Review of 8-Bay small office NAS, Synology DS1812 +

8-disk desktop storage is the strangest type of device in its class. Probably because with the need for such volumes of data, it is already customary to install equipment in a rack. Nevertheless, manufacturers of such devices have several trump cards up their sleeves that can open up a new, untapped market for them. Let me be clear.

 Synology File Server DS1812+

The enclosure sizes of 8-bay NAS are already large enough to fit inside 4 memory modules and 4-core processors. And huge fans will be able to cool this box full of disks, completely silent. And if such simple functions as "shared network folder", "print server", "media gallery" have always existed in NAS-ah, and are already associated with compact 2-disk models of the entry class, today more and more often on NAS -you are migrating applications from dedicated servers. For example, Asterisk, Authentication Server, RADIUS, SMTP/POP3, SSL, VPN Server, SNMP Pool, etc. More importantly, when choosing such a solution, your company saves thousands of dollars on software licenses and on qualified specialists who can configure software from the Linux command line, because the very ideology of a modern NAS is that the user makes all settings with a mouse in a beautiful Web interface, and a connection via SSH or from a KVM console is never required for the entire life of the device.

The advantages of this approach are obvious. First of all, you buy a solution configured and ready to use right out of the box. The manufacturing company is engaged in technical support of hardware and software, that is, you will not be kicked from vendor to vendor, and to solve software and hardware problems, there is one community, united on one version of the operating system and one software package. Agree, purchasing such a solution is nothing more than a dream, since today only a good integrator can offer full IT support, and for a tidy sum.

Ideally, all the functions your company needs will be performed by a server that takes up a little more space than the hard drives needed to store business data. Moreover, we are talking only about "hot" data, since it is cheaper and safer to connect cloud storages available at the NAS settings level to store backups. No expensive Windows, no Linux complexities, no noise and dust.

Today, such a solution is still the future, but the day is not far off when a 1C Enterprise server will be launched with one click on the NAS, and it will be possible to talk about replacing traditional servers from the point of view the view of the enthusiast, and the user. Today, we'll see how Synology has taken another step towards a brighter future with its 8-drive small business model, DS1812+.

Synology DS1812+

For what needs the manufacturer has developed this device, we briefly told. But besides the prospect of covering all the server needs of a small company, DS1812+ also has a whole set of features that will make your work easier today and will not be afraid of the tasks that you entrust to them tomorrow.

 Synology File Server DS1812+

First of all, Synology DS1812+ is a NAS server, so for the first time a developer has discovered a new form factor - 8 desktop drives. Moreover, in what design - they are all lined up, thanks to which the NAS stretched out in width and received the proud nickname "button accordion". True, there are common features.

Today, 8 drives is 32TB on built-in hard drives, but if necessary, use more drives, expanding the available space due to 5-drive Synology DX510 modules connected via SATA interface. Well, since DS1812+ supports the connection of two such modules, the total storage capacity can be 72 TB. These are huge numbers for desktop storage.

 Synology File Server DS1812+

In terms of connectivity, everything has remained the same: two gigabit network ports with link aggregation, and 6 USB ports, 2 of which support USB 3.0. Well, two eSATA, intended for connecting expansion modules, no one bothers to use for third-party external drives or even storages with their own RAID arrays.

 Synology File Server DS1812+

Unfortunately, all ports are available only on the back of the device, and traditionally Synology denies the very possibility that someone might need to plug in a USB flash drive on the front of the device or, God forbid, check its work status or IP address from the screen like other devices. Well, as they like to say at airports: “it's all for your safety,” and if you are inconvenient to merge hundreds of gigabytes of movies directly from the NAS to an external drive, then an attacker will just as inconveniently merge your secret data.

 Synology File Server DS1812+

In general, people came up with encryption for storing secret data a long time ago, and Synology has full order with this: at any time you can create encrypted folders on the disk or encrypt existing ones. Therefore, Synology does not install mechanical locks on the HDD trays, which an attacker can open with a screwdriver in seconds, but which will result in a headache if you lose your keys. Synology simply offers protection against accidental opening, such as dusting the NAS or accidentally hitting the front of the tray by plugging a USB flash drive into the bottom rear USB port. This protection is a simple latch that can be opened with a simple plastic key or a thin screwdriver. I do not know, whether because of this, or for the sake of the tendency to save on matches, the hard drive trays are completely plastic. The Winchester, in principle, does not care which tray to work in, but with such trays the RAID array looks undignified.

 Synology File Server DS1812+

The most important element of any server is the cooling system, which should not only remove heat from the components and withstand the failure of any fan, but also in our case, run as quietly as possible.

