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ZFS vs EXT4 for NAS – What is the Difference in your File System?

21 juillet 2021 à 16:00

Choosing Between ZFS and EXT4 for your NAS Drive in 2020

If you have purchased or are thinking of buying a new NAS drive, it is becoming clear that setting it up in the perfect way is a little more complex than it used to be. You can go for the ‘recommended’ settings, but chances are that those ‘defaults’ won’t fit your storage needs. One of the first decisions you will need to make if you NAS is Intel/AMD powered is choosing your file system. This is non-reversible (without re-formatting all your storage) and therefore is a bit questionable. In 2020, the main file systems of choice in NAS are EXT4, ZFS and BTRFS. We will ignore BTRFS in this article today, as we have covered this alot here on the blog and YouTube (video 1 of 4 below), comparing it with EXT4 many times on the Synology NAS platform. However today with the growth of brands like QSAN and the release of the new QNAP QTS Hero ZFS powered platform, we want to help you make the choice between ZFS and EXT4 when setting up your NAS drive the first time.

ZFS may be the best-known enterprise-grade transactional file system to use storage pools to manage physical storage space. It is not the only one on the market, however. ZFS competes with ext4 for market share in the data management system world.  While both ZFS and ext4 can retain massive amounts of data in a secure, non-cloud storage pool system, the two products are not equal in capacity, management, or usability. Looking at ZFS vs. ext4, we see two distinct transactional file systems. ZFS supports advanced file systems and can manage data long term whereas ext4 cannot. 

ZFS and EXT4 for NAS – Advantages and Disadvantages

While ext4 comes embedded on Linux, it may not be the right choice for managing your data. Consider the strengths of each system in light of your needs.  On the face of it, ZFS seems better but arrives with much higher hardware requirements to run smoothly. Whereas EXT4 has much lower hardware running requirements but has it’s own limitations elsewhere. Let’s shine the spotlight on them both.

What is EXT4 and Why Should I use it on my NAS?

Linux created its original extended file system (ext) as early as 1992. It was the first to use a virtual file system (VFS) switch, which allowed Linux to support many file systems at the same time on the same system. Linux has released three updates since – ext2, ext3, and ext4. Today, ext4 – dating back to 2001 – is the default on the Linux System. EXT4 is also backwards compatible, meaning you can mount it on an ext3, ext2, or ext2 system. Since all these products were created before 2002, compatibility will not be important to most users, however. Ext4 also reduces file fragmentation, improves memory flash memory life through delayed allocation, and can handle larger volumes and files than its evolutionary predecessors. Since the beginning, it has used journaling, a system of logging changes, to the file to reduce file corruption. 

While these components of ext4 constitute an improvement over older extension file systems, the program remains limited in both capacity and engineering quality.  Because ext4 is a refurbishment of technology developed in the early 1990s, it has limited capacity to manage modern loads of data. Its once-helpful journaling system now slows down its processes as it stores more data. Plus, ext4 can support a file size no larger than 18 terabytes, making it a modest storage space for a contemporary data-driven, the digital company moving forward into 2020 (with commercial NAS hard drives from Seagate and WD now arriving at 16TB and growing).

EXT 4 and/or BTRFS NAS Drives
Click to NAS Options Click to NAS Options Click to NAS Options

What is the ZFS and Why Should I use it on my NAS?

Many people have heard of ZFS, but are unsure what it actually is. So, what is ZFS? The Zeta File System (ZOL on Linux) is an enterprise-grade transactional file system that uses the concept of storage pools to manage physical storage space. Sun Microsystems began work on the product in 2001 and released it in 2005 as part of OpenSolaris. Even after OpenSolaris was discontinued, ZFS gained popularity since it is a user-friendly, scalable, and powerful data management system. Its strength lies in its simple administration model.  As an enterprise-grade file system, ZFS allows users to create and manage file systems with ease since by eradicating the need to edit configuration files or issue multiple commands. Users can set a quota to limit the amount of disk space used or reserve disk space for a specific file system. 

ZFS uses a hierarchical system layout defined by location- and- conductor-specific sub-module ports each of which is restricted in the locality. Basically, it manages the physical storage of data through storage pools, which allow file systems to share disk space within the pool. When users need a larger storage pool, they add disks similar to adding memory to a computer. As users add storage space, the file systems automatically use the additional memory without the user needing to configure that memory or assign individual processes. This system limits human touch, making it not only easy to use but also highly reliable. 

Most users select ZFS because it offers a simple administration model. Creating and managing file systems becomes easy with no separate volume manager commands to learn. Plus, the system manages mount points automatically. The file system’s low costs let companies create new ones for each project and user, enabling finer data management. ZFS maintains a consistent state for the file system on the disk. Instead of overwriting data, which leaves the file system in an inconsistent state, ZFS manages data with a copy-on-write mechanism. This approach means that neither power losses nor system crashes can corrupt the file system.  A checksum algorithm can verify ZFS’ data and metadata in order to protect file integrity. Rather than performing checksum verification on a per-block basis, ZFS checksums work at a file systems level. The storage pools can self-heal data by detecting bad data blocks and replacing them with a redundant copy. Essentially, ZFS can silently check data and make repairs without user involvement. 

ZFS also offers a built-in snapshot, which can grab a picture of stored data at a precise instant. Users find snapshots quick and easy. Snapshots take up no extra disk space in the pool at first, but as data evolves, they reference old data and thus consume some space. These snapshots prevent old data from slipping back into the current storage pool. ZFS can also send and receive file system snapshots, a process which allows users to optimize their disk space. 

In Summary, ZFS, by contrast with EXT4, offers nearly unlimited capacity for data and metadata storage. It can hold up to 1 billion terabytes of data. To organize that data, ZFS uses a flexible tree in which each new system is a child file of a previous system. ZFS allows users to move these files anywhere and even to attach them to the ZFS on points outside the main point. Users can separate children from parent systems, manage disk space hierarchically, and view the entire tree with a single command.  Basically, ZFS lets data managers organize and control massive amounts of information effortlessly. With one command, users can relocate a sub-tree, backup or mirror a sub-tree, or snapshot a ZFS file system and all its children together. ZFS’ auto-mount feature means files get mounted as soon as they enter the system although users can override this command. Furthermore, it automatically tracks used file space, speeding up the system’s operations and giving users a near-instant update on what’s happening with stored data. 

ZFS NAS Drives
Click to NAS Options Click to NAS Options Click to NAS Options

EXT4 vs ZFS for NAS – Conclusion

Users who store massive amounts of data and those who prefer network-attached storage systems (NAS) need an enterprise-grade transactional file system . While ext4 can get the job done, it remains a re-engineered version of a long-outdated system. Ext4 is convenient because it’s the default on Linux, but it lacks the user-friendly, up-to-date approach of ZFS.  Additionally, ZFS has higher hardware requirements for operation and many devices will not have sufficient CPU and Memory available to run ZFS with it’s compression and deduplication advantages. QNAP and their newly revealed QTS Hero file system are combatting this and drastically reducing the amount of hardware needed for their new ZFS based file system platform (making some features like deduplication optional or streamlining other services as needed). However, for many users, you will have to stick with EXT4 and it’s lower hardware requirements.

However, for users with the choice between EXT4 and ZFS, by employing ZFS, users can get a system that automatically reconstructs data after detecting an error , seamlessly combines several physical media devices into one logical volume, has snapshot and mirror capabilities, and can quickly compress data. When considering ZFS vs. ext4, users choose ZFS to enjoy a user-friendly, high-volume storage system that doesn’t need an IT technician to hold its hand. 


