Synology DSM vs QNAP QTS NAS Software & Hardware Comparison
When buying a NAS drive, it’s important to consider the software included with the purchase. Brands like Synology and QNAP offer different software designs, user priorities, and learning curves. Even if you plan to mostly use third-party software, you will still need to interact with the NAS software and GUI. The software for these brands is constantly evolving, so it’s difficult to compare them in a definitive way. However, we can examine their strengths and weaknesses to determine which one is best for you.
Synology DSM vs QNAP QTS NAS Software – Brand Priorities
Before delving into a comparison of Synology DSM and QNAP QTS, it’s important to understand the company’s priorities and how they impact the software, hardware, and usability for different users. Synology generally has three key brand characteristics.
Synology NAS Brand and DSM Focus
First-Party Priority in Hardware and Software – Synology prioritizes its own software and hardware tools over third-party alternatives. In some instances, such as VMs and cloud services, they may also support third-party options, but their focus on their own products is evident. In other cases, they do not support third-party options as they design their systems around their own products, such as newer rackmount releases, Synology HDDs, memory upgrade modules, and Synology C2 in HybridShare.
Software Over Hardware – NAS systems is often viewed with scepticism by PC builders due to their relatively modest specifications and price tags. While it can be argued that NAS are 24×7 systems that prioritize storage, Synology NAS systems typically have more modest specs than other brands, with 1Gbe as the standard and limited upgrade options, especially for third-party options. This is primarily because Synology NAS solutions are a much more software-and-hardware combined package than other brands. Synology invests heavily in its software, and then ensures that its hardware can make the most of it. I will later discuss some standout apps from Synology, but it’s clear that their primary focus is on software.
Hiding/Removing Some Configuration/Customization options for Performance & Stability – The DSM platform of Synology NAS servers is highly regarded for its smoothness and responsiveness when accessed remotely. The system utilizes intelligent memory caching and flushing techniques to ensure fast performance, but this is achieved in certain ways that may not be preferred by all users. For example, certain applications may only work with data stored in specific directories, and some customization options may not be available to maintain the high performance of the system software. While some users may be bothered by these limitations, most users are unlikely to be affected.
QNAP on the other hand, although similar in a number of ways has a broader and more open platform. This typically means that a user who wants to create an especially bespoke setup, has lesser-known file formats to content with, wants to use their own software (with the NAS as a storage target) or just like to ‘have it their own way’ might prefer the QNAP QTS NAS ecosystem. Their brand priorities can be summarized as:
QNAP NAS Brand and QTS Focus
Balanced 1st Party and 3rd Party Software – When using QNAP NAS QTS software, it quickly becomes apparent that they aim to support a wide range of users and utilities, which can be seen as either very versatile or overwhelming. QNAP and QTS include a variety of first-party applications with the NAS hardware, such as file management, multimedia management, backups, and business-class services like VMs, Surveillance, and Cloud Hybrid/Gateway tools. One of the reasons some users choose QNAP over Synology is their support for third-party storage systems and software, and the ability to adapt to them. Unlike Synology, which prioritizes stability over flexibility, QNAP offers a more open platform for the end-user to customize the system to their existing hardware and software. However, it should be noted that this may not be as straightforward as with Synology.
First To Release NAS Hardware – The last five years have seen QNAP at the forefront of many significant innovations in network-attached storage. They were the first to introduce the TS-2490FU All NVMe U.2 and ZFS rackmount (as well as new PCIe Gen 4 flash systems in 2022), combined 10Gbe and NVMe SSD Combo cards in their QM2 series, and changed the editing experience for many professionals in video post-production with Thunderbolt-enabled NAS. QNAP is widely considered the most innovative brand in the market, but some of their groundbreaking hardware could benefit from more development time before being released. This can be seen in the comparison between the QNAP QM2 card and the Synology E10M20-T1, which were released almost 18 months apart, but with significant differences in design and functionality.
Software Development On the Fly – The QNAP NAS QTS software is designed to support a wide range of users and utilities, which can be seen as both versatile and overwhelming. QNAP and QTS include many first-party applications with the NAS hardware, such as file management, multimedia management, and business-class services. They also have the ability to adapt to 3rd party storage systems and software, which is a major reason why some users prefer QNAP over Synology. However, the open structure of QNAP’s software can make it less cohesive compared to Synology’s more controlled approach. Additionally, QNAP’s software innovations, though early to market, may not always be fully polished and may require beta testing. This allows for early access to new features, but can also introduce beta software into the system, which some business users may not be comfortable with.
When comparing QNAP’s QTS and Synology’s DSM, a recurring theme is that QNAP offers more control and information, while Synology prioritizes ease of use. In the past, this has been compared to the difference between PC gaming and console gaming. Synology, like console gaming, offers a more stable and consistent platform with limited customization options but at a higher cost. On the other hand, QNAP, like PC gaming, may require a steeper learning curve but offers better value for money, greater adaptability and flexibility, and the potential for better performance. Ultimately, the choice between the two will depend on the user’s needs and willingness to invest in the setup.
