Synology DiskStation DS218j – Real-world users reviews

The Synology DiskStation DS218j is a powerful 2-bay NAS with rapid data transmission and low power consumption, designed for home users.

We could tell you about its ease-of-use and real-time incremental backup technology, but instead we decided to ask our readers to review the device.

Synology sent us several DiskStation DS218j NAS devices, and we handed these to tech-savvy MyBroadband readers to take them for a spin.

After using the NAS devices for a few days, the readers gave us their views of the Synology DiskStation DS218j.


Rory – Software engineer

The Synology DS218j packaging was sturdy and contained a lot of attention to detail. Unpacking it was also super easy – no irritating bits or things you need tools for.

While I am not a fan of the round 2-pin power cable that comes with a lot of electronics, as it doesn’t work on all power outlets, this was an easy hurdle to overcome.

The installation of the drives was also easy. Slide the cover off, slide the drives in, and slide the cover back on. That is it.

I plugged it in and installed the Android “DS Finder” app to do the set-up. After that installation it was dead simple, although a bit confusing when you’re promoted to create two accounts.

As for the various apps that Synology provides, you basically install and activate that particular functionality on the web interface and install the corresponding app on your phone.

I specifically tried out their surveillance software and the associated DS Cam app. This was really good. The phone app is much easier to use and much smoother than the normal Hikvision/Dahua apps.

QuickConnect and the Synology cloud interface is also very nice, and there is little fussing with port forwarding, dynamic DNS, and more.

Summary

This is definitely a premium product, both in the feel of the apps, the web interface (and essentially the whole ecosystem) and the hardware itself.

This is an excellent option for those who have larger families or just people who feel the need for more storage on their network.

I think with Docker they also have the flexibility to appeal to the more technophile crowd, who wouldn’t easily bump into something specific it just couldn’t do.

Synology DS218j photos


Daniel – Tech-savvy bakery manager

The Synology Diskstation DS218j is an entry-level 2-bay NAS for home and personal cloud storage.

It has a simple installation process with easy steps to follow and a user-friendly file management interface.

I was able to achieve upload speeds of up to 86Mb/s using a standard Samsung SATA 3Gb/s hard drive.

What I like about the Synology DS218j

  • QuickConnect enables access to files on any Windows, Mac, or Linux device and will let you quickly access the NAS without needing to mess with your router.
  • The control panel lets you set up different permission for each user.
  • The ability to run a Plex server.
  • Using Docker to install Minecraft server.
  • Synology releases updates often and keeps the system up to date with security patches.
  • Uploading files is simple.
  • Power usages is great with a 17.48W maximum load and 7.03W when idling.
  • The USB 3.0 ports give easy access to external drives.
  • The Synology community and forum are very helpful.
  • It is excellent to have developer tools like Python, Java, Ruby, and even a first party Git server.

What I would have liked

  • Hot-swappable drives.
  • 2.5-inch disk holders.
  • Hardware transcoding engine for H.264 (AVC) and H.265 (HEVC).

Synology DS218j photos


Shaun – Technical analyst

The Synology DS218j arrived in great packaging and the device was nicely wrapped in thin foam to make it feel special.

You can fit the two 3.5-inch hard drives inside the NAS or make use of a bracket to fit a 2.5-inch unit. Strangely this isn’t a screwless system and some manual labour is recommended, but not really required as it all fits quite snugly.

Operation is super quiet, especially considering I put the unit inside a closed cupboard.

First-time connection to the Synology Diskstation runs you through some basics of the interface and then automatically formats the drives in EXT4 format.

By default, it mirrors the two drives so that you can have a single drive failure and retain your data on the other drive. This also means you want to use two drives of the same size otherwise you’ll be limited to the smallest drive.

The Synology QuickConnect platform skips the drama of port forwarding by talking to its own upstream service and giving you a domain to connect to. This was pretty simple to set up and great for a less tech-savvy user, but probably not enough for an advanced user wanting to run and host multiple services.

The interface is very detailed with loads of nerdy options, but this may be a little too much for normal people or not so tech-savvy users. It would have been a nice feature to see an option presented at first connection to choose a Lite vs Hardcore interface.

I was particularly surprised with the ability to mount both NFS and Samba shares from external sources. Although I didn’t test it, I’m sure one could use the multiple USB ports to add additional drives in this way as well.

Even more interesting is that you could make the DS218j your router by letting it dial your PPPoE connection and manage a DHCP server. That goes even further in that you can make it a wireless access point by connecting a USB wireless card.

The only thing I’ve found to be missing actually are VPN server/client options, but I guess they take care of the former with their QuickConnect service.

Sadly, this is not the version that supports 4K transcoding, which is a feature I was looking forward to.

There are plenty of Cloud Service options available, so you can sync the most popular ones to your local internal network cloud and not rely so heavily on an active Internet connection or local device storage.

Conclusion

Overall, I think this is a great device for a reasonably light and maybe not so IT-oriented user who wants to back up their files and make them remotely available.

I personally wouldn’t use it for redundant storage, purely due to the size limitations of only having a mirror of two drives. A truly surprising suite of networking tools provided might see me use it for all the other things it didn’t even market itself for, however.

Synology DS218j screenshots

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Synology DiskStation DS218j – Real-world users reviews