Synology DS419slim Review: A Little Server that Could

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The Synology DS419slim is a tiny little machine.

The Synology DS419slim is the latest in Synology’s “slim” line of NAS servers which use 2.5-inch standard (laptop) hard drives instead of the 3.5-inch standard (desktop) drive. As a result, the new server is super compact despite the fact it can house up to four internal drives. But in the world of network-attached storage devices, size matters — the DS419slim indeed has modest hardware specs.

So, you can’t expect the DS419slim to deliver the same level of performance and features as a full-size server, like the DS1019+, or even the DS218+.  But the DS419slim is still a robust NAS system which is, in some aspects, better than a larger server. If you live in a cramped place, at $329 (disk-less), the DS419slim is still an excellent buy.

Synology DS419slim NAS Server

8.3

Performance

8.0/10

Features

8.5/10

Design and Setup

8.0/10

Value

8.5/10

Pros

  • Fast and reliable performance
  • Robust operating system with lots of add-on features
  • Straightforward setup process and easy to use
  • Built for SSDs

Cons

  • Limited hardware specs and storage space
  • Memory maxes out at 512 MB
  • No support for Btrfs file system
  • Only two camera licenses included

Synology DS419slim: Familiar design, modest hardware

The DS419slim is a bit of a personal story for me since I’ve had an older server, the DS411slim, since 2011. Upon getting the new server, I realized the two appeared almost identical. Synology releases a slim server every couple of years. Between the two, there were the DS414slim and DS416slim that came out in 2014 and 2016, respectively, per Synology’s naming convention.

All these slim machines are more similar to one another than not.

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech
The Synology DS419slim has modest hardware specs that are not upgradeable.

Synology DS411slim vs. DS419slim

In the case of the 411 and the 419, both are four-bay servers with back-facing drive bays. Both share the same drive trays — you can use them interchangeably. They two share the same front design with a USB port and an array of status lights. And both have the power button on the side and the ventilation fan on the underside.

There are just a few differences: The DS411slim uses USB 2.0 and has only one Gigabit LAN port. It has another USB and an eSATA port on the back. It also has a USB Copy button that you can press on to quickly backup the content of a connected thumb drive onto the server. The DS419slim, on the other hand, uses USB 3.0, has two Gigabit LAN ports (with Link Aggregation support), and two additional USB ports on the back. It forgoes the USB Copy button and the eSATA port.

On the inside, the DS419slim has 512MB of DDR3 RAM compared to the 256MB of the DS411slim. Here’s the disappointing part: You can’t upgrade its memory. Having this little amount of memory — many routers have the same or even more RAM — the DS419slim is not suitable for intensive tasks, like media transcoding, hosting virtual machines, or heavy multitasking.

And the server’s processing power is also limited, the DS419slim sports a Marvell Armada 385 88F6820 dual-core processor running at 1.3GHz. This CPU is the lowest-end among those used in NAS servers released this year, even though it’s a lot better than the single core 1.6Ghz Marvel Kirkwood 88F6282 processor of the DS411slim.

Easy hardware installation

The DS419slim is available disk-less. To add storage to the server, you place a 2.5-inch drive on a tray, secure it with four little screws (included) — you do need a screwdriver –, and insert the tray into the server. Repeat that to add more drives.

There’s no lock to keep the tray in place, but the tray fits in snugly, and you do need to exert some force to pull it out. That, plus the fact the drive bays are on the server’s back, limit the chances of accidental drive removal.

The server supports all standard 2.5-inch SATA hard drives. You don’t even need to use the same drives or even drives from the same vendor. If you want to get the best out of the server, though, I’d recommend Seagate’s new Ironwolf 110 NAS solid-state drives (SSDs). These SSDs work with any NAS servers, but with a slim server like the DS419slim, they will fit right in — you won’t need to use caddies or converters like in a full-size system.

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The Seagate IronWolf NAS SSD is a perfect match for the Synology DS419slim.

Multiple RAID options

The DS419slim can house up to four drives, but you need just one to start using it. For data security, though, it’s recommended that you start with two. When multiple disks are in use, the server supports all applicable standard RAID options — where the drives are bundled together to deliver better performance and data security in case one of them dies.

On top of that, you can also use Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR). SHR automatically allows for a balance of redundancy and performance depending on the number of drives available. For example, if you use two discs, it will be like a RAID 1, but if you use three or more disks, SHR is now similar to a RAID 5. What’s more, with SHR, you can use internal drives of different capacities, enabling you to scale up the server’s storage with ease.

