• Synology DS1812+ NAS Review

    A good Network Attached Storage (NAS) unit for music playback is one that goes unnoticed. This requires a NAS capable of serving up files instantly, running 24/7 without user intervention, and offering automated applications that meet the needs of each unique user. The Synology DS1812+ meets these requirements and is as close to the perfect NAS as I've used in my home. Once configured the DS1812+ performed flawlessly in my system for months at a time. This included sending music to several music servers and iPhones throughout my house, automatically backing up to a 4TB USB 3.0 external drive, and running numerous different applications to fit my UPnP / DLNA and music serving needs. As a longtime user of Network Attached Storage I realized years ago that NAS units are far more about software than hardware. Good hardware is required but better NAS software separates the men from the boys. Synology's DSM NAS operating system is my preferred platform and the reason why I recommend Synology with a great degree of confidence.











    Synology DS1812+

    The Synology DS1812+ Network Attached Storage server is overkill for many computer audiophiles much like our 1000 watt mono blocks, garden hose power cables, and components milled from solid blocks of aluminum. The DS1812+ houses eight hard drives at up to 4 TB each in size for a total of 32 TB of storage in a single box. If that's not enough space the DS1812+ can be expanded up to 18 drives / 72 TB with Synology's DX510/DX513 expansion chassis. The DS1812+ also supports SATA and USB 3.0 external drives. All but the most heavy digital hoarders should be set for quite awhile with this amount of space. The DS1812+ features two Ethernet ports that support failover and dynamic link aggregation (802.3ad). This is a big deal that most NAS servers and switches don't support. This unit is also expandable to 3GB of RAM although I never used more than half of the installed 1GB.

    Most of the other hardware features of the DS1812+ are standard fare on all NAS servers. In fact most NAS manufacturers use identical internal components. It's not uncommon for these manufacturers to run into each other while meeting with suppliers of the internal components. Differentiation all comes down to software.


    Synology DSM

    DSM software is full of features from simple to grand and runs on every Synology NAS. DSM enables both novice and savvy users to configure any Synology NAS server to their heart's content. Configuring the DS1812+ through DSM is done by pointing a web browser such as Safari, Chrome, or Internet Explorer to the address of the NAS once it's connected to the Ethernet network. After logging in to the DS1812+ interface DSM presents a desktop-like screen that's very easy to navigate. Novices can click the Quick Start icon and learned users can begin browsing the plethora of options in the Control Panel, Package Center, Storage Manager, etc. Like all NAS servers DSM enables users to setup file sharing for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux computers, and standard stuff like creation of users and groups. Unlike many NAS servers DSM is incredibly simple.



    In my system the DS1812+ was placed outside the listening room as it generated more noise than was comfortable with while listening. This noise is par for the course with eight drive NAS servers. I setup my CAPS servers to connect to the NAS via a mapped drive, in this case the M:\ drive. After every reboot my PCs connect the M:\ drive to the DS1812+ and use it just like a local USB or FireWire drive.

    The features of DSM that I took advantage of most include the network link aggregation, package installation, and scheduled backup. Serving music in my environment doesn't require all the features of DSM, but it's nice to have the overkill the capability with software as well as hardware.

    Link Aggregation 802.3ad is also called bonding among other names. It allows more than one Ethernet port to be combined thus supporting more throughput than each single port operating alone. I bonded the two DS1812+ 1 Gb Ethernet ports into a single 2 Gb port. To really take advantage of the bonded channel I created a similar bond on my Cisco switch aggregating the two ports that connect the NAS to the switch. The connection from the DS1812+ to my Cisco switch was then 2 Gb full duplex rather than to separate 1 Gb full duplex ports that function independently. My CAPS servers only contain a single 1 Gb Ethernet port and couldn't come close to saturating the 2 Gb bonded link of the NAS. however, I felt very comfortable knowing I had throughput to spare while using several devices to stream music and movies simultaneously. Advanced users have the ability to adjust the MTU value enabling jumbo frames to tweak the connection even further. I played with these settings a bit but didn't notice much difference in a non-optimized non-jumbo frame network.

    Synology DSM features very simple package installation of both standard packages and third party packages. Media Server, iTunes Server, and Audio Station are but three easily installed packages computer audiophiles may desire. In addition to these three DSM offers the Logitech Media Server as a third party package installable with the click of the mouse. Recently I was made aware of a product named MinimServer. It's a UPnP application capable of streaming DSD files. I followed the instructions closely and as able to install the MinimServer package on the DS1812+ NAS without a problem. It wasn't click and play, but I made it work. Based on this experience I believe DSM can be expanded much further than Synology advertises. The only limitation is the imagination of developers and the time it takes to create the package.

    The DS1812+ supports external USB 3.0 hard drives via two rear ports. Supporting the hardware is one thing but working reliably with such drives is a completely different matter that depends on the system software. I connected a Hitachi 4 TB drive in a Plugable drive docking station (LucidPort USB300 USB 3.0 to SATA-II Chipset) to the Ds1812+. Using the DSM Backup & Restore app I created a scheduled backup of my music to run every Saturday at 3:00 AM. This may not seem like much but searching the Internet for NAS backups to 4 TB USB 3.0 drives will lead one to believe it's rocket science. Many issues are reported with many different NAS servers and external drives. Using the Ds1812+ with DSM 4.1 the backup works perfect and provides a nice log displaying success or failure that I can browse at each login. In addition the home page of DSM displays a little red icon in the top right corner that allows one to view backup status as well as other important items.


