Synology NAS Recommendations & Questions
Sorry if this is a long post, but I've done my research and I would like to make a few questions.
I've decided that I would like to buy a NAS mainly to storage all of my documents, photos and videos, so that, I can access them from multiple devices and also use it to upload important documents to Backblaze B2. Then, I've actually discovered that I can install a few Docker containers and I could use it as a media server (Jellyfin) and serve the content to my Apple TV (neat!).
I considered a QNAP (better hardware for the price) but everyone recommends Synology instead (because of the stronger security and better overall software), but to be honest, I'm not sure what should I get.
My budget would be to buy a NAS (without counting the disks) below €1000. Ideally, €500-600 but I don't mind stretching to the €700 mark, if it is really worth it.
Spoiler alert: I think, it should be the DS920+ (4-bay) or the DS1520+ (5-bay). I think a NAS above 4-bay is better for future-proofing.
Looking here in Germany at price comparators, I could buy the DS920+ for €663 and the DS1520+ for €750. But these prices seem to be at an all-time high :(
Questions & Assumptions:
0. I'm not sure if the price difference of about €100 is worth the premium to get the 5-bay model. There are only two differences between these two models: The 5-bay has one extra slot, and it has 4x 1 Gbe LAN ports instead of 2x 1 Gbe. All the rest is the same. What is your opinion?
1. I've read that if you run a few containers (~10) it consumes quite a bit of RAM (~3 Gb), so it should be ideal to have at least 8 Gb. This is the reason I've said that I think I can only choose the DS920+ or DS1520+. Looking at official Synology resellers, these models, seem to come already with 8 Gb, and they are within my budget. Is my research wrong?
2. These two models, have an encryption engine. I think this is necessary to encrypt my files before sending them to Backblaze, or?
3. A lot of people seem to say to simply pick Synology's hybrid RAID setup called SHR-1 or SHR-2. I would go the easy way here and pick one of those two. Would you think that is a bad idea, and it is better to pick a specific (standard) RAID? I've read about the long long long RAID rebuild that could happen in some situations, and picking the "right" RAID could decrease the rebuild in days (or weeks!!!!).
4. In case, I choose a NAS model with Nvme cache slots, most people say it is not worth it to use if you are not running Virtual Machines and the SSD’s "burn" really fast. I have no interest on VMs.
5. Most people say to pick an Enterprise (Server) HDD instead of a NAS HDD mainly because price is similar in some cases and Enterprise has longer life and warranty. I should also pick a CMR HDD which is helium filled. 5400 rpm would be preferable to 7200 rpm because of the noise. Sadly, all Enterprise HDD's and most of NAS HDD's are 7200 rpm. Is the noise difference that big? The NAS will be in our living room.
6. Is 8 TB still the best cost per Terabyte?
7. I was extremely sad to hear that the Hitachi hard drive division was bought by WD. I've had lots of misfortune with WD drives (and let's not forget the debacle with the SMR and CMR drives) and I would prefer not to give money to them, but, nevertheless, I'm still tempted to buy the Ultrastar drives that belonged to Hitachi. Does anyone know if WD kept the components, manufacturing processes, staff, etc., that made these brilliant disks?
8. Following the HDD topic, what is your experience with Seagate or Toshiba drives?
9. These two NAS models have the same Intel Celeron CPU, which supports hardware transcoding. To be honest, I don't know in which cases would that happen. It seems if I use Infuse on the Apple TV it would never transcode (and instead direct play) because Infuse would do the transcoding in software. Should I take in account that hardware transcoding is a must-have or a nice-to-have?
10. Would you recommend having a CCTV system connected to the NAS? Should I dedicate one entire HDD just for the NVR system? Would a standalone NVR device be better?
11. My last question is: Should I just wait for the new model of the DS920+ or DS1520+? The 20 means it was launched in 2020 (in Summer specifically) and it seems Synology refreshes the model every two years., that means, a new model would be available in Summer this year. Most people say it is not worth the wait because Synology is very conservative in its model updates/refreshes. People are saying that a better CPU will be of course available (do I even need that for my use cases?) and probably upgrade the 1 Gbe LAN ports to 2.5 Gbe or 10 Gbe (10 Gbe I really doubt it). I've read that a 4K stream does not fill a 1 Gbe bandwidth, and you could theoretically have three 4K streams in a single 1 Gbe connection. If all else fails, I could just do a link aggregation of the two ports to be 2 Gbe, or?
