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Hier — 15 août 2022Flux principal

Terramaster F4-423 Plex Media Server NAS 4K & 1080p Tests – H.264 & HEVC

15 août 2022 à 01:27

How Well Does the Terramaster F4-423 NAS Perform as a Plex Media Server?

Of all the brands that I discuss here on NASCompares, very few have evolved with the speed that Terramaster has. Although coming up on a decade in the commercial network attached storage industry, they have managed to carve an impressively sized portion of the more cost-effective NAS buyer market. These days, it is very easy to find Terramaster NAS systems that are arriving with similar hardware to their big rivals Synology and QNAP, but with a price point some 15-20% less. Now QNAP and Synology trade on both their hardware AND their hardware, the latter of which has always been Terramaster’s weakness (though they are improving things a great deal in TOS 5). However, for buyers looking at Terramaster NAS for use with 3rd party software such as Plex Media Server, this means that they have the opportunity to get quite a bargain with a NAS like the new F4-423. The appeal of accessing all the movies, boxsets, music and home movies that you physically/digitally own in the style popularized by Netflix, Disney+ and Prime Video (flashy GUI, summary, all the box art, trailers, cast details, reviews and more) is undeniable. The rise in popularity of streaming platforms like Netflix has also been accompanied by rising monthly subscription costs and rising concerns about never truly owning the media that you want o watch. Even when you buy movies and TV boxsets in digital download forms from Amazon Video etc, you are still at the mercy of 1) needing somewhere to store it if you do choose to download it and 2) potentially losing access to it if the site/platform you purchased from has lost the license to host it (a common complain of the increasingly digital world of PC/Console gaming, as games are pulled from eStores). Hosting your media in a subscription-free form, whilst it still being presented in the universally accessible and premium GUI form of Plex is one of the most compelling reasons for many home/prosumer users deciding to make the jump towards buying their own plex media server. However, NAS drives have grown incredibly diverse in terms of hardware design and therefore one NAS might not play media in plex as well/efficiently as another – and the Terramaster F4-423 NAS is no exception to this. Today I want to detail my tests of the F4-423 as a Plex Media Server and I hope this will help you decide whether a Terramaster NAS deserves your Multimedia in 2022/2023.

What is the Hardware of the Terramaster F4-423 NAS Drive?

The Terramaster F4-423 NAS drive is quite similar in architecture to most PCs or Laptops (in that it features a CPU+Memory+Storage), but differs in that it’s components are designed to be more efficient (as they will be in operation 24×7) and have a larger degree of focus on storage-related applications (whereas the hardware in a PC/Laptop is designed more for the applications you run with storage service concerns/provisions being far more rudimentary). The F4-423 is made up of a popular mid-range server CPU, DDR4 memory and supports Hard Drive and SSDs in SATA. although most of the specifications of Terramaster NAS drives are unrelated to Plex, below I have picked up the hardware specifications of the F4-423 that are relevant to Plex:

  • CPU: Intel N5105 Celeron CPU, Quad-Core, 4 Thread, 2.0-2.9Ghz Processor
  • Embedded Graphics: Yes
  • Memory (Quantity & Maximum): 4-32GB Max
  • Number of Storage Bays: 4x SATA Bays
  • M.2 NVMe Caching Bays: Yes, 2x M.2 NVMe 3×1
  • Network Connectivity: 2x 2.5GbE

Next, let’s quickly touch on how we measure how good/bad the Terramaster F4-423 NAS is for Plex Media Server.

Understanding the Plex Media Server Tests of the Terramaster F4-423 NAS

Important Terms to Understand in Plex/NAS/Multimedia that will make the F4-423 NAS Plex Tests Easier to Understand.

  • SD, 160p, 240p, 480p, 720p, 1080p, 4K : This is the resolution that the media is being displayed at. The higher the resolution, the larger number of pixels that are available and depending on the original recording quality of the media in question. High resolutions, such as 1080p and 4K require more work to be done by the NAS hardware in order to playback the file. More often than not, a NAS with weak embedded graphics or no embedded graphics at all will be unable to play 4K very well or indeed at all. It is important to remember that just because a NAS brand like Terramaster says that their latest NAS can natively play back 1080p or 4K media (natively = played using their own NAS software, software client tools and/or DLNA), that does not mean that the F4-423 will play to the same standard in Plex, as Plex is a 3rd party tool
  • Transcoding, Encoding, Decoding : These are all different techniques/names for when a file needs to be changed in order to be better suited to the connected client device connection, strength or hardware. If you are accessing all your media on the local area network (i.e only accessing your plex media at home), then transcoding will rarely be something you will use (unless your media is largely H.265/HEVC based, see earlier). However, perhaps you are accessing your plex library on the train to work or from a sun bed whilst on holiday. Perhaps you have a smaller data bandwidth/allowed MB/GB, maybe a weaker internet connection, perhaps you are using a smaller phone device and you might not need to watch your 4K 50GB Blu-ray rip of the latest Marvel Movie – in these situations, you might well want to access the media on your Terramaster F4-423 Plex NAS at a lesser quality than the original version, so transcoding/re-encoding on the fly (as in, at the same time it is being played) is what you would want to do. Remember, transcoding is by far the most heavy-weight thing you will need to do on a NAS. It is also worth remembering that in order for Plex o be able to use the FULL resources of a NAS CPU (such as embedded graphics) that you will need to enable ‘Make My CPU Hurt’ in the Encoder Menu of the Plex NAS Settings menu – this also potentially requires a Plex Pass subscription, depending on the NAS in question

