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Should You Buy a 2-Bay or 4-Bay NAS Drive in 2021?

26 juillet 2021 à 01:57

Choosing Between Buying a 2-Bay or 4 Bay NAS

For many users who decided to make the switch from subscription-based Cloud services and to their own private NAS server, it can be tricky to understand exactly what they need in terms of storage and power. Network-attached storage NAS has evolved rapidly over the years and now there is a tremendous range of solutions that vary in size and ability to choose from, often resulting in the most expensive servers not always being the most capable. One of the first hurdles that many users encounter when choosing their first NAS drive is choosing between a 2-bay NAS and 4-Bay. With the majority of NAS brands out there offering most standard solutions and across different hard drive scales, choosing between these different sized NAS is not as straightforward as one might think. So today I’m going to talk to you about the differences between each, which one is the best value, their advantages and hopefully help you decide which one best suits your storage needs. Let’s start.

2-Bay vs 4-Bay NAS – Storage, Expandability and Capacity

On the face of it, it seems pretty obvious that a 4-Bay NAS model with its increased storage bays will be the better storage option overall. How on earth can a NAS device that is 50% less in media bays possibly compete?!? Well, in recent years the largest available capacity in hard drives has massively increased and therefore the total potential terabytes available for each media bay has grown drastically. Yes, you could fully populate a four-Bay NAS with 4TB hard drives, but you could always just use a single 12TB hard drive at a lower price per TB in 2021 and regardless of whether you use RAID 0 or RAID1 with two disks, still have a huge capacity in a 2 Bay NAS. Additionally, these days a number of brands provide the same level of external enclosure expandability on both the 2-Bay and 4 Bay NAS systems (eg DS920+ / DS720+ and TS-253D / TS-453D), therefore 2-Bay NAS does not have the lower metaphorical glass ceiling that it once had in terms of additional storage down the line. Indeed, you can even expand a RAID 1 to a RAID 5 on a 2-bay but spreading it over both the NAS and expansion enclosure at once, to provide an excellent way to still increase the storage on your 2-Bay later on and not feel trapped within its dual media design architecture.

However, this is not quite as cut and dry as it appears. Despite the improvements in 2-Bay NAS architecture in recent years, there is always going to be one big day 1 advantage in the flexibility of 4 Bay NAS that 2-Bays cannot really match. That is that you do not necessarily need to fully populate a 4-bay on day one and many users go ahead with just putting two hard drives inside a 4-Bay NAS in a RAID 1 at the start. Not only does this give you exactly the same level of storage and performance that you would find in 2 Bay NAS, but it also allows you to add drives to this partially populated NAS and expand its storage pool from a RAID 1 to a RAID 5, increasing the total storage gradually throughout the lifespan of the system, WITHOUT buying a whole expansion chassis. This allows flexibility in how much storage you use now and how much you need to graduate to later at a minimal cost at the start. In summary, although 4 Bay NAS is still technically the better storage, flexibility and capacity option, a 2-Bay is not necessarily as inferior as it once was.

2-Bay vs 4-Bay NAS – Price and Value

This is an often underestimated factor in choosing between a 2-bay or 4-bay NAS system. Many people assume that a 4-Bay NAS costs more money to buy and even more money to populate. Although this is still technically true, it is hardly any more expensive to operate a 4-bay NAS 24×7 than a 2-bay. As far as actual day 1 costs go, notwithstanding the flexible storage installation mentioned in the previous subject, 4-Bay NAS systems allow you to use smaller capacity hard drives in order to match the same storage on larger hard drives. What this means is that a 4-ay NAS allows you to install four 4TB drives inside in a RAID5 and arrived at a lower price per terabyte than 2x 12TB drives. Depending on how you scale your storage and the number of drives you use, 2-Bay shares and 4-Bay NAS can retail at a similar price point and will differ only depending on the drive you choose and the RAID configuration you opt for.

