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I had tried a few different storage solutions for my Home and family's small business, but no solution I tried seemed to work the way that it was advertised or meet my needs. In all honesty it was because of my choice to try to find a budget solution because $400 for a NAS and then another 4-500, at least, for drives to put in it is a lot of money. I can't begin to describe how happy I am I did it though. This is a solid product. I can't speak to the uses for a media server, because I haven't gotten around to testing those features yet, but for a storage solution I can. This NAS makes back ups, data storage, and file sharing extremely easy and not just because I'm a computer science major. Even for people who may not be the best with computers, set up is super easy and the web interface is simple and very intuitive. Set up on a local network is extremely easy. Set up for remote access for multiple users though, while still much simpler than something like an Ubuntu server, still will probably require a little more than average technical and networking knowledge. Especially if running an antivirus and/or firewall as you will have to make exceptions for the remote IP address. For creating a remote network drive, you will also need either a static IP address or a domain name and a DDNS service.
Overall though so far, I couldn't be happier with the product and am glad I decided to spend some extra money and get something that works great, is easy to manage, and meets all my needs. I will try to come back and update once I have the opportunity to text some of the media server features.
UPDATE: So I have now had the opportunity to test some of the features using this as a media server. I have put some movies on it and and was able to stream them. My conclusion is I have some good news and some bad news. Lets get the bad news out of the way first.
Bad News: If you are a fan of Plex you may be out of luck. Synology seems to have discontinued support for Plex for all model NAS servers aside from those using an intel processor. According to the Plex forums, some of the older DS418 models do have the intel chips but almost all of the new ones have the Realtek quad cores in them. Fear not though, I did find an alternate solution I will share in the good news. One other thing I did find is if there are some other services running while you are trying to stream HD video you may get some stuttering occasionally while there is other uploading or downloading going on in the background. I'm not sure if this is related to the processor or the limited amount of RAM but I plan to add more RAM in the near future I have also recently enabled the ethernet port aggregation and will test to see if that makes any difference as well. **Note: True Port aggregation will only work if you have a router that supports it. They do have a Load balance bonding but it is not the same as port aggregation. Will retest after these modifications and report back again with another update.
Good News: The good news I found is, though there is some stuttering it is pretty easy to work around it by pausing some of the back up services you may have running while tyring to streaming video, which, while its not ideal, I don't find to be that big of a deal given the price point compared to other solutions. The port aggregation I enabled recently along with my plan to increase the RAM may even resolve this issue. The other good news is, for those of you who don't have your heart set on Plex, there is an application for the Amazon FireStick called Archos that seems to work very well in my opinion. You can browse all your folders on the server look at pictures, play music, and stream video. So far I have only tested this while streaming on my local network and have not yet tested remote streaming using this application. Once I have had the opportunity I will again report back with another update.
As a photographer I have run through my laptop storage (250GB) and my additional external 500GB storage, so after a number of YouTube videos I settled on the Synology DS418 as a solution for this problem.
Looking for in purchase: -Sturdy -Value -Hot Swap -Link Aggregation -Easy Setup -Four Bays Minimum
Design: The design of this product is sleek and well designed, while it is a plastic it seems to be a sturdy and hard plastic that will last for a significant amount of time. There is a USB port in the back along with 2x 1GB LAN ports (link Aggregation compatible) and a USB port up front. There are four bays that all have access from the front and the bays are lockable. Size is not a significant issue and it fits easily on a cart shelf.
Issues: The setup on the computer is not as easy as I thought it was going to be, but as long as you take time to read instructions online there is no significant problems. I believe that the time to get everything online is somewhere between 1-3 hours depending on how computer savvy you are (it took me 3-4 hours, to set up four different storage areas on the NAS (2x Time Machine Backups, a folder for my photography and a folder for general family storage, then to provide access to mine and my wife’s computers to where everything worked seamlessly). All of that said none of it is a real issue, because Synology directions are fantastic.
Final Thoughts: I LOVE THIS. It is so nice to free up hard drive space on the computer and to get rid of all the dongles needed for all the external stuff. The system works flawlessly and after it is setup and about a day of playing with it everything seems really intuitive. I set this up with 2x WD 2TB RED drives and the system was up after plugging it in, following the basic instructions and some auto updating (total of about 20 mins). I have one volume with four folders (2 Time Machine Backups, a folder for photos, and a general storage folder) that are have dedicated space and users assigned to them. The backups work with no issues and our MacBooks link right to the system, even if we go away for travel and come back. I can’t believe I have been asleep at the wheel when it comes to NAS and I will never use cloud storage again. Especially when I can access my NAS anywhere in the world via the internet with just a couple of clicks.
Would I recommend: Yes, 5 Stars and easily would recommend the system to anyone who needs a system.
I've been using the Western Digital MyCloud products for TimeMachine backups on our Macs - The WD products were never particularly stable as a network backup target. When one of the WD's died, I decided to invest in the (admittedly more expensive) Synology DS418, and I'm very happy that I did. Set up was easy, and TimeMachine backups from multiple Macs are working very smoothly (Tips: SHR volume. One shared TM folder. One "user" per Mac with a quota. Do the first backups one at a time!). The only thing to be aware of is that adding/replacing a disk is not fast - adding a third 4TB disk to my config, took the DS418 a couple of days to merge it in, but it did so without difficulty. Overall I'm *very* pleased at how little I have to fiddle around with this server. It just works.
UPDATE May 2020: I've had the DS-418 under continuous use for about 2 years now, and I thought I'd add a few additional comments.
(1) I initially chose the DS-418 as a device to back-up our family laptops. As mentioned in the original review, it was easy to set-up and works seemlessly with Mac OSX's TimeMachine for all the laptops. Two years of back-ups to the DS-418 have been flawless - the laptops' TimeMachines quietly and automatically back-up each laptop any time they are on our wireless network without the user even noticing. Perfect.
(2) I had a drive failure (an older repurposed drive - not unexpected) in a 4 drive configuration and I was thoroughly impressed by how easily the DS-418 recovered. An audible alarm and light alerted me to the failed drive but the DS-418 continued to operate in "degraded mode" allowing me time to order a new drive. Once the new drive arrived, I pulled the old drive, inserted the new one, and started the rebuild. The rebuild ran entirely in the background over the couple days. Net result: ZERO downtime. Easy/complete rebuild. ZERO data loss. I'm EXTREMELY happy with the recovery and data integrity capability of the device!
(3) Synology has been excellent about software patches and communication of potential security issues. A couple mouse clicks in the web interface after an email notification is all it takes to manually update it. Alternatively, you can schedule a time one or more days per week to check and automatically apply updates. Again, EXTREMELY happy with this feature!
(4) As of this writing, there are 104 (Synology and 3rd party) packages that can be added to the DS-418 to customize the services and capabilities, like audio/video servers, home security camera integration, photo organizers, webserver software, and more. The packages install with a single click. Very easy. I'm running several add-on packages and the DS-418 is still running very smoothly.
(5) The resource monitoring tools and storage analysis tools are very good. Easy enough to be helpful for first time users with sufficient data and detail to satisfy more advanced users.