Most small office / home office business environments tend to share one commonality, IT needs with a limited supporting budget for it. So we all look for those deals to get the best bang for our buck. Often times, we don't need all the bells and whistles and sometimes complex headaches that come with a robust server setup for their networks, not to mention the high price tag that always seems to come along with it.

A small business NAS (Network Attached Storage) has been a popular SMB-level solution as it has the necessary capability at about a third of the cost. It is easy to set up and configure offering much of the same functions that a pricier server offers. Shared files, cloud synchronization, VPN-Sever for remote access, Print server, Etc.

Here we have an overview of the latest NAS storage for small business we feel that is best suited for small businesses and their needs. Previously we review an older version of a competitive small business NAS by QNAP.

DS218J from Synology

Features/specifications:

CPU 32bit Dual Core 1.3 GHz with 512 MB DDR3 system memory
2x drive bays
Supports 3.5 or 2.5 inch drives
2x USB ports 3.0
1 RJ-45 1GbE LAN Port
6.5 X 3.9 X 8.9 inches
RAID 0, RAID 1, JBOD, Basic, and Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR) supported

Pros:

Reasonably priced
User friendly
Easy to use
Robust list of apps

Cons:

Cannot Be Expanded
Not Hot Swappable 
No drives included
No HDMI output

open case synology nasOut of the box the DS218J comes with:

- Main Unit
- Accessory Pack
- AC Power Adapter
- RJ-45 LAN Cable
- Quick Installation Guide

Big things in a little package:

Measuring in at 6.5 by 3.9 by 8.9 inches and weighing under 2 pounds, the DS218J has a small form factor allowing it to be inconspicuous and tucked away just about anywhere. The front of the enclosure has 4 LED indicators: system status, LAN activity, and one for each disk. Just below this these is the power button also with a LED status indicator. On the back we have a pair of 3.0 USB ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, a power port and a reset button.

Inside running everything we have a 32bit Dual Core 1.3 GHz processor 512 MB DDR3 system memory and two drive bays supporting 2.5 or 3.5 inch drives with a Maximum single volume Capacity 16 TB per drive (x 2). Unfortunately the drives are not included.

Though designed with personal use in mind, this NAS storage clearly fits the bill for small businesses with its affordable price and robust list of available apps fulfilling needed roles. The DiskStation Manager operating system is easy to use with its Widows desktop feel and allows you to configure the DS218J for a plethora of uses including a full backup solution with use of its RAID redundancy option, A security surveillance monitor, VPN server, file share print server and many more.

Once you get everything set up - Hard drives installed, attached to the network, plugged in and powered on - you can get started. Open a browser on your workstation, and navigate to find.synology.com/ you'll be brought to a welcome page. Select setup and you are taken through a basic setup guide. Once complete you have the Diskstation Manager (DSM) a web based GUI available to you. DSM also supports cross-platform allowing files access from the most common systems such as Windows, Uinx, and Mac.

Navigating the console: Selecting the "package center" allows you to access the current list of default "installed" packages such as media server, File Station, Download Station and Hyper Backup. You can also view the 100+ other packages available provided by Synology as well as third party utilities to install and customize your small business NAS to fit your needs. Everything from mail, DNS, backup, VPN, media, surveillance, streaming and more.

Accessing the Control Panel provides options for File Sharing, Connectivity, System, allowing you total control over detailed settings. Under File Sharing you have the ability to create shared folders, groups, users and assign permissions for access control join a Microsoft domain (connect to Active Directory) and LDAP. Under Connectivity you can configure firewall, router, DHCP, wireless, networks settings. With system you can set your own theme, email or SMS notifications, control over externally attached devices, Fan behavior, power schedules, customized scheduled and triggered scripted tasks for the more advanced users. There are many more options too numerous to list.

From the upper left corner of the interface you can select the main menu which opens a display of all your available utilities, providing access to the resource monitor, log center, support center, storage manager to create volumes set RAID, the EZ-Internet Wizard which helps you to configure your network so you can access your DiskStation over the internet. Similar to Microsoft Windows, you can easily drag and drop the icons to the desktop for quick access and any open application will display on the task bar across the top to easily pan between applications. There are mobile apps for Android, iOS, and Windows.

From the top right you have features like your notifications, profile settings, search option, and a great Widget HUD that allows you to see important details at a glance.
synology screenshot
If you find yourself wanting to use an unfamiliar you can take advantage of the vast helpful knowledge-base available with DSM Help already conveniently placed on your desktop for easy access. It has everything you need from an external link to the Synology KB site to a handful for video tutorials. By selecting the DSM & Packages link you are taken to the internal DSM Help. The left navigation pane outlines all the DSM features and a listing of all of the current apps you have installed.

After all is said and done, the DS218J is a great entry-level NAS storage for small business with all you can ask for in terms of the best bang for your buck. Coming in a little under the $200 dollar mark, its biggest drawback being that it would cost more to fill it with storage than the device itself. The DSM is user friendly, easy to navigate, quick to setup and get you going on your way. The 1.3GHz and 512MB DDR3 provides good performance, its quiet fan and small stature keeps it out of the way.

Now get out there and get NASing and don't forget your drives, feel free to reward yourself with a pair of 5-10TB drives with the savings.
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