Jul 082013

Recently I needed to upgrade and replace my storage system which provides basic SMB dump file services, iSCSI, and NFS to my internal network and vSphere cluster. As most of you know, in the past I have traditionally created and configured my own storage systems. For the most part this has worked fantastic, especially with the NFS and iSCSI target services being provided and built in to the Linux OS (iSCSI thanks to Lio-Target).

A few reasons for the upgrade…

  1. I need more storage
  2. I need a pre-packaged product that comes with warranty.

Taking care of the storage size was easy (buy more drives), however I needed to find a pre-packaged product that fits my requirements for performance, capabilities, stability, support, and of course warranty. iSCSI and NFS support was an absolute must!

Some time ago, when I first started working with Lio-Target before it was incorporated and merged in to the linux kernel, I noticed that the parent company Rising Tide Systems mentioned they also provided the target for numerous NAS and SAN devices available on the market, Synology being one of them. I never thought anything of this as back then I wasn’t interesting in purchasing a pre-packaged product, until my search for a new storage system.

Upon researching, I found that Synology released their 2013 line of products. These products had a focus on vSphere compatibility, performance, and redundant network connections (either through Trunking/Link aggregation, or MPIO iSCSI connections).

The device that caught my attention for my purpose was the DS1813+.

Synology DS1813+

Synology DS1813+ Specifications:

  • CPU Frequency : Dual Core 2.13GHz
  • Floating Point
  • Memory : DDR3 2GB (Expandable, up to 4GB)
  • Internal HDD/SSD : 3.5″ or 2.5″ SATA(II) X 8 (Hard drive not included)
  • Max Internal Capacity : 32TB (8 X 4TB HDD) (Capacity may vary by RAID types) (See All Supported HDD)
  • Hot Swappable HDD
  • External HDD Interface : USB 3.0 Port X 2, USB 2.0 Port X 4, eSATA Port X 2
  • Size (HxWxD) : 157 X 340 X 233 mm
  • Weight : 5.21kg
  • LAN : Gigabit X 4
  • Link Aggregation
  • Wake on LAN/WAN
  • System Fan : 120x120mm X2
  • Easy Replacement System Fan
  • Wireless Support (dongle)
  • Noise Level : 24.1 dB(A)
  • Power Recovery
  • Power Supply : 250W
  • AC Input Power Voltage : 100V to 240V AC
  • Power Frequency : 50/60 Hz, Single Phase
  • Power Consumption : 75.19W (Access); 34.12W (HDD Hibernation);
  • Operating Temperature : 5°C to 35°C (40°F to 95°F)
  • Storage Temperature : -10°C to 70°C (15°F to 155°F)
  • Relative Humidity : 5% to 95% RH
  • Maximum Operating Altitude : 6,500 feet
  • Certification : FCC Class B, CE Class B, BSMI Class B
  • Warranty : 3 Years

This puppy has 4 gigabit LAN ports, and 8 SATA bays. There’s tons of reviews on the internet praising Synology, and their DSM operating system (based on embedded linux) on the internet, so I decided to live dangerously and went ahead and placed an order for this device, along with 8 X Seagate 3TB Barracuda drives.

Unfortunately, it’s extremely difficult to get your hands on a DS1813+ in Canada (I’m not sure why). After numerous orders placed and cancelled with numerous companies, I finally found a distributor who was able to get me one. I’ll just say the wait was totally worth it. Initially I also purchased the 2GB RAM add-on as well, so I had this available when the DS1813+ arrived.

I was hoping to take a bunch of pictures, and do thorough testing with the unit before throwing it in to production, however right from the get go, it was extremely easy to configure and use, so right away I had it running in production. Sorry for the lack of pics! 🙂

I did however get a chance to setup the 8 drives in RAID 5, and configured an iSCSI block based target. The performance was fantastic, no problems whatsoever. Even maxing out one gigabit connection, the resources of the unit were barely touched.

I’m VERY impressed with the DSM operating system. Everything is clearly spelled out, and you have very detailed control of the device and all services. Configuration of SMB shares, iSCSI targets, and NFS exports is extremely simple, yet allows you to configure advanced features.

After testing out the iSCSI performance, I decided to get the unit ready for production. I created 2 shared folders, and exported these via NFS to my ESXi hosts. It was very simple, quick, and the ESXi hosts had absolutely no problems connecting to the exports.

