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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 2017-11-13, 07:34 PM Thread Starter
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Looking to setup a NAS

I am new to the whole NAS thing and am looking to set one up. I have narrowed it down to the following models below, unless someone suggests another unit that's better. I decided to go a step up from the entry models for future proofing.

I am looking for advice on which model to go with, keeping in mind reliability and price.

Western Digital My Cloud PR2100

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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 2017-11-13, 09:54 PM
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Just my two cents and words of advice on Synology...

I was a dedicated user of Synology devices and had several over the years as new models were released (DS410, 410j, 411j, 412, 414+). I have dual configurations so my investments in NAS is not inexpensive! I require solid products & dependability is key to managing my photo libraries & several computer system backups supporting my business.

They left me very disappointed on 2 major failures where they just abandoned me and the legions of people when they refused to repair or upgrade bad chips on their motherboards. 1st the system was 2 months out warranty when and update of theirs bricked my system. I accepted it and upgraded. One 412 unit failed after an upgrade where it kept loosing it's configuration. It took a downgrade to get it backup & running following hacks on their forums. They did send me a replacement (which took two weeks to arrive). The last straw was the failure of the 414+ unit loosing configuration after an update (seeing a pattern here?). It took one week for a support reply by which time I had purchased 2 QNAP TS451+ replacements and sold both my units on Kijiji.

Anyway... Just saying their customer support isn't the best and product upgrades should not be taken lightly when they pop up monthly. Please do your homework and look over their forums for persistent & re-occurring issues which are not resolved.

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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 2017-11-14, 09:15 AM
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I have generally heard the same thing.. quality/reliability wise, between most of the more major ones.. Synology, Qnap, etc.

I guess it really comes down to WHAT your planning on using them for as well?

As many of them have apps/software that can be run on them, to run different types of 'servers', etc with whats stored.. and which apps you may want to use may make a difference on brand.

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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 2017-11-14, 11:42 AM
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My experience is that low end NAS products are a waste of money. They use often poorly designed software, low quality underpowered hardware and usually cannot be easily repaired or upgraded. Most people would be better off using an economy PC or retired low power PC and just sticking a couple of large disks in it. It could also be configured as a media server using some of the free or low cost media server software available.

If you are serious about a *real* NAS, spend the money on a decent unit that has an Intel Pentium processor or better and at least 4 hot swap drive bays. Synology seems to be the best make out there but be aware of the issues noted above and buy on individual model ratings and user experience, not brand.

If you are *really serious" about a NAS, build your own. They can be fixed and upgraded as needed and will last a lot longer than a cheap proprietary NAS. That can be anything from a budget AMD system running Windows to a tower with hot swap drive cages, a Supermicro server motherboard, an Intel Core CPU and a Linux server O/S. I've built and use both (and several in between.) The former is really easy to do and can be very economical. The latter can be expensive and has a steep learning curve for non-Linux people. It's also very rewarding for the dedicated geek.
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 2017-11-14, 11:59 AM
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My recommendation is to get or repurpose a small, low powered budget Windows PC (at least Win7 Pro) with room for a couple of large 3.5" hard drives. Do an O/S refresh or fresh install and update. Install and configure 2 hard drives for RAID 1 using the motherboard hardware (or a cheap SATA RAID card.) Create a directory or two and configure network file sharing. Install other server software as needed.

Another option would be to get or repurpose an obsolete Windows PC (that is still usable but not easily upgradable to Windows 10) and install FreeNAS. That's a little more difficult to setup but it has all the NAS stuff that a proprietary, high end NAS would have. (The software in many proprietary NAS boxes are based on software similar to FreeNAS.) That could potentially cost nothing (as in $0) but the price of the disks.
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 2017-11-14, 03:13 PM
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I set up my first NAS - a WS MyCloud EX2 Ultra - a few months ago. Based on my positive experience with it (good value, ease of set-up, reliability), I would go with the PR2100.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 2017-11-14, 06:26 PM
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I have a Qnap TS-451 that has been pretty solid other than re-seating the drives once in awhile.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 2017-11-14, 07:52 PM
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I used my old pc (2009 vintage, x58 mobo, i7920 @3.8GHz), but is still powerful enough. Bought a brand new WD Red (3 TB, and another 3 TB to follow). Installed FreeNAS, and works as a backup for my desktop, and all other laptops in the house. So, this is cheap, just a couple of new HDD's.