  • H.264, HEVC, H.265 :  These are compression techniques that are designed to allow large-scale media presentations that were made for a cinema to be viewable from your sofa (with H.265 being the more effective/powerful compression level). H.264 can largely be played by ALL devices, but many devices do not have permission or a license to play H.265/HEVC (they are the same thing). This is because, where H.264 is an easy license and comparatively free to use, H.265/HEVC licencing and patents are spread across multiple providers and allowing a device license to use this compression technique can be complex, expensive or simply impossible. Therefore HEVC/H.265 media will sometimes AUTOMATICALLY need to be converted/transcoded into H.264 etc in order to be played – therefore eating up more system resources. The F4-423, much like the rest of thte Terramaster NAS range do not arrive with HEVC support by default
  • Bitrate : Bitrate is the amount of data encoded for a unit of time, and for streaming is usually referenced in megabits per second (Mbps) for video, and in kilobits per second (kbps) for audio. Higher quality and higher resolution media tends to be of a much higher bitrate

For more information on the most important terms to understand when discussing/researching a NAS as a Plex Media Server can be found in my video below:

Any further questions, you can use the free advice section at the bottom of the page and ask me and Eddie directly.

How was the Terramaster F4-423 NAS Tested in Plex?

The setup for testing the F4-423 NAS for Plex was as follows:

  • The Terramaster F4-423 NAS was accessed over a 1GbE network, however in order to test how the NAS would cope with transcoding/encoding, I would force the Plex Player client to transcode the file manually
  • The F4-423 NAS was used in the default CPU+Memory state that the base model arrives in (no upgraded memory or upgraded caching media)
  • Tests were performed one after the other with a short break between each test, so you might see the tail end of the previous test on a CPU graph, but I have pointed at the are of the % utilization that is important as per each test

Regarding test results, CLEAR PASS means that the file successfully played and there were sufficient resources for the NAS to continue to do other things comfortably, PLAYED BUT HIGH CPU % means that the file played, but it utilized a significant amount of system resources in order to do so in a heavier use situation (i.e other NAS users connected) it might not play and FAIL AND-OR DID NOT PLAY means that the file either did not play or the time taken to play back the files was outpaced by the natural playback of the file – i.e. the file would stop-and-start constantly in order to try and catch up. If you want to watch the FULL video recording of all the Plex tests that I performed on the Terramaster F4-423 NAS, you can watch the video below. Be warned, it is quite long! Alternatively, you can scroll past and see each of the test results, one-by-one, detailing which ones worked and which ones didn’t:

What % System Resources did the Terramaster F4-423 NAS Use in Plex when Idle?

Running the Plex Media Server application, even when no multimedia is being played on the F4-423 is still going to require a % of system resources to be occupied, in order to ensure that PLEX can play media from the Terramaster NAS as soon as it is requested remotely. Additionally, although Plex runs at its best with at least 2 Cores of CPU power and 2GB of Memory, many NAS also reserve areas of CPU/RAM for the system itself. So, therefore, knowing how much system resources are being consumed by the Terramaster F4-423  NAS when Plex is idle is going to be useful to know how much system power is available when playback actually starts. Here is a screenshot of the F4-423 when Plex is running, but no media is being played/accessed:

Plex Test 1 – TERRAMASTER F4-423 Plex NAS – Matrix 720p 0.7Mbps h.264 Original PlaybackTERRAMASTER F4-423 Plex NAS – Matrix 720p 0.7Mbps h.264 Original Playback

Here is how the TERRAMASTER F4-423 Plex NAS – Matrix 720p 0.7Mbps h.264 Original Playback File Performed:

RESULT: CLEAR PASS

Extra Notes: None


 

Plex Test 2 – TERRAMASTER F4-423 Plex NAS – Matrix 720p 0.7Mbps h.264 TRANSCODE TO 240p

Here is how the TERRAMASTER F4-423 Plex NAS – Matrix 720p 0.7Mbps h.264 TRANSCODE TO 240p File Performed:

RESULT: PLAYED BUT HIGH CPU % 

Extra Notes: None


 

Plex Test 3 – TERRAMASTER F4-423 Plex NAS – LSOH 1080p 1.9Mbps h.264 Original Playback

Here is how the TERRAMASTER F4-423 Plex NAS – LSOH 1080p 1.9Mbps h.264 Original Playback File Performed:

RESULT: CLEAR PASS

Extra Notes: None


 

Plex Test 4 – TERRAMASTER F4-423 Plex NAS – LSOH 1080p 1.9Mbps h.264 Transcode to 720p 2Mbps

Here is how the TERRAMASTER F4-423 Plex NAS – LSOH 1080p 1.9Mbps h.264 Transcode to 720p 2Mbps File Performed:

RESULT: CLEAR PASS

Extra Notes: None


 

Plex Test 5 – TERRAMASTER F4-423 Plex NAS – LSOH 1080p 1.9Mbps h.264 Transcode to 240p 0.3Mbps

Here is how the TERRAMASTER F4-423 Plex NAS – LSOH 1080p 1.9Mbps h.264 Transcode to 240p 0.3Mbps File Performed:

RESULT: PLAYED BUT HIGH CPU %

Extra Notes: None


 