Why Choose Synology NAS? – Smooth, Accessible, Easy to Learn
Why Choose QNAP NAS? – Adaptable, Capable and Wider Support Options
Synology DSM vs QNAP QTS NAS Software – Web-Based GUI
For most users, the initial interaction with their new NAS system will be through the mobile app, with some users even using their mobile phone to set up the NAS. However, the web-based graphical user interface (GUI) still offers the most configuration and control options for both Synology and QNAP NAS systems. The GUI, which can be accessed over the network or remotely through 1st party internet access portals, has evolved over time to resemble a full operating system control panel. The interface of both Synology DSM and QNAP QTS have become distinct from one another, much like Mac OS and Windows.
The web-based interface for both Synology DSM and QNAP QTS have similarities in their layout and functionality, such as the options button at the top left, desktop shortcuts, and notifications at the top right. However, a comparison of the latest versions of DSM 7.1 and QTS shows that the two systems have distinct differences in how they allow users to control and manage their NAS systems through a web browser.
The design of Synology’s DSM is similar to that of Mac systems, whereas QNAP’s QTS design is more similar to Android in terms of how applications and options are presented. Synology’s DSM feels more responsive and reactive to user input, while QNAP’s QTS is smooth for a network GUI, but may have a slight delay when switching between apps and windows. However, QNAP’s QTS provides more detailed information and analysis on each screen, which can save time when searching for specific information. The resource monitor on Synology’s DSM software is clear and simple, displaying CPU, memory, disk, and bandwidth usage, and allowing users to delve deeper into each category if needed.
The design of the Synology DSM interface is similar to Mac systems, while the QNAP QTS design is more like Android in its presentation of apps and options. Synology DSM is more responsive and reactive to user input, while QNAP QTS may have a slight delay when switching between apps and windows, but it offers more information on each screen. The resource monitor on QNAP QTS provides more detailed information about background processes, compared to the Synology DSM resource monitor. For users who want a more in-depth understanding of their system’s performance, the QNAP resource monitor will be useful, but for those who find it overwhelming, it may be considered too much information.
The logic that both Synology and QNAP provide to the end-user even in something as arguable pedestrian as a task manager will give you a decent idea of how they will be for you in practically every interaction moving forward. Below is a video on how each system compares in its graphical user interface, configuration and initial setup (users, folders, shares, etc):
In short, it comes back to that idea of control and customization. The Synology DSM Control is going to appeal more to new NAS users and those who want the system to just-shut-up-and-do-its-job! Whereas the QNAP QTS platform will throw more information (sometimes too much!) at you in the hopes that you can create a more bespoke and controllable environment.
Why Choose Synology NAS? – Easy to Use and Intuitive
Why Choose QNAP NAS? – Better Analytics and Control
Synology DSM vs QNAP QTS NAS Software – Mobile-Based GUI and Apps
It’s not surprising that Synology and QNAP both offer a variety of mobile apps for iOS and Android. These apps include not just backup tools to protect your photos, but also sync tools, file management tools, and others that make accessing your NAS from your mobile phone easy and intuitive. Additionally, both companies offer apps that allow you to customize your access to the NAS system based on your specific needs. Popular apps include those for photos, music, video, and surveillance.
|NAS Access Type|
|System Management||DS FInder||QManager|
|NAS File Management||DS File & Synology Drive||QFile, QSirch|
|General Phone Backup||DS Cloud||QSync Pro|
|Photography||Synology Photos||QPhotos & QuMagie|
|Video Streaming||DS Video||QVideo|
|Music Streaming||DS Audio||QMusic|
|Surveillance||DS CAM & Synology LiveCam||QVR Pro Client,|
|Synology MailPlus||QMail Client|
|Notes & To-Do Lists||DS Note||QNotes3|
|NAS-VPN Manager||Synology VPN Plus||QVPN|
|NAS Router Manager App||DS Router||QuRouter|
|Other/Misc||Synology Secure Sign in – Login 2-Step Authentication
Synology Chat – Synology Chat Service App
|OceanTV Client – Karaoke Mobile Client
QContacts – Contacts and Connections Database
QRemote – HDMI-enabled NAS Remote Control
DJ2 Client – Livestream NAS Manager
QMiix – Alternative to IFTTT client
KoiCast & Koi Talk – Video and Internet Call Client
Throughout my time, I have evaluated a majority of the key apps for system management, file management, backups, photos, music and video. Here, I will present my findings and provide videos that will give you a better understanding of how Synology DSM and QNAP QTS enable you to access your NAS drive on-the-go through your mobile device in a more data-specific manner. (You can click on the video title to open it in a new window on Youtube or watch them within the article)
|NAS Control and Accessibility||NAS Control and Accessibility|
|NAS File Management||NAS File Management|
|Video Media||Video Media|
|Music Media||Music Media|
|Surveillance and Camera Access||Surveillance and Camera Access|
At first glance, it’s apparent that Synology’s applications have more consistency and similarity to third-party applications (e.g. Synology Drive and Google Drive, Synology DS Video and Plex, Synology Chat and Skype), while QNAP’s applications, even the newer ones, tend to have more distinct differences in GUI and layout, which can take more time to learn. However, QNAP’s mobile applications are generally more customizable and offer greater control and customization, both within the individual apps and in how they allow the user to control the NAS. Both NAS brands have their own strengths and weaknesses in how they have developed and implemented their mobile applications. Ultimately, the biggest deciding factor for the end-user will likely be the platform they primarily use to access the NAS. Desktop users may find QNAP’s platform more suitable for desktop access, while Synology’s platform has focused more on bringing mobile and desktop application experiences to the same level. Users who primarily access the NAS via mobile or have a balance of mobile and desktop access will likely find Synology’s platform more intuitive and smooth.
