When it comes to running a business, the question of data storage can be tricky. Requirements usually exceed simply buying some cheap external storage, but most small businesses can’t justify the cost of buying an expensive enterprise-grade server. This is where a good NAS (network attached storage) device comes in handy. Note that we use the phrase ‘good’ NAS device, not cheap NAS device. For this NAS review, we recommend the Synology DS1815+. It’s a great example of a high quality NAS device and with the proper setup and notifications in place, it should suit any small business for years to come.
NAS devices are typically much more cost-effective than enterprise servers. However, by choosing a NAS device over something enterprise-grade, business owners are already sacrificing some level of quality for the sake of cost. Besides less storage, most of this cost-savings comes from using less expensive internal components, such as a scaled-down CPU, less RAM, and so on and so forth. After failing drives, failing internal components is one of the biggest concerns with these devices.
That’s one of the many reasons we’ve chosen a well-built, reliable, albeit more expensive NAS device in the Synology DS1815+. It certainly isn’t the cheapest device you can buy, but that’s not the point of this NAS review. As a data recovery organization that works with failures every single day, our main concerns are with reliability and quality, not price. Having said that, it is still far less expensive than having to shell out $10,000+ for an enterprise device.
Gillware recommends running the Synology DS1815+ in a RAID-6 configuration, allowing for two of the eight drives to fail before data loss occurs. With eight drives and two parity levels, the total storage capacity with RAID-6 is six drives worth of storage. Users have the option of either setting up their own RAID or using Synology’s own proprietary RAID software, called Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR). If you’re familiar with RAID management, you’re more than welcome to set up your own RAID, otherwise we recommend using Synology’s solution. IMPORTANT: Redundancy is not the same as backup. Just because you have your NAS device set up in a RAID configuration doesn’t make it secure from failure. Use a backup solution, preferably automatic, offsite, and secure, in conjunction with your NAS device.
Many users, in their rush to get their device up and running, neglect to set up notifications. This is just about the worst thing any given user can do, considering notifications are the only thing standing in the way of a total RAID failure. For the right RAID levels, it’s typically not a huge deal when one drive fails, as parity dictates that losing a drive won’t lead to data loss, assuming it is promptly replaced by a healthy drive and the RAID is rebuilt. For RAID-6, two drives can fail before data loss occurs. In either case, failed drives should be replaced as soon as possible as there is no way to predict when more drives will fail, and that’s not a gamble anyone should take.
You should be able to set up notifications through your DSM interface, choosing which forms of contact work best for you, including email, SMS, or other communication services like Skype. Select which options you think are most convenient and most likely to catch your attention in a timely manner. You may also set up multiple points of contact to further increase the likelihood that notifications are received and acted upon quickly.
You might also consider using Nagios, which is a free, open-source software used to monitor and alert for devices, networks, and more. Regardless of which platform you use, just make sure you set up notifications.
The Synology DS1815+ comes equipped with AES-NI encryption capabilities if encryption is a factor in your storage requirements. It’s based on AES 256-bit encryption with newer instructions to implement hardware acceleration for certain steps in the encryption process. You can encrypt your NAS device straight from the DSM interface, so it isn’t complicated. One of the advantages of purchasing a Synology NAS is their devices are extremely user-friendly, but not so simple that their interface stifles user customization where necessary.
The Synology DS1815+ comes equipped with a 2.4Ghz Intel quad-core CPU and 2GB of RAM, expandable up to 6GB. With four LAN ports on the back, users can opt for multiple connections for failover and link aggregation, protecting against potential downtime if a port fails and improving connection speeds. There are also 4 USB 3.0 ports.
Virtualization is also an option for the DS1815+, with support for VMWare, Citrix, and Microsoft Hyper-V, whichever solution the user prefers. In the same vein, there are countless ways that NAS devices can be utilized depending on a business’s specific requirements, whether that’s by using it as a BDR machine (backup and disaster recovery) or as a server of some sort. Whatever the case, the Synology DS1815+ is flexible to suit just about any need as long as backup is taken into account.
If storage requirements are expected to grow substantially over time, the DS1815+ can be connected to up to two extra DX513 expansion NAS units, which are 5-bay units. With (1) DS1815+ and the maximum (2) DX513s, the total storage capacity is brought up to 18 drive bays worth of storage.
For the actual storage component of your NAS, we recommend getting the Western Digital Gold Series drives. These drives are designed with 24x7x365 reliability in mind, are rated for 2.5 million hours MTBF (mean time between failures), and are great for enterprise, data center, and just all around high quality storage needs. There’s no reason to get a decent NAS device if it’s going to be paired with subpar hard drives, so these WD Gold drives are a great fit. They also come in capacities ranging from 1TB to 10TB so there’s something for everyone and if something is wrong with any of the drives, 24×7 phone support is available for all WD Gold hard drives, a service that clearly goes above and beyond any average hard drive.
Designed with data centers in mind, the WD Gold line is essentially the replacement for the last-gen line of WD Re hard drives. You can currently still buy both, but it is expected that the WD Re line will slowly be phased out in favor of the newer Gold drives. In terms of reliability, they aren’t brand new (released last year) which is actually favorable because this gives Western Digital time to sort out any ‘new product bugs’ that might have sprung up shortly after release. In all, the WD Gold line offers superior quality and reliability with capacities to suit anyone’s needs, making them a great fit for this month’s small business NAS review.
It should be fairly evident by now that as a data recovery company, we focus on reliability and quality over inexpensive options. Going for the cheaper option is at least slightly more understandable in the consumer space, but if you’re running a business, it’s almost always more cost-effective in the long run to go with reliability for a higher price. No one can afford to lose precious business data or suffer costly downtime, a hard lesson that many unfortunately only learn through experience.
The Synology DS1815+ is a great option for preventing those sorts of costly disasters and is made with high quality components to ensure a reliable build. It’s easy to set up, it offers customizability to suit any business’s needs, and you can be certain it will work exactly how it’s supposed to. Having said that, it is absolutely imperative that notifications are set up so the NAS device can communicate when things are wrong.
The same high standards are held for the WD Gold series of hard drives which is why we recommend you stock your NAS device with them. Highly rated and rigorously tested, these drives are fantastic. If you don’t go with the WD Gold series, we still recommend getting something above consumer-grade, for the same reason we recommend getting a good NAS device.
If you would like to purchase the Synology DS1815+ and the WD Gold series hard drives, you may find links below.