Looking for NAS recommendations & advice

1Wolf

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jul 10, 2007
Messages
417
I'm looking for advice & recommendations for a NAS.

Use for the NAS will be primarily backups, storage of *.vhd backup images of drives, & personal cloud storage (Sharing things like Photos, and files) for my wife and I. My wife and I have several desktops & laptops spread across 2 floors in the home in addition to the typical phones full of pictures and such. So I'm looking for something that holds at least a couple 16 terrabyte drives, at least fairly resistant to a drive failure (RAID 1), small form factor to sit on a bookshelf or desk. We share a printer so it would be nice if it would allow the hookup of a printer that we could easily share in the house then.

I don't want a bunch of bloat software that I need to install on all the machines that use it. I don't need any sort of real-time backups running. I only need a file backup when I manually kick one off or when I manually copy images out to the drive.

I'd prefer something as simple as possible. I'm no network guru and I've never owned a NAS before. I know very little about it other than some googling, articles, and a few YouTube videos.

Something fairly inexpensive and simple would be best. I don't need something with tons of robust features as I wouldn't know enough to take advantage of them. Just simple to setup and use that will do the basic job of storing backups, disk images, and photos available in a sort of personal cloud.

I've read a few articles recommending the Synology 220j as it was only like $169 and PC Magazine gave it nice reviews. But with no experience with anything like these things (I've always just toted around external drives and done the backups that way) I wanted to get some opinions of folks who know much better than I.

Thanks!
 

Kardonxt

2[H]4U
Joined
Apr 13, 2009
Messages
3,463
Synology sounds like what you are looking for. If you are going to keep this for a while I would recommend stepping up to a ds218+ or ds220+ with 2gb of RAM. (Availability is poor right now. I have been struggling to get any for customers at MSRP. Most vendors show them coming in sometime this month though. )
 

mda

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Mar 23, 2011
Messages
2,043
Echoing another one for the Synology.

It will hold your files in RAID1 and do printer sharing over USB.

Since you mentioned 'a couple 16 terrabyte drives', I will assume a maximum of 4 drives (2 16TB volumes in RAID1), in which case, the following current models should be at the top of your list:

DS420J - no frills and entry level
DS418 - slightly older but a little more RAM and a little more CPU power
DS420+ - Faster CPU and can run a little more than the basics.

How to read the model numbers:

First group of numbers after the "DS" - Number of drives that this model will hold, maximum with any expansion units if the NAS is compatible with it
Last 2 digits - year model launch
J - Value Line
Not J and not + - Standard Home Model
+ - CPU slightly more powerful line

Synology doesn't provide you the best hardware or number of hard drive 'bays' for the money but their interface is easy to use for beginners.

You plug in the NAS and hard drives, connect it via ethernet to a switch and you're ready to go. Initial setup is done via a browser interface (you download an app to detect it on the network or just check your router to see which IP your DHCP assigned it to)

No 'bloatware' required, but for basic desktops (family members etc) you can have it do backups and file versioning for certain selected folders. It does have a dedicated photos app although I'm unsure how it works.

For basic file storage, you access the share just like any other network share

\\ip address\sharename

Do take note that you will be limited by the 1GBPS NICs on these machines (100-110MB/s on contiguous large files), but for mostly backups, this shouldn't really be an issue.

If you need any faster, going with these entry level NASes are no go.

If you have further questions on these, let me know.

I have a 4 bay and 3 8 bay Synology units.


Edit: a crapton of basic info re: NAS units and its late so the info is a bit disjointed, sorry.
 
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Zedicus

Gawd
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
949
maybe a TrueNAS mini from the FreeNAS company would be comparable to synology.
i have a couple of synology devices at work that i use for dedicated backups, and i run FreeNAS at home. they are both easy to use and fit your needs.

Do NOT get any other NAS. Synology, or TrueNAS, or NO NAS.
 

jmilcher

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Feb 3, 2008
Messages
5,034
I also echo a Synology box based on your OP.

I personally use a DS420+ With 4 x 12tb WD red drives.

I had never used a prebuilt NAS. The Synology community was plentiful, and I found help almost immediately for all of my questions. Most of the time I found the answer already online without asking.

It’s not the absolute cheapest option but if you value your time, it’s a great investment. Mine has been rock solid and I use it for all kinds of stuff. Multiple Mac and PC backups, plex server, file host, backup for everyone’s phone photos automatically (android and ios). It’s extremely versatile. Also I have access to my files from literally anywhere I have a internet connection. The software is easy to use but extremely robust. Just my experience but I feel like the price I paid was worth it.
 

jmilcher

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Feb 3, 2008
Messages
5,034
maybe a TrueNAS mini from the FreeNAS company would be comparable to synology.
i have a couple of synology devices at work that i use for dedicated backups, and i run FreeNAS at home. they are both easy to use and fit your needs.

Do NOT get any other NAS. Synology, or TrueNAS, or NO NAS.
I second this. If it’s prebuilt and you value your time, Synology was the only option that made sense. Everything else tried to imitate it in one way or another.
 

