Businesses, large and small, have access to more data than ever before. Cloud services, ranging from Dropbox to AWS offer as much storage as you can use and afford. But that doesn’t mean local storage isn’t still a good option. Synology’s DS916+ NAS aims to bridge the gap between the cloud and local storage by offering the best of both worlds - local storage that delivers lots of cloud-like services.
The first thing you notice about Synology’s NAS units is the setup process is simple and ongoing management is dead easy. Rather than employing the usual menu-driven configuration interface, Synology has their Disk Station Manager (DSM) software. This is a familiar GUI that has icons on a desktop.
Synology takes development of DSM seriously. Updates come with reasonable frequency and you can set the device to automatically download updates and install them if you don’t want to do them manually. I have things set so important updates are installed each Monday at 3:00AM.
As a four-bay NAS, the DS916+ can be configured in a variety of RAID configurations. I’ve got the device configured with a pair of 2TB drives and a pair of 6TB drives. Each pair is set as a RAID1 array. I chose this configuration as they were the drives I had available. Ideally, I’d run a RAID5 with four large disks.
I then configured a number of shares, with specific permissions for each one. I cold specific which volume each shared folder resided on. For example, I put my media library on the larger volume but footage from my security camera on the smaller one.
The target audience for this NAS is SMEs and home offices that need plenty of storage. For a consumer or home, I think it’s probably overkill unless you have a huge media library.
When I first started looking at NAS devices, they were all about storage. But the latest generation of NAS like the DS916+ offer all sorts of other functions.
DSM’s Package Center lets you extend the DS916+’s capability by allowing you to add all sorts of apps. For example, I’ve installed Plex for my media. And Synology has developed a suite of cloud apps that include word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, email and calendar services so you can have a Google Apps-like experience while knowing exactly where your data is stored.
I’ve also set the DS916+ up with Wordpress so I can test changes to some of the sites I look after in a safe test environment rather than in the wild. I liked that when I chose to install Wordpress that the DSM Package Center automatically installed the components I need such as PHP and a database.
There’s also Cloud Sync which I use to sync my OneDrive and DropBox data to the DS916+
Data protection is also a priority. Mac users can take advantage of support for Time Machine. You can also cluster multiple Synology NAS units so, in the event one becomes unavailable you automatically failover to another to ensure continuity of service. You can also back up the DS916+ to Amazon’s cloud services.
Specs and Performance
The DS916+ is one of Synology’s flagship units for SMEs and home offices. As such, it’s equipped with an Intel Pentium N3710 processor. This is a quad-core CPU that runs at 1.6Ghz and can burst to 2.56GHz.
I connected to the DS916+ to my LAN via one of its two Gigabit Ethernet ports. Streaming movies and music, using Plex and iTunes was trouble free.
I also had the DS916+ configured as a Time Machine backup location for my desktop Mac and it never missed a beat.
File transfers from the Mac and a Windows PC were both fast. But it’s important to note that I was using WiFi from different areas of my home office and the drive configuration I’ve used isn’t optimal for performance.
Conclusion and Price
I’ve been running the Synology DS916+ for about three months and it hasn’t skipped a beat. It’s been reliable, offered good performance, and is barely noticeable as it does its work.
The RRP is $798 without any disks but if you shop around you can expect to find it for around $200 less than that. Then you’ll need to add four NAS-ready disks.