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Synology DSM vs QNAP QTS NAS 2021 Part III – Backup Tools, Surveillance, Virtual Machines and Conclusion

11 juin 2021 à 16:00

Synology DSM vs QNAP QTS NAS Software & Hardware Comparison

Welcome back to the final part of my Synology vs QNAP NAS comparison, where I go through the main differences between the two biggest brands in the world of NAS in 2021/2022. So far we have covered the brand’s rhetoric, the hardware, the graphical user interface (GUI), how they approach storage, mobile applications, multimedia sharing/streaming and desktop clients! In this final part, I will be moving into much more business-led subjects to compare the Synology DSM NAS systems and the QNAP QTS NAS devices and then conclude with which areas either brand excelled, failed or are identical. Both brands have a fantastic range of backup tools for home users to enjoy (with Synology Hyper Backup and QNAP Hybrid Backup Sync being the too most popular of course), but we are seeing a real emergence of cloud integration on either platform, as software as a service (SaaS) grows in viability – with either brand shouting loudly how they are the perfect bare-metal system to run parallel (bare metal = hardware server that is sync’d with your cloud services, among other things). So today I want to discuss their support of SaaS services, Virtual Machine self-hosting and migration from the likes of VMware and Hyper-V and a better look at Surveillance on each platform, AI-supported services and more. It is ALOT to pack into our final part before we conclude, so let’s get started.

LINK to PART I – The GUI, Control, Customization and Brand Focus

LINK to PART II – Storage Control, Mobile Apps and Multimedia

 

Synology DSM vs QNAP QTS NAS Software – Backup Tools

This is an interesting area to compare the Synology DSM and QNAP QTS NAS Software and services, as although at a balance it looks like the two brands provide the same functionality, there are a few tiny differences that (if you are not aware) may annoy yours later. As touched on early, the Synology NAS platform arrives with Hyper Backup and Active Backup Suite, whereas QNAP arrives with 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

So, that just about covers 95% of traditional and most frequently asked backup methods. However, this is where the brand’s differing ideas of what users want/need step in. The Synology Backup applications are definitely the better looking of the two, with the Hyper Backup tool being the more chewable/easy one of the two, supporting quite a few cloud platforms (which obviously giving their own C2 service a decent bit of space – can’t blame them), and active Backup Suite ramps things up a bit for business, allowing a larger degree of business targets/sources to implemented. One particularly attractive feature of Synology Active Backup Suite is the Google Workspace and Office 365 addons that are license-free (ie provisionally free) that allow you to connect and sync your cloud software services with the NAS to act as a SaaS local syncing system (besides subscription costs and security, internet downtime is the biggest Achilles heel of Office 365/Google Workspace). This is available on QNAP too (with BoXafe) but requires additional license fees for cloud connections. To counter this, although both Synology and QNAP support inline deduplication, the QNAP ZFS based QuTS Hero platform provides it to a much better degree right now, with additional QuDeDupe software and inline compression too (with saving in data being visible analytically) and even handles encrypted backups better with localized client software that you can install on your business devices.

There are lots more that could be covered here (Synology Drive and its client apps, QSync Pro and its improved mobile client-to-NAS services, etc) but these are when we move into the subject of synchronization, file streaming and are less about backups and more about remote level access and synchronicity in your storage. Although the QNAP Software is still very good for numerous backup methods, ZFS and its file transmission benefits still shine and the support of more kinds of 1st/3rd party external storage and cloud are available – the Synology Backup tools and services are a tad better divided between home and business needs with which services are included in Hyper Backup and Active Backup Suite 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

Many users who are on the verge of buying a new NAS drive for home or business will often justify the purchase (to themselves or their finance manager) by factoring in that alongside the backup software safety, the multimedia streaming potential and potential saving versus long term cloud storage by ALSO considering using it as a Surveillance system. Both Synology and QNAP provide a genuine business class surveillance software package with their respective systems that allow you to utilize numerous IP Cameras, IP Speakers, network door locks and bring it all together with a single standalone security deck/feed that can be accessed locally over the network or remotely over the internet. Although both brands have done an incredible job with their respective software, over recent years we have seen a real divergence on how each brand has proceeded in their respective software. One very, VERY clear difference is that QNAP Surveillance gets spread across browser and local client app (windows, mac, phone, etc) less evenly, with adding cameras, extensively changing camera alert functions and customizing the setup being almost exclusively done in the web browser GUI but the local client allowing full camera access, PTZ control and actioning being almost exclusively on the client apps. Whereas Synology and Surveillance Station allow ALL of this to be done on the browser client and MOST of it to be possible on the desktop client app too. The Mobile client for QVR Pro and Surveillance station is a little more limited, but in terms of full software access,  think the Synology platform keeps it a little more even. 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

 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

CONS of Synology Surveillance

Only 2 Camera Licenses included

AI Surveillance Services are ONLY available on the DVA3221 NAS

Practically no KVM setup on Diskstaiton NAS systems

CONS of QNAP Surveillance

QVR Elite for QuTS Hero Only has 2x Licenses

Camera Feeds Cannot Natively be used and controlled by QVR Pro in the Browser

Bulk of AI Supported Services are Annual Subscription Fee-Based

Straight away, despite a rocky start, QNAP and QVR Pro grab a lot of the PROs back with their QTS QVR Pro version arriving with 8 Camera licenses (at the time of writing) which is massive compared with the 2x that Synology provides (bear in mind, a camera licence will cost between £30-50 depending on how big a multipack you buy). Likewise, the support of keyboard, video and mouse (thanks to QNAP NAS having HDMI on a large % of their systems) provides the means to interface with the system for surveillance if your network fails and the recordings are needed. Finally, a big, BIG appeal is that the AI-supported surveillance services that are growing in popularity in modern business class NVRs are available on QNAP NAS that has a decent enough embedded graphics CPU (i.e. an i3 and above), the google TPU M.2 Coral upgrade or a graphics card installed – whereas Synology has locked AI surveillance into ONLY two of their NAS systems that have a GPU card installed by default (and cost ALOT). These AI-supported services are pretty niche of course (facial recognition, people counting, zone management and object recognition) but still. many will find this hugely appealing. 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 2021/2022 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 version 18, 19 or 20 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

(Free)

Synology VMM Pro

(License Required)

Supported Operating System Windows, Linux, and Virtual DSM
Cluster Management Included Included
QoS Settings Included Included
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 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 singing 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 evolve their platforms as much as they have in 2021/2022, 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 2021/2022, with a genuinely groundbreaking range of available services, but still managing to make NAS accessible for all in DSM 6.2/7.0. 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 their 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

More Intuative and User-Friendly Design

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

Why Choose QNAP NAS?

Better 1st Party/Hosting Virtual Machines

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

Support of QTier for intelligent Data storage for Access

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

 

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.


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

 

Synology DSM vs QNAP QTS NAS 2021 Part II – Storage Control, Mobile Apps and Multimedia

9 juin 2021 à 16:00

Synology DSM vs QNAP QTS NAS Software & Hardware Comparison

We continue with our comparison of the two biggest brands in Network Attached Storage (NAS) and after comparing how each brand presents their platform, how they differ in releases and hardware, then finally the web-based GUI. Today we are going to cover how Synology and QNAP NAS systems storage/configure your data storage, how they can be accessed via mobile devices and how each brand handles multimedia, shares files and presents that information in their range of applications. Both brands have evolved MASSIVELY in these areas as the hardware and software demands of NAS buyers have increased, with Synology once again choosing the streamlined, user-friendly and premium feeling (if a little limiting at times) approach, whilst QNAP is taking the customizable, configurable and wider supporting (if occasionally confusing for newbies) approach. So, let’s crack on with Part 2 in this Synology DSM and QNAP QTS NAS comparison.

