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WD Red Pro vs Seagate Ironwolf Pro vs Synology HAT5300 Hard Drives – Which Should You Buy in 2022/2023?

6 juillet 2022 à 01:02

Seagate Ironwolf or WD Red or Synology HAT5300 HDDs – Best for your NAS?

Choosing the right hard drive media to go inside your Network Attached Storage (NAS) server can be a lot more complicated than you might think. A long time ago (about 20 years at least) buying hard drives was much easier, as the technology was significantly less evolved. The difference between one hard drive and another could be the capacity, physical, size or the interface – that is about it! But much like any other kind of technology, over time hardware designers were able to improve it, make it more efficient, increase the storage, speed up the access and all the while sticking with the same 3.5″ physical scale. The result of all this development was that tailored/designed drives arrived that were geared internally towards specific tasks (thereby allowing designers to focus the HDDs development towards one specialization more than others). Fast forward to 2022/2023 and you find that the HDD market is considerably more diverse and brands have much more layered portfolios of drives and one big, BIG area of hard disk development was with NAS/Server HDD media. These are drives that are designed to be on 24×7, be prepared to spin up very quickly with little notice, be better suited to being deployed in larger quantities together (i.e RAID configurations made up of many drives) and all the while combating vibration and increased temperatures to maintain a healthy and stable level of use at all times. Today I want to look at three hard drives that are designed for large-scale NAS deployment (such as 8-24-bay rackmount and 8-12+ bays desktop NAS systems), as all three are the current popular choice for this kind of NAS system. There are the long-established HDD vendor drives, the WD Red Pro series and Seagate Ironwolf Pro range, and there is the NAS-brand labelled Synology HAT5300 series (built on Toshiba MG06/06/08 Enterprise series, but with Synology firmware in services included). With a new generation of NAS Hardware arriving from Synology in 2022/2023, as well as a change in support and compatibility listings by the brand in several of their releases, now is a very good time to take a look at how these three NAS HDDs compare in design, utility, performance and value. With WD and Seagate having a considerable amount of history in their Red Pro and Ironwolf Pro ranges respectively in the NAS industry, many users are still unsure about the Synology HAT5300 and whether they should make the switch, design its shift in architecture towards a more enterprise build (arguable closer to Ultrastar and Seagate EXOs, than Red or Ironwolf). Let’s take a closer look at these three drives and hopefully help you decide which one deserves your data!

WD Red Pro vs Seagate Ironwolf Pro vs Synology HAT5300 – Capacity

Let’s be honest, next to ‘price’, the overall capacity of a hard drive is going to be of importance to the majority of NAS buyers. Yes, you can take advantage of RAID and multi-bay NAS systems in order to bolster the available capacity available to you (as well as the redundancy and performance of course), but you are still going to need to factor in the capacity on offer. The Synology HAT5300, WD Red Pro and Seagate Ironwolf Pro series all arrive in multiple capacity versions (with prices scaling appropriately of course) and you will find that as the drives increase in capacity, their internal hardware and design get decidedly beefier. That said, it would be remiss not to highlight that Synology and their HAT5300 (and HAS5300 SAS drives, which we will not really factor in this comparison) have not been in the market as long as WD/Seagate and although they have made a solid start in presenting a portfolio of HDD and SSD drives, the range of capacities on offer from the HA5300 range is pretty sparse. Just to give you a little perspective on this, here is how the three HDDs compare in available drives on offer:

Capacity Synology HAT5300

WD Red Pro

Seagate Ironwolf Pro

1TB
2TB
 ✔ ✔
4TB ✔  ✔ ✔
6TB  ✔ ✔
8TB ✔  ✔ ✔
10TB  ✔ ✔
12TB ✔  ✔ ✔
14TB  ✔ ✔
16TB ✔  ✔ ✔
18TB  ✔ ✔
20TB  ✔ ✔
22TB  ✔ (Revealed but release TBC) ✔ (Revealed but release TBC)

