
  • Full Text Search For All My files
  • my own chat server
  • Automatic backup of folders on desktops and mobile devices 

In total it cost a little over $700 between the two 8 TB drives and the Synology DS218+.  It was a good amount of money but I feel I got a lot of value out of it. 

I hope the info in this post helps you on your quest for a NAS replacement.  I’d love to hear about your thoughts, comment below!

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