Back up your files with these top NAS drives

You might think that four bays would be enough for all but the most ambitious enthusiasts and businesses, but a new breed of five-bay NAS drives has arrived to prove you wrong. Synology is early into the fray with its new DS1019+, giving all the storage goodness we would have previously seen in the award-winning DS-918+, but with capacity for an extra drive.

So why is a five-bay appliance better than a four-bay one? Capacity is the obvious answer, particularly if you use the more space-efficient RAID5 and RAID6 configurations or the company’s own Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR). What’s more, using five drives in a RAID6 or SHR setup gives you redundancy across two drives with the minimum of lost capacity; lose two drives and your NAS keeps on trucking with all your data still recoverable, without you wasting terabytes in the process.

Of course, you don’t have to fill the DS1019+ to capacity all at once. You can add the drives you require and then upgrade later. In fact, you’re positively encouraged to by the elegant, tool-less design, where the trays slide out and neatly clip back into place once filled, with the drives held in, without screws, by click-in side plates. An Allen key locks the drives securely in position, while the DS1019+’s chassis manages to feel simultaneously light and solid. And while the twin 92mm fans at the back threaten to make a racket, this isn’t a particularly loud NAS. In fact, at 20.8dB, it’s not noticeably noisier than most compact two-bay NAS devices.

You could argue that the DS1019+ doesn’t have all the connectivity of some Asustor and Qnap rivals, but then it’s not trying to be a media centre or a desktop PC, just a NAS with some server aspirations. To this end it has no HDMI video output or inputs for a keyboard and a mouse: there’s just a USB 3 port on the front and another at the rear, where you’ll also find an eSATA port. This allows you to expand the DS1019+ with a five-bay DX517 expansion unit, which then effectively transforms it into a ten-bay NAS.

The front of the Synology DS1019+ NAS drive

The upgrade options don’t end there, either. In the base of the unit, you’ll find dual M.2 NVMe SSD slots, where you can fit one or two M.2 drives to use as a cache. The DS1019+ also has dual Gigabit Ethernet ports, giving you link aggregation – either for optimised performance or for resilience should one network connection go down.

Hardware has always been just one part of Synology’s success story, and while some of the other manufacturers are beginning to catch up with its DSM software, it’s still the most mature, feature-packed and carefully thought-out NAS operating system of the bunch. The setup process takes you through the key stages of adding drives, creating a storage pool and setting up your NAS, and from there you can go with Synology’s recommended apps or install your own manually later on. Basic processes such as managing users, creating shared folders and applying permissions are logical and easy to follow, and things that don’t always work reliably on other systems just seem to work.

What’s more, this is a hugely versatile NAS. It’s a great choice for more basic file-sharing and backup duties, or for providing iSCSI target storage for virtual machines. Yet it can also take on a range of cloud-like and server-like duties, including email, Dropbox-style synced folders, instant messaging and even project management and Office apps. With Hyper Backup it will back up crucial files to Dropbox, Google Drive, AWS or Microsoft Azure, while Synology’s own apps give you a wide range of media server tools, covering video, music and photo streaming, complete with artificial intelligence subject and face-recognition tools.

All of this requires a certain level of performance, so it’s lucky that the DS1019+ is one of the fastest NAS servers we’ve seen. Its file transfer speeds in our backup tasks were within a whisker of the Asustor Nimbustor AS5304T and it’s in the leading pack when it comes to sequential read and write speeds, too. And where things get really tough, when copying files back and forth while streaming 4K video, the Synology is still neck-and-neck with the Asustor. Not everyone needs this kind of power or capacity, but if you do the DS1019+ is one of the best NASes you can buy.

Synology DS1019+ specifications

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Model numberDS1019+
Price (inc VAT)£514 (£642)
Warranty2yr RTB
Dimensions (WDH)223 x 230 x 166mm
Noise level20.8dB
CPUIntel Celeron J3455
CPU coresQuad core
CPU speed, cores1.5GHz to 2.3GHz
RAM/maximum RAM8GB/8GB
Bays (free)5 (5)
Drive type3.5in hard disk/2.5in hard disk
Max internal capacity80TB
RAID modesSHR, JBOD, 0, 1, 5, 6, 10
Bay typeSlide-in caddy
Hot swap?Yes
2.5in drives supportedYes
SSD support2.5in SATA, M.2 NVMe
Status display6 x status LEDs
Gigabit Ethernet ports2
10GB Ethernet portsNo
USB ports (rear)USB 3
USB ports (front)USB 3
802.3ad link aggregationYes
Load balancingYes
Network failoverYes
Major network protocolsSMB, NFS, FTP, SNMP, LDAP, CalDAV
iSCSI target128
USB expansion optionsYes
NAS OS/firmwareSynology DiskStation Manager
Main desktop softwareSynology DiskStation Manager
Remote accessCloud Station Drive, Cloud Station Sharesync
Cloud integrationiDrive, Elephant Drive
BackupAcronis TrueImage, Active Backup, Glacier Backup, Hyper Backup
MediaAudio Station, Video Station, Memories, iTunes Server, MinimServer, Plesk, Logitech Media Server,
SurveillanceSurveillance Station
Testing and DevelopmentDocker, Java, Node.js, PHP, Perl, Python, Ruby, GitLab
Other major servicesDrupal, Magento, MailPlus, Moodle, Synology Office, Virtual Machine Manager, Chat Server
Stuart Andrews

Stuart has been writing about technology for over 25 years, focusing on PC hardware, enterprise technology, education tech, cloud services and video games. Along the way he’s worked extensively with Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android and Chrome OS devices, and tested everything from laptops to laser printers, graphics cards to gaming headsets.

He’s then written about all this stuff – and more – for outlets, including PC Pro, IT Pro, Expert Reviews and The Sunday Times. He’s also written and edited books on Windows, video games and Scratch programming for younger coders. When he’s not fiddling with tech or playing games, you’ll find him working in the garden, walking, reading or watching films.

You can follow Stuart on Twitter at @SATAndrews