The DS1019+ is Synology’s latest NAS server. Not that this means much since by later this year or the early next, there will likely be new ones. But right now, this new five-bay machine makes a formidable alternative to the DS1517+ or the DS1618+. You probably don’t need to keep waiting.
The new server is more affordable — costing just $650 disk-less — while delivering robust features. These include dual-channel 4K transcoding capability and support for virtual machines. It also has built-in NVMe M.2 slots to host two solid-state drives (SSDs) as the cache.
On the downside, the server does have a limited number of network and peripheral ports, a modest amount of RAM, and is without a PCIe add-on slot. All things considered, though, for most homes and small businesses, the DS1019+ has more than enough to make it worth the investment.
Synology 5 bay NAS DiskStation DS1019+ (Diskless)$633.49
- Excellent performance
- Tons of home and business features
- Powerful 4K transcoding engine
- Built-in NVMe M.2 slots
- Compact tool-free design
- No 10Gbps network option
- RAM caps at 8GB, NVMe SSDs only work as cache
- Few network and peripheral ports
- Paid version required for virtual machine migration
- Only two camera licenses included
Synology DS1019+ vs. DS1517+ vs. DS1618+
Per Synology’s naming convention, the new DS1019+ is the latest 2019 server and can house up to 10 internal drives — regular hard drives or standard SATA SSDs. Since this is a five-bay server, so where do you put the rest? That’s the job of the eSATA port on the server’s back. Using this port, you can add a DS517 extension unit, which has room for another five drives.
Similarly, the DS1517+ can handle five drives by itself but has two eSATA ports to host another ten drives via two extension units. The DS1618+ is a 6-bay server that can host two extension units.
With hard drive available at up to 14TB a piece, the DS1019+ itself can deliver up to 70TB of raw storage space, which is a lot even when you use one or even two of them for redundancy. As a result, in most cases, you won’t need to resort to an extension unit at all.
By the way, among Synology’s Plus severs, those with one eSATA port are categorized as low-price, less expandable. And the DS1019+ indeed costs less than the DS1517+ or the DS1618+.
Pro tip: Generally if you want 4K transcoding, avoid Synology servers powered by an Atom CPU and get one with a Celeron (or Pentium) CPU instead.
Synology DS1019+: Built-in NVMe slots, no PCIe add-on option
Unlike the case of the DS1618+, the DS1019+ doesn’t have a PCIe slot to host a Synology E10G17-F2 10GbE network card or a Synology M2D17 Dual M.2 SATA SSD. Consequently, you won’t have the option of having 10 Gbps network ports. But you can combine its two 1 Gbps network ports via Link Aggregation to create a 2Gbps connection.
In return, the Synology DS1019+ has two built-in M.2 NVMe slots, allowing you to use up to two solid-state drives (SSDs) to work as the server’s cache — they will not work as a storage volume. Note that the server uses these SSDs at the slow PCIe Gen 2 x1 link speed, which caps at 500 megabytes per second.
Before you get disappointed, keep in mind that 500 MB/s is twice the combined speed of the server’s two Gigabit LAN ports. As a result, there’s virtually no benefit to making the SSDs perform faster, which would, for sure, increase the hardware cost.
Limited amount of ports, inconvenient memory upgrade
As mentioned above, the DS1019+ has just one eSATA port. Furthermore, it also has only two USB 3.0 ports, one of the back and one on the front, and two Gigabit network ports. In most cases, these are enough, but if you opt to use the server’s virtual machines (more on this below), you might want to be able to dedicate a network port for each VM.
Unlike the DS1618+, which has the memory bays on the underside, if you want to upgrade the DS1019+’s RAM, you’ll need to open up its case. It’s not a super hard job but does require a screwdriver and some of your spare time.
Compact, tool-free design
Like most Synology servers released in the past five years, Synology DS1019+ has a tool-free design. There are five front-facing drive bays, and you can install/replace standard desktop hard drives without using any tools at all.
Each drive bay has a drive tray that includes two latches. You place a drive on a tray then snap the locks on both sides to secure it. Now slide the package into the bay, and that’s it! You can reverse the process to replace a drive. By the way, you can start using the server with just one hard drive. For data security, though, it’s recommended that you start with at least two.
Each of the trays has a lock to prevent accidental pullouts. The server includes a set of two keys for these locks. These are the same keys used in other servers, and you can order replacements when need be. Or you can use a small screwdriver.
Thanks to the fewer amount of ports, the DS1019+ is more compact than other 5-day servers, like the DS15xx+ units. It’s about half an inch (2.5 cm) narrower and an inch shorter. It uses an external power adapter, instead of an internal one, however, so there’s that extra piece of hardware.
Standard setup process
The DS1019+ has the same setup process as that of previous Synology servers. The reason is they all use the DiskStation Manager (DSM) operating system. That said, if you’ve used a Synology NAS before, you’ll feel right at home. It’s like once you’ve installed Windows 10 on one computer, you know how to do that on any computer.
That said, below are the general steps to get the DS1019+, or any other Synology NAS for that matter, up and running.
- Mount the internal drives on to the drives trays and insert them into the server.
- Connect the server to your router or switch using a network cable and turn it on.
- On a connected computer, download and run the Synology Assistant software. The application will detect the server from your network.
- Double click on the detected server and follow the wizard to install the DiskStation Manager (DSM) operating system directly from Synology’s website and finish with the initial setup process.
Alternatively, if you have an existing Synology NAS server and want to upgrade to the DS1019+, you need to remove the hard drives from the old server — must be one with the same or fewer drive bays — and install them on the new server. In this case, at first boot, you’ll be prompted to upgrade the OS to the latest version of DSM built for the new server, and you’re all set. All data and most settings of the old server will remain intact.