Plex Test 6 – TERRAMASTER F4-423 Plex NAS – Jellyfish 1080p 3Mbps H.264 Original Playback

Here is how the TERRAMASTER F4-423 Plex NAS – Jellyfish 1080p 3Mbps H.264 Original Playback File Performed:

RESULT: CLEAR PASS

Extra Notes: None


 

Plex Test 7 – TERRAMASTER F4-423 Plex NAS – Jellyfish 1080p 3Mbps H.265 – HEVC CONVERTED TO H.264

Here is how the TERRAMASTER F4-423 Plex NAS – Jellyfish 1080p 3Mbps H.265 – HEVC CONVERTED TO H.264 File Performed:

RESULT: PLAYED BUT HIGH CPU %

Extra Notes: None


 

Plex Test 8 – TERRAMASTER F4-423 Plex NAS – Jellyfish 1080p 3Mbps H.265 – HEVC 10BIT CONVERTED TO H.264

Here is how the TERRAMASTER F4-423 Plex NAS – Jellyfish 1080p 3Mbps H.265 – HEVC 10BIT CONVERTED TO H.264 File Performed:

RESULT: PLAYED BUT HIGH CPU %

Extra Notes: None


 

Plex Test 9 – TERRAMASTER F4-423 Plex NAS – Jellyfish 1080p 10Mbps H.264 Original Playback

Here is how the TERRAMASTER F4-423 Plex NAS – Jellyfish 1080p 10Mbps H.264 Original Playback File Performed:

RESULT: CLEAR PASS

Extra Notes: None


 

Plex Test 10 – TERRAMASTER F4-423 Plex NAS – Jellyfish 1080p 10Mbps H.265 – HEVC CONVERTED TO H.264

Here is how the TERRAMASTER F4-423 Plex NAS – Jellyfish 1080p 10Mbps H.265 – HEVC CONVERTED TO H.264 File Performed:

RESULT: PLAYED BUT HIGH CPU %

Extra Notes: None


 

Plex Test 11 – TERRAMASTER F4-423 Plex NAS – Jellyfish 1080p 30Mbps H.265 – HEVC CONVERTED TO H.264

Here is how the TERRAMASTER F4-423 Plex NAS – Jellyfish 1080p 30Mbps H.265 – HEVC CONVERTED TO H.264 File Performed:

RESULT: FAIL AND-OR DID NOT PLAY

Extra Notes: None


 

Plex Test 12 – TERRAMASTER F4-423 Plex NAS – Jellyfish 1080p 100Mbps H.264 Original Playback

Here is how the TERRAMASTER F4-423 Plex NAS – Jellyfish 1080p 100Mbps H.264 Original Playback File Performed:

RESULT: CLEAR PASS

Extra Notes: None


 

Plex Test 13 – TERRAMASTER F4-423 Plex NAS – Jellyfish 4K 120Mbps H.264 Original Playback

Here is how the TERRAMASTER F4-423 Plex NAS – Jellyfish 4K 120Mbps H.264 Original Playback File Performed:

RESULT: FAIL AND-OR DID NOT PLAY

Extra Notes: None


 

Plex Test 14 – TERRAMASTER F4-423 Plex NAS – Jellyfish 4K 120Mbps H.265 – HEVC CONVERTED TO H.264

Here is how the TERRAMASTER F4-423 Plex NAS – Jellyfish 4K 120Mbps H.265 – HEVC CONVERTED TO H.264 File Performed:

RESULT: FAIL AND-OR DID NOT PLAY

Extra Notes: None


 

Plex Test 15 – TERRAMASTER F4-423 Plex NAS – Jellyfish 4K 120Mbps H.265 – HEVC CONVERTED TO H.264 8Mbps 1080p

Here is how the TERRAMASTER F4-423 Plex NAS – Jellyfish 4K 120Mbps H.265 – HEVC CONVERTED TO H.264 8Mbps 1080p File Performed:

RESULT: FAIL AND-OR DID NOT PLAY

Extra Notes: None


 

Plex Test 16 – TERRAMASTER F4-423 Plex NAS – Jellyfish 4K 400Mbps H.265 10bit – HEVC CONVERTED TO H.264

Here is how the TERRAMASTER F4-423 Plex NAS – Jellyfish 4K 400Mbps H.265 10bit – HEVC CONVERTED TO H.264 File Performed:

RESULT: FAIL AND-OR DID NOT PLAY

Extra Notes: Throughout the 4K Testing, the Terramaster F4-423 would regularly alert me that the CPU utilization was running unusually high. This was expected for these heavier processes, but I did want to give the Terramaster some kudos for alerting me (the administrator) taht this was occurring. Had I been running other processes at the same time as plex, this would have been detrimental to the running of the system.


 

Is the Terramaster F4-423 NAS Any Good outside of Plex and Where Can I buy It?

If you are interested in learning more about the Terramaster F4-423 NAS Drive, I am pleased to confirm that the review here on NASCompares is already live and you can find out more about this device below.

