So, here’s my findings after installing and testing a Synology DS118 with 4TB (only 1 HDD, but more CPU and RAM than my WD MyCloud Ultra EX2 8TB). Both setups have the same cost, give or take 10 €. I mostly use it as backup for my precious data, stored on an iMac. I’ll try to give an honest comparison here
In terms of initial account setup, I believe both WD and SYN are equally OK, both could do better IMHO. The fluidity, looks and responsiveness of the SYN seem better though.
When it comes to data transfer, actually I saw little improvement. Transferring the 1 TB of pictures, songs & videos from WD to SYN took hooouuurs, at speeds ranging from 7 to 22 MB/s. Both connected to the same Gigabit router. Who’s to blame, hard to say at this point. Also transferring from iMac to SYN, via WiFi, topped at 22 MB/s.
I found out a bit late that on iOS I had to configure the server as SMB instead of AFP, suddenly data transfer went at dazzling speeds of 60-80 MB/s (via Wi-Fi) . Happy me! But I’m afraid I made the same mistake on WD, and could imagine WD can also take these speeds.
Then comes the setup of the SYN for my “daily life” ; TimeMachine backup, sync music & pictures, mobile photo backup alerts for emails, … Actually, I’m a bit puzzled here, the SYN comes with a mass of applications (packages) and setting options every tech’ would dream of, for a “normal-IT-user-with-decent-knowledge” it’s by times overwhelming, and you get lost in all the screens. Honestly, I found the WD far easier to configure for my use. Too bad WD was slow in response and by times crashing (due to all this indexing non-sense). But clearly, if you like to have control on everything and can spend some time on configuration, SYN will go further for you. And the SYN help pages (just google what you look for) a very well done and extensive, so even newbies can manage.
Indexing to be clear, also SYN requires indexing and thumbnailing, and I wouldn’t call it fast. But faster than WD in my opinion (admitted, I have a faster CPU on SYN). Also SYN makes it more transparent what is being indexed or thumbnailed, and you can easily plan these tasks (during the night for instance). Good point also for SYN, newly added pictures from mobile backups are thumbnailed at upload.
The “little extras” like Plex, media server, photo indexing ; Also here, more processing power, more speed. And more options to configure. I didn’t test this a lot on WD, as it was drowning in indexing, but you see more potential at SYN. I would advise an even stronger SYN than mine (like the DS220play) if this is important to you, for me it’s “nice to have”.
In conclusion, I’m puzzled as I had higher expectations towards SYN, but I wouldn’t go back to WD for the whole fuzz and complications it gave on the simple mission I had for it ; keeping my data safe and easily accessible. The latter failed. A pity, because, at this price (280 €), 2 x 4TB is a real bargain. But I guess you get what you pay for…
Hope this helps the one or other in their quest for a good home-backup-setup. And gives some guidance to WD where to improve… I’m returning mine today