One thing that really blew me away about this unit, is the performance. Immediately after configuring the NFS exports, mounting them and using Storage vMotion to migrate 14 live virtual machines to the DS1813+ I noticed MASSIVE performance gains. The performance gains were so large, it put my old custom storage system to shame. And this is really interesting, considering my old storage system, while custom, is actually spec’d way higher then the storage unit (CPU, RAM, and the SATA controller). I’m assuming the DS1813+ has numerous kernel optimizations for storage, and at the same time does not have the overhead of a fully Linux distribution. This also means it’s more stable since you don’t have tons of applications running in the background that you don’t need.

After migrating the VMs I noticed that the virtual machines were running way faster, and were may more responsive. I’m assuming this is due to increased IOPS.

Either way I’m extremely happy with the device and fully recommend it. I’ll be posting more blog articles later detailing configuration of services in detail such as iSCSI, NFS, and some other things. I’m already planning on picking up an additional DS1513+ (5 bay unit) to act as a storage server for VM backups which I perform using GhettoVCB.

Update – August 16, 2019: Please see these additional posts regarding performance and optimization:

  11 Responses to “Synology DS-1813+ iSCSI/NFS – Review”

  1. Hello,
    Some more details or speed tests using iscsi would be greatly appreciated.
    Did you use all four lan ports? did you use any kind of aggregation or multi-pathing on it (LAG or MPIO)?
    speed on iscsi was above 100Mb/s?
    thank you

  2. Hi George,

    Unfortunately I only used iSCSI briefly while testing (I was still wondering if I should use iSCSI or NFS). I ultimately chose NFS so I could use the 19TB+ of storage I have for other things as well for the time being, and not just be stuck with a massive VMFS volume that I wouldn’t fill above 20%.

    With the brief tests I did, iSCSI did get over 120MB/sec read and write. The speeds closely matched NFS. Keep in mind that was while the RAID volume was initializing.

    Now with NFS, I’ve easily been getting 130-140MB/sec on a single Ethernet port. I haven’t done anything with MPIO or Link Aggregation. In the future I’ll probably start using these, but it won’t be for 4 months or so as I have no need at the moment.

    Chances are, when I get some more ESXi hosts, that’s when I’ll switch to iSCSI, and bust out MPIO.

    Hope that helps,

  3. What’s the speed of your hard drives?

  4. I have 8 X Seagate 7200.12 3TB drives

  5. very helpful, thanks

  6. Im thinking of switching from Drobo to this NAS. Before that i was using FreeNas. Switching mainly due to the link aggrigation. all reviews have been glowing.

  7. Please don’t trust RAID 5. Google the issues — you should not be using it even for non-important data.

    I have the same Synology, with 4x4TB with RAID 10 – I love it, too. And similar to you, I moved from a home brew linux box with a large storage array to this machine. After I got the Synology, I feel as if I wasted time on building my own setup over the years.

    I”m using it with an ESXi 5.5 server – I’m using NFS as I haven’t had time to test iSCSI to the ESXi box. However, I do have a iSCSI drive under Win7 and all works well.

    I’m planning on dedicating 1 NIC on the Synology to use as a crossover to the ESXi box. Hopefully I will see some improvements in the network and on the VM machines.

  8. I am currently running 3 ESX hosts on an ISCSI FreeNAS system for our private K-8 school with 9 VMs. Having no support and being completely dependent on this open source software is keeping me up at night. I am trying to get an idea of which model I need in our environment.

    I called Synology and spoke with someone but they ended up recommending a $5,000 (w/o disks) unit to me and I feel that it might be overkill for what we do.

    We run 2 domain controllers, a file server, an app server, print server, wsus server, library server (SQL database for checking out books, not heavily used), and a computer class lab server (never been used yet). Our active directory consists of 100 staff and 450 students. Our file server contains 3-4TB of data.

    I am hoping to run NFS with SSD caching for a total of 12 TB or so (which allows for us to double our current usage). But if I don’t need ssd caching I obviously don’t want to have to pay for it.

    What do you think about our setup and using this system? Can it handle it or should I look at higher models? Thanks for your help!

  9. Hello, I use DS1813 as DFS share storage and as DPM 2012 backup disk (2 separate iSCSI targets, block level).
    I did set up 2x LAN bond and gave it address x.x.x.244 and 3rd was set up as single, same range x.x.x.160…

    However, i needes an IPa address so I removed 3 LAN cconfig, even unpluggesd cable from it, but still in browser I open DMS web both on x.x.x.244 (active) and x.x.x.160 (unplugged) – there are no DNS pointers on AD on either ?!? how to reset network without losing iSCSI connectivity to it?

  10. Hi Kresimir,

    So you can’t access the web interface? I’m not sure what you mean by no DNS pointers on AD?

  11. […] you’re a regular reader you know that from my original plans (post here), and than from my issues later with iSCSI (post here), that I finally ultimately setup my Synology […]

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