As you can see, the WD Red Pro and Seagate Ironwolf Pro drives current provide 10 different capacities from 2TB to 20TB for PRO NAS deployment (with the 22TB versions of their respective ranges announced and arriving soon). This does not include the non-pro versions of these series (won’t touch on these further, but worth highlighting) and with that, a NAS Buyer can scale their budget quite well across multiple bays and their budget. For example, a user could opt for 4x 10TBs in a RAID 5 and get 30TB of usable space, or instead opt for 8x 6TB drives in a RAID 6 and get 36TB – this allows a buyer to spend more of their budget towards the NAS hardware than the drive media, or visa-versa. Now, Synology only currently provide 4 different capacities (with the 4TB drive being added in mid-2022) and although it makes sense that the brand would want to develop in this area in a wave-by-wave release strategy (continuing to invest and develop as the series is embraced), for many the lack of smaller capacities AND the lack of the 18TB and 20TB tier is a little problematic. Toshiba recently unveiled their MG09 18TB Enterprise HDD and in a recent roadmap reveal, plans for 20TB and 22TB HDDs in the next 12 months, but right now it is impossible to ignore that in terms of available capacities, the WD Red Pro and Seagate Ironwolf Pro and considerably more fleshed out in their respective ranges.

WD Red Pro vs Seagate Ironwolf Pro vs Synology HAT5300 – Price

Alongside capacity, the price tag that the Synology HAT5300, WD Red Pro and Seagate Ironwolf Pro hard drives arrive with is going to be a big continuing factor on which one populates your large-scale NAS server. Although all three brands have their RRPs stated on their respective product pages, there have been several factors in the last 12-24 months (the pandemic, the rise and decline of chia crypto, semiconductor shortages, droughts in Taiwan, trade wars, actual wars and more) than have led to supply levels of large scale HDDs to be significantly reduced. Unsurprisingly, this has resulted in the price points for these hard disks to significantly increase (often a noticeable degree above the original RRP). As each HDD capacity in the WD, Seagate and Synology series’ have their own price based on the internal hardware to support that much data, comparing their price is a little tricky. Additionally, prices and availability differ quite wildly between countries, as stock levels and the ease of the supply chain are being affected differently by the factors mentioned earlier related to shortages. So, below I have listed the prices of each brand’s drives. Note – these prices are calculated at how much per Terabyte (TB) and in order to keep it fair, I have picked the newest/largest drive from each brand as the price average (as smaller drives have a typically less accurate series-wide price per TB overall). I picked Newegg, SCAN and Amazon.de for the prices, as they had pricing AND stock of all drive capacities on all brands in stock at the time of writing for each region and therefore gave a more accurate market pricing for comparison (14/06/22 – date of writing):

Region / eShop Synology HAT5300

WD Red Pro

Seagate Ironwolf Pro

Newegg (US) – avg price per TB $39 per TB $26 per TB $25.45 per TB
SCAN (UK) – avg price per TB £38 per TB £31.90 per TB £27.20 per TB
Amazon (DE) – avg price per TB €46.81 per TB €38.90 per TB €31.45 per TB

The price of the Seagate Ironwolf Pro series is noticeably lower than both the WD Red Pro and Synology HAT5300 (especially in Germany and other parts of Europe) and although these prices are an average based on the largest current available drive from each brand, if you look at the lower capacities you will find that this average price per TB is still pretty accurate throughout. The WD Red Pro is reasonably proved and on offer periodically (not quite as often as the Seagate admittedly) and in the US is much more competitively priced. The Synology HAT5300 series however is consistently the highest price of the three. Now, it needs to be factored in that the design and durability of the HAT5300 (as mentioned earlier) are much more comparable to that of the Seagate EXOs and WD Ultrastar series of HDDs for data centers, which no doubt affects the price. Equally, unlike Seagate and WD who produce their HDDs internally, the Synology HAT5300 is built on Toshiba MG06/MG07/MG08 and no doubt that results in Synology having to factor in an additional profit margin into their production and sale. We WILL be shortly discussing how this more enterprise design AND the Synology NAS universal selling points benefit this drive over the WD Red Pro and Seagate Ironwolf Pro drives, but when it comes to price point, it definitely goes Seagate 1st, WD 2nd and Synology in 3rd.

