Using a solid state drive (SSD) in your Synology NAS can provide a nice boost to performance compared to traditional hard disk drives (HDDs). However, there are some limitations and considerations to keep in mind when using SSDs in Synology NAS devices.
- Synology NAS devices support both SATA and NVMe SSDs depending on model
- For best performance, you’ll want an SSD designed for enterprise/NAS workloads
- You can use SSD caching to boost performance of HDD volumes
- Some high end Synology models support SSD only volumes
- Adding an SSD requires checking physical compatibility and updating DSM software
- SSD endurance needs to be considered for write-heavy workloads
What types of SSDs work with Synology NAS?
Synology NAS devices support both SATA and NVMe SSDs depending on the specific model. Here are some details:
- SATA SSDs – Most Synology NAS models have SATA drive bays and support 2.5″ SATA SSDs. These connect via the standard SATA interface and are widely available from brands like Samsung, Crucial, WD, etc.
- NVMe SSDs – Higher end Synology NAS models like the XS+/FS series have dedicated NVMe slots that support NVMe M.2 SSDs. These SSDs provide much higher performance but have greater cost.
- PCIe Cards – Some Synology units also support PCIe adapter cards that allow adding NVMe SSDs over PCIe. Examples include the E10M20-T1 with dual NVMe slots.
SATA vs. NVMe Performance
NVMe SSDs provide significantly higher performance than SATA SSDs, but have a higher cost per gigabyte. Real world tests have shown NVMe SSDs providing 2-4X better performance for many workloads compared to SATA SSDs when used in a Synology NAS.
What kind of SSD works best?
For optimal performance and endurance, you’ll want an enterprise class SSD designed for NAS workloads. Consumer SSDs are often optimized for PC workloads like booting an OS, and can have less endurance when subjected to heavy write workloads over their lifespan.
Some examples of enterprise level SSDs that are well suited to Synology NAS use include:
- Samsung PM883/PM893
- WD Red SA500
- Seagate IronWolf 110
- Intel D3-S4510/D7-P5510
These SSDs are built with higher endurance 3D TLC NAND flash, have technologies like power loss protection capacitors, and some come with longer 5 year warranties versus the shorter 1-3 year warranties of many consumer SSDs.
Using SSD Caching
One option with Synology NAS units is to use SSD caching. This allows you to boost the performance of existing HDD volumes by caching frequently accessed data onto SSDs.
Synology has two SSD caching options:
- Read-Only Cache – Caches only read data, improving read performance
- Read-Write Cache – Caches both reads and writes, improving both read and write performance
Enabling caching is done through the Synology DSM interface, and allows your frequently accessed “hot” data to be accelerated by the SSD while bulk “cold” data remains stored on HDDs.
SSD caching can provide a nice performance boost while keeping overall storage costs lower compared to using SSDs exclusively in a NAS.
SSD Only Volumes
Higher end Synology NAS units like the XS+/FS series allow creating volumes made up entirely of SSDs for maximum performance. This allows leveraging the full speed of NVMe SSDs without being bottlenecked by HDDs.
Some examples of Synology models supporting SSD only volumes include:
- XS+ series
On these units you can create volumes made up of all flash on the internal drive bays and NVMe slots. The performance potential is very high but so is the cost, so SSD only volumes are generally best suited to demanding workloads where high speed storage is required.
The physical installation process for adding an SSD to a Synology NAS will depend on the specific model. Some key points:
- 2.5″ SATA SSDs can be installed in SATA drive bays in most units
- M.2 NVMe SSDs require an open NVMe slot or PCIe adapter card
- Drive bay compatibility needs to be checked before purchasing drives
- Caddies may be needed to install some drive types
- Follow all Synology installation instructions
When installing an SSD, it’s a good idea to consult the Hardware Installation Guide for your specific Synology model to ensure smooth installation.
Updating DSM Software
To leverage the full capabilities of your SSDs on a Synology NAS, you’ll want to be running the latest DSM 7.x software. Some benefits of DSM 7 include:
- Complete support for NVMe SSD caches and volumes
- Optimizations to boost SSD performance and endurance
- Ability to monitor SSD health stats
- Improved SSD compatibility and stability
Updating to DSM 7 provides the best experience with SSDs. Some older versions of DSM have limited SSD support. The update process can be done in the DSM control panel.
Considering SSD Endurance
One important specification for SSDs is drive writes per day (DWPD). This provides an estimate of how much data can be written to the SSD per day over a certain warranty period (typically 5 years).
Consumer SSDs often have endurance ratings around 0.3-0.5 DWPD. NAS optimized SSDs have higher ratings from 1-3 DWPD for better endurance.
If you have a write-heavy NAS workload, choosing an SSD optimized for endurance can help avoid premature wear out. For more read-focused workloads, a consumer SSD may provide adequate endurance.
Adding an SSD to a Synology NAS can provide great benefits like faster access to files and applications. When selecting an SSD, factors like physical fit, performance goals, and workload endurance requirements should be considered.
To get the most from your SDD investment, using enterprise level SSDs designed for NAS environments is recommended. With some planning, an SSD can be a worthwhile addition to boost performance on a Synology NAS.