Why Choose Synology NAS? – Intuitive and Streamlined UI
Why Choose QNAP NAS? – More Apps and Greater Control
Synology DSM vs QNAP QTS NAS Software – Storage Options and GUI
While Synology and QNAP are both focused on storage, they have distinct approaches to displaying and managing data. They also have varying storage trends they support within their ecosystems. However, both offer highly evolved and reliable network storage options for safeguarding your data. Similar to the apps, user interfaces, and access discussed earlier, Synology and QNAP have each evolved their storage options and configurations differently in recent years, providing unique and specific features that can make the choice between them much simpler.
Both QNAP QTS and Synology DSM NAS Drives Provide the following Storage Features:
- Both NAS Systems Support Snapshots
- Both NAS Systems Support Rsync, RTRR and Multi-Platform Backup Setups (Cloud, USB, NAS, etc)
- Both NAS Systems Support Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID) on all hardware (Brand Differences though, eg Synology has a fluid Hybird RAID, SHR. Whereas QNAP QuTS has RAID Z and Triple Parity options)
- Both NAS Systems Can Connect to the Cloud
- Both NAS Systems Support USB Drives
- Both NAS Systems have Varied Expansion Options (Brand Differences though)
- Both NAS Systems support SSD Caching (Brand Differences though)
- Both NAS Systems Support SATA Hard Drives up to 18TB and 20TB
- Both NAS Systems SATA SSDD Storage Pools
- Both NAS Systems Support EXT4 amoung others (Brand Differences though)
- Both NAS Systems support RAID Hot Spare Automation, which is when a spare HDD/SSD is initialized by the system but is unavailable for storage. Then, in the event of a drive failure, the system will automatically integrate the spare drive into the RAID for rebuilding
So, regardless of whether you buy Synology or QNAP NAS, you have a great deal of storage support available. However, there are a large number of brand SPECIFIC storage services and options that ONLY one brand of the two have. Let’s start with the Synology NAS DSM exclusive options.
Synology NAS, its Services and Features Provide the Following:
- Synology Hybrid RAID – SHR is the fluid RAID system that allows you to mix the drive sizes and types in order to get the best possible capacity and storage as you upgrade the drives in the system lifespan
- Synology systems for the most part (CPU and Memory dependant) arrive with BTRFS that is a file system that supports lower resource-consuming background snapshots, file self-healing and faster-shared folder cloning (other benefits too)
- Synology C2 – Synology has its own first-party cloud service that can be synced with your Synology NAS with HybridShare (DSM 7.0) and allows a disaster recovery backup (subscription-based)
- Synology Active Insight (Subscription Based) allows intelligent storage health and Synology monitoring send to admins and appropriate users with recommendations on resolution, repair or replacement
- Synology has its own range of HDDs and SSDs in the HAT5300 (SATA 3.5″ hard drives), SAT5200 (2.5″ SATA SSDs) and SNV3400/SNV3500 (M.2 NVMe SSDs) that feature east firmware updates, high endurance. Some recent 2023 systems have compatibility largely reduced to just the Synology HDD range
So, as you can see, a large range of first-party prioritize storage that is still quite a capable list of support services, formats and hardware in terms of storage in a Synology NAS. None fo the above is currently supported/available from QNAP NAS, however, they have their own range of very unique and QNAP-ONLY available storage options. They are as follows.