12. Anything I'm forgetting? Should I be careful with something in particular?
I know I should buy a UPS too, but I think I'll create a separate post regarding this topic because I would also want a recommendation regarding a UPS for my other devices.
I know that I could actually build my own NAS and use Unraid for the OS. Furthermore, I'm just at a time in my life with too much on my plate (baby and small child) and having something that just works is preferable. When they are older and more independent, I'll have more time to investigate this option :)
Again, sorry for the long post. Thank you everyone!
I just got and set up my second NAS. I had a 2-bay before, and upgraded to a 6-bay. I'll reply to what I can.
I absolutely think it is. The only reason I didn't go with an 8-bay model (difference of 200 EUR) is space, not price. The extra bays just give you a lot more flexibility and, as you said, future-proofing.
No, it just makes things easier.
The question of warranty is always "will you actually follow-through with it if it breaks within those delta years?"…
Also, for backup type NAS I prefer lower-cost, slower disks. They are cheaper, tend to last longer, and speed is not an important factor for backups.
I went with WD REDs. They're very commonly used for NAS and frankly, the whole point of RAID is that it doesn't matter if the drives are faulty, you replace them. So it's a cost calculation… and that cost changes over time, as companies are bought, sold, manufacturing processes change, new technology is released, etc. Point is, it's a lot less important in such a setup than when it's your primary data drive on your one desktop PC; all a mistake costs you is a few extra bucks (the post-warranty lifetime-dollar delta value between when your drive broke and when the optimal choice would have broken).
Anyway, @cfabbro reminded me that this exists, to help inform your choice: https://www.backblaze.com/b2/hard-drive-test-data.html
I think 4 and 8 are very similar. Beyond that, it seems to be pretty bad. All things equal, do go for 8. I went with 4 because there was a significant amazon deal on 4TB REDs (and I already had 3x4tb REDs to complete the set).
CCTV systems are write-heavy murder machines. Personally, I'd keep that away from my NAS and go with some cloud shit.
Nah, these aren't iphone releases. The upgrade will be mild at best. And if it releases literally a week after your buy, you can always return your purchase and get the new one instead.
Thanks a lot for the opinions and recommendations. :)
This is something that I just found out yesterday searching for NAS and Server HDDs, it seems that all 8 TB drives or more are always 7200 rpm :( I even discovered that the WD Reds are not truly 5400 rpm! So it seems that the Seagate Ironwolf (non-Pro) are the only which are on the 5000 rpm zone (they are actually 5900 rpm)... So, if I want something above 6 TB, I'm kinda screwed.
I don't know the noise difference in reality, but people say it is very noticeable at 7200 rpm, specially if the NAS is in the living room. Even 5400 rpm could be noticeable on heavy (write?) loads, people say.
Instead of looking for a technical solution to this, I'd spend the extra cash in some furniture item for the NAS that keeps it ideally cooled and soundproofed for your living room.
Maybe that is a good option. Do you have any recommendation?
Could look at IKEA hacking communities for ideas. Personally I’d take a closet that fits it nicely and add some padding to avoid vibrations, soundproofing from the inside using some cheap textiles and making sure there’s good venting from the back so that the fans don’t run in overdrive.
Thanks, I'll look into it :) Cheers!
Seems like it's NAS setup season here at Tildes, since I just got done setting up a new one too.
I just got done moving away from a Synology 920+. I liked it, but I switched to a custom built UnRaid server.
I will say that if you're going to have it in the living room, the 920+ is pretty loud. It rarely spins down the drives, so you've got 4 drives and the case fan running most of the time. Even with slower 5400 RPM drives, it'll still be noisy.
I would honestly say not to worry about the extra cost of a NAS drive. If you use the Synology Hybrid Raid, then you'd have to lose multiple drives at the same time for it to be an issue. The odds of that happening are extremely low. I'd take the money you'd save on the NAS drives and spend it on more capacity. If you were going to be putting a bunch of drives in the same case, I'd say maybe consider a NAS rated drive just for the extra vibration absorption that those drives have, but at 4 or 5 drives, it shouldn't be an issue.
I've got a bunch of WD hard drives that I shucked out of their cases and through in there and I haven't had a problem.
