Which Synology NAS

Synology has become synonymous with NAS devices. They offer many solutions, from basic file sharing to advanced data backup and recovery. Which Synology NAS model should I choose?

Synology is a leading manufacturer of network-attached storage (NAS) devices. Additionally, the company offers cloud services such as backup and disaster recovery. Their products include both consumer and enterprise models.

NAS is an excellent solution for small businesses looking for a cost-effective solution to build shared infrastructure. They offer many features and benefits, from simple file sharing to advanced solutions.

Which model should you choose? This article will tell you all you need to make an intelligent decision for home or small business use. I won’t cover in this article enterprise usage for Synology NAS.


What exactly is a NAS server?

NAS is an acronym for Network Attached Storage. These servers are specialized computer hardware that allows seamless data sharing across multiple computers through network connections.

NAS servers, also called media servers or file servers, enable multiple computers to access shared folders. They are commonly used in both home networks and businesses. In-home networks NAS devices are mainly used to stream music and movies or store photos. In a business environment, media servers are popular for storing files. A NAS doesn’t make noise and is ideal for the desk.

It also offers remote access from anywhere worldwide, a backup option, and web server applications.


Choosing the Right Synology NAS Hardware: Tailoring CPU, Memory, and SSD Cache to Your Needs

When selecting a Synology NAS, understanding the hardware capabilities, mainly the CPU, onboard memory, and SSD cache, is crucial, especially about your intended usage:

  1. Intended Use: The purpose behind your Synology NAS dictates the required hardware specifications. For basic tasks such as file sharing or backup, a model with a basic CPU, like an AMD Ryzen or Intel Celeron, is adequate. On the other hand, if you plan on utilizing your NAS for more intensive tasks such as video transcoding, hosting a mail server, or running complex applications, opting for a model with a more robust CPU, like the Intel Xeon, is advisable.
  2. User Load: The number of users accessing the NAS concurrently plays a significant role in your choice. A NAS intended for a smaller user group can function effectively with a less powerful CPU. However, a high user load necessitates a more powerful CPU like the Intel Xeon to maintain efficient and speedy access for all users.
  3. Specialized Applications (e.g., Virtual Machines): If you’re considering using your Synology NAS as a host for virtual machines, this requires careful consideration of all hardware aspects. The CPU performance becomes more critical, and a high-end CPU is recommended. Additionally, ample memory (RAM) is crucial for smooth operation, especially when running multiple virtual machines. Incorporating SSD cache can significantly enhance performance, reducing latency and speeding up data access times.

In summary, while Synology NAS models come with various CPU options, including AMD Ryzen, Intel Celeron, and Intel Xeon, the choice largely depends on your specific needs. While CPU power is an important consideration, combining sufficient RAM and an SSD cache often has a more noticeable impact on performance, particularly in specialized setups like hosting virtual machines.


How much storage disk do I need for my data?


For home usage


Storage is one of the most critical factors in choosing a NAS. The capacity you need will largely depend on the files you plan to store. If you have a lot of high-resolution video or audio files, you’ll need more storage than someone who just wants to keep photos and documents.

I recommend a Synology with at least 4TB storage. If you intend to store video files for streaming to home devices, go for 8TB at least. It will be more expensive but in the long run worth the extra cost.


For small business needs


Small businesses typically need more storage space than home users. For a small business, you will likely need at least a Synology NAS with a capacity of 8 TB. It will give you enough space to store files, backups, and applications. If the Synology should serve as a backup device to your existing file server, keep in mind to have restore points for several days. A NAS backup repository should have 3-4 times more space than the repository of your live data.

If you need more storage later, adding a Synology drive enclosure provides an easy way to upgrade storage. You connect the drive enclosure with the eSATA port to the Synology. In most cases, you don’t need a drive enclosure; you better buy the Synology NAS with enough drive bays. An expansion is more for offsite backups, serving as redundant backups in an off-site location.

expansion unit
Drive enclosure DX517

Which data storage space should I use? RAID 0, RAID 1 or RAID 5?

Synology has a wide range of NAS servers available on the market. But with so many options, deciding which is best for your specific needs can be tough. This guide will help you understand the different types of Synology NAS servers and decide wisely for your business. RAID 0, 1 or 5?