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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 2017-11-14, 09:00 PM
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Originally Posted by ExDilbert View Post
My experience is that low end NAS products are a waste of money.
Depends on what you're using them for. My three budget D-Link NAS boxes have been running without complaint (knock on wood) as file servers for years. The oldest DNS-321 was bought in 2009 for $139 and I'd buy another model of the newest, a DNS-325, in a heartbeat if they still made them.
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 2017-11-14, 09:44 PM
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I built my first NAS about 12 years ago using a repurposed motherboard, a $99 gaming case, a PSU that was on sale for $40 and CentOS. It holds up to 12 drives. That's about 1/3 the price of 3 dual disk DNS-321 NAS that hold 6 drives. It had a couple of motherboard updates from upgraded PC discards, a couple of cheap SATA cards added and an SSD that's too small for Windows 10. Can't say I had a serious hardware or performance issue either. More recently I gave it a serious upgrade using a server motherboard that I accidentally acquired. That was the most money and effort I ever put into it but it was also a huge upgrade that will last for quite a few years. It also got some some hot swap drive cages that were on sale. Several hardware and O/S upgrades later the $99 case works fine. I replaced the power supply with a better quality, used PSU from another system.

In the meantime I've heard a lot of horror stories about cheap NAS products that couldn't be fixed, seen a lot of them become obsolete and experienced low powered NAS CPUs get overloaded by gigabit ethernet. I guess it all depends on your expectations.
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 2017-11-15, 09:26 AM
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Like NeilN I have an ancient Dlink 321 with some WD red drives. Totally reliable since 2009

I did give up on the original software and I am now running Alt-F free software for those old boxes.

It is a great pity that MS gave up on the Home Server product which could do everything required.

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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 2017-11-15, 05:57 PM
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Enough Windows Home Server features were implemented in Windows 8 that it became redundant for most users. That's probably also true for Win10, though I would go with the Pro version. FreeNAS is probably as good as any proprietary NAS software and better than many of them.
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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 2017-11-16, 09:35 AM
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After my post yesterday I went and did some research. W10 Pro would work as would Server Essentials. After reading an article on the various products, FreeNas being one of them I think I might go with Ubuntu Server when I have a spare machine. In fact when I replace my current machine will be the time as it has plenty of drive bays and SATA ports. Just a second Ethernet card and it could be a NAS and Router/firewall at the same time....venerable old I7 2600 is enough grunt to do both without raising a sweat!

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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 2017-11-16, 09:48 AM
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I'd recommend using Intel NICs. Some can be found on eBay for about $10.
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 2018-06-12, 05:00 PM
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Late to the party but no-one highlighted the primary difference between the DS218 and DS218+.

The + models use Intel processors; in this case a Intel Celeron J3355 vs a Realtek RTD1296 in the non-plus. The difference is important if you're concerned about 3rd party software compatibility; if you're only running the included DiskStation/ Synology suite it probably won't matter to you. No doubt there's other differences but I stick to Intel if it's an option.

I've been running a DS216+ for >2 years with little to no issues. My biggest complaint is 9.5 times out of 10 I have to manually shutdown and restart the box after any significant update. I'm just happy it's never bricked itself... I did have one of the WD Red 4T drives start to throw sector errors, but the replacement went very smooth and there was no data loss, although it took 26 hours to resilver the drive... The WD RMA process was a happy experience as well.

Synology is excellent in my books, but I'm a heavy user of several DS programs: Cloud Station Server/ ShareSync, DocuWiki, Hyper Backup, Snapshot Replication, and Web Station to host an external facing website via NGINX reverse-proxy. There's several file formats available; if you're only interested in simple storage then Synology is likely overkill.

For the more hands on enthusiast, check out FreeNAS or its fork NAS4free. Either will run on almost any hardware and uses software raid, so no raid card required. FreeNAS is the elephant and NAS4free is the mouse... I run NAS4free on 2 machines. One is an old X7SPA SuperMicro box with an Atom D525 processor, 4GB memory and 4x 4T reds but only at sata2; old & slow but very low power draw. The other is a VMware virtual machine on a Dell R420 server with 2 vcpus, 32GB ram, 4x 4T 12gbs SAS drives and a LSI9300 HBA passed through to the vm. Both instances have been bulletproof and hands-off since installation.
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