As for the SSD cache, I had two 500 GB NVMe drives in the 920+ and I didn't notice much difference. There's not a way to pin data to the SSDs (for example, I'd love to be able to tell it to keep all my Plex metadata cached on the SSDs). The software tries to keep the drives as full as possible, so you don't get a huge difference in write speeds because after a few GBs, it fills the cache and has to write directly to the hard drives.
If you're not running VMs, then I don't think the CPU in a Synology will be a bottleneck for you. RAM, however, might be. Especially with media playback, you can eat through RAM pretty quick. I got a 16 GB stick for around $50. Definitely worth the investment. RAM would be especially important for transcoding. While you're right that Infuse will play pretty much anything directly, if you ever wanted to watch something on your phone or tablet when you're not at home, transcoding would be helpful.
I'm happy to answer any questions or provide some help, since I spent way too much time researching all my options over the last few weeks.
I'm glad you posted this because I think I'm about in the market. I've got a pretty long in the tooth QNAP NAS that I want to replace in the next year or so.
You are welcome, I hope my small research helped you in any way :) Cheers!
I'm also considering doing something like this, but the next generation of AMD processors is coming up and with it a new socket and maybe new RAM requirements as well, so it would probably make more sense to just build a new system and use the old parts for a custom server.
I was in a very similar position to you last year and ended up going for the DS420+. For me, especially given the capacity you can get in relatively cheap drives nowadays, four bays was plenty - and I didn't see the DS920+ as particularly compelling for the extra cost (the DS420+ is about £450/€500 at the moment). Incremental offsite backups with Synology's Hyper Backup to Backblaze B2 have been a particular win for me.
I'll do a quick pass of your questions, but if there's anything specific you're interested in just let me know and I'll do my best to answer.
Extra bay wasn't necessary for me, and it seems unlikely that you'd be saturating multiple ethernet ports simultaneously so a cheap switch should do just as well to connect your devices. I'd say DS920+ at most, but potentially take another look at the DS420+ and see if it covers your needs. The 920+ does have eSATA so you can add an additional five bay module later, which may be worth it if you're really worried about expansion.
They come with soldered RAM as well as an open slot for an additional stick. Officially you can only add 4GB, but in practice it's fairly cheap and easy to add even 16GB to a model that comes with only 2GB on board.
It's not a requirement, but it does make things a lot faster. If I remember correctly, any of the models you're looking at will have the AES-NI instruction set built into the CPU.
I personally settled on standard RAID because I'm old-school and generally untrusting, but I'll let someone with more actual expertise handle this one.
I haven't bothered adding cache and I haven't felt that it's lacking. Option's always there if you do want to add it later, though.
I'm using IronWolf drives and they definitely do get a bit "crunchy" under heavy load - I think it's actually the head movements more than the spin speed that are audible to me. Mine's in a (ventilated) cabinet in the living room and I'd say is fine 95% of the time, but definitely can get annoying when it's doing self checks or big offsite backups.
Was when I bought, but that was almost a year ago.
No reliability problems with Seagate so far, but my sample size is tiny. Looks like the Backblaze report has a few of each in the top performing table.
For your use case it basically just gives you options. You can keep doing the transcoding on the Apple TV with Infuse (a piece of software I'm only hearing about now, but that seems to be what it's doing!), or you can hand that job off to the NAS, or you can skip it entirely if your files are already stored in a format the Apple TV plays natively. At your price point pretty much any NAS you get will have it built in, though.
Not my area.
I'd be very surprised if either CPU or network speed are a bottleneck for your use case - most of those upgrades are more valuable for heavy multi-user environments. I guess if you're doing really huge transfers on a device you'll be keeping for 5+ years worth of network upgrades then perhaps 2.5Gbe would be nice to have, but even that's a stretch. The one thing I would consider is that a newer model will probably have a longer software support lifetime, but even then Synology are pretty good at keeping things updated.
I would go with the 4 bay, one more bay isn't going to matter much, just get bigger drives instead... unless your aim is to have extra redundancy in which case 5 may be better.
You can upgrade up to +16gb of RAM. 4gb is what they say in the manual and it's all I bothered on mine. The only container which uses a bunch of RAM for me is the one which runs my torrent application. But I also don't like to use my NAS as a plex server; I'd rather stream the file and decompress locally on my tablet, phone, etc. because then you don't have issues with encoding.
