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Synology RackStation RS2418+ Review

SMBs looking for a high-capacity network backup vault at a great price will be very tempted by Synology’s latest RackStation RS2418+. With twelve hot-swap SATA drive bays, it offers a high internal capacity of up to 144TB and you can double this by adding one 12-bay RX1217 expansion unit.

The RS2418+ is a timely upgrade to the aging RS2416+ and with a price tag of $1,699 for a diskless unit, looks very good value. Out goes the troubled Atom C2538 CPU and in comes the latest quad-core 2.1GHz Atom C3538.

Memory sees big improvements as the base 4GB of DDR4 UDIMM memory can be boosted to 64GB using four 16GB SO-DIMM modules –  the RS2416+ only supports 6GB of slower DDR3 memory. Two models are available with the RS2418+ on review sporting a fixed 500W PSU and the RS2418RP+ endowed with dual hot-plug 500W PSUs.

The port count is still the same and comprises a quartet of embedded Gigabit, dual USB 3 and a high-speed Infiniband port for connecting the RX1217 disk shelf. Whereas the RS2416+ couldn’t be upgraded to 10GbE, the RS2814+ comes with a spare PCI-Express slot which supports plenty of industry-standard 10GbE adapters or Synology’s M2D17 dual M.2 SATA SSD caching card.

Build quality and installation

The RS2418+ is very well built with a sturdy steel chassis and equally solid metal drive carriers. We had no problems loading a quartet of 10TB Seagate IronWolf SATA NAS drives although the carriers are not the tool-free variety.

Internal access is good and we installed an Emulex dual-port 10GBase-T card for our high-performance testing. The appliance uses four hot-plug cooling fans although we found noise levels to be high with the SPLnFFT iOS app recording 62dB at one meter in front.

Deployment is swift as Synology’s discovery web portal found the system, initialized it and loaded the latest production DSM 6.1 software. General data protection is good as along with RAID5 and 6, it supports Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR) arrays which simplify RAID choices and support an SHR-2 dual-drive redundancy option.

DSM 6.2 features

DSM 6.2 presents a new Package Center offering plenty of data protection apps

Although still in beta, the DSM 6.2 software is close to production release so we manually upgraded the appliance to see what you can expect. The Storage Manager app gets a welcome update as it replaces the confusing Disk Groups and RAID Groups with Storage Pools.

It provides a new dashboard view with more information about hard disks, pools and volumes. IP SAN operations are all handled by the iSCSI Manager app which provides a dedicated dashboard with more detail on targets, initiator connections and LUNs while the advanced LUN option delivers faster snapshot and recovery processes.

The new Virtual Machine Manager app adds versatility but you’ll need to upgrade the base 4GB of memory for it to be of any use. It allows the appliance to host multiple VMs running your choice of OS while the integral vSwitch feature isolates VM traffic on selected network interfaces.

It’s easy to use and we had a Windows Server 2016 VM deployed on the RS2418+ is under 30 minutes. Protection plans keep your VMs safe as you can create a schedule to run snapshots at regular intervals and apply a retention policy for a specific RPO (recovery point objective).

Average performance

The DSM Snapshot Replication app keeps all your on-appliance data safe

With our hard disks configured as a 27.3TB SHR-1 array, the RS2418RP+ delivered a 10GbE performance that tallied with Synology’s claims. A NAS share mapped to a Dell PowerEdge Xeon Scalable rack server running Windows Server 2016 returned top Iometer sequential reads of 9.2Gbits/sec but a significantly lower write rate of 4.4Gbits/sec.

Real world performance was reasonable with drag and drop copies of a 25GB test file delivering sustained read and write rates of 4.2Gbits/sec and 3.2Gbits/sec. General backup speeds were good as securing a 22.4GB folder with 10,500 small files averaged a very respectable 2.2Gbits/sec.

Encryption performance was uninspiring as copying our 25GB test file to an encrypted share averaged 1.4Gbits/sec. To put this in perspective, Qnap’s Top 10 awarded TS-877 desktop appliance and its classy AMD Ryzen CPU returned 2.7Gbits/sec for this test.

IP SAN performance could be better as a 500GB iSCSI target returned Iometer sequential reads and writes of 6.8Gbits/sec and 5.8Gbits/sec. We piled on the pressure with a dual 10GbE MPIO link and saw read speeds increase to 11.8Gbits/sec but writes drop further to 5.4Gbits/sec with appliance CPU utilization peaking at around 62%.

Backup features

It’ll need a memory upgrade but the RS2418+ can run the new Virtual Machine Manager

DSM puts the high capacity of the RS2418+ to good use and provides a wealth of client backup tools. Workstation backup is handled by the Cloud Station Server app with the Backup Windows agent providing one-way folder synchronization and the Drive agent offering two-way synchronizations.

You don’t need to load a client on your workstations or servers as the Active Backup app just requires their IP address and user credentials to secure shared drives or directories to the appliance. Jobs can be scheduled to run regularly but don’t set too many for the same start time as it runs them sequentially.

Appliance data is well protected as the Snapshot Replication app manages scheduled NAS share and iSCSI LUN snapshots on BTRFS volumes which can now be replicated to local volumes for extra on-site copies. Meanwhile, the Hyper Backup app handles all your local and remote backup tasks and integrates with Synology’s C2 Backup cloud service for essential off-site storage.

Conclusion

The RS2418+ brings welcome upgrades to its elderly predecessor and the higher DDR4 memory capacity plus 10GbE support makes it far more versatile. Write performance is below par but the excellent DSM data protection features, high storage capacity and low price makes it a great network backup vault for cost-conscious SMBs.

9 Total Score

The RS2418+ brings welcome upgrades to its elderly predecessor and the higher DDR4 memory capacity plus 10GbE support makes it far more versatile. Write performance is below par but the excellent DSM data protection features, high storage capacity and low price makes it a great network backup vault for cost-conscious SMBs.

Performance
6.5
Features
8.5
Build quality
8
Usability
9.5
Value
9.5
PROS
  • Top value
  • Feature-rich DSM 6.2 software
  • Plenty of data backup apps
  • Supports 64GB of DDR4 memory
  • PCI-Express slot
CONS
  • Only one expansion shelf supported
  • Modest write performance
  • High noise levels
User Rating: 5 (1 votes)

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