QNAP NAS, its Services and Features Provide the Following:
- QNAP NAS QTS and QuTS allow users to use NVMe SSDs for storage pools and volumes
- QNAP NAS QuTS here allows ZFS as a file system choice which includes triple parity RAID, RAID 5/6 builds that take minutes, RAID ReSilvering, inline data compression (space saver) and inline data deduplication (saves 1 copy of files that are located in multiple locations in realtime)
- QNAP Hybrid Mount and vJBOD allows you to connect many, many cloud storage providers (Synology HybridShare only allows Synology C2 cloud at the time of writing)
- QNAP allows installation of HDDs/SSDs from Seagate, WD, Toshiba, etc on ALL of their NAS systems
- QNAP has DA Drive Analyzer for real-time storage hardware health reports and automated background RAID repair with connected media drives
- QNAP NAS QTS allows QTier, which allows the user to create a single storage pool that is comprised of HDD+SSD media and then the NAS system learns which files are accessed most and moves them to the fast storage media internally (not the same as caching with copies the files and more suitable to smaller files)
- Much, MUCH larger degree of storage expansion chassis on QNAP, both in terms of the number of NAS hardware systems that CAN be expanded AND the range of expansions that arrive with USB 3.2 Gen 1, USB Gen 2 and a range of external SAS based connections that can go up to 5,000MBs+ externally
The QNAP Storage options unsurprisingly are a great deal more open (wider HDD/SSD support on all their hardware, wider cloud support on their cloud gateway software, expansion chassis and connections), however, Synology and its focus on the 1st party R&D results in stronger and more evolved ‘in house’ results (such as Synology Hybrid RAID, their own range of media that has unique options, btrfs integration on all apps, etc).
Why Choose Synology NAS? – BTRFS, Synology Hybrid RAID and Ease of Use
Why Choose QNAP NAS? – ZFS, Better Encryption Options, HybridMount/vJBOD and Better Expansion Options
Synology DSM vs QNAP QTS NAS Software – Multimedia
Many home users and prosumer customers consider purchasing a NAS for their multimedia collection. With digital media becoming increasingly popular and the decline of physical media in recent years, the appeal of having your own personal “Netflix” with a NAS is attractive. As expected, both Synology and QNAP have made significant advancements in multimedia streaming and sharing in recent years. Although the core function of streaming media to devices such as DLNA Smart TVs, Amazon Firesticks, phones, and home theaters is similar on both brands, they have each developed their own unique features in terms of presentation, third-party hardware support, and how photos, music, and videos are handled internally. Additionally, both Synology and QNAP support Plex Media Server, Emby, Jellyfin, iTunes, and traditional file/folder level DLNA media streaming to a similar degree, with some differences depending on the hardware of each NAS release. The following guides compare Synology and QNAP in terms of photography, music playback in the GUI, and video streaming. First, here is how Synology DSM and QNAP QTS compare with Photography:
Support of Live Photos/Gifs in the Browser/Apps
Excellent Cross-App Support with Drive
Synology Photos in DSM 7 merges Photo Station & Moments
Very Attractive and Easy to Control GUI
Better Geo Location Recognition/Map View
Better Multi Face Tag Searching
Album+File/Folder Browsing in QuMagie
Better AI Recognition in QuMagie (inc ‘Things’)
AI Photo Recognition can be improved with a $25-30 Goolg eTPU M.2 Card
Allows Custom Photo Directories
Multimedia Console Allows Better Indexing/Thumbnail Generation
Better Cross-Software Tag Support
Next, this is how Synology DSM and QNAP QTS compare with Music and the browser GUI:
Support of DS Audio Skill on Amazon Alexa Voice Recognition
GUI Very Appealing
Better Config Options
Better Album Thumbnail Utilization (especially Mobile)
Better DLNA Streaming
Support of Local Speaker Connections
More 3rd Party Audio Applications
Support of more Formats, codecs and Compressions
Finally, we have how both Synology DSM and QNAP QTS compare with Video Media in the GUI:
Video Station/DS Video have VERY easy-to-use GUI
DS Video App available on FireTV / Amazon Firestick
Comparable to Plex and Emby
Intuitive Setup for Libraries and Metadata resource connections
Supports HDMI Out
More Media Server Players are available
Better offline Transcoding Options
Cayin player option for H.265/HEVC 10bit Support
It’s undeniable that QNAP generally has a more open/customizable multimedia user interface when it comes to music and video media, while Synology has invested heavily in developing their Video Station and Audio Station to rival Freemium services like Plex Media Server and WhatsApp, with advanced metadata scraping and 1st party apps on Amazon FireTV and Alexa voice support in DS Video and DS Audio. In terms of photography, QNAP’s QuMagie platform offers more control, recognition, file/folder access and keeps it as two separate apps. Similarly, the multimedia console application on QNAP QTS is a standout feature, allowing complete control over all multimedia indexing, sharing, and transcoding from a single portal. Ultimately, it depends on the type of media you plan to watch, the device you want to watch it on, and how much customization you plan to make.
