Update: Check out the new DS920 series in the Synology Store!
Today we're going to take a quick look at the Synology DS918+, a device that is known as a NAS which stands for Network Attached Storage, it's essentially a hard drive attached to the internet, though a better description would be a stack of hard drives all connected to your network that you can access from any of your devices.
The NAS itself is a solid little box featuring four hot-swappable hard drive bays, each of which is easy to access and can also be locked for security with the included Synology keys. Once you've got your NAS it's up to you to decide how much storage you want in here, you won't need to full up all the slots right away and this device is flexible in the options for either 2.5 or 3.5" drives. Something else special on this device is the ability to add up to two m.2 NVMe 2280 SSD's that you can use for fast system cache creation without occupying internal drive bays.
Around back we have two very fast Gigabit Ethernet ports and there's also a couple of USB 3.0 ports for connecting external hard drives or a Wi-Fi adapter. Another USB port can be found on the front also, this is ideal for quickly connecting something like a portable HDD or USB flash drive with files you want to make available on your network.
Storage wise there are a bunch of drives specifically made for NAS devices such as the Seagate Ironwolf series, or WD RED series. The Synology DS918+ offers a number of options for setting up these drives, of particular interest is the Synology Hybrid Raid - this keeps your data safe in case a drive fails but lets you increase storage capacity over time, so you can start with a pair of drives and then add more later on, or swap them out one at a time for larger ones, in either case, the DS918 plus will move your data around as necessary in the background so you can keep using it while taking advantage of the extra capacity. You also have options to set up the file system on these drives as either the common Linux ext4 or better FS which is much newer and is excellent at protecting data by automatically finding and repairing file corruption.
To make it all very easy Synology NAS products run an operating system known as DiskStation manager or DSM. It's very feature-rich yet intuitive and easy to use, everything can be configured through a web browser for easy access. The most commonly used feature is file sharing and you'll be happy to know it supports any combination of Windows Mac and Linux clients along with multiple network shares user permissions. It can also store backup copies of data from other computers and supports acting as a target for Apple's Time Machine software.
The DS918+ can also function as a robust media server. It supports multiple platforms like DLNA, iTunes and plex and because of its Intel processor, it can do hardware assisted video transcoding at up to 4K resolution! You can also get a Synology DS video app that supports a number of playback devices such as Apple TV and Google Chromecast. There are a ton of other apps and services that this Nas offers, some of the more common ones include running a BitTorrent client, acting as an FTP web or email server, and it can even record footage from network security cameras and send you an alert if it detects motion.
With all the built-in protections the NAS offers, it's still a good idea to have a backup copy of your data. Thankfully there's a bunch of options here too - the system can copy data to an external USB hard drive or to another Synology unit on the network. For off-site backups, it can directly upload data to services like Google Drive, DropBox, and a whole bunch more.
In our own tests at PB Tech the Synology DS918+ NAS performed very well, it was able to convert a 4K video file on the fly and send it to my smart device without any hiccups. The DSM operating system was very easy to setup and use, and there's a bunch of little things that we found great, like how it keeps an eye on drive health and can send email alerts as to what it finds.