Synology offers a variety of NAS models to choose from. However, the choice can be confusing if you are not sure what the differences are. Here are some things you should know to narrow down your ideal choice.
We are big fans of Synology's NAS products, especially because they are very easy to set up and use, and even most people, beginners who want to immerse their toes in the world of networked storage, will not be overwhelmed to feel. The problem is that Synology has dozens of models to choose from, and choosing one of them can be the hardest part.
If you're just looking for cheap base storage, consider the DS21
A Brief Overview
If you take a quick look at the Synology product list, you'll find that it's broken down into different series: FS & XS Series, Plus Series, Value Series, and J Series , Each Series Provides:
- FS Series: These only use flash memory and are designed for businesses and businesses, preferably the most intensive applications. They run on Intel Xeon CPUs (but the FS1018 uses Intel Pentium).
- XS Series: These are server-class models that are also targeted at companies with Intel Xeon CPUs. Models with "RP" have a redundant power supply, models with "+" a redundant power supply and an integrated 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE).
- Plus Series: All DS models with a "+" are shipped with Intel Atom CPUs running on an x86 architecture. These provide the best performance for end users and are all equipped with hardware video transcoding.
- Value Series: Synology's mid-tier budget models feature ARM-based CPUs that are slightly slower than Plus models. Play models, however, support hardware video transcoding.
- J Series: These are Synology's lowest-priced NAS models, also available with ARM-based CPUs. They're the slower ones, so great if you just need a cheap storage solution that's accessible through your network.
For the most part, if you're just a regular person looking for a NAS box for your home use, you'll ignore the FS and XS series (as well as all RS models) and look at the models instead view the other three series.
But man, all these model numbers are surely confusing! Do not worry, Synology offers this practical breakdown of the meaning of the model numbers:
This graphic is intended to give you a better idea of what each NAS model offers, but it still exists some questions you may have, namely the whole thing with the "maximum number of slots".
As the graph shows, the number prior to the year indicates how many drive bays the NAS supports Expanding with the Synology DX517 expansion unit ($ 499) with five bays. For example, the DS918 + does not have nine bays, but four bays and can be expanded to nine bays with the five-bay extension unit. You may see some model names like the DS218 + with two slots. This means that no expansion unit is supported. Therefore, a maximum of two bays are supported.
CONNECTION: Setting Up and Getting Started with Your Synology NAS
So, what Synology NAS should you buy?
When choosing a NAS you should first ask yourself a few questions: How much storage space do you need? And how will you use your NAS?
Question 1: How much storage space do I need?
Your NAS should have enough hard drive bays to meet your needs, but this number depends on how much storage you plan to use and how much storage you think you'll need in the future.
Synology NAS boxes support up to 12 TB of drive in each slot. However, 12 TB hard drives are quite expensive, and it is likely that you will buy 4 TB or 8 TB hard drives instead because they are more common and much cheaper. You should also think about your RAID setup, which reduces the total available disk space by mirroring or distributing data between drives.
RELATED: Intelligent Disk Usage: An Introduction to RAID
Let's say you need 8TB of disk space for all your files and want to use RAID 1 to make an exact copy of each file on a second drive (you can use Synology's RAID machine to experiment with different setups). Two 8 TB drives are required for this purpose, meaning you need at least two hard drive bays.
However, you also need to consider expanding in the future. Sure, you could replace these 8 TB drives with larger drives, but in most cases it's easier to add another 8 TB drive. If you buy a NAS with four instead of two drive bays, this is much easier.
If your budget permits, the new Synology five-bay drive is the ideal place to offer huge storage, performance, and even a local drive backup option.
A RAID setup is not the same as a backup. Depending on the number of hard drives and the RAID option you are using, all your data can easily be restored with just one or two hard disk errors. You should always consider multiple backup options. Offsite backups are the safest option you can choose.
Question 2: How do I use my NAS?
In the second question you have to consider what exactly you will use your NAS for. This will help you to decide which series of services you would like to see.
If you only want to save files and backups, you will not need much power and will be able to use the cheaper units – something of value or even the J-Series would be fine.
However, if you want something that you can use to stream all your movies, TV shows, and other video files, you need a NAS that supports the following features: The Fly Transcoding – something in the Plus series is on best, but you could also get away with one of the Value Series "Play" units.
You may also want this extra power if you want to run applications like a file downloader or even an unobtrusive mail server.
There is much information we know. Synology makes many units and they have a confusing name. Here are our recommendations for most people who want to get into the Synology game at home:
- Media and App Servers: If you want a four-bay NAS, the 4K UHD On the -Fly video transcoding and has the following: Consider the DS918 + ($ 539 without disks) as sufficient for running other types of apps. For a two-bay version, the DS218 + ($ 298 without hard drives) is great.
- Base Store: If you only need one NAS for file and backup storage (or agree to a lower level) video transcoding for your media server), you can not do anything with the four-bay DS418 ($ 369 without disks) do wrong. If you want something cheaper, you can opt for the DS218 ($ 249 without hard drives), but with just two bays, you lose flexibility for future upgrades.
- All in One: If you want performance, lots of storage, and the security of backups: With Synology's DS1019 + with five bays ($ 619 without drives), every other option is objectionable. You can use the first four for a RAID 10 setup that provides optimal performance while leaving room for two hard drive failures before losing data. The fifth position can be reserved for sequential backups in case the worst happens. And for off-site backups, you can connect external drives and exchange them weekly.
The DS1019 + is by far the most expensive of the options, but we believe its features justify the cost. It's fast enough for your Plex and other media servers, flexible enough to give you an incredible amount of storage, and you can easily make local backups.
As a test, we pulled two hard drives, one from either side of a RAID 10 setup, to simulate catastrophic failure. Using the NAS software, we were able to add new drives, format them, and recover the missing data using the backup from the fifth drive. It took some time, we ran it overnight, but we came out of the experience with all our data. In our opinion, this is a complete cost recovery.
When buying a NAS, do not forget your hard drives because your NAS will arrive flat. Be sure to read our guide to purchasing hard drives specifically designed for NAS use.