WD Red Pro vs Seagate Ironwolf Pro vs Synology HAT5300 – Hardware

As mentioned in the introduction, NAS hard drives are the result of HDD development improving over the years and then splintering into multiple specialised storage deployments (eg surveillance needing heavy write, cold storage needing endurance, laptops needing low power use and NAS servers needing 24×7 use). The Synology HAT5300, WD Red Pro and Seagate Ironwolf Pro drives are all very, VERY much designed with heavy-duty NAS deployment in mind and although you CAN use them in smaller systems and even desktop PCs, it would be a tremendous waste of their utility and design (like using a chainsaw to cut a slice of bread). Now all three branded drives have specialised internal hardware/firmware that maintains the drive in particularly vigorous and large-scale deployments (all the way up to 24 bays and higher), so I won’t really be giving any one brand an advantage for vibration, temperature, balance or spin up/spin down utility – all three of the Synology HAT5300, WD Red Pro and Seagate Ironwolf Pro have their own specialized components inside for this that it would be extremely difficult to compare one way or another here. The fact they have them is good enough for me. However, this is certainly going to be where the more enterprise design of the HAT5300 will stand out against the Pro design of the WD Red and Seagate Ironwolf:

Hardware Synology HAT5300

WD Red Pro

Seagate Ironwolf Pro

Balance Control ✔ ✔ ✔
Vibration Sensors & Control ✔ ✔ ✔
Max Transfer Speed (best of range) 272MB/s 272MB/s 285MB/s
CMR (y/n) ✔ ✔ ✔
Seal Method Helium Sealed Helium Sealed Helium Sealed
Platters 9x 9x 9x
RPM (max in range) 7200 7200 7200
Cache 512MB 512MB + OptiNAND Flash 256MB
Workload Rating/Durability 550TBW per yr 300TBW per yr 300TBW per yr
On/Off Cycles 600K 600K 600K
MTBF (hours) M=Million 2.5M 1M 1.2M
Warranty 5years 5years 5years

Now, the officially reported transfer speed of each drive is not something we are going to dwell on. 1) the difference is tiny, 2) different scale/power/RAID configs will result in varied transfer rates and 3) I have personally tested all three and even in sustained Read/Write activity, they ALL hit 260-207MB/s consistently. However, we DO need to discuss durability and on-board caching. The Synology HAT5300 arrives with a SIGNIFICANT increase in its durability rating, with almost DOUBLE the annual workload rating (eg how many Terabytes the drive can have written and re-written per year) compared with the Seagate and WD HDDs. This also means that the drive has a significantly higher mean time between failure (i.e expected failure rate between deployment>drive-dies>replacement) at more than double. Now, although a lot of durability and sustained use is why Synology seemingly opted for the Toshiba MG series as the base for their branded drive series, but the drive also has Synology specialised firmware onboard. This results in two key benefits to Synology NAS users. The first is that the drive can have it’s specific spin, cache, access and load cycles tailed to Synology NAS system operations, whereas Seagate and WD have to be a little more open in their firmware to suit ‘all’ NAS servers. Pretty much all modern NAS drives run on one form of Linux or another (as well as TrueNAS of course, let’s not overlook FreeBSD etc) but this more precise firmware gearing in the HAT5300 means it will likely always be the most efficient drive for Synology NAS of the bunch. The other benefit of the HAT5300 in Synology NAS deployment is that the drive’s onboard firmware can be updated via the Synology DSM user interface and storage manager (without powering the device down), whereas the WD and Seagate HDDs require you to remove drives individually from the system (and RAID Pool of course if already in use) and update the firmware via a PC/Docking station. Although HDD firmware updates are much, much less frequent than many other types of technology and typically very small improvements, this is still something that the more data storage savvy user will want to stay on top of.

