Synology DiskStation DS1813+ review

Pros

  • Excellent write speeds
  • Record-breaking read speeds
  • Four Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • Rich and user-friendly UI
  • Expanded feature set

Cons

  • Still a bit skimpy on memory

Synology's DiskStation DS1813+ is the updated version of the already praiseworthy DiskStation DS1812+. As with the 1812+, the 1813+ is an eight-bay standalone desktop unit with a storage capacity of up to a whopping 32TB.

Once again, Synology has raised the bar for the prosumer/SMB NAS space. The DS1813+ retains the hardware power of the DS1812+, with excellent write speeds, and indeed it broke our record for read speeds in testing.

Even better, though, the NAS has updated its software. The new DiskStation Manager 4.3 makes the DS1813+ an even more desirable business storage offering. The device can also do double duty as an affordable SAN solution, one that is compatible with virtualisation and can now handle multiple domains in a business environment. Disk recovery and fault-tolerance is still solid with Synology Hybrid Raid.

Specs

The DS1813+ ships with a dual-core 2.13GHz Intel Atom processor, 2GB of DDR3 RAM which is expandable up to 4GB (memory specs have been bumped up from the DS1812's default 1GB/3GB maximum), and 8 drive bays that support 2.5in or 3.5in SATA II or III hard disk drives as well as SSDs. The number of drive bays can be upped to 18 with a Synology expansion unit, increasing the total storage capacity to 72GB.

The drives are hot-swappable. The unit has two USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, and two eSATA connections. The DS1813+ has an impressive four Gigabit LAN ports as opposed to the DS1812's twin ports. The casing hasn't changed from that of the 1812+ model, except for the two additional LEDs that correspond to the activity of the two additional Ethernet ports. There is also an LED for "Status" and "Alert," as well as a power button on the front of the device. Each disk bay has its own LED; when it's green, the drive is in working order.

The DS1813+ ran cool and quietly during the course of testing, with little noise despite the presence of dual fans (which are replaceable).

Setup and interface

Setup of the 1813+ is a bit of a different matter compared to the DS1812+. There is no included disk, although there is a small booklet included in the packaging which instructs users in installing disks, connecting the NAS to a network, and then firing up a browser to http://find.synology.com. This address loads Synology's Web Assistant, which will detect the DiskStation on the network. Web Assistant replaces the Synology Assistant desktop application.

The web app detected the DS1813+ I had connected to my test network and displayed the device's model name, IP address, MAC address, and status within the browser. It also showed me a Connect button. Clicking this button takes you to the DiskStation Manager version 4.2, the DS1813's software interface. Synology recently released version 4.3, and I updated my review unit to this version from the interface. The new version has several fresh features that I'll detail below.

Configuration and features

DiskStation Manager opens with a Quick Start wizard, but you can bypass this and go right into the settings to configure. Otherwise, the wizard will walk you through initial NAS configuration tasks including creating volumes and RAID, creating shares, setting up users, and more.

The home screen also features a System Health widget which details the overall status of the device, a Resource Monitor, and a system activity log.

The DS1813+ can function as a file, print, backup, mail, FTP, and web server. The features are extended through a number of packages that support IP camera surveillance, directory services, VPN, DHCP, antivirus protection, media server, photo management, iTunes server, BitTorrent and more. I believe that with DiskStation Manager 4.3, this is the most abundant offering of packages I've seen in Synology's Download Centre.

Multiple protocols and enterprise features such as CIFS (SMB), AFP, NFS, FTP, WebDAV, iSCSI, Telnet, SSH, SMNP and VPN are covered. Security options include FTP over SSL/TLS, IP Auto-Block, Firewall, and encrypted backup over Rsynch.

The device also supports IPv6, virtualisation (it's Hyper-V, VMware, and Citrix certified) as well as UPS management, Windows ACLs, and integration with Active Directory services. With the updated DiskStation Manager (DSM) 4.3, there is now support for trusted domains, so the DS1813+ will allow you to manage and integrate users in multiple domains.

DSM 4.3 offers an enhanced Cloud Station, a downloadable package that, along with Synology's ezCloud service, lets you easily sync files between multiple computers and the NAS. It's a handy way to remotely access data and is available for smartphones. Synology states that the service is faster, and now you can choose which documents and other files to sync across devices. Cloud Station is also available for Linux users.

Drive recovery

As with most NAS devices in this class, the DiskStation DS1813+ supports S.M.A.R.T, a technology to help detect impending disk failure. Fault tolerance is achieved with Synology's Hybrid RAID (SHR) which helps to keep data integrity in case of disk failure. SHR optimises space, but you can also configure JBOD, RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, 10.

Disk groups let you combine one or more physical disks into different RAID levels. You can create as many volumes on a disk group as you want. For scalability, the volume size expands in DSM as long as there is available space on the disk group.

I was impressed by how adeptly the DS1812+ can perform drive and system recovery, and I had the same experience with the DS1813+ when pulling a drive and hot-swapping another. Recovery was spot-on and my data remained intact.

The DS1813+ provided excellent write speeds at 72 MBps, just a tad under the DS1812+ at 83 MBps. The DS1813+ broke set a new record in our test for reads at 108 MBps.

Verdict

With beefier specs including four Gigabit Ethernet ports and updated software that supports High Availability, full link aggregation, mobile app support, an expanded app store, and other great features, Synology has once again knocked it out of the NAS ballpark.

This powerful, user-friendly small business NAS is well worth the £800 price, although with memory prices fairly low, I would like to see Synology push the NAS envelope even further and ship with 4GB of RAM by default. But still, even as it is this NAS scores a full five stars and grabs one of our Best Buy awards to boot.

Specifications

Manufacturer and Model

Synology DiskStation DS1813+

Maximum Storage Capacity

32TB

Operating System

Embedded Linux

Rack-mount or Standalone

Standalone

Hard Disk Configuration

JBOD, RAID

Network Medium / Network Speed

Wired; 10/100/1000

Connection Type

USB 2.0, USB 3.0, SATA

Device Type

Expandable SMB NAS