If you missed part I or Part III, you can find them here below:

LINK to PART I – The GUI, Control, Customization and Brand Focus

LINK to PART III – Backup Tools, Surveillance, Virtual Machines and Conclusion

 

Synology DSM vs QNAP QTS NAS Software – Mobile Based GUI and Apps

Both Synology and QNAP have a wide range of mobile applications for iOS and Android – this should not be at all surprising! However, we are not just talking backup tools to make sure you do not lose your photos (although both have that backup tools, sync tools and file management tools that make mobile phone-based NAS access exceptionally easy and intuative), as both Synology and QNAP have applications that allow you to have tailored access to the NAS system depending on your access needs at the time (i.e a app specifically for photos, music, video, surveillance etc. The most popular apps are:

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 DS Photo, Moments & Synology Photos QPhotos & QuMagie
Video Streaming DS Video QVideo
Music Streaming DS Audio QMusic
Surveillance DS CAM & Synology LiveCam QVR Pro Client,
Downloading DS Get QGet
eMail 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

Over the years, I have reviewed the majority of the core applications for system management, file management, backups, photos, music and video. Here are how each one faired and each video should give you a better understanding of how Synology DSM and QNAP QTS allow you to access your NAS drive o nthe go via your mobile in a much for data relevant way (click the video title to open in a new window on Youtube or watch them here in the article)

NAS Control and Accessibility

NAS Control and Accessibility

NAS File Management

NAS File Management

Photography

Photography

Video Media

Video Media

Music Media

Music Media

Surveillance and Camera Access

Surveillance and Camera Access

 

Even at a casual glance, it is clear that the Synology applications are more uniform across the board and have a greater degree of similarity to 3rd party applications (eg Synology Drive and Google Drive, Synology DS Video and Plex, Synology Chat and Skype), whereas QNAP applications (more recent apps are similar) seem to have noticeable differences in GUI and layouts that then require a pinch more time to learn individually. However, the QNAP mobile applications are almost all more customizable and allow a greater degree of control and customization – both in the individual applications and how they allow the end-user to control the NAS too. Despite the pros and cons in how each NAS brand has developed and executed their mobile applications, I would say the BIGGEST deciding factor for the end-user will be which platform they will predominantly access the NAS with – Desktop users will find the QNAP platform more geared towards desktop access, whereas the Synology Platform has spent more time bringing the mobile and desktop application experiences to the same standard and an exclusively mobile-based user or even one who will access 25% vs 75% mobile vs desktop will find the Synology platform considerably more intuitive and smooth.

Why Choose Synology NAS? – Intuative and Streamlined UI

Why Choose QNAP NAS? – More Apps and Greater Control

 

Synology DSM vs QNAP QTS NAS Software – Storage Options and GUI

Synology and QNAP are both storage targeted platforms. Sure, they have different ways of displaying that information, different ideas on how the user can control and access it and even differ pretty wildly on the whilst storage trends they choose to support in their ecosystems BUT they are both going to give you a remarkably evolved and capable network storage system for keeping your data safe. Much like the apps, GUI and access discussed up to this point, Synology and QNAP have shaped the storage options and configurations on their system very different in recent years and now have several unique and brand-specific factors to their systems that might well make the decision between them 10x easier.

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)
  • 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 2021 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 (still in beta at the time of writing)
  • 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

Alot of home user and Prosumer users will look at purchasing a NAS for their multimedia collection. With digital media being largely mainstream and the decline of optical media in the last 15-20years (with the ease of transferring your DVDs and Blurays being incredibly easy and affordable), the appeal of buying a NAS as your very own ‘Netflix’ is pretty appealing! Unsurprisingly both Synology and QNAP have evolved a great deal in the area of multimedia streaming and sharing in recent years and although the core business of ‘playing files on your DLNA Smart TV, Amazon firestick, phone, home cinema, etc) is technically very similar on both QNAP and Synology, each brand has definitely gone their own way with regard to presentation, 3rd party hardware support and how photos/music/video are handled internally. I will also add that both Synology and QNAP support Plex Media Server, Emby, Jellyfin, iTunes and traditional file/folder level DLNA media streaming to a largely identical degree (with a few differences simply down to the hardware in each NAS release). Below are guides on both Synolgoy and QNAP and how they compare in terms of photography, music playback in the GUI and video streaming.

First, here is how Synology DSM and QNAP QTS compare with Photography:

Synology Advantages

Support of Live Photos/Gifs in the Browser/Apps

Excellent Cross-App Support with Drive

Synology Photos (beta) merges Photo Station & Moments

Very Attractive and Easy to Control GUI

Better Geo Location Recognition/Map View

Better Multi Face Tag Searching

QNAP Advantages

Album+File/Folder Browsing in QuMagie

Better AI Recognition in QuMagie

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:

Synology Advantages

Support of DS Audio Skill on Amazon Alexa Voice Recognition

GUI Very Appealing

Better Config Options

Better Album Thumbnail Utilization (especially Mobile)

QNAP Advantages

Album/File+Folder Browsing

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:

Synology Advantages

Video Station/DS Video have VERY easy to use GUI

DS Video App available on FireTV / Amazon Firestick

Comparable to Plex and Emby

Intuative Setup for Libraries and Metadata resource connections

QNAP Advantages

Supports HDMI Out

More Media Server Players available

Better offline Transcoding Options

Cayin player option for H.265/HEVC 10bit Support

There is no avoiding that QNAP (for the most part) have a more ‘meat and potatoes’ user interface when it comes to music and video media, which is something that Synology have really poured money into with Synolgoy Video Station and Audio Station being comparable to Freemium services like plex Media Server and Whatsapp (thanks to enhanced metadata scraping and 1st party apps on Amazon FireTV and Alexa voice support in DS Video and DS Audio). In Photography, I think QNAP overall do a better job with their QuMagie platform allowing a greater degree of control, recognition, file/folder access and keeping it as 2 separate apps – at least at the time of writing!). Likewise, the multimedia console application on QNAP QTS is an absolute winner for me as the means to completely control ALL multimedia indexing, sharing and transcoding from a single portal point. It comes down to simply what kind of media you plan on watching, what device you want to watch it on and how much customization you plan on making!

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 CAYIN player option

 

Click Below for PART III – Backup Tools, Surveillance, Virtual Machines and Conclusion

 

 

Why Choose Synology NAS?

Better Surveillance Software

More Intuative and User-Friendly Design

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

Why Choose QNAP NAS?

Better 1st Party/Hosting Virtual Machines

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

Support of QTier for intelligent Data storage for Access

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

 

 

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.


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

 

Synology DSM vs QNAP QTS NAS 2021 Part I – The GUI, Control, Customization and Brand Focus

7 juin 2021 à 16:00

Synology DSM vs QNAP QTS NAS Software & Hardware Comparison

If you are looking at buying a new NAS drive (either as a first-time buyer or you can considering jumping from one brand to another), then the software that brands like Synology and QNAP include with your NAS purchase is always going to be an area of consideration. Many people just take for granted that the NAS system they buy will have ‘some kind of software’ included and that is enough to swing it for them to choose one NAS brand or the other. However, the reality is that QNAP and Synology are actually incredibly different systems in terms of the software design, priority of use, how that impacts the learning curve to the end-user and ultimately how suitable it will be for your needs. Even if you are a NAS Buyer that is going to mostly/exclusively use 3rd party software on your PC/Mac/Network Media hardware – you will still need to interact with the NAS software and graphical user interface (GUI) at the start and from time to time. So, although I have compared these two brands many, many times in the past, I rarely compare their software. This is because it evolves incredibly quickly and something set in stone today might well have changed within a month! So, let’s go through each of these popular NAS software systems and see how they compare, their strengths, their weaknesses and see if we can figure out which one is best for you!

Important – This is PART I of a three-part guide where I will compare the Synology NAS and QNAP NAS Platform on their software, their hardware and give you a better idea of how each brand tackles all the modern elements of network-attached storage in 2021/2022. This guide primarily covered Synology DSM 6.2 and QNAP QTS 4.5, however, DSM 7.0 and QuTS Hero will be referenced where appropriate. Despite the latter two platforms being available in beta at the time of writing or only higher-tier devices, I wanted to focus on the former as they are the ones that a larger number of users have used or will be using in the near future.