    Conclusion

    The DS1812+ offers some advanced hardware features such as dual Ethernet ports and expandability. However, it's the DSM software that places this NAS server above much of the competition. By link aggregating its dual Ethernet ports into a single bonded channel I have no doubt its throughput is enough to serve my neighborhood. I've been streaming gapless uncompressed high resolution to my CAPS servers running JRiver without a single playback issue. The DS1812+ is as fast as my music servers can handle. Support for all toes of package installations and automated backups is something many computer audiophiles either need or don't realize they'll need very soon. The DS1812+ is expandable far beyond any normal music serving platform. This jibes well with audiophile beliefs in all things overkill and ready for anything that may come in the future. The capability to scale up to 72 TB and be upgraded to the forthcoming version of DSM 4.2 are other comforting capabilities. My use of the DS1812+ barely scratches the surface of what's possible with such a versatile platform. I'm a computer audiophile that may not require much in NAS capabilities, but what I do require has to work when I need it and mustn't require a Ph.D. to configure. The Synology DS1812+ with DSM 4.1 meets all my requirements and currently sits in pole position as my go-to Network Attached Storage server. Highly recommended and CASH Listed .













    Product Information:



    • Product - Synology DS1812+ NAS Server
    • Price - $999
    • Product Page - Link







    Comments 41 Comments
    1. ron spencer's Avatar
      ron spencer -
      Thanks!!! I have been using VoretexBox....I use these things for Video. Any advantage to Synology for music verusus VortexBox?
    1. EuroChamp's Avatar
      EuroChamp -
      ... and Synology offers some NAS boxes with not 8, but 4 or 2 bays for harddiscs. All of them use the same great DSM software and work as Chris describes. I have a smaler one with only 4 discs, and I can highly recommend that one, too :-)
    1. extracampine's Avatar
      extracampine -
      What about power consumption - does it eat many watts? Do you leave it on all the time, do you turn it on when listening or can it be turned on automatically ?
    1. harry26's Avatar
      harry26 -
      the noise of 1812 is 29dbA. 1512 is 25dbA. there is another model 412+ whose noise level is just 19dbA.for people with small living space 412+ makes a lot of sense.
      all three of them have link aggregation and the feature set is almost same.
    1. One and a half's Avatar
      One and a half -
      Quote Originally Posted by extracampine View Post
      What about power consumption - does it eat many watts? Do you leave it on all the time, do you turn it on when listening or can it be turned on automatically ?
      •Power Consumption : 71.5W (Access); 28.6W (HDD Hibernation).

      Without reading further, the spec doesn't mention how many disk drives the 71.5W refer to.
      Leave it on all the time, NAS takes a long time to boot.
      If the drives are alseep and you wake if you want to access files, the time the HDD activate is too much delay for some people. I don't like it!
      But it's a compromise of leaving the drives running and the bearings wearing out, resorting to expensive 24/7 drives, or waiting while they boot and setting a time to remain active for the drives versus sleeping.

      Google is your friend.
    1. DaQi's Avatar
      DaQi -
      Been using NAS for a long time for media storage and this Christmas splurged for the 1812+. Great unit and a huge step up from the NetGear ReadyNas NV+ I was using mainly as Chris mentions on the software side. I am still exploring all the goodies possible with the Synology system.

      To answer extracampine...

      I leave mine on all the time as they do tend to be slow to boot and it is a pain to go and turn it on. There is a configuration in the Synology and also in the NetGears as well that allows you to configure an automatic turn on and turn off time. This will not be a complete shutdown but could help with the power consumption or the wear and tear on the hard drives. So, for example, you could spin it down during the day on weekdays while you are at work or at night when you know you won't need it.

      With respect to drives, I have been using Western Digital green drives in my NetGear boxes with no problems whatsoever. Some of these drives have been running almost constantly for 4+ years. I had some problems early on with Seagate drives crashing (two crashed in one week after about 8 months of running on them, luckily they crashed separately so I was backed up). The new Synology box got populated with the new Western Digital red drives which are designed for NAS use and are only slightly more expensive than WD green drives. They have only been running now for 1 1/2 months so no comment on reliability.

      On the topic of power I don't know how much they use but I will say that it is absolutely critical that you put a battery backup onto them. I learned this lesson through experience. If you even have a small power glitch and the NAS shuts down they will typically enter a fault condition when they power back up and do a very thorough surface check on bootup. With 6TB of space that can actually take days to complete!! Save yourself the frustration and get a battery backup. The NAS should connect to the battery backup and gracefully shutdown before the battery runs out. Then when the power comes on it will just as gracefully reboot and you will be off and running in minutes instead of days.
    1. astrotoy's Avatar
      astrotoy -
      I've had a Synology DS2411 for about 8 months and it has worked flawlessly. It hold 12 drives and bought it fully populated with 12 3TB drives, for a total capacity of 36TB to use in my massive ripping project. So far I have 14TB in the drive, and am adding an average of 30-40GB every day. It uses a redundancy protocol similar to Raid 5 which allows simultaneous failure of 2 drives. The Synology redundancy also allows mixing difference size drives, so I can swap 4TB drives if I want. Chris recommended Synology or Thecus and I went with the Synology which is a fair amount cheaper.