When it comes to small businesses, there are three main types of storage arrays: RAID 0, RAID 1, and RAID 5. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, so it’s essential to understand the difference before deciding.

RAID 0 (two hard drives) is the most basic array type and offers no redundancy. It means that if one of the drives in the array fails, all of the data on the other drives will be lost as well. However, RAID 0 offers the best performance and is the most cost-effective option for small businesses that don’t need redundancy.

RAID 1 (two hard drives) is more expensive but offers complete data redundancy. It means that if one drive fails, the data on the other drive will still be intact. RAID 1 is a good choice for small businesses that need to protect their data but don’t require the highest performance.

RAID 5 (three or more hard drives) is the most expensive option but offers the best performance and data protection. This type of array uses a technique called “striping” to spread the data across all of the drives in the array. It means that if one drive fails, the data can still be accessed from the other drives. RAID 5 is a good choice for small businesses that need the highest performance and data protection.

I recommend RAID1 for home use and RAID5 for business purposes. RAID5 requires at least a 4-bay Synology NAS.


Do I want to use Btrfs or EXT4 for the file system?

Another critical decision when choosing a Synology NAS is which file system to use. The two most popular options are Btrfs and EXT4.

EXT4 is the most widely used file system compatible with all Synology NAS models. It offers good performance and data protection but doesn’t have some of the advanced features of Btrfs.

Btrfs is a newer file system that offers many benefits over EXT4,


Why do I recommend BTRFS over EXT4?

In the first place, Btrfs is a self-healing file system. Data can slowly corrupt over time, and you may not even realize it until it’s too late. The silent data corruption can be resolved by scheduling data scrubs and implementing RAID. In addition to being highly beneficial to all data, it is beneficial for those wishing to store media files on their NAS.

Btrfs provides the ability to schedule and take snapshots, which protect data by preserving your information at a particular time. These copies enable you to retrieve your data if it becomes damaged or lost and restore files from varied versions of your stored data as needed, with options for retention.

Snapshot is a benefit for business usage, not recommended for home use. It requires additional space.

The third benefit of BTRFS is to assign a quota to file shares. With quota, you can manage the storage usage of your NAS. It is actually great for home needs. For example, if you use the Synology NAS for MAC Time machine backups, without quota time machine will eat up all space on the NAS, which you certainly don’t want.

Make sure the Synology NAS supports BTRFS!


How many drive bays does my Synology need?

Synology NAS servers come in a wide range of sizes, from one-bay to eight-bay models. The number of drive bays you need will depend on the TB of storage amount of data you need to store and the redundancy level you require.


Synology 1 bay

One-bay models are typically used for personal data storage or as a backup server. They are the most affordable option but offer the least amount of storage and no redundancy.

I don’t recommend a One-bay Synology NAS, even not for home use or as a backup device.

DiskStation DS124 supports BTRFS.

Diskstation DS124
Synology Diskstation DS124

Synology 2 bay

Two-bay models are a good choice for home use or for small businesses that need to store up to 10TB of data. These models offer some level of data protection but are not as robust as higher-end models.
BTRFS and RAID1 (data redundancy) are supported

Synology DS223
Synology Diskstation DS223

Synology 4 bay

Four-bay models are a good choice for small businesses that need to store up to 20TB of data. These models offer good data protection and performance but can be expensive.
If you want to use RAID5, you need a four-bay Synology Diskstation.

DS423
Synology Diskstation DS423+

Synology 5 bay

A classic configuration for five hard drives is two for the RAID1 mirror and three drives for RAID5.

Synology 5 bays
DiskStation DS1522+


What’s the difference between the Value and Plus series?

The Value Series is designed as a base model, ideal for small businesses, start-ups, and even certain home users. These NAS models typically have a memory range from 512 MB up to 2 GB. They are well-suited for basic tasks like serving files, supporting IP surveillance cameras (up to 10 cameras), network or internet backup, Apple Time Machine, and simple CRM and CMS systems. The Value Series offers an excellent balance of Synology’s capabilities and flexibility without a high cost. However, it’s important to note that the memory limitations in this series might lead to quicker outgrowth for businesses with expanding needs.

