Synology DS218j: A quick and simple way to add terabytes of network attached storage

I found myself in need of some more storage, so I grabbed myself a Synology DS218j NAS drive, and a couple of 3TB hard drives suited for NAS use.

Cloud storage is all the rage, but sometimes you need local storage that's fast and allows for the handling of many gigabytes of data. This is where having a NAS -- Network Attached Storage -- drive really comes into its own.

One of my requirements for local storage is redundancy of drives, which means, at minimum, having a 2-bay enclosure. After a bit of research, I went for a Synology DS218j dual-bay enclosure, and a couple of 3TB Seagate IronWolf hard drives, drives specifically designed for NAS usage.

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The Synology DS218j NAS enclosure is a pretty basic unit.

Made of ABS plastic, it feels a bit cheap and lightweight, but the enclosure seems robust enough for general office use (you're not going to be knocking this thing about and crashing it to the floor too much -- hopefully). It's tiny, both in terms of size and weight, compared to the ioSafe Duo, but that's for an entirely different market.

Synology DS218j Tech Specs:

  • Speeds of 113 MB/s reads, 112 MB/s writes
  • Dual-core CPU with hardware encryption engine.
  • Operating Temperature: 5°C to 40°C (40°F to 104°F)
  • Everywhere access with iOS/Android/Windows ready mobile apps
  • An integrated media server supporting multimedia streaming.
  • Maximum Single Volume Size: 16 TB
  • Compatible drive - 3.5-inch SATA HDD; 2.5-inch SATA HDD and 2.5-inch SATA SSD with optional 2.5-inch Disk Holder

The unit comes with all the screws and cables and adapters you need, but not any tools for the screws, so make sure you have a couple of Phillips screwdrivers handy. Also, the instructions don't tell you which screws are for which job, so if you're not familiar with fitting hard drives into things, you could end up trying to shove the wrong fastener into the wrong hole, causing all sorts of carnage.

Fitting the two drives into the unit wasn't that tricky. A couple of the screws are a little awkward to get to with a screwdriver, and there's a little metal plate for attaching the two drives together, but the placement of which is a bit vague (and the instructions are of no help).

After fitting the two drives into the unit, buttoning it up, connecting it to the network and powering it up, comes the initial setup. I chose to use the iPhone app for set up, and on the whole, the process was pretty painless. The app scanned the network, detected the NAS, downloaded the new firmware, formatted the drives, and set everything up pretty much without any user interaction. The only bit that I found annoying was the numerous end-user license agreements that I found myself needing to agree to in order to be able to use the device I'd purchased.

All in all, the Synology DS218j is a good option for scenarios where you need a cheap network attached storage without any real frills. The tech specs are pretty basic, but acceptable for a device that retails for under $270.

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