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What Synology Should You Buy?

There are a ton of options when it comes to which Synology NAS to buy, and it really depends on what you would like to do with your Synology and how much storage you really need.

What to Look for in a Synology NAS

There are a ton of different features which separate NAS models from each other. Here is a list of the top few things to look out for when purchasing a NAS.

Drive Size 3.5″ vs 2.5″

Form factor of the NAS is probably the most important thing, however for most people it’s a simple answer: 3.5″ hard drives. These are what 95% of Synology NAS units take and they offer by far the largest amount of storage for your buck.

Number of Bays

Number of bays is incredibly important for your NAS, as it dictates how much data you can store and how fast you can access that data sequentially. Most people end up in 4 categories, which is the way I have broken down my list:

1 Bay

1 Bay units are absolutely phenomenal for backup units: they are quiet, low powered, and most importantly cheap! These units however do not offer any kind of redundant RAID due to having only having one bay, so they are especially susceptible to data loss if a drive fails. Because of this you need to make sure your backups are good (you should make sure of this anyway).

2 Bays

2 Bay NAS units are where a lot of people start out as they provide the ability to run RAID 1 / SHR to have a full disk of redundancy built in, protecting you from drive failure, though you should still have good backups as RAID is not a backup. It should be noted that for users who are looking to get 12+ TB of data and run SHR-1 a lot of the time, it can actually be cheaper to upgrade to a 4 bay NAS because you will only ‘lose’ 25% of your data to RAID rather than 50%, bringing the total cost of the NAS down.

4 Bays

4 Bay NAS units are a sweet spot for people who want to get a ton of data. With the new 20TB drives coming these units can give you 80TB of raw storage. Few people can fill that!

5+ Bays

5+ Bay units are really for people who either want to store an absolute ton of data, want to access the data incredibly quickly, or both. The more hard drives you add into a RAID the faster the raid can perform in sequential reads. Thats why you will not be seeing 4 bay or lower NAS units coming with 10GbE networking.

Networking Ports

There are really 3 different types of networking you can do on a Synology NAS: single 1 GbE port, 10GbE, or link aggregation (combining ports). 1GbE connectivity is what 90% of users will end up using, however if you would like to upgrade you have two options, 10GbE or link aggregation. 10GbE will give you directly faster speeds for a single user, however it is more expensive to setup. If you would like to have multiple users you can use link aggregation which combines multiple connections into a connection which speeds up multi user performance.

Synology Diskstations

Synology Diskstations are what I would recommend for 95% of users as they are amazing desktop, quiet models that can have volumes over 100TB! These are split up by number of bays available and only cover the 3.5 in options which are what most consumers are looking for as they have the largest available space.

1 Bay Units:

1 Bay units do not offer any kind of hard drive redundancy, but make great offsite backups or local backups for computers. If you do choose to store data on them I would highly recommend having an offsite backup of your important files in case of drive failure! (you should do this anyway as RAID is not a backup)

Cheapest: DS120j


Synology DS120j
Number of Bays1
Network Port(s)1 1GbE port
BTRFSNo
Virtual MachineNo
RAM512 MB – non upgradeable
CPU2 Core 0.8 GHz
PriceAmazon

The DS120j makes the perfect offsite backup or even local backup of computers on your network! However with its slow CPU and single drive bay, running complex services will be incredibly slow on this device, though you will not notice the speed if you only access files over WiFi.

Performance: DS118


DS118
Number of Bays1
Network Port(s)1 1GbE port
BTRFSNo
Virtual MachineNo
RAM1 GB – non upgradeable
CPU4 Core 1.4 GHz
PriceAmazon

The DS118 is a little old now, and a little pricy. Its primary advantage over the DS120j is the addition of a more powerful CPU and a hardware transcoding engine, which claims to be able to transcode 10 bit H.265 4K video at 60 FPS for video station, making this device good for those who want to host a media library on their home network.


2 Bay Units:

2 Bay units are a great starting place as they allow users one of two options, 1) to be able to setup SHR1 (or RAID1) to protect themselves from hard drive failure (note RAID is not a backup) or 2) create a very large up to 34 TB volume with JBOD. It should be noted that if you do want to use SHR in many cases it can be more economical to actually buy a 4 bay NAS over a 2 bay NAS. SHR with a 2 bay NAS takes half the storage where as SHR with a 4 bay only takes 25% of the storage.

Cheapest: DS220j


DS220j
Number of Bays2
Network Port(s)1 1GbE port
BTRFSNo
Virtual MachineNo
RAM512 MB – non upgradeable
CPU4 Core 1.4 GHz
PriceAmazon

The DS220j is a cheap NAS which is a great option for a large offsite backup, or even just a simple home NAS for users who do not need premium features. The upgrade to 2 bays allows for RAID1 which gives one disk of fault tolerance for your data! The CPU will somewhat limit capability to run more complex Synology apps quickly.

Media Server: DS218play


DS218play
Number of Bays2
Network Port(s)1 1GbE port
BTRFSNo
Virtual MachineNo
RAM1 GB – non upgradeable
CPU4 Core 1.4 GHz
PriceAmazon

The DS218play is part of the play line of Synology NAS units which is focused on providing online transcoding of 4k videos with the addition of a custom hardware transcoding engine, which claims to be able to transcode 10 bit H.265 4K video at 60 FPS for video station, making this device good for those who want to host a media library on their home network.