LINK to PART II – Storage Control, Mobile Apps and Multimedia

LINK to PART III – Backup Tools, Surveillance, Virtual Machines and Conclusion

Synology DSM vs QNAP QTS NAS Software – Priorities

Before I go any further into this comparison of Synology DSM and QNAP QTS, it is worth just briefly talking about the company priorities of each and how this impacts their software, hardware and usability between different users. In short, Synology seemingly has three consistent core brand traits.

Synology NAS Brand and DSM Focus

First Party Priority in Hardware and Software – If they have a software/hardware tool that can do the same as a 3rd party alternative, they will always prioritize their own. In some cases (eg VMs, Cloud services, etc) they will also allow 3rd party support, but the clear emphasis on their own products in bare metal or DSM is undeniable. In other cases that will not support 3rd party alternatives, as they build their systems around their own products (eg newer rackmount releases and Synology HDDs, Memory upgrade modules, Synology C2 in HybridShare. etc)

Software Over Hardware – NAS systems are generally treated with a degree of scepticism by PC builders due to their arguable more modest specifications (CPU, Memory, etc) for the price tag. Although this is something that can be argued against with the fact that NAS are 24×7 systems that are storage prioritized, the Synology NAS systems do typically arrive with more modest specs than others (1Gbe for the most part, fewer upgrade options – especially in the 3rd party). The biggest reason for this is because the Synology NAS solutions are a much more software+hardware combined package than any other brand, with Synology investing considerably more in their software than anyone else. Later in the article, I will go through some stand out apps from them, but there is no denying that Synology PRIMARILY focuses on software and then get to work making sure the hardware in their systems can make the most of it.

Hiding/Removing Some Configuration/Customization options for Performance & Stability – This is likely the biggest area of contention for buyers of Synology NAS servers. The DSM platform is an incredibly slick system that (especially for something that you are accessing remotely over the network/internet) is fantastically responsive. Indeed, it is often easy to forget that the GUI and assets that you are managing are not local. Although a lot of credit has to be given to Synology for their R&D, it is also worth remembering that this is achieved in a number of hidden ways that people are less keen on. On the good side, they do this with intelligent memory caching and flushing all the time (with the system using more memory than strictly needed if it is available, then quickly flushing/emptying it when more current RAM demands rise), as well as (particularly in DSM 7) much better browser-based WebSocket tweaking than any other brands to increase latency and responsiveness. However, they also achieve this by forcing some (not all) applications to work from strict indexing rules (i.e files and resources you want to access for X application need to be in PRECISELY this directory and no other). So, sometimes using a certain first-party app (eg Synology Moments/Photos) mean you cannot store your data in any other location without missing out. Additionally, deeper levels of control and customization on some applications and services will be unavailable, so the high performing (if fractionally rigid) system software can operate as fast as possible. Most users will not even notice these things and unless you are a particularly adept IT enthusiast or run an especially nuanced network at work, these things can be forgiven by most.

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 – You definitely get the feeling very early on when using QNAP NAS QTS software that they are trying to support as many types of user and utilities as possible – something that can come across as either incredibly versatile or a bit of a bombardment! QNAP and QTS have plenty of first-party applications included in the price of the NAS hardware (ranging from file management, smart multimedia management and backups, to business class services in VMs, Surveillance and Cloud Hybrid/Gateway tools to cover just a portion of them), but their support of 3rd party storage systems, software and being able to adapt to them is a big part of why some users choose them over Synology. The arguable rigid structure of Synology that maintains stability at the occasional cost of flexibility is absent here in favour of a much more open playing field for the end-user to shape the system towards their existing hardware/software. Just don’t expect it to be as easy in 1-2-3.

First To Release NAS Hardware – If you were to look at some of the BIGGEST innovations in the last 5 years of network-attached storage, then 95% of them were done by QNAP first! Late last year we saw  QNAP unveil the TS-2490FU All NVMe U.2 and ZFS rackmount whilst everyone else in NAS was still pushing SATA/SAS EXT4/BTRFS solutions, QNAP introduced combined 10Gbe and NVMe SSD Combo cards first in their QM2 series, and QNAP changed the editing experience for many professional in video post-production with Thunderbolt-enabled NAS – in short, QNAP has been the first to the punch for most fo the game-changer in NAS as we know if for years. However, this is not always the best foot forward and some of their ‘first to the market’ innovations have taken time to really reach their peak. By that, I mean that some solutions arrive on the market in a somewhat barebones form that gets fleshed out over time, or is released in a form that (12-18 months later when brands like Synology jump on board) look limited/rough around the edges. QNAP are STILL the most innovative brand on the market, but occasionally a few of the more groundbreaking hardware could stand to be in the oven for a little longer. Below is an excellent example of this in how each brand approached 10G+NVMe combo cards, with the QNAP QM2 card and the Synology E10M20-T1 – released almost 18months+ apart, but with very, VERY clear build differences

Software Development On the Fly – Very similar to the hardware releases from QNAP getting there before everyone else (though a touch less polished), the same can be said for the application and service. However, the main difference is that 1) the software is included in the cost of your NAS, not a paid add-on/release and 2) these software innovations can be marginally excused with the label ‘beta’. On the one hand, the fact that QNAP has one of the most open and available beta programs allows users to experiment/test these new innovations very early and therefore take advantage of the benefits super early. On the other hand, that means that you can/will introduce quite a lot of beta software into your system – something that business users will be somewhat reluctant to do. Betas and Trials in NAS software (like any other platform for that matter) ARE a good thing and this has led to QNAP having a lot of services very early. Such as QNAP HybridMount, a hybrid cloud/NAS mounting system (not connect/sync, but actual localized integrated cloud storage) that allows you to bolt-on cloud storage like Google Drive, OneDrive, DropBox, etc and access with your NAS app services. Likewise, vJBOD allows you to bolt your NAS storage to a bigger storage platform like AWS, Google Cloud, Azure, Backblaze, etc and allows a cross-platform hybrid storage solution for an enterprise user. The list can go on for ages (QVR Face AI-Powered surveillance, BoXafe Cloud service sync with Google Workspace and Office 365, ZFS equipped QuTS Hero for systems that to-date only had EXT4, DA Drive Analyzer for enhanced drive health and failure prediction and more), ALL of these tools were in Beta for an extensive length of time (or still are) and although that means earlier access, this can sometimes result in a less cohesive platform compared with the controlled smoothness of Synology and DSM, which Does use Betas and Trials, but in a much, MUCH more controlled and limited fashion (eg DSM 7.0 beta).

The idea of Synology keeping thing concise/easier to understand (if a little limited to adapt) and QNAP giving you as much information and control as possible (occasionally to its own detriment) is a theme you are going to see over and over again when comparing DSM and QTS. In the past, I would often compare them like this: Synology is more like Console Gaming platforms (Playstation, XBox, Nintendo Switch, etc) and QNAP is more like PC ‘master race’ gamers. Synology/Console is a much more fixed and stable platform, games will have FPS locked by high, little mod/customization, higher price tag typically, BUT are much more reliable, have more uniform shared experiences and ultimately result in a smoother experience. QNAP/PC gaming on the other hand can require a higher learning curve for the components, require a little more configuration and results can differ from user to user (based on their hardware environment) BUT is better value for money, can result in SIGNIFICANTLY better performance and is considerably more adaptable and flexible. There are pros and cons on either side but the end-users expectations and willingness to invest in the setup will dictate a lot of the results!

