/ Recommendations for a home NAS appliance?

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Martin W 18 May 2019

I've come to the conclusion that having all my network storage hanging off my desktop machine isn't ideal, so I'm looking at getting a NAS appliance that can live somewhere conveniently out of the way.  Capacity would need to be at least 4TB initially, and I'd want it to be mirrored/RAID.

Anyone been down this road and have good (or bad) things to say about the device they chose?

If it makes any odds, we are a mixed MacOS/Windows household.

FWIW I'm not inclined to go down the self-build route.

freeflyer 19 May 2019
In reply to Martin W:

I've been recommended a Buffalo Terastation 1400, however I've not got around to doing anything about it yet owing to inertia and lastcenturyness. Will be interested to hear how you get on.


Martin W 19 May 2019
In reply to freeflyer:

Thanks, I'll take a look at that.

Anyone else got any recommendations?  The UKC IT gurus are usually quicker off the mark than this!

ben b 19 May 2019
In reply to Martin W:

We have a 4-bay Synology one. There can be a difference between RAID and backup, so worth making sure you have good backup system in place too. Do you need extra storage space, or backup, or both?

The Synology apps are meant to be excellent but I have to say I don't find them straightforward. This probably reflects on my lack of understanding though.

Interestingly my 3Tb NAS drives c.2015 cost the same as a 4TB NAS drive today, so not a vast shift on price.


Sam W 19 May 2019
In reply to Martin W:

Have used Synology for several years with Windows and Mac, found it to be secure and stable. If you're just using it for home file storage, one of the lower end models will be fine.

Martin W 19 May 2019

Thanks both.  I will look at the Synology offerings as well.

Backup is already sorted, local and off-site.  As I said in the OP, I want to get rid of my desktop machine being the hub for increasing quantities of storage for "stuff" that is accessed from other devices around the house, like media files, that a NAS can look after perfectly well.

krikoman 20 May 2019
In reply to Martin W:

Another vote for Synology, it's great for doing back ups and I use the CloudStation app for syncing a number of devices.

easy to us and lots of scope.

captain paranoia 20 May 2019
In reply to Martin W:

Synology have a good reputation.

I've used WD MyCloud single-bay devices for a few years. Not without faults, but they work. The replacement 'MyCloud Home' is crap by comparision; hardly qualifies as a NAS. Their multi-bay MyCloud families are still real NAS devices.

Alternatives are FreeNAS on an RPi, but that won't allow use of SATA drives. There are other Pi clone devices that have SATA ports.

skog 20 May 2019
In reply to Martin W:

Another good word for Synology, which I use at home and quite like - although I also have a Buffalo one running at work and it's fine too.

Pursued by a bear 20 May 2019
In reply to Martin W:

I have been thinking NAS thoughts recently.  Largely due to where stuff is in the house, I'm looking at a fanless NAS to live near the TV and hifi, and eventually settled on the QNAP HS-251 as being the one to go for. 

I haven't gone for it yet due to other things becoming more of a domestic priority, coupled with a bit of inertia; sorting things out the way I want them sorted would mean, amongst other things, selling the turntable (I very rarely play vinyl these days) and ripping what I only have on vinyl and can't get elsewhere to FLAC files.  

Stuff to do . . .


two_tapirs 20 May 2019
In reply to Martin W:

Another vote here for Synology, the UI is pretty intuitive, set up wasn't tricky at all, and they are constantly releasing updates, indicating a good support programme.

You haven't said how you plan to use your NAS; if it's general storing of files then as mentioned by Sam W, look at the lower end.  If you're looking to stream media, then it's worth doing your research on the mid to top level devices, as encoding on the fly can require a fair bit of processing power.

Also, I'd go bigger than 4Tb - storage is relatively cheap these days, and you've got plenty of space when you need to back up an entire laptop that contains the back up of another PC, which contains 2 duplicate backups of an ancient media library.

The Lemming 20 May 2019
In reply to Martin W:

I've had my Synology 214Play for about four years now. Before that I bought a cheapie from PC World and the saying goes "Buy cheap, pay twice".

The cheapie did it's job until one of the hard drives died. This did not seem like a problem as I'd set up RAID to plan for such an event. However the cheep NAS had unusual hard drives inside it which made sourcing a new hard drive problematic, and potentially expensive because they were so old, rare and strange speeds.