SHR-1/2 are better than typical raids for a plethora of reasons, you can google why, but just go with one of them if you get a synology NAS.
NVME is basically useless, do not invest in one. Again, you can google this, but I've never heard of a single user needing or getting any performance out of this. Perhaps if you were running your NAS as a database it might be useful, but that's a bad use-case... don't do this.
NAS HDDs are fine, when you're talking about bulk storage what matters most is cost, go with whatever is on sale and set up monthly scrubbing and pay attention to when sectors start to fail. If you're lucky you'll never have to replace anything, if you're unlucky you'll have to replace drives - this is true for enterprise drives and non-enterprise ones. Pay attention to how long warranties last on the hard drives you buy as well and factor that into your cost.
6 is typically the best, but anything 4-8 is comparable.
WD Reds serve many countless people fine. Some drives fail, and some people get unlucky. The overall failure rate of most drives is pretty comparable so it's mostly just a luck of the draw.
Both have served me well, I have WD red in my NAS because they were the cheapest at the time.
I do not use hardware transcoding at all, as I mentioned before I do not like the quality degradation of encoding video and sending it from any kind of server. If you have devices which can natively run/decode files as a computer would I think that's ideal because you can stream that way plenty fine.
Standalone NVR might be better to avoid writing to the disks too frequently, but my NAS is a torrent box so it's pretty regularly hitting the disks. A standalone NVR will have a ton more RAM, however, and if your goal is to only record when certain events happen this can reduce overall disk load.
No need to wait, you won't see a significant improvement.
Be prepared to spend time learning how to set up the environment the way you want, especially if you're doing anything non traditional. Synology's version of linux has a lot of stuff stripped and it can be annoying to figure out how to actually get and install or modify system files because sometimes they don't exist or can only be modified in weird ways. This is mostly just me cautioning you to set appropriate expectations.
Can I ask you to elaborate on this please?
I've looked it up and it seems to be that SHR has better setup speeds and allows you to better mix-and-match drive sizes, whereas RAID has better compatibility. Is there more to it?
Depends on your raid setup - how many disks you have, etc. For example if you have raid 5 and a disk fails, you can't access data on the array until you rebuild it. On SHR you can still access the data with one failed drive. In addition SHR can flex which raid it's in based on how many disks you have. For someone not operating in a corporate environment, I would say these are pretty important.
Thanks for your comments :)
I've read about that, but is it "allowed" to add RAM above the "recommended" capacity for the NAS? They say it will void the warranty, but I also know that is illegal. I actually don't know also if I should buy the NAS with RAM slot free and add the RAM by myself or buy it already with 8 GB. Some websites give me the option to buy the 920+ with the standard 4 Gb or 8 Gb.
Me too and other containers like Sonarr, Radarr, Adguard, etc. That is why I wanted the 920+ or 1510+ since they were the only ones which I could buy with 8 Gb RAM out of the box.
I didn't know that. So, if the transcoding is made on the hardware instead of software, will it have worse quality? Or is it bad on both types? But I guess the "trick" is not transcoding at all. I read that Infuse basically supports every codec, file, you name it, out of the box, and so I think there isn't transcoding there.
Then, would that mean I would just buy a 420+ instead? It has a worse CPU than the 920+, but if I direct play everything to the Apple TV, I guess CPU does not matter in this case. I think RAM is always the most important factor. Would I downgrade my experience if I go to the 420+? Like I said, I'm not sure what do I really need for my use cases, but of course, I hope my NAS would last a long time, so that is why I thought on buying a more "powerful" NAS to better future-proof.
I think 6 TB is the best I can get because they are the only ones on the 5000 rpm zone. Do you have any opinion about how bad is the noise? I'm always "afraid" of the noise of 7200 rpm because the NAS will be in the living room.
Synology devices sometimes have only a fraction of the ram slots available to the user. I have a ds218+ which comes with 2gb upgradable to 6gb. The motherboard and cpu can actually support 8gb. The pre installed 2gb stick is not accessible to the user, and the per slot max is 4gb, hence 6gb ‘max’. You can actually upgrade it to 8gb, it just requires that you disassemble the machine to get to the other memory slot. I don’t know if this is the case for the ones you are looking at, but it is likely.
Also, synology provides a list of qualified ram skus and hard drive skus. They are certainly not limited to those, but those are what synology tests their devices with. The synology recommendations, especially the ram, usually have a price bulb just for being qualified.
