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187 posts

Master Geek
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  # 1716104 6-Feb-2017 16:01
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I've had 8 Synology NAS products and it would be my first choice.  In terms of off the shelf (ie not freenas/homebuilt) Qnap would be my next preference. 

 


The two Dlink experiences I had ended up with them returned due to basic failures such as FTP not working.
I've had four Netgear Readynas models.  The newer models might be better but all four of mine had issues.  I have one still in use for backups.  I have it scheduled to turn on/off.  However if I manually shut it down it will not auto start as per the schedule.  It also sounds like a vacuum when it starts up or gets hot.

 

The only issue I have had with Synology is for a period they removed a specific (FXP) feature but have since brought it back.

 

There are some shiny features with Qnap that does make them appealing but I would probably go with Synology based on previous/current experience.
In the past when I've needed help from support it has been excellent.

 

I would recommend that whatever NAS you might go with that it is best to get an Intel based CPU model.  Ive noticed that quite often (with Synology) that many apps/plugins are available for Intel models but it gets a bit mixed with other CPU based ones.  Third party apps are generally more Intel oriented as well.  

 

Depending on your needs I would avoid the J series as they are the low powered/spec ones.  They are great as file servers but if you are after extra usage (apps, plex, etc) then you might have problems.  The lower spec ones seem to lose support the fastest due to more OS/app cpu and ram requirements with each new generation/year.  eg I have a DS1511+ that still gets the latest OS updates.  However my older "non supported" ones only get critical security updates but cant use some of the newer OS features or apps. 
Also look for one that has at least 1GB ram and hopefully with the option to add another stick of ram if you might need it in the future if you are likely to be adding a number of apps. 

 

Ive also found a good number of third party apps for Synology such as filebot (https://www.filebot.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1802) and there are others such as those at https://synocommunity.com/.

 

In terms of Plex, the DSxxxxPlay models have hardware transcoding but there are discussions on the plex forums asking to make use of this function.  To my knowledge this has not been done yet so its still CPU processed.  If you need the NAS to do transcoding I would not expect too much from it so if this is a must check the CPU limitations first such as 1080p/5.1 or x265 files.

 

Synology has a Demo site (https://www.synology.com/en-us/dsm/live_demo) for its next OS release which can give you a feel for it.


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Ultimate Geek
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  # 1716116 6-Feb-2017 17:14
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Another vote for QNAP and Synology. I would expect both to work fine with Time Machine and iTunes, but do a quick Google to confirm.

 

The another consideration you need to take into account is the level of performance you need and whether you can get by with a ARM processor or need the extra processing power and need to step up to x86. If you can get by with ARM it should keep the costs right down, these units seem to be about half the price of a x86 model. ARM should be more than sufficient to do backups and serve music, but consider whether you might want your NAS to perform other functions in the future. 

 

Something like the QNAP TSD-231 series or Synology DS216 series would be a good place to start looking. 


 
 
 
 


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Master Geek
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  # 1716123 6-Feb-2017 17:55
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... PB tech just sent out a mailer with synology and qnap specials....




Nic Wise - Waiheke Island, New Zealand - www.fastchicken.co.nz


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Uber Geek
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  # 1716190 6-Feb-2017 21:29
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nic.wise: ... PB tech just sent out a mailer with synology and qnap specials....

 

 

 

Page 29: https://issuu.com/pbtech/docs/febcatalogue?e=23981820/43856425


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Geek
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  # 1716375 7-Feb-2017 10:02
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If you have such an extensive Apple ecosystem then you are far better off with native Macintosh Server plus native iTunes Home Sharing (including videos) plus iCloud Photos etc. A small SSD for the OS will make all the difference, no matter what system you use. (Data can still be on spinning disks.) 2009 Mac Minis are pretty cheap, and can be taken apart fairly easy. They can run Sierra, but not officially.

 

An SSD in your existing iMac will completely transform that machine, but they are a fair bit more difficult to take apart. If you have a firewire enclosure, then putting the SSD in that will make a huge difference; even a USB enclosure will be a big improvement.


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  # 1716398 7-Feb-2017 10:32
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Have a synology ds215j, has gigabit ethernet port connected to an AEBS and old macbook running the itunes share and plex server, which is fine as my home movies are all in formats which dont need transcoding. Also manages an autoinflating time machine volume which has been rock solid for 18 momths or so. The ds audio app will stream your music to your phone and loads my 20,000 track library way faster than iTunes home sharing.

Was thinking about the future, and some things to think about are:

the Synology will run an iTunes share, but as read only
will also run plex server but as someone else said you need an intel chip in it to transcode things - which would be handy if recording tv (channels or plex or hdhomerun dvrs) but in some ways that already feels like the past.

These and a large photos library ~180GB mean I will probably get a better mac, and slowly replace the drives in the existing machine - may be an iMac...

One other thing I havent explored but is interesting is the ability to back up to backblaze etc for an offsite option.



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  # 1716633 7-Feb-2017 16:26
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OK, the landscape has changed a little bit in the last 24 hours. My wifes laptop has developed a fault in the LCD screen. Nothing fatal, but is prompting us to look into replacement options.

Follow up question, based on the excellent feedback here.

 

Pros and cons of an iMac or Mac mini based solution vs NAS. All of a sudden a Mac Mini running OSX Server is looking a little attractive to me. 


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  # 1716666 7-Feb-2017 17:31
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Well, I use my old Mac Pro to serve all my media, and it works just fine for my purposes. I have Plex installed on it (it just opens in a browser window) and that serves my video and music content to my Apple TV4 with the Plex client app. Or I can share media with iTunes home sharing. It's perfect because it has 4 hard drive bays in it, two of which I have my music/photos/video media on. They back up to a separate 2TB hard drive and also to the cloud (I use LiveDrive). 