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, this will be the first real ways they interact with their new NAS system. The majority of users will access their NAS exclusively via mobile (with Some users evening using a mobile phone to initialize their NAS too – only available on Synology NAS) but to date, you still cannot match the configuration and control options that are available on the web-based GUI for both NAS brands. Synology DSM and QNAP QTS allow the user to access the NAS system over the network (or remotely with 1st party internet access portals in quickconnect and myqnapcloud) and over the years, these have started to resemble full operating system level control panels. Indeed, even though early versions of each looked the same with a different colour palette, now they are as distinct as Mac OS and Windows!

Something between them is always going to be consistent (as it would be foolish to reinvent the wheel and make their system unintuitive) such as the options button at the top left, desktop shortcuts, notifications at the top right, etc. But even a click look at a recent overview of DSM 7.0 in Beta and QuTS Hero will give you a good idea of how QNAP and Synology allow the user to control their system via the web browser.

 

The Synology DSM design feels very similar to that of Mac-based systems (especially in DSM 7.0), whereas the QNAP QTS design feels a little more ‘Android’ in how applications and options are presented. Of the two, I would say that Synology definitely feels a pinch more responsive and reactive to your clicks and mouse/keyboard commands, with QNAP QTS still feeling smooth for a network GUI (but when the screen gets busy, you feel a pinch of delay when flicking between apps and windows. QNAP QTS counters this by providing much more information on each screen (both graphical and analytical) that saves time selecting numerous areas of interest for the answer to your query as found in DSM from time to time. Of course, depending on your skill level or desire for clarity – this can be both a blessing and a curse. For example – the resource monitor on the Synology DSM software is concise, breaks the display into CPU+MEMORY+DISK+Bandwidth and if you want a little more information, you can dig a little deeper into each (with a lite CPU+Memory bar visible on the desktop at all times).

The QNAP QTS Resource monitor on the other hand provides a greater degree of information straight off the bat, allowing you to dig considerably deeper into the background processes (monitor/close as appropriate), but still providing more information per screen than any on the Synology DSM platform. Even the on-screen default resource monitor (clicking the speedometer dial at desktop) is more detailed than the actual DSM Resource monitor primary screen. If you are easily intimidated or just want to know how much memory ‘X’ app is using, then the QNAP offering will seem very ‘TMI’. However for those of you who use the resource monitor to see how far they can push the system, find out how much the system vs apps are using, troubleshoot or want to kill background processes – the QNAP Resource monitor will be exceptionally handy.

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 Intuative

Why Choose QNAP NAS? – Better Analytics and Control

 

Click Below for PART II – Storage Control, Mobile Apps and Multimedia

 

 

Why Choose Synology NAS?

Better Surveillance Software

More Intuative and User-Friendly Design

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

Why Choose QNAP NAS?

Better 1st Party/Hosting Virtual Machines

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

Support of QTier for intelligent Data storage for Access

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

 

 

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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QNAP TVS-872X NAS Drive Review – 10G and ZFS, But No Thunderbolt

24 mai 2021 à 16:30

QNAP TVS-872X NAS Drive Review

In the last few years, we have seen the evolution of network-attached storage from being a simple hard drive that you can access remotely, to something far more evolved and capable. Innovations in everything from the hardware available, to what the software can do has resulted in even modest budget home users jumping on board with more and more capable solutions. One of the latest releases from QNAP to arrive on the market is a slight change on an existing system that although is tough to call something new, can certainly be called popular in the hardware it brings to the table. The brand new QNAP TVS-872X system is a non-thunderbolt alternative to the 2018 generation TVS-872XT, arriving at a lower price point, including ZFS support and still featuring 10G. This overwhelmingly popular Intel i3 -bay has been in our top-5 lists in its thunderbolt form for many years, but does this reimagining of the formula make the QNAP TVS-872X still worth your money and your data in 2021? Let’s take a look.

QNAP TVS-872X NAS Drive Review – Quick Conclusion

The QNAP TVS-872X is undeniably still a great example of the wide-ranging features available to prosumers who want a storage system heavily geared towards high-performance transmission via high-performance media with higher tier hardware at their disposal. It would be misleading to think of this NAS as any kind of significant upgrades over the XT, and the price tag that the TVS-872X currently arrives at (£1700+ / $2400) is perhaps a tad closer to that of the thunderbolt version than can be justified, but with an increasing over-reliance by brands on Xeon based systems, the TVS-872X is one of the most graphically well-equipped systems in the market today. If you are looking for a NAS for video editing, Plex media server, AI-assisted surveillance or virtualisation in a more compact form, the TVS-872X and its hardware has a heck of a lot to offer you.

What the QNAP TVS-872X can do (PROS):

  • One of the few Intel Core NAS Systems Released in 2020/2021
  • High Virtualisation Use
  • 10Gbe Enabled and still has 2x 1Gbe
  • SSD Optimized with NVMe Support
  • Very Expandable (File System & config dependant)
  • Optimized for Post Production and Broadcasting
  • Can be upgraded to 10/25/40Gbe
  • 10G alternative to the TVS-872XT for those that didn’t want TB3
  • Surveillance including multiple camera licences – 8 Licences FREE
  • Download server (FTP, HTTP, BT,NZB)
  • CMS and CRM systems included
  • Media Center support across numerous apps

What the QNAP TVS-872X cannot do (CONS):

  • GPU Card Support is not clear
  • 8G Default Module is a little restrictive for ZFS
  • PCIe Card Installation is a lot more complicated than you expect

 

If you are thinking of buying a QNAP NAS, please use the links below

 

QNAP TVS-872X NAS Drive Review – Packaging

The retail box for this 8 bay NAS is pretty large and in its defence, certainly needs to be. Aside from the large metallic 8 bay chassis inside, QNAP has not scrimped on the protective packaging that the TVS-872X arrives in. The box is fairly nondescript and is largely the same 8 bay desktop carton that we have seen in other hardware releases, with a addition of the specific model label of course, but all the information you’re going to need is visible and they have certainly made sure that this unit will be well protected from motion and shock damage whilst in transit.

Opening up the retail box shows us the chassis contained in rigid foam from all angles. Sure, it isn’t going to protect the unit from any kind of aggressive ‘warehouse-forklift-based-mishap’, but it is more than enough to withstand worldwide traditional transit bumps and knocks.

Inside we also find a box of accessories for setting the device up for the first time. The TVS-872X is sold unpopulated, so hard drives and SSD will need to be purchased separately. However, practically every other component needed to set this device up for the first time, as well as a few small extras, is available in this accessories pack and it is surprisingly diverse.

Although the obvious things like setup guides, screws for hard drives and SSD and power cables are clearly present, the fact that this system arrived with individual heat sinks for the internal M2 SSD batteries is a nice little extra (small, but appreciated). There is information on the warranty and details on extending that warranty (2years by default – something I will discuss later on) if you wish, as well as ethernet cables. Also a tiny thing, but I am pleased to confirm that the unit arrives with Cat6 Ethernet cable. A very, VERY small thing to highlight but you would be amazed at the number of 10Gbe solutions that arrived with less appropriate cat5e cables.

It’s easy to argue that the cost is tiny and the end-user can easily buy the Cat6 themselves – but then, if the cost is so low, then why not inc them? So yes, I like this.

All in all, a familiar and fairly reliable range of accessories included with the system. Again, most of what we see today will bear remarkable similarity to our TVS-872XT reviews a few years ago.

QNAP TVS-872X NAS Drive Review – Design

The chassis that the QNAP TVS-872X utilizes is one that originally premiered in the thunderbolt model several years ago and has had little change in the intervening years. This is not strictly a bad thing and along with provisions for more sophisticated cooling internally, it is a remarkably compact casing for 8 hard drives, 2 SSDs and two PCIe upgrade cards with one at PCIex16. It is a fairly stocky build but certainly exudes ruggedness.

