Storing content locally in 2019 may seem like a strange decision given the level of connectedness we have with the cloud. Services like OneDrive, GoogleDrive, Apple iCloud have made a big impact on our backup behaviours, largely automating the process we humans were pretty terrible at remembering to do.
While you’d like to imagine everything could go to the cloud, the number of people who can actually achieve that is fairly low. Many of us still have large media libraries of photos and videos taken over a couple of decades which aren’t terribly compatible with the storage and pricing online.
This means local storage can still be the best option. Storing files locally doesn’t change the need to have redundancy and resiliancy in the data you store, remembering that these files can be the most important that you have. This means you need more than an extra drive in your PC, instead a solution that automatically replicates the data across drives and has a storage capacity that allows you to grow the avaialble space as you need.
Enter, Synology’s DiskStation DS1019+ a 5-bay NAS designed for small business and professional home users.
Solid, sleek, subtle
The DiskStation DS1019+ exterior looks professional, purposeful and like a serious storage solution. The black exterior is a nice matte finish, so you avoid the issue of fingerprints. In terms of the actual chassis, the front provides access to the 5 drive bays, the power button and a USB3.0 port. The top right edge plays host to a series of LED status lights that indicate the health of your storage array.
On the rear, naturally you have the power connector, but you’ll also find dual Gigabit Ethernet ports, another USB3.0 port, an eSATA port and 2 large fans ((92mm) that keep the whole thing cool. Synology clearly understand that many users will have this drive bay on their desk, so using larger, slower RPM fans is important to keeping the noise down. In the Synology Control Panel, you can select the fan speed to meet your needs, Full-speed, Cool mode, or Quiet mode. Most of the time I ran in Quiet mode and it was basically silent.
In the event you deploy this in your small business, you’ll want to secure it, given the important corporate data you have stored on it. There’s a built-in kensington security slot you can use to tether it to a desk. Again this shows a real understanding of the way this device will be used in the real world and the requirements of the target audience.
When it comes to the overall dimensions, you may have a plan for where you’d put the DiskStation, so it’s important to know the efficient design is not much bigger than the 5 drive bay slots. The dimensions are 166 x 230 x 223 mm.
How does it perform ?
Moving Terabytes of data between devices is never going to be an instant process, but the speed at which that happens is limited by the slowest link in the chain. That means you want your NAS to have the performance necessary to get the job done quickly. When you copy files there, you want the data replication to happen virtually instantly, to avoid any potential data loss, should a hard drive failure occur.
The Synology DiskStation features a quad-core CPU with AES-NI encryption engine, this helps delivers read/write speeds of more than 225 MB/s even when data are encrypted depending on the drives used. That processor combines with 2x 4GB DDR3L memory modules, for a total of 8GB memory capacity in total.
In reality, I regularly got transfer speeds of 110-120MB/s, but the reality is, you’ll do a first off dump of data from your machines, but daily your differential syncs will be small amount of data, so the actual outright transfer speed is likely to matter less to you.
In the base of the device, there’s 2x built-in M.2 NVMe SSD slots for system cache support.
Stand out features of this device.
When I first connected the DiskStation, I expected it to map as a network drive and transfer some files. In reality, the features on offer here are much greater than simply expandable your storage. The setup process walks you through a quick configuration for the type of storage options you want. There’s all the standard raid configurations you’d hope for, Raid 0, 1, 5, 6, 10, Basic, JBOD and more. As you seelct different types of storage pools, it conveniently informs you the number of disks required to achieve each one.
Other than basic storage pools, the DiskStation has a serious impressive list of features, along with a full user management system to enable multiple users access to different volumes on the disk(s). Here are some of the features you can implement with this device, which all add up to this product being far more a file/web server than a regular NAS box.
Active Backup for Business
Centralize backup tasks for VMware, Windows, and file servers. Restore whatever you want fast and reliably when needed.
Comprehensively back up your data to a local shared folder, an external device, another Synology NAS, an rsync server, or a public cloud to ensure data safety.
4K Multimedia Server
Access and stream your 4K media content anytime and anywhere. DS1019+ supports 4K H.264/H.265 online transcoding via Video Station and DS video, allowing 4K videos to be converted and played on the fly on other computers, smartphones, and media players that originally do not support Ultra HD formats.
Safeguard your computer with Synology Drive Client. Effortlessly perform real-time data backups and point-in-time file recovery.
Backup cloud services – Office 365 / G Suite
On-premise backup solution with a centralized dashboard. Optimize storage efficiency with single instancing and block-level deduplication technology.
On the rear, you’ll find Dual 1GbE (RJ-45) ports with failover and Link Aggregation support. There’s also a front and rear USB3.0 port as well as eSata connector to add even more storage to what you can fit in the 5 drive bays.
Not everything’s perfect
When you first connect the DiskStation DS1019+, you first task will be to download and install the Synology Assistant. Available from the Synology website, this is a fairly straight forward process. During the setup process, you’ll be prompted to download an OS, again a quick download of a 256MB .pat file, you’ll have the OS installed in a few minutes.
When you boot into this software (connecting via the Synology Assistant app), you’ll notice how the software and icons all look very Fisher Price, rather than matchinging the professional target audience. For a new, modern hardware solution, I expected more from the software side of things. Don’t get me wrong, functionality is fantastic, I just don’t want to feel like I’m clicking buttons on a play thing when I’m configuring a serious business device. Hopefully Synology can tone down the colours and update the UI in future updates.
My only other complaint is the beep configurations. When I first connected the device, it kept beeing and I couldn’t work out who to stop it. As this item is a review unit, it had a previous configuration on it. The beeps related to a change to the drives, but I would have loved a hardware switch to mute these alarms, espcially when attempting to set it up with a sleeping baby in the next room. While this scenario is unlikely to impact new owners, if you have a drive die, your system will beep and the ability to quickly mute would be apprecaited. You can configure these beeps in the software control panel, which I ended up turning off, preferring to check the LEDs on the side instead.
PRICE & AVAILABILITY
How much and when can you get one ?
With 5 drive bays you have a number of choices when you select hard drives to go in it. You could throw a couple of spare drives you have now, probably 1-2TB drives, then add additional drives in the future as your storage needs grow. The other approach is to go crazy, adding 5x 10TB HDD and not think about storage again for a number of years.
The Synology DiskStation is so much more than just a 5-drivebay NAS. The features and functionality on offer here, offer potential buyers incredible flexibility for their small business or prosumer operations. Trusting a solution to store massive amounts of your critical data is always a hard decision, but thanks to the replication available here, the expandability over time and connectivity, this solution is sure to satisfy anyone who tries it.
While the concept of paying more than A$1,000 for an empty storage case is somewhat hard to get your head around at first, when you consider it through the lens of being a storage platform to meet your needs for years to come, it makes plenty of sense. As the price of hard drives continue to fall and the storage sizes per drive skyrocket, this solution may be the last NAS box you ever buy.