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Synology RackStation RS2421RP+

Presented as a versatile network storage all-rounder, Synology’s RackStation RS2421+ and RS2421RP+ aim to offer a strong combination of capacity and features for handling duties such as backup, file and cloud serving. Stepping up as the replacement to the two-year old RS2418+/RP+ models, they also claim to offer a big performance boost over their predecessors.

Intel gets its marching orders yet again as the RS2421RP+ on review is another in Synology’s NAS stable to sport a quad-core 2.2GHz Ryzen V1500B CPU. This takes over from the quad-core 2.1GHz Atom C3538 in the RS2418+/RP+ and although base memory remains the same at 4GB of DDR4, this is now the more reliable ECC variety.

The port count sees no changes either and comprises four embedded Gigabit, dual USB 3 and a high-speed Infiniband port for connecting one RX1217/RP disk shelf to double the drive count to 24. A PCI-E slot is provided with support limited mainly to Synology’s 10GbE and 25GbE adapters, its E10M20-T1 10GbE/dual NVMe SSD combo card or the E2D20 dual NVMe SSD card.

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Design and installation

For a 12-bay rack appliance, the RS2421RP+ has a pleasingly short depth of just under 23 inches even with the pair of 350W hot-plus PSUs at the rear. It’s very well constructed with a solid metal chassis and removable lid while three hot-plug cooling fans modules are located underneath a separate, easily removed hatch.

Internally, the layout is very tidy with easy access to all components but there is one negative in the memory department. The RS2421RP+ only has two DIMM slots and supports a maximum of 32GB whereas the previous models have four slots and can be upgraded to 64GB.

Note that the RS2421RP+ is a member of Synology’s enterprise family of appliances so it comes under the new drive restrictions. We’ve covered this in more detail in our review of the RS4021xs+ so here we’ll just remind you to pay very close attention to Synology’s HDD and SSD compatibility list.

At present, the list contains Synology’s HAT5300 HDDs with 8TB, 12TB and 16TB capacities plus 4TB models from Seagate, Toshiba and Western Digital. You also have a choice of four SAT5200 SATA SSDs with capacities up to 3.84TB.

For testing, we installed four 8TB Synology HAT5300 SATA drives in the appliance’s solid metal carriers and used Synology’s Finder web app to discover it on the lab network. It automatically downloaded the latest firmware and on completion, we used the DSM Storage Manager app to create a RAID5 storage pool.

10GbE performance

For performance testing, we fitted a Synology E10G21-F2 dual-port fibre 10GbE adapter in the appliance and called up our Dell EMC PowerEdge T640 Xeon Scalable tower running Windows Server 2019.We could see immediately that the RS2421RP+ was much faster than its predecessor as a share mapped to the server returned Iometer sequential read and write speeds of 9.3Gbits/sec and 8Gbits/sec – the RS2418+ we tested managed 9.2Gbits/sec and only 4.4Gbits/sec.

Real world performance saw big improvements with 25GB file copies between the server and appliance averaging read and write speeds of 5Gbits/sec and 4.9Gbits/sec – increases of 20% and 46%. Our backup test was also 5% faster but more significantly, copies of our large 25GB file to an encrypted NAS folder saw a performance improvement of 86% to 2.6Gbits/sec

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The same benefits were seen for IP SANs with a 1TB iSCSI target returning Iometer sequential reads and writes of 9.2Gbits/sec and 8.2Gbits/sec – the RS2418+ only managed 6.8Gbits/sec and 5.8Gbits/sec. We piled on the pressure with a dual 10GbE MPIO link and saw reads increase to 18.3Gbits/sec and writes drop to 7.2Gbits/sec which still represented improvements of 55% and 33% over the RS2418+.

Apps of distinction

Look no further for the best backup apps as Synology’s DSM 6.2 software is positively overflowing with them. Select BTRFS during volume creation and you can use the Snapshot Replication app to manage on-demand and scheduled NAS share plus thin-provisioned iSCSI LUN snapshots and run remote replication to other Synology appliances.

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The Hyper Backup app manages local, remote, Rsync, cloud and iSCSI LUN backups from a single console and integrates with Synology’s C2 Backup cloud service for off-site storage. You can create and manage your own private backup cloud as the Drive app provides Dropbox-like synchronization services for collaboration and file sharing with desktops and mobiles that have the Drive agent installed.

The Active Backup for Business (ABB) app is the jewel in Synology’s backup crown as it provides a superb range of data protection facilities for servers, workstations plus virtual environments and the best part is it’s all free. It supports agent-less backup services for VMware and Hyper-V virtualization hosts along with application-consistent backups of virtual machines (VMs).

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Load the ABB agents on your Windows servers and workstations and you can schedule volume, file and bare-metal backups. ABB’s deduplication is also very efficient as we backed up a total of 17 VMs on our VMware vCenter and Hyper-V hosts and watched it scrunch a total of 213.7GB of backup data down to only 123.9GB for a 42% reduction.

Synology keeps your data safe as the Security Advisor app scans the appliance for malware and security issues such as weak passwords and offers advice on closing any potential holes.You can keep a close eye on capacity as the Storage Analyzer app runs regular reports to show usage for NAS shares, duplicate files and file types.

Conclusion

SMBs looking for a high-capacity network backup vault will find the RackStation RS2421RP+ a tempting proposition. The dual PSUs do cost an extra $600 over the standard non-redundant model but in either case, these appliances deliver a wealth of storage features and owners of an RS2418+/RP+ looking for a performance upgrade path will find they offer a clearspeed boost over the older Atom-powered models.

Synology RS2421RP+ 16bay NAS RackStation (Diskless)
Synology RS2421+/RS2421RP+ are versatile 2U 16-bay storage servers designed to accommodate a diverse set of business environments. Scalable up to 24 drives, they are designed for cost-effective file management and sharing and include powerful backup capabilities designed for businesses with a growing data footprint
$ 2,445.00
Synology RackStation RS2421RP+
8.6Expert Score
Good value

SMBs looking for a high-capacity network backup vault will find the RackStation RS2421RP+ a tempting proposition. The dual PSUs do cost an extra $600 over the standard non-redundant model but in either case, these appliances deliver a wealth of storage features and owners of an RS2418+/RP+ looking for a performance upgrade path will find they offer a clearspeed boost over the older Atom-powered models.

Performance
8.5
Features
8.5
Build quality
8.5
Usability
9.5
Value
8
PROS
  • Good value
  • Solid build quality
  • High storage capacity
  • Much faster than the RS2418+
  • Plenty of data protection apps
  • PCI-Express slot
CONS
  • Maximum 32GB of memory

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