      Larry
    1. firedog's Avatar
      firedog -
      double post
    1. firedog's Avatar
      firedog -
      Chris-

      Thanks for the review. Probably will get a 213+ myself, so good to know the software is so good.

      BTW, I really appreciate the number and frequency of reviews you've been publishing lately. I know it's a lot of work for you, and you are definitely reviewing equipment of all types and prices that the site community is interested in.
    1. EuroChamp's Avatar
      EuroChamp -
      My NAS is running 24/7, and the HDD's start sleeping after 3 hours. So during work or in the night they are sleeping, but when at home and listening to music or working on the computer, chances are very high, that everything is up and running.
      And: My 4 bay NAS is too loud for listening environment, best practise is to have it in a separate room. But almost every harddrive is to loud for me, exceptions are SSD's.
      Power consumption with 4 drives is 32W - I have not measured when discs are sleeping.
    1. michael123's Avatar
      michael123 -
      I use Lime unRaid for last 4 years - you add drives as you need them, you can mix different capacities.. I have 15-cage box, with drives from 1.5TB to 3TB.. Performance is more than acceptable for home - 25-30MB/sec on write, 50-60MB/sec on read..
    1. Sherwood's Avatar
      Sherwood -
      I just spent a week building a custom server, and your post here made me jealous. Great looking piece fo kit, and anyone serious about storage, reliability, and ease of use should really consider it.
    1. Joebah's Avatar
      Joebah -
      What options would be available if you needed to back up more than 4TB? Can you connect more than one 4TB drive? Sorry, not well versed in these things, but would want to make sure everything was backed up somehow.
    1. VandyMan's Avatar
      VandyMan -
      Has anyone tried Tunes streaming from it?
    1. EuroChamp's Avatar
      EuroChamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Joebah View Post
      What options would be available if you needed to back up more than 4TB? Can you connect more than one 4TB drive? Sorry, not well versed in these things, but would want to make sure everything was backed up somehow.
      it's possible to use two identical Synology's and backup from one to the other :-)
      ... or use 4 discs for data storage and the next 4 discs for backup - everything inside the chassis.
    1. MikeJazz's Avatar
      MikeJazz -
      Chris, Good to see you testing miminserver and mentioning it.
      if you invest a little on your metadata beyond the trivial genre/artist/album and it's few variations, you will value the intelligent browsing and the way it keeps all choices open.

      I am searching for a "budget" solution to backup my Synology, rsync compatible with the Synology dsm.
      If anyone knows, please let me know.
    1. EuroChamp's Avatar
      EuroChamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by MikeJazz View Post
      I am searching for a "budget" solution to backup my Synology, rsync compatible with the Synology dsm.
      If anyone knows, please let me know.
      A second Synology or Qnap can use rsync, or the very cheap WD My Book Life (different sizes), there is a debian running on the WD's :-)

      Bernhard
    1. ted_b's Avatar
      ted_b -
      Quote Originally Posted by MikeJazz View Post
      Chris, Good to see you testing miminserver and mentioning it.
      if you invest a little on your metadata beyond the trivial genre/artist/album and it's few variations, you will value the intelligent browsing and the way it keeps all choices open.
      I am using minimserver (for my Lumin DSD streamer review) but lo and behold couldn't install it on my Synology (DS410) cuz it seems to be an orphan in their product line. Although less than 19 months old it is neither an ARM nor x86 processor and therefore not eligible for Minimserver installation. Pissed me off cuz it was one of the real features of the Lumin (no computer server needed, just NAS and Lumin) that I was looking forward to. Instead, minimserver sits on one of my desktops on the LAN. Argh.

      I am running out of space on my 410 anyway (man are multichannel DSD files HUGE ) so have posted on the Synology forum about what my migration options might be (4TB discs instead of 2TB or second NAS or this 1812+ sized NAS, etc). I am now slightly paranoid that the 410 is a dead end due to the cpu issues; dunno really.
    1. chrisstu's Avatar
      chrisstu -
      Greetings all and request for insights from the more experienced. I am thinking of moving to a NAS from USB drives. This Synology just jumped into top contending spot!

      Is there a problem (sound degradation) wirelessly serving the file to my macbook that is attached to a Bricasti DAC and McIntosh MC402 amp? I'm using player software that loads the file into cache.
      Thanks for the help here.
    1. Priaptor's Avatar
      Priaptor -
      I have two Synology NAS, the 1411 slim and the 1511+ and love both of them. Very fast and very stable and absolutely NO NEED for a USB drive. Both are as fast and faster than most simple USB drives. They are also very quite