The front of the chassis is subtly ventilated and is mostly grey, black and blue in colour. Despite the rather impressive NAS hardware included in this system (that we will touch on later), the external chassis is a mix of rugged metal, with occasional economic choices subtly hidden in between. Of course, the immediate thing that gets your attention is those 8 SATA storage bays. Each bay supports a traditional 3.5″ hard drive (I recommend Pro class NAS or Data Center hard drives such as Ironwolf Pro, WD Red Pro, Western digital Ultrastar and Seagate EXOS, currently available in up to 18 TB) or 2.5″ SATA SSD.

It is worth noting that the QNAP TVS-872X does not need to be fully populated at initialisation and you can run the system with as little as a single hard drive, then add further storage media later. This is of course not recommended and at least two drives should be used to benefit from RAID support. It is also worth noting that the system allows you to utilise all three kinds (if you use the m.2 slots) of media internally with systems such as SSD caching, individual Storage Pools and Qtier, to vastly improve the internal operations speed of the NAS and ensure that more frequently accessed data is living on the most beneficial storage area. This system arrives with both ext4 and ZFS as a choice of the file system, with numerous performance benefits accessible in ZFS, but note that currently QTier is still not supported (at time of writing) on the QuTS Hero ZFS based system software.

Removing all of the drives inside reveals a sleek and well-ventilated internal chassis that is clear of loose cables, taking advantage of combined data and power SATA connectors. The QNAP TVS-872X is deceivingly good at passive airflow and a lot of this is to do with strategically placed vents throughout the chassis, around the storage bays and with lots of surrounding airflow. This is is pretty necessary when dealing with a compact system like this and is arguably a tad more aggressive in its hardware than most typical desktop solutions in the market. The media trays themselves are plastic, click and load in design, which is almost a little disappointing after the aggressive metallic chassis and rugged design. Some users are less keen on plastic trays, as early generations of trays like these would be prone to cracking as they gave in to heat and vibration over the years. I’m pleased to confirm that more modern plastic trays are a great deal more rugged and enduring, with the added benefit that they also reduce ambient vibration by a small degree. It is still a contentious point of course and many would highlight that plastic trays in a system that is almost exclusively metal in every other way are a little late to the party when it comes to ambient noise.

Another cool feature of the TVS-872X and one that is present in the majority of QNAP NAS is an LCD panel to provide real-time information about the system whilst in operation. This display allows you to check system health, details on alerts, a breakdown of the currently used IPs and just generally gives you more information about the health and status of your system at a glance. QNAP is one of the last brands to still continue to include LCD panels on their NAS  systems, with many others switching towards utilising LEDs only (which QNAP does too), and along with the utilisation of HDMI, is one of those things that the brand still garners a certain keen and dependable audience with.

The LEDs and the system features on the front of the chassis can be broken down into two varieties. There are the usual individual LEDs for denoting the initialization, activity and health of individual SATA storage bays, and there are also three LEDs at the top left of the system display that the network activity system status and activity on the individual M2 PCIe NVMe SSD slots. Of course, all of these LED lights can be dimmed or completely turned off if you choose. I personally quite like the LCD panel on my solutions, as it is considerably quicker than logging in via a client device to check any alerts on the fly.

Another rather long-standing staple of NAS systems, especially QANP it should be said, is the inclusion of a USB Copy button on the front of the system. To allow on-the-fly backups to and from the system onto an external HDD at the physical touch of a button. Of course, this can be completely automated if you choose when a drive is connected utilising the hybrid backup sync software, with numerous methods of backup. These range from whole drive clone, to incremental and time managed – again, in either direction whether you want to backup a regular USB drive or you want regular backups of the NAS on a removable drive to keep off-site. The appealing thing here though is that it has both a physical button to provide you with that peace of mind that the job has been actioned, but also there is the fact it is USB 3.2 Gen 2. That means that this system supports the 10 gigabit per second more modern USB connection and for those looking at faster backups, this will be a godsend. It genuinely annoys me in 2021 that we are still seeing hardware arriving in the thousands of pounds with USB 3.2 Gen 1 (USB 3.0 5Gb/s) and I am pleased this is avoided here.

Ventilation on the external chassis of the TVS-872X is fairly well placed, with vents on either side, 2x on the rear of the device, tons surrounding the internal storage media and slotted ventilation underneath the base of the system to assist air passage on the storage drives. With a reported 24.2db(A) by QNAP when the unit is in operation, this is going to be even higher when using the recommended enterprise-grade drives. So do bear in mind that this system is not going to be especially quiet in typical operation. For those thinking of utilising the TVS-872X for video editing over 10Gbe, you may want to put some distance between you and it.

You can’t really question the passive cooling vent on the TVS-872X, as they are on practically every side, also take advantage of a metal chassis to assist heat dissipation and the system boasts technically five active internal cooling fans, two on the rear, two on a dedicated CPU cooling fan and of course the one on the PSU. Let’s have a look at what port and connections the TVS-872X has to offer.

QNAP TVS-872X NAS Drive Review – Ports and Connections

The differences between the TVS-872X and TVS-872XT NAS come down to one simple difference, that of thunderbolt on the more expensive device. When the TVS-872XT was first released at the start of 2018, it was highly praised for being a remarkably future-proof desktop NAS system, with its use of high-performance PCIe bandwidth options, onboard 10GbE, 10G USB throughput, HDMI 4K 60FPS and NVMe storage pool options. Fast forward to 2021 with the TVS-872X and what we have is still a very good NAS, but those same hardware factors from before are now arguably more mainstream. That said, the system still boasts some hardware highlights that are unique to the TVS-X72 series.

The rear of the system is dominated by those two large active cooling fans. There is lots of passive ventilation around the rear of the chassis, but those big fans will keep the internal chips, heatsinks and media at a very good operational temp. You can lower the RPM manually, to reduce any ambient noise, but this system will work at its best if you leave this at automatic and allow the system to raise/lower RPM as the sensors dictate.

The system also features an internal PSU, rated at 250W, which is going to come in pretty handy if you are looking to max out the potential 1,000MB/s on the 10G, or want to install some hefty PCIe cards inside. That said, the system is a little more power-hungry than recent releases like the TS-873A or TS-653D, with a reported 65.03W whilst in operation and 41.47W whilst in standby.

The dedicated 10Gbe port featured on the TVS-872X does not arrive on a dedicated PCIe card (as seen in the likes of the TVS-1282T3 etc). However, a quick check internally shows that it has its own dedicated Aquantia controller located underneath the main heatsink alongside the CPU. The 8 Bays of storage found inside this system alongside the impressive i3-8100T CPU, will mean that fully saturating a 10G connection will be incredibly easy. However, this external 10Gbe connection may ironically come across as a bottleneck once you consider utilising a full 8 enterprise drive setup, as well as the NVMe drives as tiered storage or separate storage pool. At this price point, 10Gbe would be fully expected but given its similarity to the thunderbolt 2018 alternative that also had 10Gbe on board, it might have been nice to see a 2 port 10Gbe setup.

Alongside the 10-gigabit ethernet connection, we find two standard gigabit ports. These are fairly normal, even if other QNAPs in 2020/2021 feature 2.5G in the (e.g the TS-453D and TVS-872X), these are still perfectly acceptable alongside the existing 10G port. My complaints of improving the bandwidths externally on this system may seem a tad churlish and perhaps limitations have resulted in QNAP presenting these connections as the most efficient way to share up those PCIe lanes, I still think it would have been nice to see a little more evolution between the TVS-872X and TVS-872XT given the 3-year difference and only a modest £300 price difference.

One connection that the TVS-872X features that I will always approve of are the inclusion of USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports. The system arrives with four of these much faster 10Gb USB ports in type A and type C connectivity which support everything from external storage drives, peripheral control devices, 5Gbe network adaptors, office hardware and more. For a faster local backup drive in a wider backup strategy, these port are ideal for keeping this process as quick as possible across multiple drives. Equally, these ports can be used for high-end web cameras for surveillance and assigned individually to virtual machines.