Standard setup process

Running the latest version of Synology’s DiskStation Manager (DSM) operating system, the DS419slim enjoy the same setup process as that of other Synology servers. Insert drives, connect the server to your network, turn it on, and run the Synology Assistant software from a connected computer. The rest is self-explanatory.

By the way, in my case, I tried moving drives from my old DS411slim over, and that worked without a hitch. All of my data and settings were migrated over once I updated DSM to the version made for the DS419slim.

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Overall, if you’re new to network storage, this server can be a bit of a learning curve. But if you have worked with web users interfaces before. Or better yet if you have some experience with Synology NAS servers (or router, like the MR2200ac) you’ll find the DS419slim manageable. It’s not plug-n-play, but it’s more fun than it’s hard.

Synology DS419slim’s specifications

Synology DS419slim: A lesser NAS server

As mentioned above, due to the modest amount of RAM and overall hardware specs, the DS419slim doesn’t have all that you can find in a full-size server like the DS1019+.

What is missing

The biggest shortcoming, however, is the lack of support for the Btrfs file system; instead, you’re stuck with the older EX4. Among other things, this means you won’t be able to set quotas for shared folders and use snapshot — a form of shadow copy — to protect data from unintended alterations, such as ransomware.

The server won’t support virtual machines and video transcoding, either. Generally, if you’re looking for a server to do heavy tasks, the DS419slim is not for you. This server only fulfills essential network storage needs and provides lightweight services.

Supported apps

But if you’re wondering what you can do with the DS419slim? The answer is A LOT. The table below lists the main available functions of the server.

Note that these are not all since you’ll find some 100 packages in the Package Center. Generally, any average home user will find all that they need regarding general data sharing, synchronization, and backup with the DS419slim and more.

What’s more, you’ll also have access to popular and useful apps for all types of off and office needs. So, it’s safe to say you can expect the core Synology NAS experience with the DS419slim and then some.

Synology DS419slim’s detail photos

Synology DS419slim Front
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The Synology DS419slim share the same front design as previous slim servers.

Synology DS419slim Right Side
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The server’s right side.

Synology DS419slim Left Side
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The server’s left side. Note the power button and the omission of the USB Copy button.

Synology DS419slim Bottom
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The Synology DS419slim’s only ventilation fan is placed on its underside.

Synology DS419slim Fan
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech You can remove/replace this fan easily.

Synology DS419slim Back
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The Synology DS419slim’s drive bays, as well as its ports, are on the back.

Synology DS419slim Drive Bays
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The drive bay without the tray.

Synology DS419slim SSD
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The Seagate IronWolf 110 SSD is the best internal drive to use with the Synology DS419slim NAS server.

Synology DS419slim: Good performance

I tested the DS419slim both with a couple of Seagate IronWolf 110 SSDs and regular hard drives (HDD). And in both cases, using SHR RAID, it performed admirably. When hosting SDDs, the server averaged some 105 MB/s for writing and 110 MB/s for reading. Its performance reduced to 64 MB/s and 78 MB/s, respectively, when I used regular hard drives.

The server was in no way the fastest I’ve seen — it didn’t hit the ceiling speed of the Gigabit connection used for the tests — but fast enough for any home network storage needs.

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

The DS419slim’s web interface was responsive, even when hosting hard drives. I was able to run multiple apps and move between them quickly.

For example, in my testing, when hosting two IP cameras via its Surveillance Station, the server was able to deliver similar data throughput performance to when it wasn’t.

Conclusion

It’s quite amazing what this little box can do. I used the Synology DS419slim for almost a month before publishing this review and it grew on me. What I like most is the fact it’s not noisy at all. I hardly noticed it, in a quiet room even when I used regular hard drives with it. When I used the SSDs, the server was near silent.

But truth be told, at times, I did miss the ability to run more advanced services. So, DS419slim is not a server for NAS enthusiasts — its modest non-upgradeable hardware specs are too big of a constraint.

So, if you’re looking to do a lot of multitasking; or want to run resource-intensive workloads such as hardware transcoding, virtual machines, advanced file management/protection; or simply just want a lot of storage space; then this is not the server for you.

But if you’re in the market for a compact system that will deliver all basic network storage needs and quite a bit more, the DS419slim is the little machine you’ve been waiting for.

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