Likewise, returning to the point of the cost of 4-bays as being more expensive than 2-bays, the newest generation NAS drives will often barely be more than $100-150 difference in their prices between 2 and 4 bays and are largely identical in CPU, Memory and ports in every other way. 4-Bays may seem like a bigger chunk of money (especially for those already feeling stretched on a prosumer 2-Bay) but if you are prepared to perhaps drop the capacity you have in mind 1-2TB  (i.e purchase 4TBs, not 6TBs)  to compensate this price difference, the result will be that your 4 Bay NAS can achieve much higher read and write speeds with more drives being accessed simultaneously, whilst also opening the door to dual-drive redundancy configurations (i.e RAID 6) and will ultimately provide a more responsive, higher performing and data safe NAS for all of your needs.

In summary, the savings available in choosing a two-bay over a four-bay can easily be countered in the grand scheme of things by scaling the capacity or architecture of the HDD you choose to put inside. The money saved in a 2 bay might well be money you need to spend a year or two down the line.

2-Bay vs 4-Bay NAS – Power, Performance and Speed

As mentioned, using 4 hard drives in a RAID 5 will likely provide better performance than two drives in a RAID 1 environment. This performance can be measured by traditional direct read and write activity between your client hardware and your NAS, or it can be measured by the performance of individual applications and services from within the network-attached storage drive itself (i.e the NAS software and services). When looking at buying your first NAS, many will overlook 2-Bay’s simply because of this performance boost available in the 4-Bay alternative models. However, enterprise-grade/Pro hard drives Seagate ironwolf Pro or EXOs) will often provide performance benefits in a RAID 1 environment that can surpass the use of standard hard drives in a RAID 5. Of course, Pro series drives cost $40-50 more per drive, but also have longer warranties, data recovery services, more onboard cache and faster rpm to increase that read and write speed, so you get more for your money ultimately. Additionally, if you plan on taking advantage of 10Gbe, either with a port already on your NAS or as an upgrade down the line via PCIe, then you are much, MUCH better off with a 4-Bay NAS, as a 2-Bay (even if populated with the latest generation SATA SSDs) cannot fully saturate 1,000MB/s.

Finally, it is worth discussing that a large number of modern 4-Bay NAS systems in 2021/2022 arrived with dedicated SSD caching bays. These bays do not replace the existing SATA hard drives and are parallel media bays that allow you to install M2 NVMe SSD to improve the internal performance of your NAS by copying more frequently accessed files partially or fully onto the SSD to reduced access time to these more popular pieces of data. Although a handful of 2 Bay NAS systems have arrived on the market with support of dedicated SSD caching bays (Lockerstor 2 and DS720+), the feature is still more available on foUr Bay solutions and for many users that want to graduate the utility of their NAS from home to prosumer and inevitably into business use, the ability to upgrade internal performance in this way can often sway buyers to opt for a 4-bay NAS.

2-Bay vs 4-Bay NAS – Power Use, Noise and Deployment

Unsurprisingly, the bigger the NAS drive, the more power it will consume. When comparing like-for-like deployments in similar architecture on 2-Bay and 4-Bay NAS, the latter will always use a little bit more. This is the reason that you will generally find that the PSU on a 4-Bay NAS is always of a higher what rating. However overall, unless you are pushing the system particularly hard, the simple act of adding two more SATA hard drives will generally make a minuscule difference and is hardly a reason to compare these two overall – A PSU power rating is the MAXIMUM draw it can make, not the amount it will be using constantly! However, in terms of vibration generated when the system is in operation and the rise in assisted fan operation as usage increases, generates more heat which makes a noticeable impact on the ambient noise generated when you are running a 2-Bay vs a 4-Bay.

The power difference will still remain rather small as these are still quite small components but if you are especially sensitive to noise then the increased drive and fan-based sound will annoy you. Additionally, this increase in ambient noise generation scales accordingly if you use larger capacity drives or more enterprise-level hard drive builds. So therefore if you are looking at a 2-Bay NAS with bigger capacity hard drives, it will still generate a comparable level of ambient noise that a 4-Bay would when populated with standard class NAS media or smaller capacities. Now that brands like Seagate and WD have reshaped their respective portfolios for NAS hard drive media in a way that ALL large capacity hard drive (eg 10TB and above) are Pro class (i.e noisier), it makes the lines increasingly blurry between 2-Bay and 4-Bay NAS noise levels. Below is an example of the noise difference between a standard class and pro class drive noise generation in just a single drive. It may seem a tad irrelevant, but it’s important if you are a user looking to go for a smaller NAS with BIGGER drives:

WD Red NAS Hard Drive Noise Test WD Red PRO NAS Hard Drive Noise Test

2-Bay vs 4-Bay NAS – Conclusion

So as you can see, the difference between a 2-Bay and a 4-Bay NAS is a great deal more than the number of available hard drives you can use. Each kind of NAS system can have its performance, capacity, ambient noise and power consumption scaled in a multitude of ways in order to facilitate the best possible network attached storage solution for you. Users on a tight budget might all too soon end up purchasing a 2 Bay NAS without realising that a 4-Bay has scalability that can save you money down the line. Likewise, users who like to invest a little bit more long term or prefer their NAS investment to be a little bit more spread over the lifespan of their product will tend to err towards a 4-Bay solution, without realising that a 2-Bay is still quite viable in the short term and modern scalability of NAS means taht a 2-Bay NAS is not quite the dead-end it once was! Below I have detailed some of the BEST examples of 2-Bay and 4-Bay NAS Synology, QNAP and Asustor that are great examples of margins between each tier has become spectacularly narrow.  If you are still unsure on how to proceed, be sure to take advantage of the free advice service here on NASComapres using the boxes at the bottom. We (me and Eddie the web guy!) answer every email and do it without profit in mind (i.e it’s absolutely free), so though it might take an extra day for us to reply, we will get back to you with recommendations on the best solution for you.

Synology DS720+ 2-Bay – $399+

Synology DS920+ 4-Bay – $559+

J4125 4-Core CPU – 2/6GB DDR4 – NVMe SSD – 2x1Gbe

 

J4125 4-Core CPU – 4/8GB DDR4 – NVMe SSD – 2x1Gbe

 

QNAP TS-253D 2-Bay – $389+

QNAP TS-453D 4-Bay – $549+

J4125 4-Core CPU – 4/8GB DDR4 – PCIe Slot – HDMI – 2×2.5Gbe

 

J4125 4-Core CPU – 4/8GB DDR4 – PCIe Slot – HDMI – 2×2.5Gbe

 

Asustor Lockerstor 2 2-Bay – $379+

Asustor Lockerstor 4 4-Bay – $499+

J4125 4-Core CPU – 4/8GB DDR4 – NVMe SSD – 2×2.5Gbe J4125 4-Core CPU – 4/8GB DDR4 – NVMe SSD – 2×2.5Gbe

 

 


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This description contains links to Amazon. These links will take you to some of the products mentioned in today's content. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Visit the NASCompares Deal Finder to find the best place to buy this device in your region, based on Service, Support and Reputation - Just Search for your NAS Drive in the Box Below

 

SEARCH IN THE BOX BELOW FOR NAS DEALS

Need Advice on Data Storage from an Expert?

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.  

6 Things You Can Do With Your NAS Other Than Backup Storage

23 juin 2021 à 16:00

Cool Things You Can Do With Your NAS other Than Backup Storage

The main motivation for most users who purchase a new network-attached (NAS) storage device is often a means to create an alternative to Cloud services, backup several devices safely and really just to make sure that there is a mean to keep their data safe and sound, but also within reach when needed. The majority of NAS brands perform this function well and if you are looking for a NAS just to do these functions, then you will always be successful, regardless of the unit you choose. However, there is actually a huge number of things that a NAS can do and with the evolution of modern NAS hardware from brands like Synology and QNAP, most users do not even realise the cool things they can do with their system to maximize their investment or simply to have a little fun. So today I want to go through some of the best things you can do with a NAS drive that are more than just using it as a simple backup storage system. Let’s go!

Important – All of the things below that I recommend for your NAS drive are available on the majority of NAS systems from Synology, QNAP, Asustor, WD My Cloud or Terramaster. However, the extent to which they can be done and the overall performance that you will achieve will be based on the power of the NAS drive that you own and the number of simultaneous processes that you run. So if you are already using more than 90% of the existing hardware to run a large-scale simultaneous backup operation, that will not leave a vast amount of resources to run anything else. So just bear in mind that the extent to which the below fun things you can do with your NAS also depend on the hardware resources at your disposal.

