Synology DiskStation DS218+ reviews – Here is what real-world users say

MyBroadband recently received a shipment of Synology DiskStation DS218+ units, and to put them to the test we sent the devices to several MyBroadband readers.

We selected tech-savvy readers who were keen to give the Synology DiskStation a spin and provide their honest feedback on the units.

These readers sent us their reviews of the device after using it in any way they liked – and told us what it does, and doesn’t, do well.

This provides the views of real tech-savvy consumers who have used the Synology DiskStation DS218+, much more than only the opinion of a single journalist.

The Synology DiskStation DS218+ reader reviews, with screenshots and photos of their set-ups, are below.


Deadmanza – IT Service Manager

I decided to use the Synology DiskStation DS218+ NAS as a Plex server, and I was somewhat concerned about how easy it would be to set up. This concern was completely unfounded as it was extremely easy to do.

The Synology DiskStation DS218+ NAS has an easy-to-use URL that allows you to find it on your network once connected to your router or switch.

It also has a “Package Centre” which allows you to download all available applications for the device. It was as simple as finding Plex in the list of products, installing it, and running it. I am extremely impressed.

Pros

  • Great selection of applications.
  • Plex support, with native 4K transcoding.
  • Expandable RAM slot.
  • Tool-less design.

Cons

  • Only has 1 NIC.

Photos of the Synology DiskStation DS218+


Mitch – Systems Engineer

The Synology DiskStation DS218+ comes well packaged with all the accessories in their own packets. Included is a power supply, power cable, Ethernet cable, screws for mounting hard disks, and a handy quick start guide.

It is an impressive looking device, well built, with a nice finish. It has several connectivity ports available: 1 x USB3 on the front, 2 x USB3 on the rear, along with the socket for the power supply connector, an Ethernet port, and an eSATA port.

The front of the unit has 4 x LEDs, indicating Status, LAN, Disk1, and Disk2. There is a power button and a button marked “C” which is used to copy the content of USB flash sticks to the device.

A panel attached to the front of the DS218+ covers the disk drive bays and has a number of rubber plugs built in that allows it to be pushed into the openings created by the drive bays. It feels nice and solid when attaching it.

There are 2x drive brackets which easily slide outwards after lifting a small clip at the top. Each of these brackets slide in and out of the device effortlessly and provide the option of either 3.5-inch or 2.5-inch storage.

The 3.5-inch drives simply click into the bracket, which has built-in pins that fit into the screw holes on the drive. If a 2.5-inch drive is used, then it is necessary to use the supplied screws to mount securely.

I chose to install 2 x Western Digital 4TB Red Drives which are optimised for use in Network Attached Storage devices.

After connecting the Ethernet and power cables, a touch of the power button brings the DS218+ to life. The unit automatically received an IP address from the DHCP server on my network and presented me with a welcome screen.

After running through the initial setup (install the DSM Interface, update the software, create a user account, setup available storage) I was presented with several icons and menus to access the package centre, control panel, applications, file manager, and help.

After exploring the available options, settings, available applications, and configuration settings, I was extremely surprised at the number of applications which can be installed on this unit.

It has basically anything you could ask for, from an Active Directory Server, to Plex, to Docker, to WordPress and GitHub. I could spend months exploring each of these packages and still have only touched the tip of the iceberg.

There is a handy status box present at all times on the management interface that shows the current system health, uptime, IP address, as well as a resource monitor showing CPU, RAM, and LAN activity with a nice graph.

What I liked about the device

  • Very well built.
  • Extremely easy to install the hard disks into the unit.
  • Empty RAM slot to allow the installation of additional RAM is accessible by removing the bracket or disk drive installed in slot 2. No covers to remove, no screws to undo – simply insert a new RAM module and off you go.
  • Well packaged accessories with an easy to follow quick start guide.
  • Initial set-up is easy and fast. I was blown away by the number of packages available for installation which range from mail servers to VPNs, Docker, Plex, and many more.
  • Web-based management is very easy to use. Everything is easy to find and operate. I did not get lost and found the interface very easy to navigate.

What it does well

  • Packages are easy to find and install, with a detailed description of what each one does.
  • Many settings and options can be fine tuned to suit your requirements.
  • It is very easy to install disk drives and connect to your network.
  • Handy resource monitor indicates current status of the unit, storage, etc.
  • Being able to install Docker, Virtual Machines, a Surveillance station, a Plex Media Server (with native 4K transcoding) make this unit extremely attractive.
  • I regret not having acquired one years ago.

Where it falls short

  • I was unable to find anything which could be considered a negative. It is a very impressive device.

Photos of the Synology DiskStation DS218+


Farron – Electronic engineer

I was keen to review the Synology DiskStation DS218+ as I wanted to see how it compares to my WD MyCloud 4TB.

The Synology DS218+ is packaged in sturdy packaging that should give it ample protection during handling and delivery.

It packs a 64-bit Intel Celeron J3355 Dual Core processor (2/2.5GHz) with 2GB DDR3L RAM pre-installed. It also has two drive bays that are able to handle up to 2x 12TB hot-swappable drives depending on the RAID type. The external ports available are an RJ45 1GbE LAN port, 3x USB 3.0 ports, and one eSATA port.

The installation of the drives was a breeze – just follow the quick install guide and its six steps.

I started off installing WD Blue 1TB drives, which can be installed without using any tools as the cover is held in place by four rubber connectors and the bays are ejected with a release lever mechanism. The hard drives are also held in place to the bay with plastic pins, making the whole hardware installation tool-less.

After the hardware is up and running, you just enter the link that you will find in your quick install guide. You set up your account and a few other settings after which the device restarts. After this you are ready to go.

After the device restarts, it takes you to the DiskStation Manager (DSM) – which is an operating system that you access through your web browser. It has a very UNIX-like interface, so people using iOS/Android/Linux and even Windows should feel very comfortable with it.

It comes with lots of features out of the box, but there is also a Package Center where you can download other applications that you might want.

I started off with getting Plex Server, SVN, and Redmine – which are the things that I would normally use the most. All of these were easy to install and configure.

There are many other applications available for photos, music, mail, notes, databases, Python, etc, so you will probably be covered for your needs.

Performance

I really could not push the DS218+ hard enough to fall over. Fibre is not yet live in my area so I could only connect it to a 4Mbps Internet connection on a 100Mbps router.

The easiest way for me to test its performance was to stream a full HD clip from the Plex Server while uploading a file with DSM and doing a rather large commit with SVN.

Even while jumping around to different times in the video clip in the Plex client, I didn’t notice any buffering.

I know that the Plex Server on this device can do 4K H.265 transcoding, which means this is quite a powerful device.

Conclusion

For home use, I am coming from a My Cloud Home device and the DS218+ does almost everything the prior does better and more.

DSM is a very user-friendly OS and coupled with the plethora of applications available on Package Center, this device is as an excellent option as a NAS for home or small businesses.

Also, as DSM is installed on the hard drive, the hard drives become hot swappable. Having a Plex Server running that can transcode H.265 is also a big plus.

There are, however, small things that bothered me. The Plex Server gave a notification that a new version is available for download, but the Package Center did not see this update. Also, after I just finished the install of DSM there was a built-in application for search that needed an update.

It did not show any time estimate and I got tired waiting for it to finish and just left it overnight.

What I like about the DS218+ far outweighs the small things that bothered me, however, and as the DS218+ also support RAM expansion, this device is a good option for long-term use.

Photos of the Synology DiskStation DS218+


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Synology DiskStation DS218+ reviews – Here is what real-world users say