Quick Verdict of the Terramaster F4-423 NAS – What We Said in the F4-423 Review:

Terramaster still continues to be the most affordable fully-featured provider of the whole NAS market and although a number of their solutions have always felt a little rough around the edges, you always got the impression that you were getting a good deal for the hardware that was available from QNAP and Synology. Now in 2022/2023, the same continues to be true but in the F4-423 NAS’ case, you are actually getting some pretty top tier (for the Home/Prosumer) market at a price tag that is really tough to argue with. Terramaster has clearly been watching their bigger competitors and cherry-picked the features that people have been asking for (2.5GbE, USB 3.2 Gen 2, M.2 NVMe SSD bays, etc) for this new generation. In terms of software, things are a little less convincing and although TOS 5 (currently in Beta at the time of writing) still continues to evolve into something genuinely fully featured and impressive, TOS 4 that the F4-423 includes at launch is usable (if unexciting) platform that provides the base level services that a new NAS user would want, but lacks killer apps that their competitors are offering right now (File Streaming, AI photo recognition, Surveillance, etc). Most of these ARE included in TOS5, but until it arrives much later in 2022 in a full release, the F4-423 feels like a powerful NAS that doesn’t have the software to show off its strengths yet. If you are reading this later in 2022 or 2023, this might well be irrelevant though, as the brand rolls out their bit firmware update to ALL Terramster NAS devices. Overall, I definitely CAN recommend the F4-423 NAS for its hardware, for Plex Media server or as an affordable multi-tier backup solution, but if you are looking for a NAS for more tailored data access or in a much more fully-featured package – hold out a little longer till TOS 5 gets released first.

Read the Rest of the Review HERE. Alternatively, you can find out the Pros and Cons below, as a few retailers that sell the Terramaster F4-423 NAS. Thanks for reading and if you need any further help choosing the right NAS for your Plex Media Server, use the free advice section linked below. Have a great week.

SOFTWARE - 5/10
HARDWARE - 8/10
PERFORMANCE - 8/10
PRICE - 10/10
VALUE - 8/10


7.8
PROS
👍🏻2.5GbE at the Price of 1GbE
👍🏻Good CPU for the Price Point
👍🏻USB 3.2 Gen 2 is very forward-thinking for local backups
👍🏻Great RAID Options
👍🏻Snapshot Replication
👍🏻BTRFS Support if preferred
👍🏻Supports Plex and all 1080p Transcoding
👍🏻4K Video transcoding natively
👍🏻A large amount of maximum memory supported (16-32GB – TBC)
👍🏻Includes two M.2 NVMe SSD Bays that can be used for storage or caching
CONS
👎🏻Default 4GB memory is 2133Mhz
👎🏻HDMI Currently Unsupported
👎🏻Until TOS5 is Fully Released, TOS Software feels a little empty of Killer-Apps (AI photo recognition, Surveillance, etc)



 

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À partir d’avant-hierFlux principal

NAS Buyers Guide 2022 – A Handy Guide for NAS Beginners

8 juin 2022 à 01:33

NAS Brands in 2022 – Get it Right, FIRST TIME!

If you have been looking to purchase your first NAS drive, or are looking at upgrading the system that you have been using in your home/office for the last few years, then it is understandable that it is ALOT of get to grips with. Network Attached Storage has evolved incredibly over the last few years and has gone from a rather niche area of the I.T industry into something that pretty much all users can benefit from in their daily lives. With the monthly/annual subscription costs of cloud storage providers (such as Google Cloud, AWS, DropBox and Microsoft OneDrive) getting higher, as well as the size of our daily data skyrocketing, making the switch from rented 3rd party cloud space to your very own NAS server in-house makes ALOT of sense. It becomes even more compelling when you add in the full range of software, services and features that modern NAS includes (Plex, AI Photo Recognition, Surveillance, VMs, Hybrid backup-n-sync and more), but like any area of technology – NAS can become a complicated and confusing subject. Every year for the last 5 years I have produced a guide on modern NAS brands, the best solutions you can get right now, who the brands have improved/declined and ultimately created an idiots guide to choosing the right NAS solution for your needs right FIRST TIME. In this, the 2022/2023 edition, we have seen a huge increase in 2.5GbE network solutions, improvements in M.2 NVMe technology and all of the popular NAS brands introducing improvements in their server software. So, what are you waiting for? Here is my guide to Network Attached Storage in 2022. Use the chapters below to skip ahead and I hope this helps you choose the right solution for your needs.

Want to Skip Ahead to a Specific NAS Brand or Subject? Click Below:

Is a NAS and a Server the Same Thing?

You will often hear people use the word NAS and the word Server differently. Both are exceedingly similar and often interchanged, but there are some teeny tiny historical differences between them. The word server can sometimes bring out a cold sweat in the less technically minded or IT experienced, but in reality, it is a pretty harmless term. A server is a piece of hardware (like a computer) or software (so a program that runs on a computer) that manages, shares and controls data (pictures, videos, word documents, PDFs etc) to a number of people who wish to access them (these are called ‘clients’). That is it. Sure, there are much more complex and expensive servers that are designed to communicate with other servers or computers without human intervention – but in essence, they are all the same thing. Now where a regular server will give access to your users/clients via your internal network (router or switch) a NAS Server is the same, but it opens up a whole area of accessing it over the internet too. Different NAS servers provide different results and speeds and typically are designed with individual purposes in mind (i.e some are designed with media playing in mind, some with faster backing up and others with Surveillance recordings with CCTV IP Cameras). So first and foremost you have to make sure that the NAS you buy is designed for the tasks you have in mind. A fork and a Spoon are both cutlery, but you wouldn’t eat soup with a fork (maybe a spork). Traditional bare-metal servers have the option of remote internet access, but nowhere near as intuitively and with a focus on user-friendliness that NAS systems provide.