Then there is the range of RAID enabled expansions from QNAP in their TR and TL series. Utilising those 1000Mb/s local connections with an expansion will ensure that the bottlenecks occasionally associated with equipping expansions are largely avoided.

Another area of NAS that QNAP is one of the largest supporters of is the utilisation of HDMI on devices for creating a visual and parallel GUI to enjoy your visual data on a locally connected monitor. Support of KVM environments and a wide range of official (and custom/unofficial applications over on QNAPClub) mean that your NAS can be utilised as a stand-alone computer, standalone surveillance system, stand-alone entertainment system and all the while still supporting the network and remote shares of your network-attached storage system simultaneously. Much like the older unit, the TVS-872X features 4K 60hz HDMI 2.0 output and particularly for standalone surveillance uses and multimedia buyers, this will be very appealing. It is worth highlighting though that HDMI enabled applications on NAS have grown a little thinner on the ground in recent years, but the bulk of the core services and applications still support this visual out option, receiving regular updates, even going as far as to support connecting a virtual machine to the HDMI via QVM and connecting any USB keyboard and mouse.

A staple of 8-bay desktop solutions, the TVS-872X also has PCIe upgradability and much like the previous thunderbolt release, it has two PCIe slots. The first is a PCIe 3×4 slot that comfortably provides support for the majority of modern network interface cards, Wi-Fi 6 cards, SSD Media upgrades and even accelerator cards from QNAP themselves and third-party cards like Google’s TPU AI acceleration card.

The second slot however is particularly interesting as it is a PCIe gen 3×16 slot. This really opens the door to more aggressive cards and substantially bigger upgrades to the system, with dual-port greatly increased fibre network interface cards in 25-100Gbe SFP and a small but effective range of graphics cards supported. The TVS-872X already features quite an impressive CPU and 10-gigabit ethernet by default, but the bandwidth available to this upgrade slot means that the upgradeability of this system down the line is pretty fantastic. In its thunderbolt variation, a 2 port thunderbolt card occupied one of these slots but now this new version allows greater upgrade options, even if the physical installation of cards in this system is a little tighter than some might like.

As mentioned, the TVS-872X bears a near-identical comparison with the TVS-872XT, with only that dual-port thunderbolt card serving as any difference in ports and connections. Even 3 years since they similar systems debut, this is still an impressive arrangement of physical local connections on offer and aside from perhaps swerving the opportunity to upgrade those 1Gbe ports into something attached more exciting, there is little to critique in this system connectivity. Let’s take grab a screwdriver and see what is going on under the bonnet.

QNAP TVS-872X NAS Drive Review – Internal Hardware

The metal external casing is easily removed with 3 screws and slides off to reveal a surprisingly spacious chassis. The passive ventilation throughout this system that is pushed by those active fans has plenty of room to work with and although perhaps the level of space available will be less in smaller models in this family, there is plenty of airflow available here. This is not the first QNAP system to also feature the enhanced cooling deck internally, which comprises an additional dual-fan array that lives above the controller board and feeds into a phenomenally sized heatsink. 

As mentioned earlier, the system features two dedicated NVMe M2 slots that allow the installation of much faster modern SSD. Now it should be highlighted that these M.2 slots are PCIe gen 3×2 in bandwidths, so media will not be able to exceed 2000 Megabytes per second on either slot (most PCIe Gen 3 NVMe are advertised at speeds of 3000-4000MB/s Read Max). This is still a remarkably large amount of potential throughput however and once you factor in RAID support and using them as a storage pool, they provide a substantially faster area of space for editing. As well as the aforementioned support of caching and QNAP’s QTier system. These slots also arrived on the other side of the main controller board, not in line with the two fan active cooling system that the CPU and 10G controller benefit from. However, they are directly in line with the two massive rear fans and metal heat sinks are included in the accessory box mentioned earlier, so heat should not be a worry.

The memory slots on this system are located on the inside of the core storage bays and the TVS-872X arrives with 8GB of memory by default. This memory is DDR4 SODIMM in architecture, across two slots and the default memory arrived in a single module. Thanks to the Intel Core CPU, this system can support up to an impressive 64GB of memory which is hugely beneficial to virtualisation and network surveillance deployment. QNAPs main rival, Synology, have opted for ECC memory in their comparative system (the Synology DS1621xs+ – Read my comparison HERE) and although it is absent on the TVS-872X, it does arrive with significantly higher maximum memory potential instead (64GB rather than 32GB). One important factor that should be mentioned on the memory that the QNAP TVS-872X arrives with is that although the system features the choice of ZFS as a filesystem at the start, some of the features of ZFS such as inline deduplication are not available without a minimum 16GB of memory. This is especially galling for some who see the thunderbolt model arriving with 16GB of memory and an i5-8100T processor at just over £300+ more. Still, 8GB of memory is a good base level for this system and it is still a respectable i3 8th Gen CPU.

The CPU inside the TVS-872X is an Intel i3-8100T. Rated at over 5000 on CPU benchmark currently, it is a quad-core 3.1GHz processor that also features UHD 630 embedded graphics. QNAP is one of the last NAS brands and server makers in the market to still utilise Intel core processors, ranging from Pentiums to i5 and i7’s. The majority of NAS released for business and enterprise storage in the last 3-years have almost exclusively arrived with Xeon based processors. This is thanks to Xeon’s exceptional file handling and consistent performance (pretty much series-wide), as well as arriving in significantly more core configurations and efficient power vs performance design. However, many uses prefer Intel core processors with NAS systems because alongside aggressively high-performance they also arrive with embedded graphics, which is hugely beneficial in Virtualisation, 4K Multimedia, widespread camera surveillance and are especially adept in thunderbolt NAS solutions (even the latest TB3 NAS, the TVS-h1288X is a graphically embedded Xeon). There was a time when simply featuring an Intel core CPU would increase a NAS’s price by 20-30% over Xeon systems, but in these times of widespread use and increased investment by Intel in xeon development, the result is that intel core powered NAS are a pinch more affordable, if a touch less available.

Adjacent to the main processor of this device, we also find the dedicated 10Gbe network processor. In the last few years, this brand has managed to make 10-gigabit ethernet performance considerably more affordable and the majority of NAS brands and network manufacturers owe a large debt of thanks to them for ultimately making 10Gbe notably more accessible for home and prosumer users worldwide. Although this particular Aquantia is the same processor debuted in the thunderbolt model over 3 years ago, it is still an excellent 10Gbe handling chip and this combined with the throughput of the i3 and 8-bays of storage will present you with an impressive system to edit with. Both the CPU and 10G network controller are covered by an especially large (by the standards of NAS certainly) heat sink that ensures that these two key components are being kept at an ideal operating temperature. Heat sinks in NAS’ are not new and largely are used to minimise power consumption when compared with dedicated CPU fans, furthering the lifespan of the product. Unusually though, this heat sink is also being directly cooled by a unique slim twin fan box located immediately next to it.

This two-piece low noise fan kit utilises two main vents to push and draw air around the system and predominantly throughout that large heatsink. This is one of few qnap NAS systems to do this and it is no coincidence that this compact desktop NAS chassis with its arguably more aggressive components would feature it. Despite their low noise and low impact design, these twin fans add to the general ambient noise of the system when in operation and only further highlight why this system, although ideal in power for those video editors looking to switch to NAS, is going to be less fun to work in close proximity to.

Noise criticisms aside, this is still a remarkably well-engineered NAS device even by 2021 standards and although the majority of the hardware architecture we are seeing here has changed very little since the TVS-872XT release back in 2018, it still holds up remarkably well. Next, we’ll talk about how this device delivers in the software department, as well as what this device brings to the table that may have been absent in previous versions.