Use Your NAS to Build Your Own NetFlix

Probably the most well-known thing about NAS that is popular for home users is that you can use the system to watch media over DLNA in your home. However, a lot of users do not realise the extent to which you can enjoy movies and box sets on your NAS. It’s one thing to have a big pile of files that you can access in a breadcrumb file/folder level over the network. It is another thing entirely to create a complete slick and well-designed user interface, with all of your decades of TV shows and movies displayed in a form similar to the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. However, this is exactly what you can do if you take advantage of PLEX media server or Synology Video Station. These applications allow you to index (ie scan and catalogue) your existing collections of media, then they search online databases for box art, reviews, cast lists, trailers and more, which then allows you to automatically present this information on your smart TV, tablet, console or phone in beautifully designed and intuitive software menus. Indeed, Plex Media Server and Synology Video Station are available on the majority of everyday internet-connected media devices and both of these applications are free or included in the cost of your NAS. Find out more about Plex media server on your NAS using the media you own, as well as connecting online multimedia services, in the video below.

It is also worth highlighting that your own personal Netflix on your NAS experience is not limited to just been connected to by you, as you can allow family and friends to access your NAS with this sleek and intuitive user interface anywhere on the network or remotely via the internet too.

Use Your NAS to Build Your Own Google Drive Shared Cloud

Most users think of a NAS as a giant hard drive that they connect to their devices remotely in order to back up their data. In most cases, a home user who purchased the NAS did so to move away from Cloud services like Dropbox and Google. However, some users are still blissfully unaware that you can use a NAS to host your very own version of Dropbox or Google drive for hundreds or thousands of users if you choose. Taking advantage of the file and space management services of a NAS in conjunction with online browser-based access and you can present areas of storage on your NAS to users with their very own login information, area of space that can be changed on the fly, controlled file types/sizes and the whole thing presented as an easy web browser-based cloud platform. Although this is available on the majority of NAS brands using their own software and client, Synology Drive provides this in the best way and is by far the most similar in design, ability and execution to DropBox and Google Drive. Find out more about Synology drive below:

The number of simultaneous or concurrent user that you can provide individual private cloud space to is only really limited by the NAS and the total available capacity, but even very very modest NAS systems at a few £100 can support hundreds of users at once. 

Use Your NAS to Setup a Enterprise-Grade Surveillance System at Home or Work

Most people who are even vaguely aware of modern NAS will hear the word surveillance thrown around quite a lot. They sort of know that they can have some cameras about the place that can send recordings to their NAS drive, but above and beyond that, they don’t really know much about it, don’t know how easy it is and ultimately decide not to really look into it. However in the most modern examples of network-attached storage, not only do the big brands all include surveillance software that is genuinely on par with the best and most premium grade NVR and CCTV software (Milestone and Axis Nvr), but also the cost of IP cameras that connect to your home or office network cost way, WAY less than you think. Even the compatible range of cameras that you can use that are supported arrive in the thousands of models and as long as the camera supports ONVIF, it will work. Many affordable Wi-Fi cameras and even solar-powered cameras that connect to your NAS over the network internet can be purchased for as little as £30 and once connected to the NAS surveillance software, with its remote access architecture and easy-to-use graphical user interface, you can set up a surveillance and protective security system in your home/business for very little money than you already spent on the NAS. Here is how Synology Surveillance station and QNAP’s QVR Pro software compare. Just remember that both of these programs are included with the cost of your NAS, which brings any expense on your NVR setup even lower:

The maximum number of cameras you can run at any one time, the total picture quality and the size of recordings generated will depend on the power and size of your NAS, but even affordable one day NAS solutions can be quite effective as a surveillance network video recorder.

