Network Attached Storage


I have plentiful redundant internal storage on my new PC, so Direct Attached Storage is no longer a concern.

For a while I ditched local NAS backups in favor of Amazon Cloud Drive backups. Their pricing model now precludes that.

My old NAS is an ancient two-bay thing that has seen better days.

Time to start researching the current state of NAS.


Please share what you find.


My current NAS is my old laptop hooked up to Wifi, but it’s OK for my use case (Plex and cough other things).


Whatever NAS you get, make sure the number of bays is divisible by 3 so you can do RAID 5. (Edit: A minimum of 3 to do RAID 5)


FreeNAS has dedup and compression, with sophisticated RAID configs and iSCSI.


The one I have is a ReadyNAS NV+. It’s got problems. It’s missing features I would like to have. Features it does have don’t work perfectly all the time. I had to replace it’s PSU one time. Yet, it still works. I feel pretty bad replacing it when it still gets the job done. If/when I do buy a new one, the Synology ones looked pretty good. Yes, there are cheaper options, but you are paying for convenience.


FreeNAS is on FreeBSD. I’m wary that if FreeBSD breaks I’m going to want to have another FreeBSD machine handy to help me fix things.

I’ve already got a DIY solution with a Linux box full of disks and mdadm. I’m sort of waiting for btrfs to get better recovery tools and transparent encryption.


I used to work on NAS products… but something tells me a multi-10s-of-thousands of dollars NetApp NAS box is overkill for what you’re looking for.

I have considered building my own, NAS. There is also Open Media Vault, which seems to be a canned Debian-based distro for creating a NAS. There are a few other Linux-based FreeNAS alternatives out there as well.


I’ve got a Synology DS1511+ that’s been treating me pretty well for the past 6 years; 5 bays, Linux-based, has a web-based UI.
I recently upgraded from a set of 2GB disks to a set of WD 6TB Reds, which was fairly painless aside from the rebuild time.

I’ve had it hosting my RSS feed reader ever since Google Reader was untimely murdered.
It might be worth looking at the recent revisions (DS1517+, I believe) if you’re looking for a COTS solution.


I’m looking at those synology ones.

I could cobble one together with either of our previous PCs, but I want something with hot swap bays and a small form factor.


Device prices remain static for the most part: only the drives have gotten cheaper. But, the devices are much better than they used to be.

There seem to be three real contenders. Funnily enough, I’m leaning toward the Drobo. While it used to be the “overpriced for dummies” version of a NAS, it’s actually comparable/cheaper.

Here are the two baseline NASs I’m using for comparison. I’m only interested in 5+ bays, and only network-attached (no DAS). Has to support at least 10TB drives, but 12TB is preferable.

Drobo 5N2 $500

Synology DS1517+ $700

I see a number of QNAP devices, but I’m not super enthusiastic about them so far.


I’ve been considering the DAS for my next device, whenever that may be. I mean, let’s be honest. 99% of the time I use the NAS it is from just this one machine. Is it worth the extra money to keep letting the HTPC connect to the NAS? Just to avoid the hassle of setting up file sharing on my desktop?

Also, there are lots of stupid apps out there, like Lightroom automatic backup, that won’t work across a network share. They do local disk only.

However, the main advantage of the NAS over the DAS for me, especially the Synology, is auto backup to the cloud. With a DAS, my desktop has to do that work itself. With a NAS, it can back itself up without my desktop giving a shit.


Instead of DAS, I just put beefy 5TB drives in my actual PC on SATA and did motherboard RAID. It’s blazing fast and works great.

So my NAS is now going to be exclusively for backups and archives: never for anything I’m actually doing anything with.


Synology DS1517+ $700
WD NAS 8TB Drives 5x $250 ($1250)

$1950 one-time
~$60/mo for Amazon Glacier cloud backup of entire NAS

This is not my final answer, but this seems to be the best price/value for what I want. (I want to not have to worry about this again for at least 5+ years).

The only question then would be single-disk redundancy vs 2-disk.

I’d probably go with single disk (RAID-5 or equivalent), but also buy a 6th drive to keep as a cold spare. I’d rely in this case on a weekly or monthly Glacier backup to cover the unlikely scenario of two disks failing inside of the time it takes to rebuild the array from a single drive failure.

GeekNights Monday - Buying the Right Tech

The wrinkle here is that if your motherboard goes out you likely need a replacement, compatible mobo to recover your data. Software raid works everywhere and, more importantly, can be recovered anywhere.

I’m not sure of the state of soft raid on Windows, but I won’t trust hardware raid on Linux.

Disk is so much slower than ram and cpu that compute is negligible.


I’ve generally not had too much trouble recovering RAID setups, even without the controller, provided I have some idea of the config. Not that you want to have to deal with that if you can avoid it.

I’m looking at building a 5 X 8TB thing for work sometime soon but it doesn’t really need much feature wise.


It’s RAID 1. The disks are identical and should be able to read in any controller.

(Yes, I know some bullshit RAID controllers do some proprietary nonsense with even basic RAID 1, but this is Intel RST. It both does RAID 1 correctly and is readily available on any motherboard I’d ever buy).

I’m confident I could literally just plug either drive from the array into any SATA port and read the data, Intel RST be damned.


True, it’s hard to screw up RAID 1.


But to your point, I wouldn’t do a more complex RAID than 0 or 1 (maybe 10) on a consumer motherboard.


I have a 2-Bay QNAP, it does its job, but the one I ordered out of the box didn’t work properly and had to have it replaced.