On the other hand, the Plus Series is targeted more toward small-to-medium-sized businesses that require greater storage capabilities and anticipate future growth. These models have a higher baseline for memory, starting at 2GB and are expandable up to 32GB on certain models. They also feature dual LAN for increased upload and download speeds. The Plus Series is designed to handle a wider range of tasks and do them efficiently, making it suitable for businesses looking for a robust storage solution that can handle more demanding requirements.

My recommendation

I recommend a two-bay Synology Diskstation Plus Series for home usage, and for small-business two- or four-bay, if you have the budget, go for a Four-Bay NAS.


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NAS Hard Drive Selection

When purchasing a new NAS, buy the correct hard drives. You need reliable equipment for NAS devices since they run 24/7.

There are a few things to keep in mind. First, you must decide which type of drive you want to use. The two options are SATA and SSD drives. SAS drives are only supported in enterprise-level Synology NAS.

SATA drives are the most common type of hard drive and offer good performance and capacity. However, they are not as fast as SSD drives.
SSD drives are much faster than SATA drives but are more expensive.

Hard drives are the type of devices that fails the most. So it is vital to choose the correct drive. Manufacturers designed drives for NAS purposes, and I would highly recommend choosing one of these.

The most important thing to look for is the MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures), which should be around 1 million hours. WD Red and Seagate IronWolf are all excellent choices.


Synology HAT5300-16T 16 TB Hard Drive - 3.5' Internal - SATA (SATA/600)
Synology HAT5300-16T 16 TB Hard Drive – 3.5″ Internal – SATA (SATA/600)
Offers larger storage base capacity with maximum efficiency; Offers larger storage base capacity with maximum efficiency
$210.26
Synology HAS5300 HAS5300-8T 8 TB Hard Drive - 3.5' Internal - SAS (12Gb/s SAS)
Synology HAS5300 HAS5300-8T 8 TB Hard Drive – 3.5″ Internal – SAS (12Gb/s SAS)
Provides fast and dependable access to data and has non-volatile memory; Makes frequent file access and retrieval easy and convenient
Amazon Prime

Which Synology NAS Diskstation models support SSD cache and memory for better performance?

Most Synology NAS models offer support for SSD cache, which can be established by adding either M.2 SSD or 2.5-inch drives. For reading and writing caching, you should install two drives.

The plus + models of the Diskstation support SSD caching. I recommend SSD cache with the M.2 interface. Such an interface is available even for two-bay NAS, which is a great way to speed up caching. It is an adapter card and purchased separately.


Synology M.2 2280 NVMe SSD SNV3410 400GB (SNV3410-400G)
Synology M.2 2280 NVMe SSD SNV3410 400GB (SNV3410-400G)
Boost the I/O performance of your Synology NAS – Up to 70,000 4K random write IOPS; Endurance – Designed to handle tough caching workloads in a 24/7 multi-user environment
Amazon Prime
Synology M.2 Adapter Card (M2D18)
Synology M.2 Adapter Card (M2D18)
Elevate your storage performance to the next level; Two SSDs must be both NVMe or SATA at the same time
Synology M.2 2280 NVMe SSD SNV3410 800GB
Synology M.2 2280 NVMe SSD SNV3410 800GB
Up to 400,000/70,000 sustained 4K random read/write IOPS for demanding I/O; Suitable for intensive caching workloads at up to 1,022 TBW
Amazon Prime
Synology SODIMM ECC RAM DDR4-2666 16GB (D4ECSO-2666-16G)
Synology SODIMM ECC RAM DDR4-2666 16GB (D4ECSO-2666-16G)
Synology RAM DDR4-2666 ECC SO-DIMM 16GB
Amazon Prime
Synology RAM DDR4 ECC SO-DIMM 8GB (D4ES01-8G)
Synology RAM DDR4 ECC SO-DIMM 8GB (D4ES01-8G)
DDR4 ECC Unbuffered SODIMM; System ram type: ddr4_sdram; Memory storage capacity: 8.0
Amazon Prime
Synology SODIMM ECC RAM DDR4 4GB (D4ES01-4G)
Synology SODIMM ECC RAM DDR4 4GB (D4ES01-4G)
synology ram ddr4 ecc so-dimm 4gb (d4es01-4g); System ram type: ddr4_sdram; item package weight: 0.08 pounds
Amazon Prime

Which external connectors or ports do I need? Expansion, external drive

Nowadays, most devices have enough USB connectors and at least two network connections. So you don’t need to pay attention to this question.