 Synology File Server DS1812+

Synology uses the quietest server cooling method, 120mm fans, of which there are two. The manufacturer emphasizes that if something happens, you can easily replace them with others, but neither Cold Swap nor Hot Swap is provided. The typical noise level of a single-disk machine, according to the manufacturer, should be 23.1 dB, which means that the NAS can safely share one common space in your office with you. In practice, of course, the system is a little noisier. By the way, the typical access power consumption of DiskStation DS1812+ is 71.5W (with three hard drives). When idle, this figure drops to 28.6 watts.

Let's take a look at the NAS's internal device to see how adding a couple of extra HDDs has changed the design.

Design Synology DS1812+

Today it is already considered the norm to allow the user to increase the amount of RAM of the NAS on their own, and at a cheap cost of memory, it makes sense to do this if you plan to use DiskStation not only as a file server, but also for other tasks ... An empty SoDIMM slot asks to fill it with a 2 GB module so that you never face a lack of resources for demanding applications.

 Synology File Server DS1812+

Synology DiskStation DS1812+ uses a 300W FSP power supply. This PSU is Active PFC and 80 Plus Bronze certified to ensure minimal power overhead. A 40mm fan is used for cooling.

 Synology DS1812 File Server +

The power supply is noisy, but this is the trend - for office use, cost and efficiency are more important than silence. And this storage system was not intended for home use.

 Synology File Server DS1812+

The motherboard design shows a new concept: less is more. A minimum of chips, a simple processor power circuit, no VGA output. Recently, I came across an interesting trend - some users install Windows and Linux operating systems on Synology NAS, getting their own customized storage in a good case. Apparently, to make this impossible, the VGA-out was removed. Of course, 99.999% of users will never need it. all management is done through the web interface.

Passive cooling of the motherboard is another small victory for the designers over their past, because one point of failure in the system has become less, and in the event of a system fan breakdown, any system administrator will replace it in a matter of minutes.

Now let's take a look at the software features of the Synology DS1812+ and see what new features for business users the recently released operating system, Synology DSM 4.0, brings. Of course, those customers who need a device to work for its entire life are not very interested in how beautiful its interface looks. But you must admit that one cannot but admire them. Synology programmers managed to bring all the beauty of the best modern interfaces to your web browser window and conveniently arrange frequently used icons on the desktop, and display device status in a separate widget.

Synology DSM 4.0 interface

Synology is moving towards consolidation and is now offering more and more services in one device. And if earlier you had to have a good knowledge base to configure a VPN server, now setting up tunnels is a matter of a couple of mouse clicks. And here it is not so much about money as about convenience and productivity. Most routers and VPN gateways have 400MHz processors, and the Synology DS1812+ is 5x faster! Can you imagine what ACL filters you can use in the future? And the antivirus that has recently appeared in the firmware will soon be able to turn the NAS into a full-fledged UTM.

And nothing unnatural - two network ports are enough to delimit the network into LAN and WAN and connect using switches of a small office network. Since we are using VPN and Firewall, it would be logical to divide the network into virtual boundaries using VLANs. This feature also appeared in the new firmware. True, for a 2.13 GHz processor, Synology DS1812+ supports somehow few simultaneous connections - only 20, using PPTP and OpenVPN. It's a bit strange that neither SSL nor IPSec is on the list of standards. Nevertheless, a VPN at the storage level is perfect for working with the network resources of the storage itself, since eliminates errors in router configuration. By the way, the number of routers that can autotune from the NAS menu has also increased.

Synology DSM 4.0 interface

Native antivirus is another security enhancement proposed by the developers of DSM 4.0. Although Synology is not the first company to install an antivirus on a NAS, the company could not get around this opportunity. The anti-virus operates in a passive mode, that is, it can scan specified partitions on a schedule or in manual mode, but it cannot provide protection against viruses in real time. We remind you that the NAS itself is an extremely secure device that is not afraid of viruses or rootkits. Therefore, the antivirus suite is here to prevent malware from spreading over network shares.

Oddly enough, this tool will be especially useful for Mac users who are not afraid of viruses and who may simply not know that they have files dangerous for Windows on their network storage.

Synology DSM 4.0 interface

To back up data, Synology introduced support for analog snapshots, but designed it in its own way, in the form of a separate Time Backup application. By saving snapshots of folders at a given point in time, this feature will give you the ability to switch between different versions of files in a folder. You can create different versions of the reservation. And the automatic cleanup function will contain the growth of the volume of backups, removing unused versions. All this is very similar to the Apple Time Machine but within the framework of the NAS itself.