What is NAS Drive?

Network Attached Storage, with the exception of casual 3rd party cloud use, is currently the most popular means to store, access, share and distribute data across your home, your city and the rest of the world. It provides you with the means to:

  • Access your Multimedia on Network devices over DLNA
  • Backup all your devices easily and at a time of your choosing, wire-free
  • Stream Media over the internet, anywhere in the world
  • Share files securely and with full control of how and when they are accessible
  • Centralize the storage of your data in one location
  • Create Bespoke tiered backup solutions that fit your own needs

Choosing between Synology, QNAP, WD, Drobo, Netgear, Thecus and Asustor NAS

Let’s get our hands dirty and start working out what is the best NAS for you. All the brands have a different target audience in mind and each has its own Pros and Cons. However, all of them support a number of similar abilities, software and network basic functionality. So before we talk about what is better or worse about each NAS brand, let’s look at what they all have in common:

Applicable to all

  • All are compatible with Mac, Windows, Android and Linux
  • All arrive with a selection of included applications and services for tailored data access
  • All can be purchased Worldwide and feature regular security updates and firmware improvements regularly
  • All can be accessed via Mobile apps available via Google Play and iTunes, though there are more on some other brands than others
  • All can be accessed via your web browser – like Chrome, Opera, Safari, and…sigh… Windows Explorer
  • All use SATA HDD and SSD, with some having SAS enterprise options too
  • All work via the network and can be accessed worldwide over the internet
  • 3rd Party applications like PLEX, KODI and APPLE TIME MACHINE are supported
  • All arrive DLNA certified, so they will be accessed by your PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Smart TV or Sonos system to play media
  • All are either WiFi-enabled or can have a WiFi dongle attached – though your speeds will suffer
  • All when purchased NEW arrive with a warranty of at least 2 years and in many cases more

Why Not Use Cloud Services like Google Drive, OneDrive or Dropbox instead of a NAS?

Do not think that 3rd party cloud services are bad, they really aren’t! In fact, you should always consider adding a 2nd or 3rd tier into your backup strategy at home/work, and synchronization of files/folders on your NAS with the cloud is a good means to ensure you have another backup in place. Additionally, most NAS feature a variety of 256bit encryption options, password protection, 2 step verification and more to allow secure access is ensured to the NAS and the content, even via the cloud. Additionally, bg NAS brands like Synology and QNAP have been supporting Hybrid Cloud services that not only allow cloud storage to be bolted onto your NAS storage for shared usage and access, but also both brand support backup and synchronization with cloud collaborate services, such as Google’s G Suite and Microsoft’s Office 365. So there is DEFINITELY still a valid and useful place for 3rd party cloud services in 2022, however, I rarely advocate the use of these cloud services as a PRIMARY storage location. They ARE convenient and you can get a limited amount of space included for free, but I generally have three core reasons that I do not recommend cloud as a first-tier storage.

COST – The cost of most 2 year subscriptions costs about the same as if you just purchased even a small scale NAS on day 1. It might seem like just 5 or 10 bucks a month, but over 2 or 3 years, it all adds up and moreover, after that time you either need to keep on paying every month or still buy a NAS or DAS system for the data to live on. Might as well buy the NAS sooner rather than later as it will be inevitable eventually.

ACCESS – NAS provides more apps, file-level tailored use and can be better adapted into popular 3rd Party applications like PLEX, KODI, APPLE TIME MACHINE and DLNA supported devices. A cloud provider severely limits the kind of access you have on a regular basis.

PRIVACY – NAS provides full individual user control and access, as well as admin controls. Plus the NAS can be fully disconnected from the Internet/Network at your discretion. A cloud provider has a relative pre-set safety protocol that, when cracked on one or two occasions, opens up mass hacking

This is not to say that data on your NAS is completely inaccessible. Any NAS brand can only really stay 1 step ahead of the hackers, patching exploits as they are found (no different than any online service really), but a NAS is a means to create a secure, customizable and ultimately bespoke data storage solution.

Why Choose Synology NAS? Advantages and Disadvantages

synology-all-black-logo-for-banner

Likely one of the two NAS brands you have heard of, Synology NAS is the company that invests HEAVILY in its software – and it shows. It may seem one of the most expensive, but with it, you get some genuine boundary-breaking software with your purchase.  You still get a great level of hardware in the majority of Synology NAS solutions, but the real draw of Synology is that software. Not only does it support your own hardware environment of PCs, Macs, entertainment devices and mobiles in their own respective software, but DSM also includes MANY applications designed around keeping all your data IN-HOUSE. So, replace Skype/Whatsapp with Synology Chat, Replace Google Docs and Office365 with Synology Office. Use Synology Drive to make your storage visible and accessible the way YOU want it, and export your entire cloud/data network over to a Synology NAS and remove all the external access as and when you need! They aren’t the cheapest and they want you to do it ‘there way’, but it’s a pretty decent way. Additionally, their recent DSM 7.0 software has left many users impressed, with enhanced support of those 3rd party cloud storage and business services, AI photo recognition, their surveillance platform continuing to win awards and even an in-house cloud service in Synology C2. Stylizing themselves very much as the ‘Apple’ of this industry, they really do focus on keeping things straightforward and intuitive.