Why Choose Synology NAS? – Video Station, DS Audio Alexa Voice Support – Choose for Amazon FireTV, Alexa and ‘Netflix-level’ video streaming
Why Choose QNAP NAS? – Multimedia Console control is Unparalleled, QuMagie provides better AI recognition and Custom Directories as standard. Also, H.265/HEVC 10bitplayback better with the CAYIN player option
Synology DSM vs QNAP QTS NAS Software – Backup Tools
It’s worth taking a closer look at the similarities and differences between the Synology DSM and QNAP QTS NAS software and services. While both brands offer similar functionality, there are some subtle distinctions that could cause frustration if you’re not aware of them. For example, Synology’s NAS platform comes with Hyper Backup and Active Backup Suite, while QNAP has Hybrid Backup Sync and Hyper Data Protector. BOTH Synology and QNAP across their respective two apps each provide support of:
- Multi-site backups that can be scheduled, have filters applied, utilize deduplication and support NAS-to-Cloud/NAS/USB/Folder operations
- Can Backup VMs from VMware and Hyper V and (in the right format) restore the VM image on the brand-specific VM app on either brand NAS
- Support Version retention on regular bare metal backups and VM backups
- Guide you through a 3-2-1 Backup System using 1st party resources and applications only
- Supports numerous backup protocols/methods that include RSync, RTRR, Differential backups and TCP BBR
The Synology and QNAP NAS software and services both provide similar functionality, but there are a few small differences that may affect your experience. Both brands offer backup solutions, but the Synology’s Hyper Backup and Active Backup Suite have a more user-friendly interface and support for multiple cloud platforms. On the other hand, QNAP’s Hybrid Backup Sync and Hyper Data Protector have additional features such as inline deduplication and compression provided by the ZFS-based QuTS Hero platform, which also handles encrypted backups better. Additionally, while both brands support cloud connections, QNAP requires additional license fees while Synology’s Active Backup Suite offers it for free with Google Workspace and Office 365 add-ons.
There is more to discuss regarding Synology Drive and its client applications, QSync Pro and its enhanced mobile client-to-NAS services, etc, but these topics pertain more to synchronization, file streaming, and remote access rather than backups. While QNAP software is still exceptional for various backup methods, and ZFS and its file transmission advantages stand out, it offers more options for external storage and cloud support. On the other hand, Synology Backup tools and services are more tailored to specific needs, with different services included in Hyper Backup and Active Backup Suite for home and business use respectively.
Why Choose Synology NAS? – Active Backup Suite, Hyper Backup, Licence Free Office 365/Google Workspace Sync and Synology C2
Why Choose QNAP NAS? – Hybrid Backup Sync, Many More Cloud Services Supported and Hyper Data Protector has Better Retention Policies
Synology DSM vs QNAP QTS NAS Software – Surveillance
When considering buying a new NAS drive, many users take into account not just the backup software and multimedia streaming capabilities, but also the potential use as a surveillance system. Both Synology and QNAP offer business-class surveillance software packages that allow the use of multiple IP cameras, speakers, and network door locks, all accessible through a single interface. However, in recent years, the two brands have taken different approaches to their surveillance software. QNAP’s Surveillance software is more spread out across a web browser and local client apps, with adding cameras and customizing the setup primarily done through the web browser GUI, and camera access and control mainly on the client apps. On the other hand, Synology’s Surveillance Station allows for all camera setup and customization through the browser and most functions through the desktop client app. While the mobile client for QVR Pro and Surveillance Station is somewhat limited, Synology’s platform generally offers more even access to the software’s full capabilities. Here is a breakdown of the main benefits/PROs of each surveillance NAS software:
PROS of Synology Surveillance
PROS of QNAP Surveillance
|Considerably Better Browser Access & Controls
Beter 3rd Party Software integration with the Surveillance station API
Better Camera Feed Accessibility in the Browser & Clients
Fast Search Runs remarkably Smoothly
LiveCam converts a Mobile to Live NVR IP Camera Feed
Share Live Feeds to YouTube for Fast/Easy Sharing
Synology have 1st Party IP Cameras, TC500 and BC500 (More coming later in 2023)
| More Camera Licences (8x in QVR Pro)
Technically 3 Surveillance Platforms to Choose that vary in complexity
Better Client App Control and Analytics
Local KVM (Keyboard/Video/Mouse) Support
AI Surveillance services can be added on Integrated CPU NAS, Google TPU card or a GPU Card
USB Web Camera Support
AI Services can be improved with the support of an m.2 Google TPU Coral NU Upgrade ($25-30)
|CONS of Synology Surveillance
Only 2 Camera Licenses included in most NAS’ systems
Practically no KVM setup on Diskstaiton NAS systems
|CONS of QNAP Surveillance
QVR Elite for QuTS Hero Only has 2x Licenses and is subscription licence based
Camera Feeds Cannot Natively be used and controlled by QVR Pro in the Browser
The bulk of AI Supported Services are Annual Subscription Fee-Based
Upon initial examination, the QNAP QTS QVR Pro software has an advantage over Synology’s Surveillance Station with the inclusion of 8 camera licenses, compared to the 2 offered by Synology. Additionally, the support for keyboard, video, and mouse on QNAP NAS systems with an HDMI port allows for direct interface with the system in case of network failure. A significant advantage of QNAP is the availability of AI-supported surveillance services on systems with a sufficient embedded graphics CPU, a TPU M.2 Coral upgrade, or a graphics card installed. Synology, on the other hand, has restricted AI surveillance to only two of their NAS systems with a GPU card pre-installed and at a higher cost. While these AI-supported services may be niche, they are certainly appealing to some users. Here is my video breakdown comparing the two popular surveillance services for QNAP and Synology:
It is worth highlighting however that the AI-supported services on the QNAP QVR Platform are not technically ‘completely free’ and before you think that the Synology DVA3221 near £2K box is an overspend, it is worth highlighting that in order to use all the same AI-powered services on the QNAP NAS platform, you will need a NAS that either has a decent embedded CPU (starting at just over £1K for the QNAP TVS-472XT to start with) and/or a GPU card installed. Then you have to factor in the licences. Not just the camera licences (although both the DVA3221 and any QTS NAS have 8 camera licences for adding camera) but the license to use the AI services on the QVR Surveillance software. Somewhat annoyingly, QNAP has put each of the AI services (tracking faces, people recognition, AI recording analysis, Smart AI Door unlocking, etc) behind individual licenses that (for the most part) are all ‘annual’, so you will need to renew them (see below for current pricing and terms). This is quite a bitter pill to swallow in the long term and although the saving versus the Synology DVA system seems good at first, if you want to run a 4 Bay AI-Powered Surveillance system on the QNAP NAS system with 4-8 cameras, it ends up costing just as much (maybe even more once you factor in the annual fees) and only partially mitigated by the flexibility of the system you want to use.