 

I believe you can easily run a Mini with OSX Server as a normal desktop (if your wife wanted to use it as her computer) however, it might lack storage capacity, especially if you're going to back other devices up to it. It is small but not portable like a laptop. If you're planning on replacing the iMac for her to use, that would also do a perfectly fine job of serving media, and it has the advantage of better processing power if you need Plex to transcode anything. It can also house up to a 3TB drive (from memory). You'd just need an external drive to back it up to (or cloud solution, or both). If you're accessing all your media via Plex or iTunes home sharing on your other devices, then apart from not having RAID capability, either Mac should do the trick. Not having run a NAS, I can't say what else you'd be missing out on.

 

 





Geek girl. Freelance copywriter and editor at Unmistakable.co.nz.

 

Currently using: Modified 2008 Mac Pro, HP M6-1017TX Laptop, iPad Pro, iPhone 7, iPhone 6S, AppleTV4.


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Ultimate Geek
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  # 1716746 7-Feb-2017 19:25
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There is definitely a benefit in having a separate dedicated server (whether a Mac or otherwise), as opposed to one of the house computers doing double duty as a server. Inevitably there will be times when the computing activities disrupt the server, e.g. a software update that requires a restart.

I haven't used OS X server much, but I imagine there would be a large overlap between its features and those offer by Synology or QNAP. But by using a Mac as a server, there are bound to Mac-specific network applications that you couldn't otherwise use. At one point when Apple sold a Mac Mini specifically as a server, I wanted to get one to run EyeTV DVR, but could never justify the expense.

Beyond that, a Mac server is likely to cost more than a NAS initially, and probably in the long run in your power bill to some degree. If you're buying a two or more bay NAS, you'll also be able to configure the drives as a RAID. If you want a RAID with a Mac Mini or iMac server, you'll need to buy an external RAID drive enclosure, which will add to the cost further.

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  # 1716891 7-Feb-2017 22:11
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MacOS does software RAID, but personally I think for a home environment, RAID is over the top. Better to concentrate on back-up and recovery. How do you manage that now, for your existing machines, including iOS devices? 


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  # 1716951 8-Feb-2017 00:13
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The answer is dependent on how much storage you need. 

 

If its not a huge amount then perhaps you don't need a NAS unit, perhaps you can get away with a mac mini running an external HDD etc. It wont have RAID but it will be ok.. If its over 2TB then yes you will probably want to look at the synologies. 








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  # 1716967 8-Feb-2017 08:20
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JessieB:

 

MacOS does software RAID, but personally I think for a home environment, RAID is over the top. Better to concentrate on back-up and recovery. How do you manage that now, for your existing machines, including iOS devices? 

 

 

Currently I use Time Machine to back up my MBP and our iMac, to external drives connected to each. iOS devices just use iCloud backup. My kids and wife's laptops (Windows and Mac) aren't backed up, as they don't really have any critical data on them. 




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  # 1716968 8-Feb-2017 08:24
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darylblake:

 

The answer is dependent on how much storage you need. 

 

If its not a huge amount then perhaps you don't need a NAS unit, perhaps you can get away with a mac mini running an external HDD etc. It wont have RAID but it will be ok.. If its over 2TB then yes you will probably want to look at the synologies. 

 

 

Current need would be < 2TB. The iMac which hosts our iTunes music library only has a 500MB HDD, and our other media takes up around 700MB on an external HDD.




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  # 1716969 8-Feb-2017 08:28
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froob: There is definitely a benefit in having a separate dedicated server (whether a Mac or otherwise), as opposed to one of the house computers doing double duty as a server. Inevitably there will be times when the computing activities disrupt the server, e.g. a software update that requires a restart.

I haven't used OS X server much, but I imagine there would be a large overlap between its features and those offer by Synology or QNAP. But by using a Mac as a server, there are bound to Mac-specific network applications that you couldn't otherwise use. At one point when Apple sold a Mac Mini specifically as a server, I wanted to get one to run EyeTV DVR, but could never justify the expense.

Beyond that, a Mac server is likely to cost more than a NAS initially, and probably in the long run in your power bill to some degree. If you're buying a two or more bay NAS, you'll also be able to configure the drives as a RAID. If you want a RAID with a Mac Mini or iMac server, you'll need to buy an external RAID drive enclosure, which will add to the cost further.

 

A Mac server may cost more than a NAS, but would be comparable to an entry level NAS and cheap laptop, if I went with a mid range Mac mini paired with a cheap monitor & keyboard.

 

One possible advantage of getting a NAS is that once I've moved all our media to it, I may be able to give our old iMac a new lease of life by completely wiping it and re-installing OSX. My wife could then use that as her primary machine. The risk there though is that it still runs like a dog. But I guess that's when we could look at replacing it with a cheap laptop.


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Master Geek
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  # 1716972 8-Feb-2017 08:37
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dclegg:

 

A Mac server may cost more than a NAS, but would be comparable to an entry level NAS and cheap laptop, if I went with a mid range Mac mini paired with a cheap monitor & keyboard.

 

One possible advantage of getting a NAS is that once I've moved all our media to it, I may be able to give our old iMac a new lease of life by completely wiping it and re-installing OSX. My wife could then use that as her primary machine. The risk there though is that it still runs like a dog. But I guess that's when we could look at replacing it with a cheap laptop.

 

 

I've done an SSD replacement in a slighly-older iMac - wasn't easy, but wasn't too hard either, with the kit to do it (mostly to remove the screen). I can loan you the gear if I can find it :) Made the machine quite usable, and a 512GB SSD isn't overly expensive anymore if you need a bit of space - I have a 128 in my Mac Mini, as most of the storage is on the NAS anyway.





Nic Wise - Waiheke Island, New Zealand - www.fastchicken.co.nz


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