PROS of Synology NAS

  • Easily the most intuitive and Usage browser-based GUI (award-winning DSM 6.2/7.0/7.1) – FULL Review HERE
  • One of the best Surveillance NAS software solutions
  • Most popular vendor for Mac users for it’s UI
  • Incredibly feature-rich NVR software included, in Surveillance Station
  • Includes Active Backup Suite – Enterprise level and fully featured Backup Co-ordination software
  • Lowest Power Consumption vs other brands
  • A large # of their systems arrive with m.2 NVMe SSD caching upgrade bays
  • Quiet chassis compared with other brands
  • Task specialised Ranges like ‘PLAY’, ‘PLUS’ and ‘J’ make buying easier
  • The best range of first-party software, with Synology Office, Chat, Mail, Drive and more
  • SHR and SHR-2 – also BTRFS available in most solutions
  • Cloud Services available in Synology C2
  • Desktop and Rack-mount options are available
  • Best software for Home and SMB

CONS of Synology NAS

  • Often the most expensive
  • Recent Enterprise NAS Hardware has changed Compatibility in favour of Synology HDDs and SSDs
  • Generally, Synology NAS has the lowest hardware power in their systems
  • NVMe SSD Bays are for caching ONLY, they cannot be used for super-fast storage pools
  • More technically minded folk will need to dig a little to get to the nitty-gritty
  • SHR is not available on Enterprise NAS Systems
  • Network ONLY – no HDMI, Audio in/out, Thunderbolt, etc

Synology DS220J NAS – $180

4-Core ARM 64bit CPU – 512MB Memory – 1GbE – 2-Bay

RECOMMENDED – Synology DS920+ – $535

4-Core Intel 64bit CPU – 4/8GB Memory – 1GbE – 4-Bay –  NVMe

Synology DS1621XS+ NAS – $1899

4-Core Intel Xeon 64bit CPU – 8/16GB Memory – 10GbE – 6-Bay –  NVMe

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Why Choose QNAP NAS? Advantages and Disadvantages

QNAP_logo1_hnlgpk_ptkfgi

Often considered the choice for the more hardware-aware buyer, if you are looking for a much more traditionally computer associated hardware – QNAP NAS is certainly the one that springs to mind. Generally considered the ‘innovators’ of the NAS industry, they have the largest range of solutions available Notwithstanding the fact that their hardware is by FAR the most evolved platform in NAS (thunderbolt 3, multiple HDMI, 10Gbe standard solutions, Silent NAS, AI solutions and advanced SSD caching), the platform is fantastically diverse, providing great NAS options alongside network switches, network adapters and generally reshaping your hardware environment for the better. The software has also evolved dramatically into its own beast, moving away from trying to imitate and carving its own path. It is a little more technically (and I really do mean a little) but it is far more rewarding for it. They do not feature some popular items on their portfolio, such as BTRFS or a fluid RAID system like SHR/BeyondRAID, but make up for this with their own range of alternatives and in most cases succeed. Get your reading glasses on though, as their range is quite vast and might overwhelm you a tad. In recent years the brand has shifted focus a great deal more towards software in efforts to meet the gap with their rival Synology to pretty good success. This is often achieved by releasing software that does the previously impossible before anyone else, but lacking a little of the polish of their biggest rival. Recent achievements with HybridMount, vJBOD, HyperVisor Protector, QuMagie and Multimedia Console have been received remarkably well, arriving onto the scene 1-2 years before anyone else. Alongside this, QNAP still has easily the best virtual machine and backup software for home and SMB in Virtualization Station and Hybrid Backup Sync.

PROS of QNAP NAS

  • Best Solutions for Plex Media Server in NAS
  • Enterprise/Business Solutions feature ZFS
  • 2.5Gbe, 5Gbe and 10Gbe Options
  • Best Virtual Machine and Container Solutions in NAS
  • NVMe SSD Bays can be used for Caching, Storage Pools or Tiered Storage Configurations
  • Almost all range is metal in design, or a plastic but unique chassis
  • HDMI and remote control included in most Media NAS devices
  • Thunderbolt NAS options covering TB2, TB3 and even TB4 (TS-464)
  • Two Surveillance Solutions (with 4/8 Camera Licenses included)
  • The Best Backup/Synchronization solution in ‘Hybrid Backup Sync 3’
  • Technical information far more readily available
  • Lower price compared with Synology in terms of hardware
  • Regularly updated software and Detailed GUI/APPs – FULL Review HERE
  • Desktop and Rackmount options are available
  • Much better business options and definitely the best for virtual machines

CONS of QNAP NAS

  • A more android feel towards apps and stability means some users will be put off
  • Lacking the BTRFS and SHR support of Synology
  • Higher typical Power consumption
  • Often a fraction noisier due to chiefly metal chassis
  • Much larger range of devices can lead to confusion
  • Most units arrive with 2-3 Years warranty, but longer will cost you more
  • Have been targetted by Ransomware attacks in the last 2 years