The cheepie (iOmega) did its job but it had its limitations streaming films and other media because it only had 64mb of RAM.

Rather than buy a replacement hard drive, which was about the cost of a new iOmega NAS box, I asked the good people of this parish and was told to look only at QNAP or Synology. I went for Synology and bought two 4TB hard drives to put in it, on a RAID setup which only gave me 4Tb of space to play with. After a few years I needed more space and rather than buy a second NAS box I bought two 8TB hard drives.

I learned several things:

Invest in a good quality NAS box (QNAP or Synology in my humble opinion)

Make sure the NAS box has a powerful processor

Make sure the NAS box has a shit load of RAM (going from 64mb to 1Gb is a revelation)

Get shit loads of storage (I'd say at least four times what you think you need right now)

Make sure the choice of Hard Drives are easy to buy/replace (Western Digital RED are good for NAS boxes)

Buy 50 meters of eithernet cable (It works out cheaper than some 1 meter cables in PC World)

From what I've learned, QNAP is for people that like to tinker with settings. An analogy would be Windows/Android tinkering abilities. Synology is more for those that don't like to tinker with settings an analogy would be Applish lockdown where Synology does most of the decision making for you. NAS networking is way over my head. People do degrees to understand this stuff, so I was happy to let Synology do the hard work.

Synology throw out updates very regularly. Only this week I was advised, by the NAS box to update its operating system. Now that is quality service and belief in your product. Synology really do maintain their apps and operating systems for years. I'm guessing QNAP are just as good.

Steve Clark 20 May 2019
In reply to Martin W:

I've got 2 synology boxes. One at work, one at home. Cheaper end 'J' range 2 bay. They just work. Both have been continuously storing HD video from 2 IP webcams, about 50gb per day 24/7 for several years. I've only ever turned them off to move them, never had any kind of fault or needed to reset them. The one I have at home also streams all our film video library to the TV at the same time and syncs locally with our business dropbox account as a last resort backup.

With hindsight, I would have bought 4 bay versions. It's easier to migrate to larger disks in the future and SHR works more efficiently giving you greater space for a given redundancy.  

jam 21 May 2019
In reply to Martin W:

Synology/QNAP are the standard choices. They update regularly, have a decent app choice if that matters to you. I'd get either brand if I needed to use a home NAS without DIY (as it is, I much prefer DIY or servers). I wouldn't touch WD with a barge pole if you needed remote connectivity, they've got a history of being extremely lax with security.

Post edited at 08:26
Martin W 21 May 2019
In reply to Steve Clark:

I only had a brief look but I got the impression that the J range take 2.5" rather than 3.5" drives.  Is that correct, or did I misunderstand?

I am strongly inclined towards a 4-bay enclosure.

Thanks to all for your suggestions.  Some serious browsing upcoming soon I think.

BTW, for video streaming, I'm not looking for transcoding (and certainly not 4K).

Sam W 21 May 2019
In reply to Martin W:

> I only had a brief look but I got the impression that the J range take 2.5" rather than 3.5" drives.  Is that correct, or did I misunderstand?

My oldish J definitely takes 3.5", as does the 218j. It's possible to buy an adapter so you can use 2.5", although unlikely you would go down this route unless one was lying around

Steve Clark 21 May 2019
In reply to Martin W:

> I only had a brief look but I got the impression that the J range take 2.5" rather than 3.5" drives.  Is that correct, or did I misunderstand?

The J range take normal 3.5" SATA disks. Current model is DS218J. They just have a slower processor and less RAM than the equivalent DS218play or DS218+, but work perfectly fine for normal NAS tasks. 

Also worth ensuring your network between your PC and the box is 1gbs. Worth adding a £10 gigabit switch if you have an old router. 

Martin W 22 May 2019
In reply to Steve Clark:

I checked the Synology site and the spec for the DS418j states that it will take 2.5" HDD and SSD and 3.5" HDD.  So it will take 2.5" drives (perhaps with an adaptor?) but it's not restricted to 2.5" drives, which is what I was concerned about.

All routers in the house are gigabit Ethernet.  (Not sure about the unmanaged switch behind the TV but as it's just the one client device there I reckon it should be OK - it certainly is at the moment, streaming MP4s from my desktop-attached drives.)

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