Make sure the USB ports support USB3. Some NAS even has an ESATA port to connect an expansion unit if you need to connect more hard drives.

However, you will hardly need it in a home or small business environment.


Can I use the Synology Diskstation for virtual machines?

Yes, you can use the Synology NAS as a virtual machine host. However, not all models are compatible with virtualization.

You’ll need a model with at least 4GB of RAM and two Intel CPU cores to use the Synology NAS as a virtual machine host. I would opt for a model with at least 8GB of RAM and quad-core Intel CPU cores (not a Celeron processor) with at least two network ports for the best performance.


Synology Operating system

Synology Disk Manager, or short DSM, is a beautiful visual interface that is easy to understand. DSM is currently at version 7.2. DSM is based on the Linux system, and you can also access the Synology NAS with SSH for even more customization.

Synology Disk Manager (DSM)

Read also read my popular article to use the Synology Diskstation for Active Directory. Yes, you can install an Active Directory Server without any cost.


What is Synology hostname?

The hostname is the name given to a computer or device connected to a network. It helps other computers and devices identify it on the network. Synology NAS devices use the same hostname for both local and remote access.

For example, if you have a Synology NAS named MySynoNAS, your hostname will be MySynoNAS.local. The ‘.local’ at the end helps other computers and devices identify it as a local network device.

You can change your Synology hostname through the web-based interface by going to Control Panel > > Network > General. You can enter a new hostname for your NAS device on this page.


Why is Synology the best NAS choice?

There are many reasons why Synology is the best NAS choice. First, Synology offers a wide range of models to choose from, providing flexibility. There’s a model to fit every need and budget for a reasonable price.

Second, Synology NAS servers are easy to use. They come with a user-friendly software interface that easily manages your files and applications. The Packager Center has a lot of software choices for home and small businesses. You can run WordPress on Synology and use the NAS as an IP Cameras Surveillance station, Email server, Video Station, and more. You can also integrate the Synology community’s package station as an additional source for third-party apps.

Third, Synology NAS servers are reliable and offer good performance. A strong warranty and customer support back them.

So if you’re looking for a NAS server, I highly recommend Synology. An alternative is NAS from QNAP. The QNAP software interface looks nicer at first looks. But I think what counts is the reliability of the NAS.


Which Synology NAS model do I recommend?

My favorite recommendation

Synology DS224+ 2-Bay Diskstation NAS (Intel Celeron J4125 4-Core 2.0 GHz 2GB DDR4 RAM 2xRJ-45 1GbE LAN-Port) 12TB Bundle with 2X 6TB Seagate IronWolf
Synology DS224+ 2-Bay Diskstation NAS (Intel Celeron J4125 4-Core 2.0 GHz 2GB DDR4 RAM 2xRJ-45 1GbE LAN-Port) 12TB Bundle with 2X 6TB Seagate IronWolf
CPU Model Intel Celeron J4125 4-core 2.0 (base) / 2.7 (burst) GHz; Access and sync your files seamlessly
Amazon Prime
Synology 4-Bay DiskStation DS923+ (Diskless)
Synology 4-Bay DiskStation DS923+ (Diskless)
Add 5 extra drive bays with one DX517 expansion unit for a maximum of 9 storage drives; 3-year warranty
Synology 5-bay DiskStation DS1522+ (Diskless),Black
Synology 5-bay DiskStation DS1522+ (Diskless),Black
3-year warranty; Check the product specification page for the software or application you want to use
Amazon Prime

What is the best Synology NAS for me?

With good reason, Synology is a well-known and respected name in the NAS market. They offer a wide range of models, all with user-friendly software interfaces. Their reliable products provide good performance. Synology should be your first choice if you’re looking for a quality NAS server.

Which Synology NAS are you going to buy, or did you buy? Please let me know your thoughts in the comment section below. You can also contact me by email with any questions.

Before you go …

Having explored the various Synology NAS options, you might be curious about the best hard drives to complement your chosen NAS system. I recommend checking out my article on “Best Hard Drives for a NAS”, discussing the ideal hard drives for different NAS setups. This guide will help you select the most reliable and efficient hard drives, ensuring that your NAS operates at its best. It’s an essential read for anyone looking to optimize their data storage solutions.


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