Performance: DS720+


DS720+
Number of Bays2
Network Port(s)2 1GbE port
BTRFSYes
Virtual MachineYes
RAM2 GB – upgradeable
CPU4 Core 2.0 GHz (2.7 Burst)
PriceAmazon

The DS720 plus is where we start getting additional performance benefits in the 2 bay package. It has upgradeable RAM, 2 M.2 NVMe SSD slots (can only be used for cache) and the ability to run virtual machines. In a lot of ways this caching is lost on a unit with only 2 drives except in multi user environments where tons of small random read and writes are occurring. This unit also can also be expanded to a total of 7 bays with the optional expansion unit.


4 Bay Units:

4 bay units are at a great price point for people who would like to run SHR in their NAS units without giving up half of their storage. They also offer really easy expandability: a user who currently needs 6 TB can start off with 2 8 TB drives or 3 4 TB drives in SHR and then buy additional drives to upgrade as their storage needs increase.

Cheapest: DS420j


DS420j
Number of Bays4
Network Port(s)1 1GbE port
BTRFSNo
Virtual MachineNo
RAM1 GB – non upgradeable
CPU4 Core 1.4 GHz
PriceAmazon

The DS420j is by far the cheapest way to gain a NAS with over 60 TB of RAW storage, however it will not be fast. The CPU is powerful enough to saturate a gigabit connection, however multiple users will really slow down this processor. Due to its price point matched with huge possible capacity, this makes a perfect offsite backup for a large, powerful primary NAS.

Media Server: DS418


DS418
Number of Bays4
Network Port(s)2 1GbE port
BTRFSYes
Virtual MachineNo
RAM2 GB – non upgradeable
CPU4 Core 1.4 GHz
PriceAmazon

The DS418 is a little old now, however because of that it has really good value for money. Upgrading to this over the DS420j will give you more RAM, multiple Gigabit network ports, BTRFS, and the Hardware Transcoding Engine for video playback. The upgrade cost is small, but really only worth it if you are going to use at least some of the features mentioned.

Performance: DS920+


DS920+
Number of Bays4
Network Port(s)2 1GbE port
BTRFSYes
Virtual MachineYes
RAM4 GB – upgradeable
CPU4 Core 2.0 GHz (2.7 Burst)
PriceAmazon

The DS920+ is a high performance 4 bay NAS which has a lot of features for users who want to do more with their NAS. It has a slot for 2 M.2 SSD cache drives which makes this unit ideal for multi user office environments as the cache will increase the responsiveness of the unit when tons of people are using it. It should be noted that the largest shortfall of this NAS is the CPU, which will be hard to run multiple VM’s or docker containers on. However for file transfers it will have no issues. Finally this unit has a built in hardware encryption chip which offloads encryption from the CPU, speeding up encrypted pools.


5+ Bay Units:

5+ Bay Units are for people who need a ton of storage and they need it to be fast. These are generally offices, though myself and many other tech nerds have figured out how to have a reason to buy these units (why do you think I started creating YouTube Videos?)

Want it All: DS1621xs+


DS1621xs+
Number of Bays6
Network Port(s)1 10GbE (copper) & 2 1GbE port
BTRFSYes
Virtual MachineYes
RAM8 GB (DDR4 ECC) – upgradeable
CPU4 Core 2.2 GHz (2.7 Burst)
PriceAmazon

The DS1621xs+ is an absolute beast of a desktop NAS and its price shows it. Out of the box it comes with 2 M.2 SSD slots for ultra fast NVMe file cacheing AND a copper 10GbE port. It also includes a PCIe expansion slot which could be used for other network cards such as SFP+. The CPU is also a server grade Intel Xeon which finally gives real power under the hood of a Synology NAS. Overall this unit would make a great unit for a medium office environment for users who need speed such as video / photo editors. (I am jealous of this beast)

Large and Fast: DS1819+


DS1819+
Number of Bays8
Network Port(s)4 1GbE port
BTRFSYes
Virtual MachineYes
RAM4 GB (DDR4 ECC) – upgradeable
CPU4 Core 2.1
PriceAmazon

The DS1819+ is a 8 bay NAS which has a single PCIe expansion slot and the capability to saturate a 10GbE connection. It allows for huge volumes while still having a small NAS that will easily fit on most desks. This is my personal NAS and it has served me well for years!

Absolutely Huge: DS2419+


DS2419+
Number of Bays12
Network Port(s)4 1GbE port
BTRFSYes
Virtual MachineYes
RAM4 GB (DDR4 ECC) – upgradeable
CPU4 Core 2.1
PriceAmazon

The DS2419+ is an absolute unit! It has 12 bays in a desktop unit meaning you can hit 200TB+ of RAW storage! This is really for users who need a ton of space, though with the CPU you are not going to be getting insane speeds (should easily still be able to saturate a single 10GbE connection). This unit does include a PCIe expansion slot!

Synology Network Video Recorders

Coming soon!

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