1Wolf

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jul 10, 2007
Messages
417
Thanks to everyone for all the help, recommendations, and advice. That helps a ton. Especially when looking at the Synology options, their naming scheme and models available were confusing to say the least. That really helped to straighten it out.

So far, from this thread, it looks like the models I should be looking at are
ds218+
ds220+
ds220j

The last entry wasn't mentioned in this thread but I had read a positive review here...
https://www.pcmag.com/reviews/synol...t_uuid=00FEvR2VLMJ9RGEvwRL31hj&test_variant=a

Its difficult to ballpark prices now because, as was mentioned in this thread, availability is a bit rough. Like alot of PC stuff these days the units show up through third-party vendors and are priced over MSRP. It looks like I'm looking at between $170 (220j) up to around $300 for the ds220+. I haven't priced the 4-bay options yet. That leads me to my next question.

It sounds like a 2-bay option will allow me around 16TB (2 x 16TB disks in RAID 1). Do you think I should be stepping up to a 4-bay option? I realize that its impossible for someone else to determine my data storage needs so I realize that question is highly subjective. The type of answer I was kind of looking for was "I found that I outgrew a 2-bay way faster than I thought" or "the price difference between the 2 and 4 made it a no-brainer to go with a 4" type of answers that might swing me that way. Otherwise, I am looking to keep the price down as it sounds like alot of the apps and functionality available to the Synology units I'd never use.

Usage is just backups and shared storage.

As far as backups themselves go its just me and my wife. 2 desktop PC's that are for gaming and "everything" else where I usually just create images for the OS/Programs drive and used the built-in windows backup for any of the other files. There are several TB there between images and files (less than 10TB). 2 laptops that are general use (Less than 1TB for each of those). And a couple of phones with less than a TB of images and such.

Echoing another one for the Synology.

It will hold your files in RAID1 and do printer sharing over USB.

Since you mentioned 'a couple 16 terrabyte drives', I will assume a maximum of 4 drives (2 16TB volumes in RAID1), in which case, the following current models should be at the top of your list:

DS420J - no frills and entry level
DS418 - slightly older but a little more RAM and a little more CPU power
DS420+ - Faster CPU and can run a little more than the basics.

How to read the model numbers:

First group of numbers after the "DS" - Number of drives that this model will hold, maximum with any expansion units if the NAS is compatible with it
Last 2 digits - year model launch
J - Value Line
Not J and not + - Standard Home Model
+ - CPU slightly more powerful line

Synology doesn't provide you the best hardware or number of hard drive 'bays' for the money but their interface is easy to use for beginners.

You plug in the NAS and hard drives, connect it via ethernet to a switch and you're ready to go. Initial setup is done via a browser interface (you download an app to detect it on the network or just check your router to see which IP your DHCP assigned it to)

No 'bloatware' required, but for basic desktops (family members etc) you can have it do backups and file versioning for certain selected folders. It does have a dedicated photos app although I'm unsure how it works.

For basic file storage, you access the share just like any other network share

\\ip address\sharename

Do take note that you will be limited by the 1GBPS NICs on these machines (100-110MB/s on contiguous large files), but for mostly backups, this shouldn't really be an issue.

If you need any faster, going with these entry level NASes are no go.

If you have further questions on these, let me know.

I have a 4 bay and 3 8 bay Synology units.


Edit: a crapton of basic info re: NAS units and its late so the info is a bit disjointed, sorry.

Wow. Not disjointed at all. Thank you so much for taking the time to explain all of that. It cleared up an absolute ton of things and gave me more basic stuff to go on then I had so far. So many of the YouTube videos I've watched or articles I've read spend alot of time focusing on tons of apps and functionalities that I'd likely never use. Thank you!
 

mda

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Mar 23, 2011
Messages
2,043
Its difficult to ballpark prices now because, as was mentioned in this thread, availability is a bit rough. Like alot of PC stuff these days the units show up through third-party vendors and are priced over MSRP. It looks like I'm looking at between $170 (220j) up to around $300 for the ds220+. I haven't priced the 4-bay options yet. That leads me to my next question.

It sounds like a 2-bay option will allow me around 16TB (2 x 16TB disks in RAID 1). Do you think I should be stepping up to a 4-bay option? I realize that its impossible for someone else to determine my data storage needs so I realize that question is highly subjective. The type of answer I was kind of looking for was "I found that I outgrew a 2-bay way faster than I thought" or "the price difference between the 2 and 4 made it a no-brainer to go with a 4" type of answers that might swing me that way. Otherwise, I am looking to keep the price down as it sounds like alot of the apps and functionality available to the Synology units I'd never use.

Usage is just backups and shared storage.

As far as backups themselves go its just me and my wife. 2 desktop PC's that are for gaming and "everything" else where I usually just create images for the OS/Programs drive and used the built-in windows backup for any of the other files. There are several TB there between images and files (less than 10TB). 2 laptops that are general use (Less than 1TB for each of those). And a couple of phones with less than a TB of images and such.

