20 TB Synology NAS: DS418play – My Server for Plex, Backups, and Extra Storage
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20 TB Synology NAS: DS418play – My Server for Plex, Backups, and Extra Storage

A NAS is a critical component to support all
my devices at home. At its most basic form it’s just another
simple computer on your network that you leave on 24/7. I use it to automatically backup important
files, save large video projects, use it as a centralized location to store and stream
my media files over Plex to my TVs, and to run server applications that operate continuously
throughout the day. For years I’ve used a NAS that I built with
some spare computer parts that I had laying around but this DIY route can be a little
advanced for some users and is a bit larger and more power hungry than I would like. So instead I’m going to try a prebuilt NAS,
the Synology DS418play. Going the Synology route is definitely a smaller
and simpler build to put together, the diskstation user interface is really easy to get everything
configured and running, and there are a variety of easy to install applications to add additional
support for cloud syncing, email servers or even video surveillance storage. While it will also work as a Plex Media Server
if you’re direct playing videos, software transcoding is limited with the slow Intel
Celeron CPU, but alternatively you could just use Synology’s DS Video player and take
advantage of its hardware transcoding. Hi I’m David and here are my thoughts on
the Synology DS418play. Full disclaimer this hardware was provided
to me for testing. First let’s quickly take a look at the hardware
of the Synology DS418play. This NAS has 4 drive bays but I’m currently
only populating it with three 10tb Seagate Ironwolf drives. One of the best features with Synology NASes
is their Synology Hybrid RAID that provides both data protection and flexible expansion
when upgrading in the future. In this configuration I have access to 20tb
of storage, with one drive used as redundancy. So if one of the drives happens to fail, I’ll
be protected and still have access to all my files. Also since I still have an extra drive bay
available, in the future if I need to add more storage I can populate it will another
10tb or larger drive and the Synology Hybrid RAID will automatically expand and protect
all the drives from a single disk failure. Looking at the rest of the hardware on the
NAS, inside you’ll find an Intel Celeron J3355 CPU, 2 GB of system memory that can
be expanded up to 6 GB with another memory module. On the front you have basics such as a power
button, USB 3.0 port, drive access indicators, and locking mechanisms on all the drive bays
to keep from accidentally pulling them out. On the back is another USB 3.0, Kensington
Lock, two network ports for either link aggregation or failover support. But in my testing I just used one of the gigabit
lan ports and saw consistent read and write transfer speeds with my large video files
that pretty much saturate the gigabit network line. And finally on the back are the two fans that
keep everything cool. Noise from the fans was pretty quiet during
my typical use but hard drive noise is noticeable through the case with these faster spinning,
larger multi platter drives. So be sure to consider where you’re placing
the device to avoid sound sensitive areas with this setup. The next best thing about this Synology NAS
is the super easy to use DiskStation Manager OS. It has a very similar feel to using an operating
system kind of like Windows 10 but you access it over your web browser. The first time you boot up, it automatically
installs and updates, with a basic wizard guiding you through the initial configurations
and shortly after your NAS is ready to be used as network storage device. Configuring basic things in DiskStation Manager
is super simple as well. Add shared folders to organize all your files,
or even encrypt folders. Add and manage user accounts with permissions
to specific folders. Configure the QuickConnect feature so you
can connect to your NAS from anywhere with internet connection
Setup notification services to receive alerts on the status of your NAS. Schedule Tasks
And there’s a lot more that can be configured but the Synology Knowledge database does a
pretty good job on describing all their features and how to set them up. The Package Center is pretty much the app
store for Synology. From here there is variety of different applications
you can easily install to add additional features to the NAS. Applications for automatic backups to the
cloud or other NASes, utilities for a mail server or IP camera storage, but the main
applications I use on this NAS are Plex, DS VideoStation, and Docker. DS VideoStation is Synology’s own application
for streaming media files from the NAS to your various devices locally or over the internet. Very similar to Plex, it allows you to access
Movies, TV Shows, and any other videos, automatically organized with episode metadata and thumbnails. VideoStation can also take advantage of the
hardware transcoding capability of the CPU to transcode 4K H264 or H265 media files to
devices up to 1080p max. For the most part DS VideoStation works well
as a media server the only main limitations I noticed are it doesn’t support transcoding
the odd audio sources such as DTS or Dolby True HD, and any H265 10-bit files can’t
be hardware transcoded either. But if you stick to direct playing without
transcoding or only transcode H264 or H265 files you should be fine. Alternatively Plex is the other popular application
for organizing and streaming your media files that can be manually installed on the NAS. And I personally prefer to use it over DS
VideoStation since it does a better with generating the right metadata and thumbnails for movies
automatically. And the user interface does a better job displaying
TV shows episodes you’re currently watching, or newly added media upfront with the On Deck
home screen. The one downside is though is currently with
the free public version of Plex Media Server it doesn’t support hardware transcoding. And the CPU on this NAS is too slow for most
transcoding tasks. It’s fast enough for Audio transcoding to
support those DTS or Dolby audio files. But it’s just barely fast enough for 1080p
H264 or H265 video files. So anything beyond that is pretty much out
of the question. But if you’re just direct playing all your
media files to devices that natively support your files everything will work perfectly
fine. Docker is that last application that I use
but just a warning it isn’t actually officially supported on this model. I was able to manually install and it seems
to work perfectly fine so far for my basic containers but no guarantees without official
support. Overall the Synology DS418play is a solid
NAS solution. Easy to use, small footprint, power efficient,
and lots of easy to install apps to add various server functionality. Perfect for anyone who wants a simple drop
in solution for centralizing files at home or as part of a backup strategy. It does also work as a media server with transcoding
support if you use the DS VideoStation application, or Plex also works too but it’s best to
stick to compatible files so everything plays directly. And while the DIY route is still a good option
if you need to build a more powerful NAS, already have some parts laying around, and
don’t mind spending more time tinkering to get everything up and running. For those people who just want a NAS and get
up running as quickly as possible, the Synology DS418play is probably the better recommendation. But hope you guys enjoyed this one. You know what to do. And I’ll see you in the next video.


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