NAS

Synology DiskStation DS916+ Review

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DS916+ front viewAimed at professionals and growing businesses, Synology’s new DS916+ delivers a fine blend of network storage features and teams them up with top value. This compact 4-bay desktop appliance also has speed as a priority as it’s endowed with a quad-core 1.6GHz Intel Pentium N3710 CPU which can step up to 2.56GHz in times of great need and incorporates an AES-NI hardware encryption engine.

DS916+ Rear ViewThere’s room to grow too, as the rear eSATA port accepts Synology’s DX513 disk expansion unit. With an extra 5 bays to hand this allows maximum raw capacity using 8TB drives to be pushed to an impressive 72TB.

Its DDR3 memory may not be user upgradeable but Synology has this covered by offering models with two capacities.  We have the 8GB version on review which costs a shade under $650 but you can save a few dollars more by opting for the slightly cheaper 2GB version.

Snapshot central

Synology's Hyper Backup app

The Hyper Backup app provides a central console for managing all your data protection jobs

A key differentiator between Synology’s ‘Value’ and ‘Plus’ ranges is the former all have 32-bit CPUs whereas the latter employ 64-bit chips – such as the Pentium N3710. This has a big impact on the number of apps you can use as only the 64-bit CPUs support BTRFS formatted volumes which bring the new Snapshot Replication app into play.

This allowed us to create snapshot schedules for NAS shares and iSCSI LUNs and run them as often as every five minutes. For each schedule, we could decide how many to keep and apply a retention policy for hourly, daily, weekly, monthly and yearly snapshots.

Snapshot replication to remote Synology appliances is also possible – as long as they also support BTRFS. We tested this with a remote DS716+ appliance and were able to run replication schedules for our NAS shares that were being locally snapshotted.

Docker and containers

Synology Docker app

The Docker app gives the DS916+ extra levels of versatility

The Docker virtualization app makes the DS916+ even more versatile as this allows it to host a huge variety of business apps in isolated lightweight containers. These are easy to create where you can set limits on CPU priority, restrict the amount of physical memory to be made available and assign local files and folders.

The app defaults to linking up with the Docker community image repository which provides access to an incredible range of third-party apps. Just search the repository using keywords, download the selected image, create a container and start it up.

Synology goes even further with the Docker DSM feature. This is really clever as it allows you to virtualize instances of the DSM software in separate containers with Synology including one free license.

It’s easy to use as the Docker app has a separate section for creating DSM containers and options to restrict hardware resources. It took us less than 10 minutes to create a Docker DSM container and we could access its own web page from a desktop shortcut, load apps in it as required and protect the container via the primary DSM using scheduled snapshots.

Cloud, backup and noise

DS916+ Snapshot Replication app

Its 64-bit CPU allows the DS916+ to run the excellent Snapshot Replication app

Cloud features are exemplary as Synology’s new Cloud Sync app supports no less than 18 public providers including Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive. The Cloud Station Server app handles workstation backup and we used Synology’s agent on a Windows 10 desktop for real-time syncing of selected local folders with the user’s home folder on the appliance.

The Hyper Backup app is a winner as it gathers all your local, remote, Rsync, cloud and iSCSI LUN backups into a single console for easier management. Wizards are provided for each backup type where each can be scheduled at regular intervals and, where appropriate, have client-side encryption and compression applied.

During testing we were also impressed with the low noise levels emitted from the appliance’s dual cooling fans. Using the SPLnFTT iOS app, we measured the background noise in our quiet room at 34dB which only increased to 38dB with the appliance running and our iPad located one meter from it

Top performance

For performance testing, we used a quartet of Seagate’s latest 8TB NAS HDD drives to create a single massive SHR disk group. With a share mapped to a Boston Fenway dual Xeon E5-2600 v4 rack server running Windows Server 2012 R2, we saw impressive real world speeds.

Copying a 25GB file between the share and appliance returned fast average read and write speeds of 113MB/sec and 112MB/sec. It handled our backup test very well with a 22.4GB folder storing 10,500 small files secured at 88MB/sec. Encryption performance is good too, with the 25GB file copied to an encrypted folder at a fast average of 104MB/sec.

We upped the pressure with a pair of Xeon E5-2600 servers mapped to dedicated shares over separate Gigabit connections. With Iometer running on both servers, we recorded cumulative read and write rates of 226MB/sec and 208MB/sec thus confirming Synology’s performance claims.

IP SAN performance is nothing to sniff at either with a 500GB target delivering raw Iometer read and write speeds of 113MB/sec and 112MB/sec. The appliance easily handled a dual-Gigabit MPIO link to the target where we watched read and write performance ramp up to 226MB/sec and 222MB/sec.

PROS:
  • Top performance
  • Good value
  • Excellent data protection features
  • Ultra-quiet
  • Versatile DSM software

CONS:
  • Non-lockable drive carriers

Conclusion

We were very impressed with the DS916+ as it offers a wealth of storage features including excellent data protection tools and BTRFS snapshot facilities. Home offices will approve of its whisper-quiet operations and it can’t be faulted for NAS and IP SAN performance either.

The Docker app makes it very versatile and if you plan on making use of this we recommend the 8GB model which will provide plenty of spare memory for its containers. Adding in the extensive private cloud features and good value seals the deal for a Top 10 award in our small business NAS appliance category.

Where to buy
Synology DiskStation DS916+

Synology DS916+ 8GB Diskless, Intel Pentium N3710 Quad Core 1.6GHz, 8GB DDR3, 4K Ultra HD video transcoding, AES-NI hardware encryption engine.

$649.99

Synology DiskStation DS916+ Review
Review Score
9.1 Total Score
Wealth of Storage Features

We were very impressed with the DS916+ as it offers a wealth of storage features including excellent data protection tools and BTRFS snapshot facilities. Home offices will approve of its whisper-quiet operations and it can’t be faulted for NAS and IP SAN performance either.

The Docker app makes it very versatile and if you plan on making use of this we recommend the 8GB model which will provide plenty of spare memory for its containers. Adding in the extensive private cloud features and good value seals the deal for a Top 10 award in our small business NAS appliance category.

Performance
10
Features
9.5
Build Quality
8
Usability
9
Value
9
User Rating: 4.25 (4 votes)
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