Before you buy · NAS server

Synology 2019 Buying Guide Part 1: The models | J, Value and Plus Series

Are you looking for a Synology NAS but you find all the models confusing? How big should your disks be? RAID or not RAID? Many questions, many decisions before you know what you need to buy.

I am in the process of buying my third synology, so I decided to document the process, so you can follow my journey and hopefully it will help you decide!

In this upcoming series, I want to guide you through the buying process and the installation of a Synology NAS.

  1. Part 1: Explaining Synology NAS models (this guide)
  2. Part 2: How much storage do I need?
  1. Part 3: Which synology should I buy then?

In this blog post I will explain what the is the difference between Synology NAS models for the DS (Diskstation range), so for private or small, medium companies.

Lets get started!!!

Synology Series for DS models

Synology has divided their DiskStation (DS) models in three series:

  1. J Series: Cheapest models, geared to personal or home use
  2. Value Series: Intermediate level, geared to personal use and lightweight business use
  3. Plus Series: High-end value, and top of the line features for personal and business use.

As you can see already, the price ranges from low (J series) to high (Plus series) and the capabilities are added accordingly, so which NAS to buy will heavily depend on what your are going to use it for, storage needs and budget (isn’t always?).

On my next blog post, I am going to do a buying guide for you to pick the best model, so this post will be exclusively to show you the models available.

Decoding the name of a Synology NAS

I bought my first Synology NAS in 2013.

How do I know? Well, I dont have good memory, never had…but my first NAS was a DS713+.

And?…what do you mean?

Let me tell you a secret, all synology model names are made with a very simple logic:


so in my case DS713+ means:

  1. DS: DiskStation
  2. 7: you might think that i have a 7-bay NAS, but I have a 2 bay that can expand to 5 more drives
  3. 13: year of release (this is I know when I bought it…more or less..)
  4. +: Plus series

And now you are going to ask me, why are you telling me this? Well, knowing what those things mean will allow you to quickly identify the different models as you start picking what you want/need.

Few more things, if you see;

SE: it means lowest value/ features/ performance

PLAY: Means geared towards multimedia with 4k transcoding. You will find this functionality also in the Plus series.

SLIM: same as J series but with SSD.

Ok, now, we can take a closer look at the series:

The J Series

According to Synology themselves:

Your personal cloud solution for effortless data sharing, multimedia streaming, and seamless storage management.

The J Series NAS  are (at the time of writing this jan-2019):

  • DS418J
  • DS416slim
  • DS218J
  • DS119J

This is basically your personal cloud, where you can store all your files and images, stream music, and perform normal server activities. It is a network drive that has more features thanks to Synology apps and DSM ( operating system)

The value series

According to Synology:

The perfect match of performance and price for home and workgroup.

The Value Series are:

  • DS118
  • DS218play
  • DS218
  • DS418play
  • DS418
  • DS1817

Expansion unit:

  • DX517

These units feature backup functions, hot-swap drive replacement, better hardware and more memory than the j series.

These value units are the middle model between the J and the Plus, and for me not worth considering because they do not have features like Virtual Machines, high availability, Mail server, Btrfs file system, snapshot replication….and for the price difference I would go with the Plus series if you need business functionality.

I haven’t found a site where you can compare the applications available on the different series, but some of my favorite ones ( btrfs and snapshots) are not available in the value or j series except for the DS418.

If you cant afford the PLUS series, and the J series is not good enough, save the money until you can afford them, dont buy the value series as an intermediate solution. You will outgrow it too quickly. If you must, get a value series, go for the DS418.

The Plus series

According to SYnology:

Engineered for high-performance and data intensive tasks, designed to meet on-the-fly encryption and scalability demands.

and the Plus models are:

  • DS218+
  • DS718+
  • DS918+
  • DS1517+
  • DS1618+
  • DS1817+
  • DS1819+
  • DS2415+

and the expansion units are:

  • DX1215
  • DX517
  • DX513

All my 3 synology NASes are Plus models even when I bought it for personal use and I will explain why in my next post.

These things do everything you need and more and as you or /and your business grows, they will grow with you.


In summary….

The plus series are everything you need for your private cloud, multimedia, backup , storage, and office apps. If you have the money, look no further.

So, how much will this set me back?

Here is a comparison based on Jan-2019 prices:

DS218j: $170

DS218: $250

DS718+ (go always for the 7 models): $420

On the next post of this series: How much storage do I need?

What? You still need more help? On my next posts I will show you which one I bought and why. I will also talk about RAIDS, backups, and more! Stay tuned!



2 thoughts on “Synology 2019 Buying Guide Part 1: The models | J, Value and Plus Series

  1. Excellent buying guide.
    I started with a 2nd hand DS214SE and it worked really well as a file server and PVR, but painfully slowly for 10,000 pictures that required a lot of editing (scanned slides needing a lot of tagging resulting in much re-indexing).

    Upgrading last year to a DS218+ was a joy. CPU and memory usage do not sit in the red 80-100% usage range as they often did with the 214SE. Also, the 218+ has the facial recognition feature capability to make tagging photos easier with Moments. So although there are only three users, I haven’t found that I have overspent on this model.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.