Best Value

Synology RackStation RS2818RP+ Review

The launch of the RackStation RS2818RP+ shows Synology is sharpening its focus on growing SMEs with a hunger for storage capacity. This is the second 3U rack NAS it’s launched and the RS2818RP+ steps in at the top of its ‘Plus’ family of appliances and is designed to offer a more affordable alternative to its RS4017xs.

The RS2818RP+ also offers 16 hot-swap SATA drive bays and comes as standard with dual, redundant 500W power supplies. Its single high-speed Infiniband supports one RX1217/RP+ 12-bay disk shelf allowing the drive count to be pushed to 28 and a maximum capacity of 336TB using certified 12TB hard disks.

Powered by a quad-core 2.1GHz Atom C3538 CPU, it’s supplied with a base 4GB of non-ECC DDR4 memory which can be increased to 64GB. It also offers a quartet of embedded Gigabit ports and a pair of USB 3 ports for connecting external storage devices.

Cost cutting means that unlike the RS4017xs, you don’t get any embedded 10GbE ports. However, it does have a single PCI-Express expansion slot so you can add your choice of copper or fibre 10GbE adapters when you want a performance boost.

Build quality and deployment

The wealth of data protection and cloud apps makes the RS2818RP+ the perfect backup vault

The RS2818RP+ is very solidly built and we used its metal drive carriers to load up four 10TB Seagate IronWolf NAS hard disks. For 10GbE testing, we installed an Emulex dual-port 10GBase-T card in the full-height expansion slot.

This appliance uses the same cooling arrangement as the RS4017xs with three 8cms diameter hot-plug fans under a separate, removable cover in the lid. It’s too noisy to be installed in an open office as the quiet and cool fan modes both produced noise levels of 62.7dB at one meter in front while the high-speed mode upped to this 73.3dB.

Deployment is deftly handled by Synology’s discovery web portal which found the appliance on the lab network, initialized it and loaded the latest production DSM 6.1 software. This presents a well-designed and intuitive interface offering easy access to the myriad storage features.

A valuable feature is the DSM’s IHM (IronWolf Health Management) feature. This automatically detected our IronWolf drives and provided enhanced monitoring and more accurate drive failure predictions.

Mixed 10GbE performance

We used the Snapshot Replication app to secure data to the RS2818RP+ from a remote Synology appliance

With our four IronWolf drives configured in a 27.3TB RAID5 array, we found 10GbE performance to be variable. With a share mapped over 10GbE to a Dell PowerEdge R540 server with dual 16-core Xeon Gold 6130 CPUs and running Windows Server 2016, we saw Iometer report top read rates of 9.22Gbits/sec but much lower write rates of 4.18Gbits/sec.

It was a similar story for our real world tests with drag and drop copies of a 25GB test file recording average read and write rates of 4.16Gbits/sec and 3.33Gbits/sec. It won’t be faulted for general backup performance though, as our 22.4GB folder and its 10,500 small files was secured to a share at a speedy 2.2Gbits/sec.

The RS2818RP+ isn’t the best choice for IP SAN duties as a 500GB target returned Iometer sequential reads and writes of only 6.84Gbits/sec and 5.85Gbits/sec. With a dual 10GbE MPIO link to the same target we saw read rates increase to 11.84Gbits/sec but writes drop further to 5.39Gbits/sec with appliance CPU utilization hitting 62% for the latter.

The best backup features

The Active Backup app provides agentless server backup and simplified data recovery tools

The RS2818RP+ makes a great high-capacity backup repository and the wealth of DSM data protection features seals the deal for us. Choosing BTRFS when creating your volumes brings NAS and IP SAN snapshots into play which can be run on-demand and scheduled as often as every five minutes.

The Hyper Backup app centralizes all your backup tasks in one console and integrates with Synology’s C2 Backup cloud service. We used it to secure selected folders on the appliance to the C2 cloud storage and from its web portal, we selected backup jobs, browsed their contents and downloaded selected files.

No problem if you want to use another cloud provider for off-site backup as Hyper Backup currently supports 11 including Microsoft Azure, Amazon Drive, Dropbox and Google Drive. More options are available with the Cloud Sync app as this supports one-way and bi-directional folder syncing with 22 providers.

Workstation backup is handled by the Cloud Station Server app. This uses the Backup Windows workstation client to provide one-way synchronization, the Cloud Station Drive agent to perform two-way synchronizations or the DS Cloud app to sync selected folders to your Android or iOS mobile devices.

The best of the rest

Those that don’t want to install an agent on their clients can use the Active Backup for Servers app which secures Windows and Linux systems just using network shares. We found it worked well and recovery is even easier as selecting a backup job automatically loads the File Station app for browsing and recovering files and folders.

Synology’s Surveillance Station can make use of the appliance’s high capacity as video recording vault and in our opinion, is the best of its kind on the market. It supports a huge range of IP cameras and the latest H.265 codec while enhanced recording features make better use of available storage.

Security has been toughened as along with integral virus scanners, the appliance supports AES 256-bit folder encryption plus key management and its Security Advisor app highlights any weaknesses in your appliance. There’s more on the way as the DSM 6.2 beta will be introducing the new Virtual Machine Manager and iSCSI Manager apps.

Conclusion

The RS2818RP+ may not match the 10GbE performance of the RS4017xs but it makes up for this by being around $2,600 cheaper. Teaming up its high capacity with the wealth of DSM data protection features makes this big rack appliance a great choice for budget-conscious SMEs looking for an affordable network storage vault.

8.3 Total Score

The RS2818RP+ may not match the 10GbE performance of the RS4017xs but it makes up for this by being around $2,600 cheaper. Teaming up its high capacity with the wealth of DSM data protection features makes this big rack appliance a great choice for budget-conscious SMEs looking for an affordable network storage vault.

Performance
6.5
Features
8.5
Build quality
8
Usability
9.5
Value
9
PROS
  • Very good value
  • High storage capacity
  • 10GbE upgrades supported
  • Excellent data protection apps
  • Great cloud features
CONS
  • Below-par NAS and IP SAN write speeds
  • Noisy cooling fans
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