Overall, it is pretty clear that QNAP gives the end-user ALOT in terms of surveillance for their money (although that licensing model structure gets a thumbs down from me), as well as allowing access to many modern AI CCTV services that Synology either choose to not pursue or only allow on a select few systems. Maybe you are reading this in the future and Synology have opened up this logic to allow ‘Synology supported GPU Cards’ to be installed, which would certainly give this comparison a different outcome, but there is no denying that the QVR Pro surveillance platform allows more flexibility in its setup. Alongside this, the QVR to software right now has a lot more camera licences included (though this drops to x2 on QVR Elite on the QuTS Hero platform – which though admittedly has higher performance on the local client integrated, is a bit of a shame) and many will end up seeing the potential savings being enough to overlook that Synology Surveillance station is the better Surveillance tool in terms of the GUI, supported service add ons and in how user-friendly it can be.
Why Choose Synology NAS? – Better Surveillance Software Overall, Especially in the Web Brower GUI
Why Choose QNAP NAS? – More Camera Licenses, QVR Pro has KVM Support, Wider AI Surveillance Support and Upgrade Options
Synology DSM vs QNAP QTS NAS Software – Virtual Machines
It wasn’t such a long time ago that the use of virtual machines (VMs) was exclusively in the business sector. The ability and utility to create a virtual and remotely accessible version of a computer (giving you need a terminal in order to utilize them in most cases) was simply not of use to the average home or even small business user. However fast forward to 2023/2024 and you find that they have accelerated in popularity, thanks to businesses requiring centralized data storage for both the convenience of duplicating computers AND to simplifying the backup/restore process. Then you have the simple appeal for prosumer or small business users to be able to create an emulated version of their own computer in order to access it anywhere in the work, run test with software/updates that they are hesitant to run on their core system OR simply to allow them to create an accessible VM of an operating system that can be run parallel to that of the core hardware (i.e. a Linux/Unbuntu VM that runs in a window, on a Windows/Mac matching). Most high-end business users in recent years have used one of two popular 3rd party client TOOLS for this, VMware vSphere and Hyper V (with other smaller tools like VirtualBox popping up). Where a NAS can be integrated into this is actually pretty cool, such as:
- A NAS can be used as a backup target (with versioning, snapshots, etc) for the virtual machine, so you have a local restorable copy
- A NAS can be used to run the core VM files as a remote target, whilst still using the 3rd Party Software
- A NAS can have the 3rd Party VM data sent over to it and then the NAS can host the Virtual Machine in its very own premium VM Software
- A NAS Can combine all three of the above to create a backup access point to a VM (in supported formats and correctly imported) that allows remote accessing VM users, in the event of disconnection or forced restoration, to switch over to the NAS based VM and continue working
Now it is worth highlighting that BOTH Synology and QNAP have excellent VM hosting applications, in Virtual Machine Manager and Virtualization Station respectively, which perform all of the above services, however, they do it in slightly different ways (involving other applications in the system that are integrated) but for VMware/HyperV, the restoration is arguably handled smoother with the Synology Virtual Machine tool and Active Backup Suite tool working together to allowing exclusive integration with Synology Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) as the temporary disaster recovery solution allows you to instantly restore services to the Synology storage server even when the production environment is down. QNAP have very similar services to this, but not the same fast, easy and integrated pass-over system. For a better understanding of the GUI of Synology Virtual Machine Manager vs QNAP Virtualization Station, take a look at the video below:
There are several very unique and arguable superior elements to the QNAP VM software that are worth highlighting. First off there is access to a VM marketplace from within the app that allows you to install Virtual Machines directly on the QNAP NAS without having to obtain the VM Image/ISO independently. These include firewall and network management virtual images such as Pfsense, RouterOS and Zabbix, but there is also a 3-click Windows VM installation option too. This allows users who just want to try out a Windows 7/8/10/Server VM before committing fully to a NAS based VM environment for business/home use and includes a 90-day trial (you can use your existing windows registered key/login if you want. Alongside this, there is also the improved VM-to-Hardware integration available on Synology Virtual Machine Manager and QNAP Virtualization station that allows you to connect USB ports to a VM and allow that virtual desktop environment to access physical local USB devices, however, QNAP takes this a noticeable degree further with the support of PCIe-to-VM connectivity that allows you to connect a Graphics card (or other suitable PCIe to