Easy to use NAS made for everyone.
Most of the DiskStation models we’ve reviewed from Synology mostly caters to the office or enterprise crowd, but the DiskStation DS218j enters the lineup as a NAS device more suited for home use. It may be deemed entry-level, but its assortment of features and performance makes it far from being in that category.
The DS218j is a two-bay NAS that can be used with 3.5 internal hard disks along with the option to connect external drives with the USB 3.0 port. It’s powered by a 1.3 GHz dual-core processor along with 512 MB of RAM. We mentioned that it uses 3.5-inch hard disks, but you also have the option to use a 2.5-inch hard disk using the included adapter.
The NAS comes in a glossy white exterior which I’m not really a fan of since I found it littered with fingerprints after installing the hard disk – I prefer the matte finish of the other models. On the front, you will find LED lights for the NAS and HD status. Installing the hard disk is quick and easy – you can simply pop in the hard disk and then use the included screws to secure it in place, close the lid, connect the Ethernet port and power it up.
Once the DS218j is up and running you can open your browser and check find.synology.com to look for the device. I’ve installed brand new hard disks on the DS218j I was testing, which also meant that it has to download Synology DiskStation Manager (DSM), the operating system running on the NAS.
Once DSM is installed you’d be presented with a wizard that will guide you on additional applications that you may want to install. There are apps for viewing Photos, Video and Audio from the browser or your smartphone and you also set up apps like Plex to stream content from your hard drive to any compatible player in your home.
Synology DSM runs on a web browser and I personally find it very easy to use because of the desktop-like interface. You have app icons that you can launch and you can minimize windows on the taskbar. Pretty much all the basic NAS tasks are supported by DSM, including the data encryption.
DSM will also let you create a QuickConnect ID during setup that will enable you to access the DSM UI from anywhere. This makes it easier to manage your own files no matter where you are and accessing it through a web UI makes it easier and you don’t even need to open any ports on the router you’re currently using.
Synology’s Package Center is the central hub to install different apps on the DS218j. Everything from media servers to antivirus programs is available. It’s easy to install and configure any app, and just in case you don’t want to use it anymore, just simply remove it.
I installed Plex where it managed to scan and show all the movies I’ve saved on my hard disk. From there I accessed the files through my Apple TV where it played it without any hiccups. One thing to note is that the DS218j doesn’t support transcoding so make sure that the file you are streaming is supported on the platform you’re viewing it on. In my case, the Apple TV had trouble with some video files but my iPhone easily played any file through the VLC app. Other apps like the Download Station lets you queue various downloads so you can access them later and yes, it even supports torrent files.
My current setup includes two 1 TB WD Red hard drives connected on a wired Gigabit Ethernet connection. File transfer tests that included a folder containing hi-res images and documents averaged around 110 MB/s, which translates to around a minute of transfer for a 4 GB file.
For a home NAS setup, the DS218j fits the bill perfectly. The easy-to-use user interface and excellent performance make the Synology DiskStation DS218j a top choice for a home NAS device.
+ Great file transfer performance
+ Excellent user interface
+ Plethora of apps that you can install
– No onboard video transcoding
Final Rating: 4/5