Some things to think about:

A 16TB RAID 1 volume will have a formatted capacity of between 14-15TB, I'll just round it down to be on the conservative side - 14TB.

You mentioned you+wife have about files "less than 10TB", and 2 laptops and phones that have "less than a TB" each. I can't really help with your file sizing since less than 10TB can be 5TB, or 9TB, and phones and laptops under 1TB can easily be 10GB or 900GB... so you'll probably need to take a look at how much space your backup-able files actually take.

Also, wrt to your vhd files -- do you take multiple copies of vhds at certain points in time per computer, or intend to keep only one set? If you intend to setup file versioning or keep multiple copies of that data, that will use extra space too.

Further-- Do you have other critical data you'd want on the network but currently sitting on a bare hard disk? Maybe currently on external 1-2TB drives? What I'm going for here is that -- maybe you have some files or data requirements you weren't planning on putting on the NAS but would consider?

If after all this and:

If you're nearer to 5-7TB usage and have absolutely no further use for the data, I'd say you can live with 2 bays. 14-7 = 7TB is quite still a bit lot of space

If you're nearer the 11TB side of things after adding things up, I'd say you should just get the 4 bay now if you intend to keep the NAS for more than a few years. My 2015 synology 4bay is still going, was replaced once via RMA. It does everything I need it to do and I'm keeping it until it dies.

--

I started with a 4 bay back in 2015 and had 2x4TB drives in RAID 1 and expanded to 4x4TB drives in RAID1 as I started to include a media drive for higher quality series and movies, also keep my copies of key installers and ISOs that I use often as well as important files, family photos. Also have set it up to automatically back up my laptop/desktop's files just in case i'll need to restore it just in case an SSD crashes or I lose my laptop etc.

I also grew into using the synology apps. I bought the NAS for manual backups and nothing else... checked the software packages and, oh wow they have an app that can stream videos to your tv/phone/desktop/laptop. Now it's a part time media server. Oh, they have an app that backs up client files automatically -- good use for my parents. Another app that can do file versioning -- good for resetting users' files back to a certain point in time if they mistakenly overwritten it/corrupted it/got it malware'd... etc.

The other synologies I manage are for work, doing automatic backup duty for client files, as well as having a backup of that synology.

--

Also, obligatory "RAID is not a backup" warning. (It's bound to pop up sooner or later anyway)

A lightning strike that takes out the NAS with all your drives will still result in you losing all your data if you plan for the NAS to be your main repository/data dump location.
 
Last edited:

DanNeely

2[H]4U
Joined
Aug 26, 2005
Messages
3,965
It sounds like a 2-bay option will allow me around 16TB (2 x 16TB disks in RAID 1). Do you think I should be stepping up to a 4-bay option? I realize that its impossible for someone else to determine my data storage needs so I realize that question is highly subjective. The type of answer I was kind of looking for was "I found that I outgrew a 2-bay way faster than I thought" or "the price difference between the 2 and 4 made it a no-brainer to go with a 4" type of answers that might swing me that way. Otherwise, I am looking to keep the price down as it sounds like alot of the apps and functionality available to the Synology units I'd never use.

In this case I'm pretty sure the plural of "anecdotes" not only isn't "data", but something on the range from "sucker trap" to "worthless". That said since 07 or 08, I've had NASes with initial configurations of 2x1.5, 2x3, and 2x6 TB drives; primarily used for holding a mix of archival backups of old systems and realtime backups of my current main box. The first one filled up sooner than expected, the latter two lasted about as long as I intended to keep them going before replacement but filled up because I procrastinated the replacements themselves. My current 2x6 TB model probably would still be OK if I hadn't started running 2 backup programs at once (because my legacy one is proprietary to the NAS and won't migrate).

All that said, my existing systems were all built using one flavor of MS's retired Windows Home Server product, which allows "fake pseudo raid" with mismatched drives; meaning I could take my current 2x6tb drive setup add one of my old 3tb drives re-balance and have 7.5tb of raid1ish storage (2 copies of each file on 2 different drives), or stuff a new 12tb drive in, do the same and have 12tb of raid1ish storage. If I didn't have the flexibility to do that because I was using a conventional Raid1/5/10 setup, I'd've probably gone with ~50% more capacity than I thought I'd need due to the increased cost/difficulty of expanding in place.

EDIT: I recently bought a Synology 1621+. It's a 6 bay unit - which is overkill for my needs - but the cheapest one they offer that's upgradable to 10GB ethernet (something I want for a year or two from now when I build a new PC). I'm running it with 3x6TB in RAID5-ish mode using SHR (a software fake-raid that will let me mix/match drives of different sizes while still using all the available capacity of each as long as I have 2 of the biggest ones), along with a 4th as a hot spare. I went with 6GB drives because I procrastinated too long and had a drive in my old one start throwing SMART warnings just in time for @#*()$ crypto to fubar the availability/prices of larger drives.
 
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