QNAP TVS-872X ZFS NAS Review – Software

The software found with the QNAP TVS-872X NAS can be broken down into 2 sections. namely those of the advantages that QNAP QTS already bring to a business user, and then the widespread system and storage advantages that QuTS Hero and ZFS bring as well. For those unfamiliar with the QNAP operating system, it arrives with hundreds of free applications, can be accessed from a web browser or desktop client, arrives with many, many apps for mobile on IOS and Android and is definitely in the top two operating systems you can get for network-attached storage devices. Often compared with their biggest rival Synology NAS and DSM, QNAP QTS GUI is designed in a way that will definitely appeal more to Android and Windows users, giving you everything you will need from a network-attached storage device in 2021 and arrives with constant updates for added features and security.

QNAP File Management Highlights

  • File Station – File Browsing and Management Tool
  • QSirch -Intelligent and Fast System-wide search tool
  • QFiling – Smart and customizable long term storage and archive tool
  • SSD Caching Monitor and Advisor – Allowing you to scale your SSD cache as needed, or get recommendations on how much you need
  • QTier – The QNAP intelligent, multi-layer tiering system that works to optimize your SSD vs HDD use, moving files to the appropriate storage media (not currently supported on QuTS Hero, just QTS)

  • Microsoft Active Directory– Support and cross-platform control of Active Directory processes
  • Access-Anywhere with myQNAPcloud – Safe and secure remote access over the internet to your storage systems, apps or just file storage
  • Qsync for multiple hardware environment backups and Sync – Client applications that can be installed on multiple 3rdparty devices and create a completely customizable and scaled back up network between your devices
  • QuDeDupe / Deduplication tools – Allowing you to conduct backups between multiple devices and directories, but allows same-data in numerous locations to be only held once (but recorded in all locations) to allow smaller backups and lesser bandwidth consumption. Once again, remember that you will need to upgrade to 16GB of memory in order to take advantage of these more advanced ZFS utilities in practice.

Then you have KEY applications that are used on the QNAP NAS system that moves into tailored data access and use, such as:

  • Hybrid Backup Sync 3 – Allows you to Backup and Sync with Amazon Glacier, Amazon S3, Azure Storage, Google Cloud Storage, HKT Object Storage, OpenStack Swift, WebDAV, Alibaba Cloud, Amazon Drive, Amazon S3, BackBlaze B2, Box, Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, HiDrive, hubiC, OneDrive, OneDrive For Business, ShareFile and Yandex Disk. As well as backup to another NAS over real-time remote replication (RTRR) and USB connected media. All scheduled and all accessible via a single app user interface.
  • vJBOD and Hybrid Mount – Gives you the ability to mount cloud storage as a visible drive within the NAS (and the apps access it as if it was local) or mount a % of space from your NAS onto another as a virtual chunk of space to use
  • Multimedia Console – one portal access point to manage media access, searching, indexing and transcoding on your NAS device.
  • Photo, Video and Music Station – Multiple file type tailored applications to access data in the best possible way that is suited to their output – along with smart searching, playlists and sharing
  • Virtualization Station – Used to create virtual computers that can be accessed anywhere over the network/internet with the correct credentials. Supporting Windows, Linux, Android and more. You can import an existing VM image to the NAS, or you can even download Linux and Windows VMs directly to the NAS for trials for free
  • Container Station – much like the VM app, Container station lets you mount and access smaller virtual tools and GUIs, then access them over the network or internet.
  • Linux Station – Handy application to deploy multiple Linux based Ubuntu VMs from the NAS, all easily and within a few clicks
  • QVR Pro and Surveillance Station – Surveillance applications that allow you to connect multiple IP cameras and IP speaks to your network and manage them with the applications. Arriving with 4 camera licenses for Surveillance Station and 8 licenses for QVR Pro (the better one IMO), QNAP is constantly updating this enterprise-level surveillance application – adding newer security hardware and software tools for 2020 (see QVR Face and QVR Door)
  • QuMagie – Facial and Thing recognition application to help you retrieve, tag and catalogue photos by its use of AI to actually ‘view’ all your years of photos and let you search by the contents of them, not the file names.
  • Download Station – A download management tool that can handle HTTP, BT, FTP and NZB files in bulk to be downloaded to your NAS drive and keep safe. As well as keeping an eye on your RSS feeds and keeping your podcast downloads automatically updated with every episode
  • Malware Removers and Security Councillor – Along with Anti Virus software trials on the app centre, QNAP also provide numerous anti-intrusion tools and even a whole app interface to monitor in/outgoing transmissions with your NAS. It can make recommendations to beef up your security and keep you safe

Above are a few of my software overviews that cover the general GUI and system of QuTS Hero on the TS-h886, as well as RAID rebuild and storage management overviews of the system to give you some idea of what the TVS-872XT  can and cannot do:

Space Saving Efficiency – Inline data deduplication, compression, and compaction reduce file size to conserve storage capacity and optimize performance.

Intelligent Memory Cache – Main memory read cache (L1 ARC), SSD second-level read cache (L2 ARC), and ZFS Intent Log (ZIL) for synchronous transactions with power fail protection are simultaneously supported to boost performance and security

RAID Z – Multiple RAID levels allow flexible capacity utilization. RAID Triple Parity and Triple Mirror deliver higher levels of data protection.

App Center – Apps for backup/sync, virtual machines/containers, content management, productivity, and more features can be used to expand the application potential of the TS-h972AX.

All in all, the fact that the QNAP TVS-872X arrives with the option of the ZFS or EXT4 versions of the QNAP Software and GUI is a large part of what makes these NAS appealing.

QNAP TVS-872X NAS Review – Conclusion

If this was the first time I was seeing the hardware featured on the QNAP TVS-872X, with its Intel Core CPU, 64GB of potential memory, 10Gbe on-board, NVMe equipped slots and USB 10G throughout – I would have been reasonably impressed. Likewise, the scalability in PCIe, storage expansions and network connectivity down the line is also a very valid and positive aspect of this system. But for me, it will always live slighting in the shadow of its Thunderbolt 3 equipped older big brother in the TV-872XT. The software on either ZFS or EXT4 file system is still doing what it does well, finding the line between 1st party apps, 3rd party support, customization and (mostly) getting it right – if occasionally trying to be too big for its boots.

The QNAP TVS-872X is undeniably still a great example of the wide-ranging features available to prosumers who want a storage system heavily geared towards high-performance transmission via high-performance media with higher tier hardware at their disposal. It would be misleading to think of this NAS as any kind of significant upgrades over the XT, and the price tag that the TVS-872X currently arrives at (£1700+ / $2400) is perhaps a tad closer to that of the thunderbolt version than can be justified, but with an increasing over-reliance by brands on Xeon based systems, the TVS-872X is one of the most graphically well-equipped systems in the market today. If you are looking for a NAS for video editing, Plex media server, AI-assisted surveillance or virtualisation in a more compact form, the TVS-872X and its hardware has a heck of a lot to offer you.

What the QNAP TVS-872X can do (PROS):

  • One of the few Intel Core NAS Systems Released in 2020/2021
  • High Virtualisation Use
  • 10Gbe Enabled and still has 2x 1Gbe
  • SSD Optimized with NVMe Support
  • Very Expandable (File System & config dependant)
  • Optimized for Post Production and Broadcasting
  • Can be upgraded to 10/25/40Gbe
  • 10G alternative to the TVS-872XT for those that didn’t want TB3
  • Surveillance including multiple camera licences – 8 Licences FREE
  • Download server (FTP, HTTP, BT,NZB)
  • CMS and CRM systems included
  • Media Center support across numerous apps

What the QNAP TVS-872X cannot do (CONS):

  • GPU Card Support is not clear
  • 8G Default Module is a little restrictive for ZFS
  • PCIe Card Installation is a lot more complicated than you expect

 

If you are thinking of buying a QNAP NAS, please use the links below

 


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