that VM architecture) and allow the virtual environment to scale up considerably (perhaps for video editing or gaming, if the CPU is appropriate). Then there is the flexibility of setup on the QNAP, with Virtualization Station supporting a KVM environment and QVM (QNAP Virtual Machine) to allow a NAS with connected Keyboard, HDMI Video monitor and Mouse to have a local VM that can ALSO be accessed remotely too. Finally, QNAP has a dedicated Ubuntu application that allows you to create VMs of multiple versions of Ubuntu (the free Linux alternative to Windows and MacOS) in around 3-4 clicks of the mouse! This is a very rare occasion in this Synology vs QNAP comparison where I can genuinely 100% say that QNAP spent much, much more time working on 1st party support and Synology keeping it a little more openly supported with 3rd parties – though, given the maturity of the likes of VMware, this is understandable. This is also demonstrated on the subject of container image and deployment (if a VM is an entire OS, then a Container is an application or program that is running without an OS to live on to off) where the QNAP platform has its own Container Station application and download center/marketplace and Synology use the industry popular Docker tool.
Synology’s Virtual Machine Manager is a fantastic tool and definitely one that has enterprise users in its sights! With that improved integration with existing enterprise VM software providers in the market, they have made a very clear decision that their free VM software still has a business feel, whereas QNAP has shaped their VM tool to something more accessible for all tiers (though lacking the snap cloud-to-local VM deployment – which is a real shame). Much like AI surveillance on the QNAP platform, a few of the biggest features of Synology Virtual Machine Manager are license/subscription fee-based (which is a shame, but understandable given the target demographic and its scope when FULLY deployed, these include:
|Synology VMM Pro
|Supported Operating System||Windows, Linux, and Virtual DSM|
|CPU Overcommit||Physical CPU threads x2||Physical CPU threads x4|
|Max Virtual Switches||4||4096|
|Max Snapshots per VM||32||255|
|VM Share Links per Host||1||16|
|Remote Replication Plan||Not Included||Included|
|Remote Storage Migration||Not Included||Included|
|Run VM on Remote Host||Not Included||Included|
|High Availability||Not Included||Included|
|Live Migration||Not Included||Included|
Overall, it is going to be a case of whether you are coming into the subject of virtual machines as a completely fresh start, coming from a moderately experienced background or are looking for a system to integrate into your already well established VMware or Microsoft VM environment. QNAP and Virtualization station provides a huge array of self-hosted VM deployment options, connecting with numerous 3rd party download centers to easily pull a VM image onto their system, restore an existing VM image, convert VMs into QNAP supported images and then allows you to integrate a greater deal of hardware resources towards them (GPU card, KVM, etc). They are certainly supporting those bigger VM platforms out there and allow backups, snapshots, faster restoration and making big moves into that SaaS and reducing downtime practices that businesses want, but this is where the Synology Virtual Machine Manager tools shine. With a grander focus on those Hyper-V/VMware VSphere established systems and presenting themselves as a failure and support system, they make their integration a great deal easier for companies to choose. They still take a big advantage by allowing a VM live backup to be stitched over to Synology Virtual Machine Manager as a viable recovery and restoration option, which is likely going to be the clincher for many.
Why Choose Synology NAS? – Synology Virtual Machine Manager is VERY intuative, Cloud VM-to-Local VM Migration & Restoration
Why Choose QNAP NAS? – QNAP Virtualization Station supports more OS/Formats, 3 Click VM download & Install, Dedicated VM tools for different VM Images and has Better Hardware Configuration Options Overall
Synology DSM vs QNAP QTS NAS Software – Conclusion
It’s been a very, VERY long road but we can finally look at just how Synology DSM and QNAP QTS for NAS (as well as all the hardware and services in between) compare. There has been a long-running theme all the way through that where Synology has focused on FIRST-PARTY (i.e. Synology-brand) software and hardware priority, then supporting THIRD-PARTY services/hardware when they haven’t got a viable alternative in-house – to mixed degrees of popularity. Whereas QNAP has been a much more level playing field where they have released their own innovative hardware/software (occasionally a little too quickly) and sung its praises, but also tried to keep customization and flexibility for 3rd parties as open as possible and shouting loud-and-proud about that too – which can be a tad overwhelming for the less tech-savvy. Both brands have done an incredible job evolving their platforms as much as they have in 2023/2024, especially when Microsoft, Google and Amazon are pouring BILLIONS into the SaaS (and PaaS and IaaS – Platform and Infrastructure as a Service) in order to create entirely streamable ecosystems for businesses, with NAS brands like Synology and QNAP not only integrating with them but also thriving alongside them as a local/bare-metal failsafe.