You can throw a 16GB stick in the open slot on the DS218+ and it'll run fine with 18GB as far as I can see, which saves all that disassembly. The pre-populated stick is soldered to the board on the 2020 models we're looking at here, so even if you disassemble the thing it's not realistic to replace that, but again you can just throw 8 or 16GB in the open slot and be done with it.
@alcappuccino if I were you I really wouldn't worry on warranty issues there. Just don't leave the extra stick in the slot if you ever have to do an RMA and I'd be amazed if they even knew it existed. And even more amazed if they chose to make it a sticking point if they did know, give the fight you rightly point out they'd be getting into with EU consumer protection law.
Thanks a lot for confirming that there should not be any issue with warranty, and like you said, I can just remove the RAM in case I need to file a warranty claim. Nevertheless, I've read that the NAS has logs where they could find which RAM was used, but, I also read that in case of refusing warranty, by law, they would need to prove that the problem is due to the extra RAM.
But you got me thinking, I went again to look at prices and I just considered the NASes(?) only with their standard soldered RAM:
As you can see, the price difference between the DS920+ with 8 GB RAM and the DS1510+ with 8 GB RAM is... €177(!!!).
Now, looking at these calculations, I think it is fair to say that €177 is too much of a difference for just one extra bay and two extra 1 Gbe LAN ports. I can use that €177 to buy more TB's for the DS920+.
Of course, one could argue that when buying a DX517 expansion unit, the DS1520+ expands to a 15-bay NAS while the 920+ expands up to a 9-bay NAS. Nevertheless, my opinion is that when my NAS is using the max TB capacity, I think the NAS will already be too old, and it is better to buy/build a new NAS instead of buying an expansion unit.
But I would love to hear what you think :)
EDIT: Replace triples with quadruples
Good catch on the RAM price per GB! If it's only €60 extra then yeah, I agree that you may as well go for the 920 - I was thinking the difference from the 420 would be more like €160 based on the numbers up at the top, which is a harder sell for me.
I hadn't look at the 420+ before, thanks for the tip. But yes, if the difference would be like you said, I would have considered it.
Sorry that I haven't replied on your main comment yet. I'll write something later, the kid is sleeping on my arms at this very moment. :)
Haha no worries, I was just putting down my thoughts, you needn't feel obliged! Hope the little one sleeps well.
Hum after all, 8 GB is really just 40€. Double the price, double the memory. Following a 8 GB RAM link to Amazon, Amazon decided to select 16 GB instead 🤦♂️ sorry for the misinformation. Another important topic is that we should use a Samsung RAM to not get any warnings about "not supported" (even though it works fine). The Synology RAM is Samsung, so if you use a Samsung RAM, no warnings :)
I'll update the main post with important RAM information and links just so future lookers have all the info they need.
So, I have already been wrong about how synologys work a few times in this thread, so take this with a grain of salt. I was under the impression that no synologys have any built in storage. The OS is downloaded when you setup the device, and stored on all of the hard drives, kinda like a micro raid 1. When you send the device in for a warranty claim, you are not going to include the drives. Therefore, there is not even a way for the device to store logs about memory changes.
Ah, that actually makes sense, the OS is in my drives and I wouldn't send them in an RMA claim, of course. Nevertheless, I also think it is cheaper to just buy the RAM myself and install it.
Thank you again for the awesome tip/idea :)
Awesome, I totally thought I read it was 8gb max. Thanks for the info. It’s a bummer that they are soldiering the ram now.
Apologies for the late reply, in case you're still wondering about any of these questions:
I didn't try adding above 8gb. Many people online have managed to get 20gb in there, but some people have also failed. YMMV.
I ended up paying for plex so that hardware transcoding can actually be done on the CPU. Even without hardware transcoding, it can definitely stream w/o transcoding up to 4k with no problems. When it transcodes it can manage certain 4k files, but some it cannot. It can definitely transcode 1 stream at 1080p with no hiccups.
I don't notice it unless it's really going off, it's pretty quiet most of the time
I recently went through a big mess with my WD EX4100. For a NAS, I'd suggest building a normal computer that runs good ol' fashioned Linux. I got a ProLiant Gen8, but its pretty big -- and you can definitely build something way smaller.
That's my two cents, though. Its nice to not rely on a company like this for updates.
Make sure you get CMR drives.