QNAP TS-233 NAS$205

4-Core ARM 64bit CPU – 2GB Memory – 1GbE – 2-Bay

RECOMMENDED – QNAP TS-464 – $599

4-Core Intel 64bit CPU – 4/16GB Memory – 1GbE – 4-Bay

QNAP TVS-872XT NAS$2200

4/6-Core Intel Core 64bit CPU – 8/64GB Memory – 10GbE – 8-Bay

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Why Choose Asustor NAS? Advantages and Disadvantages

asustor logo

Another brand that was once a little on the fringe until around 2018, Asustor NAS has really upped their game in recent years, arriving with some impressively affordable 10Gbe solutions with the AS40 series, followed with the very well received Nimbustor 2 & 4 devices, and is now absolutely killing it with the Lockstor series. Certainly, a brand that wants to carve its place in the industry, the ASUS connected brand currently offers software features and functionality of Synology (BTRFS and Realtek integrated Processors) along with QNAP challenging hardware in HDMI 2.0a and 2.5Gbe default network ports (which they introduced first). This combined with a much cleaner and significantly improved software GUI in ADM, they have moved much beyond the slightly scrappy outsider vibe they had years ago. Recent additions to the range, such as the LockerStor have even included NVMe SSD bays and Xeon powered hardware, so the evolution clearly continues. The software does feel like a good middle ground between Synology and QNAP, even if missing the killer apps and hardware that gave them their market share (Thunderbolt3, SHR, Collaboration Suite, etc) and with a number of their newer releases arriving at a good chunk of $£ lower in price than comparative NAS from others (often more than 10-15% lower in fact).

PROS of Asustor NAS

  • Great Price vs Hardware – Often one of the lowest Prices Hardware solutions available
  • Recent Lockerstor Gen 2 Releases are Incredible Value for the Hardware
  • BTRFS Support
  • First Brand to Adopt 2.5Gbe Commercially
  • Nice software and still supports Kodi (unofficially), something slowly being pulled from other NAS Software stores – FULL REVIEW HERE
  • Good selection of Home and Business NAS devices
  • Early Adopter of HDMI 2.0a – so 4K at 60FPS and have their own HDMI GUI in Asustor Portal
  • VM deployment and Container Support not dissimilar from QNAP, only not quite as flash
  • Noise is pretty low on most home devices like the Nimbustor 2/4
  • More Apps are available on the NAS app store, more than QNAP and Synology
  • Product Naming is easier to follow than most brands

CONS of Asustor NAS

  • Mobile Apps are very functional but appear a little sparse
  • Many HDMI apps seem to be simplified web portals, rather than standalone applications
  • Browser-based GUI does not feel quite as smooth as Synology DSM, but on par with others
  • The Surveillance Center application feels very dated and less intuitive than most
  • Have been targetted by Ransomware attacks in the last 2 years

Asustor Drivestor 2 NAS$165

4-Core ARM 64bit CPU – 1GB Memory – 2.5GbE – 2-Bay

RECOMMENDEDAsustor LockerStor4 G.2 $550

4-Core Intel 64bit CPU – 4/16GB Memory – 2.5GbE – NVMe – 4-Bay

Asustor LockerStor 10 Pro NAS $1299

4-Core Intel 64bit CPU – 8/32GB Memory – 10G+2.5G – NVMe -10-Bay

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Why Choose WD NAS? Advantages and Disadvantages

wdfulllogo

Although they have been a little quiet in terms of their hardware output recently, WD NAS is a brand that has been around for years (though most know them as a hard drive brand) and Western Digital NAS drives are a firm favourite among students and low-level storage solutions. They have a number of solutions in their WD My Cloud range that supports lite home users all the way to industry-level business users who want robust storage. The software may seem a little sparse and a far cry from Synology and QNAP, but they provide straight forward and clear setup. They WILL seem limited to anyone familiar with Synology/QNAP, but they certainly have a place in the industry. With user-friendly support of Apple Time Machine, Plex and DLNA – They are a great starter NAS with pre-populated options to make them extra affordable.

PROS of WD NAS

  • Popular HDD Vendor too, with expertise on their side
  • Often pre-populated so all warranty is covering Drives+NAS
  • Pre-populated NAS options result in better price for storage overall
  • Very fast set-up and can be deployed to deploy within 30 mins
  • Small+compact – featuring some of the lowest noise and power consumption of all
  • 3-year warranty on most units
  • Some units have 2 x PSU ports for Redundancy

CONS of WD NAS

  • EXT4 only
  • Have been VERY Quiet in NAS hardware in the last 12-18 Months
  • barely any mobile apps and relies on 3rd party mobile apps to connect over IP/Network settings
  • Smaller App selection in-app store
  • Limited User Interface
  • No HDMI, 10GBe, only USB 3.0 and 1GBe RJ45
  • Often much lower specs than Synology and QNAP
  • VERY small range
  • Desktop Only – No rackmount or Larger options

WD MyCloud EX2 NAS$159

2-Core ARM 32bit CPU – 512MB Memory – 1GbE – 2-Bay – Inc Drives

RECOMMENDEDWD MyCloud Pro – $450

4-Core Pentium CPU – 4/8GB Memory – 1GbE – 4-Bay – Inc Drives

WD MyCloud EX4100 NAS$349

4-Core ARM 32bit CPU – 2GB Memory – 1GbE – 4-Bay – Inc Drives

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Why Choose TerraMaster NAS? Advantages and Disadvantages

One brand that I have always had a personal love for is TerraMaster. This is purely subjective and should be taken with a pinch of salt, but for a brand that no one really knows about, they give ALOT of the key features that other bigger brand advertise alot. BTRFS support is available on pretty much ALL the Intel-based devices, they feature one of the ONLY 4 LAN 2-Bay NAS’, along with an Intel N5105 based 10Gbe 2, 4 5 and 8-Bay solution and a particularly unique 2 HDD 10GbE system. Arriving with a thunderbolt DAS range too, Terramaster is a NAS brand that has evolved comparatively quickly and although for the most part, they are only available via Amazon, this has still allowed them to be a recognizable brand. Typically in a like for like hardware comparison with them and companies like Synology/QNAP, you will find them better value for money, and the software (though less diverse or slick than those two big brands) is still pretty smooth and intuative. The chassis design is a little underwhelming, but even that has improved in recent revisions. All in all, they are the best budget NAS solution out there in 2022 and a good entry point into NAS.