These are all very lofty ideas and ones that most home or small business users will likely have little time for right now (aside from where NAS fits in with their Google/Office 365 office tools like documents, email and spreadsheets at a pinch) and for those users, who the NAS stands on its own two feet is what is going to matter most. Synology is earning its position in the market as the complete 1st party software and hardware package in 2023/2024, with a genuinely groundbreaking range of available services, but still managing to make NAS accessible for all in DSM. That said, the trends we are seeing in those sub-enterprise services that are slowly receding in support of popular 3rd party hardware, software and services, making using a Synology NAS alongside your own existing setup in a frictionless way cannot be ignored and leading some to think Synology is shifting their industry position towards something higher.
QNAP NAS on the other hand, although maybe trying to cover too many bases at once, is still trying to cover as much as it can to appear to its audience. Their support of considerably more 3rd party platforms/software/services, even when they have their own software available, is certainly admirable and aside from rather aggressive pricing on their QVR Pro surveillance platform, are still the better choice for those who want a much more adaptable and customizable platform. Its a pretty understandable fact that most people who buy a NAS will be arriving with an existing collection of software in their daily workflow (Office 365 for docs, Gmail for their email, Plex for their media, Chromebook for their commute, Skype/Whatsapp for their communication, TB3 for their editing, etc) and it has to be said that QNAP keeps a more open platform to adapt a NAS into this mix than Synology – occasionally less intuitively and not without a little setup-friction, but certainly to more customizable results.
Unsurprisingly, I am going to tell you that both Synology and QNAP NAS are good NAS brands and have earned their place at the top of the industry (whilst both making their own respective moves to integrate into the next tier – ie SaaS providers, Hyperscale environments and Boundless cloud storage), but there is no denying that no one brand has managed to do EVERYTHING to perfection. So, if in double, below is how I would recommend QNAP and Synology NAS to you, for each user case scenario and I hope this guide and my recommendations help you with your next big data storage purchase.
Why Choose Synology NAS?
Better Surveillance Software in ‘Surveillance Station’
Whole NAS System Backup (apps, paths, accounts, everything)
Synology Drive supports file pinning/Streaming on both Mac and Windows
More Intuitive and User-Friendly Design
Better Security History (PSIRT, PWN2OWN participation, Bountry Program for years)
EXCELLENT 1st Party Alternative Apps to Existing 3rd Party Tools
(including Synology Chat, Mail, Office, Drive, Calendar and more)
Greater Support/Migration with VMware & Hyper-V
Better Redundant System Options (SHA)
Greater Support on Amazon Home Hardware
Synology Hybrid RAID for flexibility in Media Upgrades
BTRFS on Most systems
Longer Warranty Available on More Systems
First-Party SSD and HDDs Available
Typically Quieter Operation
If you are thinking of buying a Synology NAS, please use the links below. It costs you nothing extra and results in a small return fee to Eddie and me here at NASComapres, which goes 100% into making more content – Thank you!
Why Choose QNAP NAS?
Better 1st Party/Hosting Virtual Machines
Significantly more flexible in encryption of folders, volumes, targets, etc
Better Plex Media Server NAS
More Adaptable and Customizable
Wider Support of Surveillance using AI Recognition
EXCELLENT KVM Support
More Camera Licenses
ZFS or EXT4 File System Choice on many systems now
2.5Gbe Network Interfaces at 1Gbe Cost
Allows NVMe SSD Storage Pools and Volumes in all supported QNAP NAS
Support of QTier for intelligent Data storage for Access
AI Module Upgrade option with Google Coral / TPU / NPU Upgrade
PCIe Gen 4 Systems (both M.2 NVMe and PCIe Upgrades in the QM2 Series)
Greater 1st and 3rd Party Hardware Upgrade Compatibility
(including Graphics Cards, WiFi 6 and Thunderbolt)
If you are thinking of buying a QNAP NAS, please use the links below. It costs you nothing extra and results in a small return fee to Eddie and me here at NASComapres, which goes 100% into making more content – Thank you!
Need More Help Choosing Between Synology or QNAP NAS?
Choosing the right data storage solution for your needs can be very intimidating and it’s never too late to ask for help. With options ranging from NAS to DAS, Thunderbolt to SAS and connecting everything up so you can access all your lovely data at the touch of a button can be a lot simpler than you think. If you want some tips, guidance or help with everything from compatibility to suitability of a solution for you, why not drop me a message below and I will get back to you as soon as possible with what you should go for, its suitability and the best place to get it. This service is designed without profit in mind and in order to help you with your data storage needs, so I will try to answer your questions as soon as possible.
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