Field report – Synology DS118 with a SSD
To complement my tutorial on how to clone the hard drive to a new one on a 1-bay DiskStation like the DS118 (i.e. a DiskStation with only one hard drive bay), I wanted to revisit the result of swapping the old HDD for an SSD here.
Until a few weeks ago, I had a 2 TB Western Digital Red hard drive with 7200 rpm in the DiskStation in use. Although this was one of the faster hard drives, it was not really fun to use.
I mainly use Synology Drive and Synology Office to access shared documents and files within the family. Actually, it’s just my wife and me who share access to the DiskStation. However, even loading a moderately complex table took more than 10 seconds.
It was even worse with Synology Photos. This is what we use for shared photo management. Pictures are automatically uploaded there from our two smartphones, we create albums, tag photos, etc.
Creating thumbnails was usually not fast enough behind.
So especially for new photos that were freshly uploaded, you had to wait a long time until you could share them or view them on the PC.
But also searching in older photos was often impossible, because when scrolling back to earlier years (we use the timeline view) only gray boxes were displayed instead of the thumbnail images.
The worst was when you wanted to work on DiskStation early in the morning, while the nightly backup was not yet finished. Here you could safely click the tab of the respective application into the background for several minutes and read messages first.
Enough whining; a solution was needed. But a new DiskStation – because then it should be one with two bays and more power – is too expensive. I briefly played with the idea of using one of the many US cloud offers for photos and documents again and only use the DiskStation for backups.
Fortunately, the quite cheap SSD prices in the fall of 2022 came in between!
The new SSD
I decided to buy an Intenso “Top” SSD with 2.5 inches with 2TB memory (the same capacity as the old WD Red HDD) for 119€ at this time.
Well it’s not a NAS version, but I think that also no longer plays a big role with the SSD. With the mechanical hard drives, the mechanics had to be designed for continuous operation, reasonable bearings, sufficient cooling, vibration-free operation, etc., of course.
The flash or NAND chips used in an SSD also only have a limited number of write accesses, but the firmware in the SSD usually works so intelligently that it distributes the write accesses optimally between the chips.
But now to the result: After migrating the data from the old HDD to the new SSD, the DiskStation booted quite quickly. Loading the drive interface and navigating in the folders went quickly and without annoying loading times.
Opening the already mentioned medium-complex table: 1 second and everything is there!
The ultimate test with Synology Photos put a smile on my face. Scrolling for years and decades (yes we collected many photos) and loading the image previews ran virtually in real time.
The next confirmation came with the morning email about the result of the nightly backup. This took anything between 80 and 120 minutes, depending on the changes made. The backups are now around 20 minutes with the SSD.
That was more worthwhile than I had expected. I wanted to use the SSD to keep the aging DS118 alive until I could afford a larger one. But now I have to say: As long as the DiskStation can be used so smoothly and does not slow down due to more complex software or much more data, I see no reason for a replacement.
Many claim that an SSD in a NAS doesn’t make sense, because the network connection is usually faster than the data rates of conventional hard drives. This is true, but a DiskStation is not “just” a NAS where you read and write data. It runs a quite extensive operating system, various services, web servers, etc. on it and then the access rate of the built-in drive is crucial.