In all, it took me just about 20 minutes to get the server up and running, including the time to install its operating system.
Familiar interface and feature set
Synology’s DSM is by far the best operating system for NAS server. This Linux-based OS has a web interface with the same look and functionality as that of a native OS, like Windows or macOS.
There’s a start button, a taskbar, a desktop with icons link to different apps, and a Control Panel that gives access to the server’s essential apps and settings. You can run multiple apps at a time and manage them via different windows that can be resized, maximized, or minimized.
Most importantly, there’s a Package Center that allows access to a vast amount of useful add-on apps. The majority of these apps are available to all Synology servers.
There are more apps than any one person would needs. I have used just about a dozen or so. Most apps have so much depth that each deserves a full review of its own. The following are brief descriptions of some of my favorite apps, and all worked incredibly well in my tests.
Download Station: Manage your download from multiple sources. Most importantly, you can use it to search for what you want. There’s also a DS Get the mobile app for you to manage your downloads on your phone.
Video Station: Manage your collection of movies, TV shows, and home videos and stream them to other devices. It’s similar to having your own Netflix service. Alternatively, you can also use the Plex Server app. By the way, the DS1019+ is capable of 4K real-time transcoding for up to 2 channels of H.264/H.265 videos simultaneously.
Surveillance Station: These apps turn the NAS server into a DVR and a comprehensive surveillance solution when coupled with supported IP cameras. The DS1019+ includes two camera licenses but can handle up to 40 cameras. This app is so good that it deserves a separate review.
Cloud Station Server: This turns the server into a personal cloud and allows you to sync and back up data between and of multiple devices. It’s like Dropbox, but much better and without a monthly cost.
Hyper Backup: A handy backup app that automatically backs up the server’s content to a variety of backup destinations, including external hard drive, another NAS server, and a host of online storage services, including Google Drive, Amazon Drive, Microsoft Azure and more.
Snapshot and Replication: A powerful tool that automatically takes a data snapshot or creates a replication on a schedule. This app works similarly to Windows’ Shadow Copy and is a great tool to keep your data safe from ransomware attacks.
Synology Drive: This is the business version of the Cloud Station Server that allows for cross-platform synchronization and data access from anywhere. It also supports the Synology Office suite, which is an excellent alternative to Google Docs.
Synology MailPlus: Host your email server with up to five email accounts for free, or you can buy a license to host more. It’s an affordable alternative to Microsoft Exchange.
And there are many more apps. For business users, the DS1019+ can also join a domain (including Active Directory integration), and work as all kinds of specialized servers, such as Radius, VPN, DNS, and so on.
Photos of Synology’s popular apps
Synology DS1019+: Powerful virtual machine support
The business feature I love the most about the DS1019+ is its ability to host virtual machines via the Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) app.
The server is among a handful of Synology NAS servers that have this capability. In other words, you can run within the NAS server multiple virtual “computers,” including Windows, Linux, and Virtual DSM, allowing you to operate a whole system in a sandbox for testing. Or better yet, have an advanced office set up without having to buy additional hardware.
I tried this out with Windows Server 2016, and it worked out beautifully. Together with the Active Directory integration, I was able to create a centralized office environment with a domain server running inside the DS1019+. It was gratifying.
There are two options: VMM (free) and VMM Pro (subscription required). In most cases, the VMM is enough. It allows you to create as many virtual machines (VMs) as you like and run as many simultaneously as the NAS server’s resources can afford. Considering the DS1019+’s RAM caps at just 8GB, chances are you should only run a single VM at a time.
The coolest thing about VMM is that you can easily customize the resources for a VM, such as RAM, network connection, USB port access, and storage amount, at any time. You can also clone a VM or take a snapshot of it, and then, within seconds, go back to a previous state if something goes wrong.
Overall, I found this feature extremely valuable for small businesses. The only complaint I have about VMM is that you can’t migrate a VM from one NAS server to another. For that, you’ll need VMM Pro, which is only available as an annual subscription.
By the way, if you intend to use VMM, consider using a couple of SSDs as a cache (which I didn’t). In my experience, without the SSDs, the performance of the virtual Windows Server 2016 was sluggish but bearable.
Synology DS1019+: Excellent performance
Like the previous Synology server, the DS1019+ performed well in my testing. I tested the server with the following configuration:
- 8 GB of RAM
- 5 Seagate Iron Wolf 4TB hard drives in an SHR-2 setup (2-disks fault tolerance)
- No SSD cache
- A single Gigabit network connection (Link Aggregation not used.)
And its interface was responsive and fast. I was able to run multiple apps, including a virtual machine without any problem at all. In more than a week, everything worked flawlessly. The server was quiet and proved to be reliable.
As for throughput speeds, it’s always tricky to test a NAS server because the only way to see how fast it is is to copy data via a Gigabit connection, which caps at 128 MB/s. Considering the speed of an internal hard drive, which caps at 5 Gbps (768 MB/s), the network connection between the server and a client is always the bottleneck.
And since the server doesn’t have a 10 Gbps network port, nor did I have a 10 Gbps router, there wasn’t a way for me to find out the exact throughput speed of the DS1019+.
However, Gigabit is plenty fast, and I consistently got between 100 MB/s and120 MB/s of copy speeds from the server, even when it was busy performing other tasks. Overall, chances are you’ll be happy with the server’s performance, too.
With tons of features, fast performance, and a friendly price, the Synology DS1019+ is an excellent choice, especially for first-time buyers who care about 4K video transcoding. But if you have an older model that can still run the latest version of DSM, there’s no need to upgrade. The new server only has incremental improvements.
And if you’re really into running virtual machines, a beefier server that can handle more RAM, host more hard drives, and have the option of 10 Gbps network, like the DS1618+, is probably a better choice.