The Seagate and WD Drives on the other hand are considerably similar, with both drives having 7200RPM, 300TB annual workload and quite comparable MTBF. However, the WD Red Pro drive pulls ahead thanks to its 512MB of memory on the largest capacities and (more importantly) its inclusion of WD’s new OptiNAND technology. This is a recently developed HDD design choice (being included in their larger tiers currently and likely continuing into the 22TB+ tier) where alongside the nine platters of storage, the drive also features a small area of flash storage on board that is designed to store metadata and other indexing data using by the connected client system. Not to be confused with hybrid drives (optical drives that featured a decent-sized chunk of SSD space for the likes of an OS for large-scale caching), OptiNAND means that important table and micro-associated data that the drive needs to consult when the bulk of the platter houses data is accessed is accessible much, much more quickly and when drives are getting to this large scale of 18-20TB of storage, these increases can make a small but important difference. The Seagate Ironwolf Pro SSD is still an excellent drive, but leases out to WD and Synology’s branded drive, as the other drives have a largely better hardware offering included.

WD Red Pro vs Seagate Ironwolf Pro vs Synology HAT5300 – Noise

If you have EVER worked with larger-scale HDDs and enterprise-grade drive media (not just these three HDDs, but the EXOS, Ultrastar and Gold series too), then you will know that these drives can be particularly noisy. This noise stems from the larger drive needing more horsepower under the bonnet to hit that expected Read/Write performance levels sporadically – something that is particularly important when it comes to large population NAS/Server use being 24×7. The result is that these Pro and Enterprise drives will vibrate more than most, hum loudly when in operation and continuously click with the rapid movement of the arm/actuator inside as it has to rapidly access a large number of internal platters. We have discussed this at length on NASCompares previously over on YouTube and you can check out examples embedded below of noise testing that was performed on all three HDDs (you can open them in a separate TAB if you click the title or watch in the browser:

Synology HAT5300 Noise Test WD Red Pro Nosie Testing Seagate Ironwolf Pro Noise Testing

Now, the impact of noise in your home or business NAS environment is tremendously subjective. As these three drives are all too often designed for deployment in 8-12 bay desktops and 16-24 bay rackmounts (both largely metal chassis), the result is that in most cases you will NOT be able to hear the NAS HDD, as it will be drowned out by the noise of the multiple high RPM fans on the NAS or their impact on the metal chassis. However, if you plan on deploying these Pro/Enterprise drives in systems with LESS than 8-Bays and plan on being in the same room as the system, then you will DEFINITELY hear them. In order to test these drives, I took a large-scale, 9-platter version of the Synology HAT5300, WD Red Pro and Seagate Ironwolf Pro, then installed them in a modest 4-Bay NAS (as this would largely eliminate the fan noise and multiplying factor of a metal chassis) and instead opted for the largely plastic DS920+ NAS. The noise level was recorded using a phone+microphone 20cm from the DS920+ The drives were recorded during a ‘Benchmark Test’ selected in the DSM 7.1 Storage Manager, over 25-30 seconds, Below were the results:

Synology HAT5300

WD Red Pro

Seagate Ironwolf Pro

As you can see, the difference between them was very, very small and the Seagate and Synology were similarly noisy (though even then at this db(A) range, this is still very small. Overall, I don’t think you can choose between the Synology HAT5300, Seagate Ironwolf Pro or WD Red Pro in terms of noise, as they are all ultimately very noisy drives when in single/RAID deployment regardless.

