Review: Synology DS718+ Diskstation


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/11/21/review-synology-ds718-diskst.html


#2

Do you keep it stored in your safe?


#3

I got one of the ARM based Diskstations a couple of years ago to replace my aging and unsupported Home Server. Despite not being powerful enough to do anything like transcode video on the fly, it’s been more than capable of serving my media library and backing up our files and folders, both locally and to the cloud. As an added bonus it also doubles as a security camera system so I can see what my dogs have been up to when I’m at work.


#4

I have an older (614?) Synology Diskstion. Really great gadget.It synchs my three Linux systems and a Windows system.

There’s a lot of options and apps, but I rarely look at them.

I still back up to thumb drives now and then, and once a week the Diskstation RAID does a scheduled back up to an external 1 tB USB.

If I were paranoid, I’d get two external drives and schedule backups on alternate weeks, and put the “off” drive at a friend’s house or something.


#5

I’m calling BS. “Dumb consumers” think a LAMP stack is something you might find at the IKEA loading dock.


#6

I kind of wanted to turn the safe into a giant technological storage server thingamajig, but cooling would be a real problem.


#7

Think of it as a choice made. I did Cisco academy 15 years ago, but I don’t want to be a CCNA at home. I just want an appliance.


#8

Avoid, regardless of costs. Hateful, hateful boxes…

(I use a basement linux server made of discarded garbage, but you already knew that.)


#9

Something about these Linux based turnkey NAS devices leaves me unsettled - particularly as they broaden to allow all these additional apps. But - without simply being an actual standard Linux distribution, with signed security updates from say, Debian upstream.

Everything just sounds like increased attack surface, for relatively little sysadmin benefit.

Do you think that they provide prompt bug fixes and security updates for the life of the device? Generic Linux distributions do.

It seems like one might have to be less of a sysadmin for something turnkey like this… but by the time you add all the additional apps and plugins… might the sysadmin effort work out to be exactly equivalent?

I’m sure on the software side, there will be integration & apps that don’t exist for generic Linux, or aren’t as good in their generic Linux implementation. But - there will also by crappy things in any given ecosystem - maybe Synology’s Dropbox-comparable Android app is great, but it probably won’t be as refined as Dropbox itself. And how secure is it, really? And will it get prompt fixes for security bugs?

For sure the requirement that syncing is done via their servers means that in addition to the privacy downsides, they have ongoing cost to service your device. What happens when they get tired of doing that? They’ll turn off their servers and your device will downgrade significantly. Other than tying you to their service, I’m really not sure why they wouldn’t implement this syncing via TOR - then not only would you not need to punch holes in your firewall, you’d also be able to do a direct device-to-device sync using TOR addresses for each device.

By all accounts, you cannot simply install generic Linux on the Synology devices (but you can on some others).

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=14P-0016-00036 provides as best I can tell, identical specs, for a (slightly cheaper) price - probably one of those “made in the same factory in China during the night shift” kind of things.

For the price, you do NOT get Synology’s operating system and apps, but whether that is a disadvantage or not is… up to the buyer I guess.


#10

You have to keep spare drives around anyway, for when one fails. Format one and keep it in your fire safe, unpowered. Every month or two, pull it out and sync your most critical files to it.


#11

I brought a NAS, a good 5+ years ago. Has turned out to be the absolute backbone of the house LAN.

(Thecus N0503, a now rather elderly Intel Atom based system)

It was expensive, but turned out to be worth every penny. Every device in the house capable of a network share now has access to a shared ~4TB pool (3x2TB RAID5) of redundant storage that is available at high-speed 24/7.
My VM server PC (via xenserver virtualization) runs almost all of it’s storage mapped over the LAN to this.

The addons on the NAS are both more basic and more complex (ie, basic, or requires a full VM development box to compile software for it), but i upgraded it’s RAM, (1GB to it’s 2GB hardware max) and it does what it needs to well :slight_smile:


#12

Given the complexity of these, they are doing a nearly decent job. I own an DS211j, and I still get updates. And I haven’t heard too much about Synology-specific attacks.

@beschizza, two things I really love about the synos are the Plex stuff and the Logitech media server stuff. The former, running on a remote NAS, solved the problem of downloading videos to my local one. I just stream via Plex and Kodi.
The latter neatly synchronises several audio sinks and enables access from them to my audio files. I know someone who runs the spotty app as well, allowing them to use their sqeezeboxes with their premium Spotify account despite then breaking the library support.

ETA: Spelling mishap. THEM, not THEN. Spotify killed email the lib the sqeezeboxes needed to access Spotify. The syno app runs on better models than mine and bridges to Spotify so you still can use your old devices.


#13

Are the WDs evil in some particular way beyond the usual bottom-of-barrel-just-enough-ARM-SoC-to-run-dangerously-shoddy-firmware standards?

I’ve never heard anything nice about them; but also hadn’t heard any specific ugly stories(configurable only through ‘the cloud’ despite being on the LAN, phoning home, etc.) Are they just too scungy to be worth bothering with, or is there uglier dirt?


#14

What really drove me personally off the deep end was the shoddy firmware that wouldn’t let me turn off the auto-sleep “feature”. I’d be in the middle of rsyncing three quarters of a terabyte and the drive would spin down, or if you just left it alone without a disk write for 15 minutes it would spin down. But the build quality was crap, too - I took it apart.

Since then several friends have bought the more recent myCloud versions, and I found out because they complained about the poor performance and quality… but I’ll never buy anything with that name on it again.


#15

Ah, but do you have a beard and wear suspenders?


#16

#17

I used to have a NAS until one day the power supply died, with a puff of smoke. At least now the units and the drives are cheaper, but still, it is not really something you want to rely on as your only backup, especially since besides the reliability issue, a natural disaster can take out your computer and your backup too. Cloud may or may not be better, though. Recently I looked at iDrive, a cloud storage provider, and the fine print in their user agreement says they don’t guarantee that they use redundant storage. Amazon S3 is more expensive, but it is backed by redundant storage and it’s not in your living room. So that is my backup solution for now, costly though it is.


#18

I use Linux on my home computers – desktop, two laptops, DVR – with one Windows box I turn on to run Quicken and Turbotax and such.


#19

NAS systems for home keep getting cheaper and cheaper; I recently bought a Zyxel unit with 2 2TB disks running Raid 1 for just over $150 altogether. This is less than I spent for my previous, one-drive 1TB NAS device.

The flavor of Linux that these boxes run can usually be enhanced with something like optware/entware, but even with extra apps there can be issues with backing up from one company’s NAS to another company’s NAS, which makes having redundant systems at home difficult unless you buy all your systems from the same company at the same time.

This is definitely a concern, especially with apps that interact with the cloud. My solution is to not run any such apps, and to use my router to keep any NAS ports closed to the outside network. I don’t think that would stop a determined, knowledgeable hacker from breaking into my home system.


#20

There is no such thing as only backup. 3-2-1 or nothing. 3 copies, 2 types of media, 1 offsite. A NAS will serve very well as one of your 3 copies, and it can easily back that up offsite. Beats the hell out of shipping hard drives somewhere.