Easy to set up and operate, full private cloud solution, flexible
The days of the big dumb NAS are behind us. Network Attached Storage has moved from simply serving out files across the network to a sophisticated device that can act as a web server, email system, cloud application server, web server and almost anything else you can think of.
Synology’s DS916+ can be loaded up with four large hard drives – up to 8TB each for a massive 32TB of total capacity – and clustered with other NAS units for added redundancy now that we work in the 24/7 era where downtime can’t be tolerated.
The DS916+ is quiet and can be hidden away easily. At 165 mm x 203 mm x 233.2 mm, it takes about the same amount of space on a shelf as five paperback novels. It boasts a pair of gigabit Ethernet ports and can be connected to your network wirelessly, using a USB dongle although that’s not included in the box.
Synology Disk Station Manager (DSM) software is the interface that is used to control the DS916+’s settings, install add-on packages that extend the NAS’ capability and monitor its performance. It’s an icon-driven interface, based on Linux, that is very easy to use.
The set up process was straightforward and it didn’t take long to have the DS916+ serving files on my network. If you’re moving from another Synology NAS, then it may be possible to simply take the disks from the old NAS to the new one as the DS916+ supports migration from some models.
As you’d expect, you can create personal folders for multiple users and there’s support for groups so you can secure shared folders. It works with LDAP and Active Directory so you can use those systems to authenticate users.
I run a number of WordPress sites so I decided to set up a test site on the DS916+. WordPress requires a backend database and PHP to be installed but Synology’s Package Center looked after all that, installing all the bits and pieces needed. I exported the contents of one my sites and imported them to the NAS. All done, I had the site up and running in under ten minutes.
Synology’s high-end NASes, such as the DS916+, support a full suite of web applications for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, email and calendar services. In short, a small business could deploy a full, private cloud solution including productivity software where you retain control of where your data is stored.
It also supports iTunes, Plex, Logitech and a number of other media server platformsso it can be used for fun as well as work.
Performance was excellent. Bear in mind that NAS performance is influenced by a number of variables such as the disks you install, your LAN performance and even the quality of your network cabling. I connected the DS916+ to my router via a CAT6 cable and accessed the data I copied to the NAS using a Mac mini and a MacBook Pro connected to my network wirelessly over 802.11ac.
Media streamed seamlessly with very little waiting. I could copy files and back and forth with ease and speeds were excellent.
Data protection is also a priority with support for Time Machine as well as the ability to cluster multiple NAS units so, in the event one becomes unavailable you automatically failover to another to ensure continuity of service. And you can also back up the DS916+ to Amazon’s cloud services and connect the NAS to Dropbox, Google Drive and other services.
Macworld Australia’s buying advice: Synology’s DS916+ is a great server for business users and those who want to control their data while keeping it secure. Every step from setup to serving files and backing up is made as easy as possible.