PROS of TerraMaster NAS

  • Great Price vs Hardware
  • VERY Fast Brand Evolution
  • TOS 5 Software introducing Surveillance, FluidRAID, AI-Powered photo Recognition and Isolation Mode
  • Added a LARGE 2.5GbE selection of NAS in their portfolio
  • Hugely Improved GUI and Client apps
  • BTRFS available as file system choice
  • Desktop and Rackmount options
  • Similar Hardware to QNAP and Asustor, but at a Lower Price
  • Straight forward range and classification
  • Very Straight Fordwared Setup

CONS of TerraMaster NAS

  • Very Few Mobile Apps
  • Not quite as polished or fully featured as Synology/QNAP
  • Despite Business targeting, very poor support of 10GBe till recently in the F2-423
  • A little dated design
  • Arrives with Warranty, but the turnaround is slower than many
  • Have been targetted by Ransomware attacks in the last 2 years

Terramaster F2-423 NAS$289

4-Core Intel 64bit CPU – 4/32GB Memory – 2.5GbE – 2-Bay

RECOMMENDED – Terramaster F5-422 – $599

4-Core Intel 64bit CPU – 4/16GB Memory – 10GbE – 5-Bay

Terramaster T12-423 12-Bay NAS $1399

4-Core Intel 64bit CPU – 4/32GB Memory – 2.5GbE – NVMe – 12-Bay

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Why Choose Buffalo NAS? Advantages and Disadvantages

One brand that has danced with the home NAS industry, but pretty much now exclusively business in Buffalo. This brand is one that provides a number of key elements that businesses love. Robust and Rugged hardware design, Empty or Pre-Populated NAS solutions, Customizable Warranty options, Windows Server Pre-Installed Solutions, 10Gbe at an affordable Price and just generally being an enterprise/Business solution through and through. They lack the sexy/indie vibe of other brands, but that is not their target demographic – they want the user who wants storage that is simple, reliable and ‘setup and forget’. This means that on the face of it, they will seem quite pricey, but that is because you have to factor in the inclusion of hard drives, the service+support and the industrial level construction.

PROS of Buffalo NAS

  • Great Price vs Hardware for Business Users
  • Fantastically Rugged Construction
  • Lowest Priced 10Gbe Solutions
  • Can be purchased pre-populated, so warranties are all covering
  • Desktop and Rackmount options
  • Similar Hardware to Netgear, but at a Lower Price
  • Straight forward range and classification
  • EXCELLENT Windows Storage Server NAS devices, with inbuilt Windows Server 2016 for FAST deployment
  • Better Standard Warranty Length and more bespoke Recovery/Destroy options available
  • Easier and more customizable Warranty Extension options

CONS of Buffalo NAS

  • Very Few Mobile Apps
  • Availability outside of U.S and Japan is low
  • More focused on Business Users
  • Poor power consumption and dated design
  • Weak CPU choices on the whole
  • Lacks some more modern NAS innovations introduced by QNAP, Synology and more

Why Choose Netgear NAS? Advantages and Disadvantages

NETGEAR_Logo

One brand that has probably the longest history in network solutions is Netgear – pretty much ANYONE has heard of them, whether it was because your first switch/router came from them, or because they have such a squeaky clean reputation. The NAS solutions, much like Buffalo, are very industry-focused, but arriving with a few more features in the GUI department than them. Also arriving with pre-populated options and a diverse warranty structure, they do give alot to business users. They may seem a little ‘blah’, but what they lack in sizzle, they make up for in sausage.

PROS of Netgear NAS

  • Huge Mac and Windows Support
  • Fantastic Network configuration options
  • rugged and sturdy metal design
  • Often longer warranties than other brands like-for-like
  • Can be purchased pre-populated, so warranties are all covering
  • Supports usual RAID levels, as well as X-RAID and X-RAID 2 – Expandable RAID volumes not unlike SHR
  • Desktop and Rackmount options

CONS of Netgear NAS

  • High price Tag
  • Releases are very few and far between
  • Despite Business targeting, very poor support of 10GBe
  • Small App selection
  • Limited User Interface
  • REALLY confusing range
  • Not designed for a newbie – and larger units may need a dedicated IT guy
  • High power consumption and not the quietest

Should you buy Budget NAS brands like D-Link or Zyxel?

It should be highlighted that there are more NAS brands available than the ones discussed today. with each passing year more and more brands release their own NAS server for home and business use. However, in many cases, they are either too unreliable, too low on support and features, too technical for anyone with below-bill-gates depth of knowledge and most importantly most all, arrive from a brand without an established reputation. When it comes to buying the right network-attached storage device, you need to know what your buying works, as well as knowing that the manufacturer will be there in the event of a problem. likewise, you are trusting you’re are most likely trusting this brand with your most precious data (some photos and videos are irreplaceable) and from data loss to data theft, choosing the right NAS brand is essential.

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