I've bought three of these and I could not be more impressed
Reviewed in the United States on 20 March 2021
I work as a technician for a number of clients, both personal and in small business.
One of my clients had ongoing issues replacing their old server (they didn't know what they were doing and got themselves into trouble, which is where I came in). After a day or two of looking at their "new server" and then what they needed (basically, just file storage/sharing), I thought a NAS would meet their needs. I already owned (personally) a small NAS, but I hated it, so I went shopping for something of higher quality. I hit upon Synology as the obvious choice in this range, and while the pricing was higher than "what you could get a NAS for", it was still far less expensive than my client's alternatives.
The hardware is easy to set up, even if you're adding RAM or cache disks, as long as you're comfortable doing some basic hardware-type stuff. Adding disks is easier than changing disks in a desktop (but 2.5 drives will need an adapter). Adding RAM is a little bit easier than would be in a laptop (you have to remove some of the disks, but don't need tools). Adding cache disks is similar to adding RAM to a laptop-- flip it over, screwdriver, insert, ya done. IMPORTANT: if you want write-caching, you HAVE to use a second cache disk. For whatever reason, you can't split a cache volume for read/write. If you have just one disk, you can only use Read caching. I wish I had known this ahead of time, or I wouldn't have gotten as large a cache volume, though it is serving me pretty well.
Once booted up and online, though, is when a world of wonder begins. The system has feature upon feature upon feature, allowing it to replace far more than just a file server, at no extra cost. There is a package system where you can download optional packages, including things like: Video streaming service (2 kinds!), audio server (complete with mobile app to stream your own music to your phone), Cloud Storage (your own personal Dropbox), system backup (that is, software to backup systems on your network to the NAS) and ways to back up the NAS to elsewhere, IP camera software (with a few licenses included), mail server, group calendar, WebDAV connections, and so much other stuff. You could certainly get all of these features by building your own NAS and using all the open source software out there, but for the amount of effort and ease-of-use here, it's no contest.
One thing I was very impressed by with the initial configuration is that Synology have their own type of RAID setup called (SHR-- Synology Hybrid RAID). It has the data-protection and speed benefits of a RAID, but allows it to be used across completely dissimilar disks, as well as adding disks to the same SHR later on (and the volume checking and expansion happens while the NAS is still working)-- this definitely lowers the commitment anxiety to setting up a new disk array. It also has a USB 3.0 port in the front, and you can add external disks that can be mounted and shared seamlessly.
The system is highly configurable through the UI, but you can also open a Terminal, or use SSH (if enabled). The task scheduling system can call bash scripts, also. This makes me feel like the UI is a convenience, not a required hindrance. That said, though, the UI is ridiculously thorough.
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