Use Your NAS to Create a Virtual Machine for Work, Rest and Play

The use of virtual machines (VMs) used to be something that was only deployed and understood by big business. However, in 2021/2022, they are now being used to a highly productive and effective degree by even small home users as remote connecting systems. In essence, a virtual machine is a digital image of a physical computer. It needs to live within the confines of another computer, in this case a NAS, but its hardware specifications are represented as digital equivalents and this virtual version of a computer can be accessed remotely via the network or internet. Many users who purchased network-attached storage devices simply for backups will one day find out that they are using a mere fraction of the total available hardware inside their NAS. A great way to take advantage of this hardware available and put it to better use while your NAS is on 24×7 is to create a virtual machine within the NAS and then use it for business use, for personal centralised computer use or even or numerous fun tasks. These can include testing an operating system that you’ve never used before, running a legacy operating system like Windows 98 or XP in order to play old games or software, or even create light Linux VMs to deploy bespoke custom applications and retro games via emulation software like Retroarch and LaunchBox. Virtual machines are now painfully easy to deploy and all of the current modern NAS brands include their own first past the VM software. Take a look below at how Synology and QNAP compare in virtual machine support on their mass.

A particular stand out of this is QNAP with three separate virtual machine tools (Virtualization Station, Linux Station and Container Station) and within each of them, the ability to simply download numerous virtual machine images (from within the software GUI) for near-instant deployment in around 2 clicks of the mouse. Taking care of the entire setup and allowing you to just start having fun or doing business with your new virtual machine.

Use Your NAS to Farm and Plot Chia Coin Cryptocurrency

Although many people would agree that the latest change in the cryptocurrency market towards more environmentally friendly methods is a good thing, there are plenty who would argue that the Chia cryptocurrency wave that is massively affecting the storage market right now is pretty dreadful. The appeal of taking advantage of high-performance SSD and high durability hard drives in order to plot and farm potential Chia coin is constantly growing in popularity and for those users that want to jump on this potentially lucrative bandwagon, many are not even aware that they already have the hardware to do so. As long as you have a NAS that supports multiple hard drives in a RAID storage array and allow the installation of containers, then your NAS can be used in the Chia crypto processes. Executing it is by no means straightforward and although it is easier on some NAS browns than others, it still does require you to have a decent amount of available storage space and a fairly decent array of default resources in the NAS at your disposal. Nevertheless, once you overcome over the initial steeper learning curve, afterwards your NAS is largely self-governed and you don’t have to interfere with the system in the running of Chai based processes. Take a look below at how to set up your chia machine on a QNAP NAS (QNAP UK have a great video on this):

It is also worth highlighting that QNAP even has a third-party app that you can install on your system to marginally make this process even easier. It is available in the unofficial app center, but worth a look:

Use your NAS for Medical Science and Human Innovation

Sometimes users can tend to feel a little guilty that the NAS they use simply for storage and backups is left on for days, weeks or months at a time. There is of course the matter of when your electricity bill arrives, which is arguably quite a small some thanks to modern efficient design, but there is nevertheless the feeling of the environmental impact and the fact that you are leaving a system to run idle between the sporadic times that you need access to its resources. NAS drives are not alone in this (though there is arguably more wasteful resource computer hardware out there) but to combat this there are actually several more altruistic ways in which you can use your NAS to help others and maybe the betterment of society. Currently, there are several different installable apps or deployable containers that you can install and run on your NAS system that (although modest in their power consumption) will allow the idle time that your NAS is left on to be used for a better purpose. From research into deciphering genetic and DNA coding to algorithms breaking and medical research, there are numerous different charitable and positive organisations out there that are able to take advantage of the aggregated extra hardware of hundreds and thousands of different machines remotely in efforts to achieve their goals.

If the idea of donating the unused resources of your NAS for more human benefiting methods interests you, use the links below to find out more (Click Below):

 


Articles Get Updated Regularly - Get an alert every time something gets added to this page!


This description contains links to Amazon. These links will take you to some of the products mentioned in today's content. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Visit the NASCompares Deal Finder to find the best place to buy this device in your region, based on Service, Support and Reputation - Just Search for your NAS Drive in the Box Below

 

SEARCH IN THE BOX BELOW FOR NAS DEALS

Need Advice on Data Storage from an Expert?

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.   This description contains links to Amazon. These links will take you to some of the products mentioned in today’s video. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases
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