If you are using multiple mailboxes, you can configure your DiksStation to work with them simultaneously over the secure TLS/SSL protocol. Synchronize your mailboxes on one device and get a common web interface for accounts on different servers. In addition, when using the iOS and Android apps, you will get mobile access to your mail while in a traffic jam or when traveling on public transport. No ads and other delights of free email services.

We have already written about support for HASP keys, and now it's time to take care of those who do not use and do not want to use the paid and complex enterprise management environment "1C Enterprise". Today, all major NAS manufacturers are investing in software packages for their servers. Of course, most often we are talking about setting up configuration files for a hassle-free 1-click installation and configuration via a web browser. Free CRM programs occupy a special place in this list. I have not met a single person in my work who would not have dreamed of changing the "1C Enterprise" for something else. And the prospect of getting a free CRM pushes the user to buy such a NAS.

Synology has chosen OpenERP open source system. Honestly, OpenERP itself is no simpler than 1C Enterprise, but in our particular case, it is also rigidly tied to the NAS database and to its mail server.

In general, Synology's proprietary software packages have one huge plus - they are fully localized, so you don't have to frantically search for language additions and configure something from the command line. Although, on the Synology forums you can find step-by-step instructions for installing VTiger CRM and some other free business management systems. So take the time to learn and get on your way to free software.

What is surprising is the complete absence of VOIP servers - neither Asterisk for you, nor Kamailio. Although, again, any more or less competent specialist will configure Asterisk for SSH access in a couple of hours. Also missing is a package for the simultaneous work with documents a la Google Docs.

In general, we can say that the trend is the following: Synology is reducing the cost of hardware design and transferring more and more services to its software part. Removing some functions from the base firmware into plug-ins has both pros and cons. For example, a company can create its own Marketplace with free and paid modules, which will make Synology solutions more flexible than any other device in its class.

Testing

For testing, we used 1TB Western Digital Black Raid Edition 4 series hard drives. Today it is the most optimal HDD option for use in corporate NAS-ah. Firstly, thanks to the optimization of the firmware for RAID, these HDDs do not fall out of the arrays in case of media errors, that is, bad blocks. Secondly, over the years of existence, this series has proven its reliability. Thirdly, they are on the compatibility list of all storage systems for 3.5-inch drives (not counting HP, Dell, IBM, which only recognize HDDs with their own stickers). Last but not least, they are damn fast and are priced on a par with regular desktop hard drives.

 Synology DiskStation DS1812+

By default, Synology offers to install a Hybrid RAID array, which allows the array to use the entire capacity of HDDs of different sizes. We have already made sure that hybrid arrays are not inferior in speed to traditional ones and we see no obstacles to their use. So the tests will be carried out on a hybrid analogue of RAID 5.

For testing, we used a client computer with the following configuration:

  • Intel Xeon 3220
  • 4 Gb RAM
  • Asus P5B Deluxe
  • Hitachi HDS721010CLA332 1Tb HDD 7200 rpm
  • Windows 7 Ultimate x64

The computer was connected to the NAS using the switch

We will carry out tests using the Samba protocol, as well as iSCSI with a two-channel connection. This will allow us to go beyond the limitations of the gigabit interface. We will also duplicate all tests for a folder encrypted with a 256-bit key using the Samba protocol, because some companies purchase file servers specifically for secure data storage.

Atto Disk Benchmark results

Atto Disk Benchmark results

The next test is CrystalDisk Benchmark.

Crystaldisk Benchmark

CrystalDisk Benchmark

And finally, application tests.

Avast

Acronis

Basically, according to tests, the picture is absolutely the same as in previous generations of NAS-s: writing is limited by the speed of 1 network port, reading in iSCSI MCS mode - by the speed of two ports. Data encryption literally kills speed and should be used on small volumes, both for reading and writing.

During testing, we measured the power consumption of a device with 4 disks. The indicators are as follows: minimum - 27.5 W, maximum - 125 W. The average value was 48.4 W. These are very low numbers, especially for a device with enterprise-class hard drives.

Conclusions

Until recently, Synology did not have a decent answer for QNAP's 8-disk desktop NAS and Thecus's 7-disk products. Today the manufacturer realized that if you add a large number of built-in hard drives to the scalability by expansion modules, then you can claim a device with a record capacity. USB 3.0 support allows you to expand your capacity even further with modern third-party DASs.

The previous generation of DiskStation had a processor that could handle all the tasks assigned to a NAS. But now the processor has become even faster, and functions such as built-in antivirus or TimeBackup, where the machine's own resources are actively used, make it possible to understand what such a CPU is for. And the more features you transfer to your DiskStation, the more you'll be amazed at how you used to do without such a useful device.

Mikhail Degtyarev (aka LIKE OFF)
04/22/2012


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