WD Red Pro vs Seagate Ironwolf Pro vs Synology HAT5300 – Verdict

Overall, the Synology HAT5300 is still the most enduring hard drive here (thanks to that enterprise tier design) and the one that will likely be the most useful in a Synology enterprise NAS drive deployment (factoring in that firmware, ease of update and potential for bundle deals). However, it is still a much, MUCH more expensive drive that is available in fewer capacities and still only hits 16TB at the time of recording. In terms of getting the job DONE, the WD Red might not be the lowest price, but with its onboard flash in the larger capacities, a larger amount of onboard cache, fastest reported warranty turnaround and larger variety of smaller capacities that cover both Pro and normal, the WD Red Pro is the middle ground choice that ticks all the boxes and will be the one you know will shut up and do the job! The Seagate Ironwolf is by FAR the best value for money, with the best price point in and out of special offers, as well as inclusive three YEARS of data recovery services thrown in, Health management software onboard and almost always releasing the biggest capacity drives first (and at the best price) – the Seagate Ironwolf Series is the most accessible and storage services choice in 2022.

Synology HAT5300

WD Red Pro

Seagate Ironwolf Pro

  • Synology NAS Firmware
  • Fewer Synology NAS Support tickets raised with the brand with HAT5300 drives vs 3rd Party Drive Setups
  • HDD/SSD Firmware Can be updated within Synology DSM without system power off or disconnecting HDD.
  • Bulk Buying & NAS+Media Business purchases are much more likely to get discounts or savings via Deal Registration with Synology Distributors
  • Warranty/Support/Officially Supported Use only in Synology Hardware
  • Higher Price Point per TB
  • Fewer Capacity Options
  • All modern/standard capacities are available
  • Non-Pro Drives are also available
  • Good Reputation online (aside from the SMR business)
  • Faster Warranty Replacement turnaround reported online
  • OptiNAND (onboard flash module) mean that vital metadata and microdata is available FASTER
  • Wide NAS Hardware Compatibility
  • Less Competitive Pricing outside of seasonal Promos (Black Friday, Prime Day etc)
  • WD Red Pro vs WD Gold vs Ultrastar overlap can be confusing without deep-diving into data sheets
  • Seagate Ironwolf Health Management onboard to add to existing drive health and S.M.A.R.T tests + Interface available in almost all NAS Brand GUI to config easily
  • 3yrs of free Rescue Data Recovery Services (fully featured with multiple data recovery  delivery options, forensic and mechanical recovery included)
  • Lower Price point on all capacities overall
  • Non-Pro drive options
  • Regularly on offer
  • Higher Power consumption on average
  • Noisiest overall (when you factor in ALL capacities) in operation

If you want to check the price and availability of HDDs in your region, you can visit one of the retailers listed below. Clicking these links will result in a small % of whatever you spend going back to NASCompares, which will allow us to keep making great content. Thank you



*Stats come from Synology themselves upon request, see this article on Synology HDDs in 2022 HERE

 

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We want to keep the free advice on NASCompares FREE for as long as we can. Since this service started back in Jan '18, We have helped hundreds of users every month solve their storage woes, but we can only continue to do this with your support. So please do choose to buy at Amazon US and Amazon UK on the articles when buying to provide advert revenue support or to donate/support the site below. Finally, for free advice about your setup, just leave a message in the comments below here at NASCompares.com and we will get back to you. Need Help? Where possible (and where appropriate) please provide as much information about your requirements, as then I can arrange the best answer and solution to your needs. Do not worry about your e-mail address being required, it will NOT be used in a mailing list and will NOT be used in any way other than to respond to your enquiry. [contact-form-7] Terms and Conditions Alternatively, why not ask me on the ASK NASCompares forum, by clicking the button below. This is a community hub that serves as a place that I can answer your question, chew the fat, share new release information and even get corrections posted. I will always get around to answering ALL queries, but as a one-man operation, I cannot promise speed! So by sharing your query in the ASK NASCompares section below, you can get a better range of solutions and suggestions, alongside my own.  

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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