Background: I am looking to upgrade our home's laptop and would like the next one to have an SSD. Due to the prices of SSDs, I don't expect to store all of our pictures and movies on the internal drive, so ...

Main mission:

I am looking for network-accessible storage to be used as the primary home for our family's electronic pictures and music. I am also going to be getting an external (USB) drive to create backup copies of these files, so this NAS device does not need redundancy (either locally with RAID or via the Cloud). Our current combined file usage is ~245 Gb, but I would like to plan on a few years of growth. I don't need the cheapest solution, but I'm not looking to spend more than I need to (see: new laptop and external drive). Current WiFi is 802.11n but expect to move to 802.11ac.

Requirements:

  • visible on the network (it can plug in to the WiFi router to become present on the network; it does not need to provide its own WiFi) -- provides a mappable share for Windows
  • at least 500 Gb capacity (provided by the supporting hard drives, obviously)

Nice-to-haves:

  • supports (or comes with) SSDs -- to help with power consumption and wear
  • low-power (as I envision this thing being on 24x7)
  • simple to manage (I work with computers enough already during the day)
  • reliable (who doesn't want it to be?)
  • expandable capacity (e.g. two bays, with only one populated initially) - to allow for easy online growth
  • not be a bottleneck (given that we're transferring over WiFi, I don't expect this to be an issue)

No-need-fors:

  • printer sharing
  • streaming
  • 3rd-party copying/backup software (I have my own solution based on rsync)
  • virtualization support

Solutions that I am aware of:

  • RPi + FreeNAS: I'm more capable than willing to DIY this project; the cost savings aren't enough for me at this point. This idea wins "points" on being naturally lower in power consumption, though.
  • Synology
  • Drobo
  • Netgear
  • Intel NUC

I found a related question -- What options are available for cheap NAS devices that allows to put two hard drives in RAID 1? -- and have slightly different requirements:

  • I don't need encryption (storing pictures and music)
  • I don't need RAID-1 (though not opposed to the feature)
  • it doesn't need to be the cheapest option
  • I have no need for cloud-based installation

The common elements to the previous question are only: reliability and energy-efficiency. JohnB's excellent answer to that question is a QNAP TS-231. From what I see, it would meet my main requirements, but I'm curious if there are any other good solutions for my set of requirements.

Even though you don't want/need RAID, you might want JBOD (just a bunch of disks). This technology allows multiple hard drives to act as one huge hard drive, which would be good for things that use up large capacities. You can buy any NAS server products from QNAP, WD, Netgear, Synology, etc. but these usually cost $200+ and they would work fine. If you were tighter budget (me last year) you could buy what I got, the Shuttle Omninas KD20. It has many of the features the $200+ NAS servers has and has great quality. I bought that NAS server for $80 (which is pretty cheap).

Using the Intel NUC isn't great since it isn't cheap, uses more power and doesn't support 24/7 uptime. The RPi doesn't have SATA which means you have to use USB hard drives, these hard drives are more expensive, lower quality and slower than the 2.5"/3.5" counterparts.

  • +1 for the nudge to consider JBOD/RAID-0, for the pointer to the Shuttle product, and information on the NUC and RPi solutions. I had to go find out if (for example) 2x240Gb was cheaper than 1x480Gb -- and it's not. – Jeff Schaller Nov 24 '15 at 3:43
up vote 4 down vote accepted

A little bit of "life" intervened, and I ended up going with a solution from Synology, their DS215j. I confirmed that it supported SSDs before ordering both it and a set of SSDs.

The NAS and one SSD showed up first, so I plugged them all in so that I could start moving music and pictures over (with the hopes that Synology's software feature of expandable "hybrid" RAID would work correctly).

One minor hiccup I ran into was not knowing whether I needed Synology's "optional 2.5" Disk Holder Type C". I had ordered the NAS from Amazon (listed as their #1 North America online merchant), and didn't notice a Disk Holder as being part of the standard shipment, nor as a suggested add-on, so I (needlessly) purchased a "2.5 to 3.5 Inches Internal Hard Disk Drive Mounting Kit". Turns out that the mounting kit pushes the SSD too far away from the connector, so I made do with some packing plastic and the screws that I could line up.

The NAS came online on my LAN with no issue -- plugged directly into the upstream router -- and was easily discoverable with the "find.synology.com" web assistant. I set it up and was online with it quickly.

The DS215j features three fan speed modes: "Cool", "Quiet", and "Low-power". I'd have to refer to the manual, but with SSDs and the NAS sitting in the basement, I've had good luck with "Low-power" mode.

The Synology NAS is easy enough to use; the standard setup was enough to get me going, but there is an accessible CLI for when I want to tinker.

The reliability question will have to wait, but so far so good!

As far as expandability, the Synology Hybrid Raid has proven to go from "RAID-1 with 1 drive" to "RAID-1 with 2 drives", and promises to allow for expandable replacement drives (once the second SSD arrived, I shut the NAS down and installed it, similarly to the first). I haven't had to test the expandable-drive promise, but given the flexibility it has already shown, I suspect that it will be able to grow as I need it.

As far as transfer speeds go, I haven't done precise timing tests; I had a large amount of data to move, and only one "source" (the original laptop), so it was going to take as long as it was going to take. I have noticed that there is a slight pause in iTunes when requesting playback of a larger file (above 5 Mb) - it appears to me that iTunes wants to buffer enough of the file that it results in a noticeable delay.

  • Only a year later, and our storage usage crested 450 Gb, so I just had the "opportunity" to replace the 500Gb SSDs with 6 Tb HDD's. The Synology Hybrid Raid did just what it said it would do: once the volume was repaired with the 2nd large drive, the new volume size automatically increased to the new drive size. – Jeff Schaller Dec 4 '16 at 20:43

I recommend a HP micro server. You can see a similar question here.

As a micro server, it supports 24/7 work though it consumes more power than those NASs.

If you just need some private online storage, router with a high speed usb port + usb HDD/Flashdisk can meet your requirements.

One recommended router is ASUS AC56U,adding a usb HDD, it can be easily used as a private online storage.

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.