I’m looking for advice on how to get started with a NAS, probably Synology since it’s beginner friendly and often well recommended. I’m thinking of a 2 bay case with 2x4TB HDDs in RAID1 setup. What do I have to look out for in a device to get the best bang for my bucks?

My use case:

I have various documents, software projects, family pictures, videos that I want to store on something more reliable than a bunch of internal/external HDDs or USB sticks. I have a full *arr stack and jellyfin but I want to move these to my “server” laptop and docker once NAS is setup, and then host the files on it. For projects I might want to self-host gitea down the line.

Some more specific questions:

  1. if I go with a 2 bay NAS case, can i also connect my old external drive to it as a separate drive, can they handle USB3 drives? Will it require reformatting since it was used on windows so far?
  2. are there any issues with connecting docker drives volumes to a NAS?
  3. noise issues - does the NAS itself make a noticeable amount of noise or is it just the drives?
  4. whats the life expectancy of a NAS? if it dies, can I just plug the drives into a new one?
  5. does syncthing work well with a NAS or is there a better way of syncing local files to the NAS for backup?

Sorry for the question dump, just wanted to cover as many possible issues as possible 😅

  • JJLinux
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    64 months ago

    Synology or QNAP will do the trick. However, once you get into the self-hosted rabbit hole, they’ll become insufficient pretty quickly. My suggestion it’s to start with a self-built right with a Ryzen 5 or 7, enough RAM (16GB should suffice at first) and take it from there. That way you have flexibility in terms of what hardware (disks, ram, processor, board, power supply, cooling, etc) and its usually very cost effective in terms of bang-for-the-buck. You can then test OMV, or Ubuntu server, or TrueNAS or anything else, and find your favorite. There are plenty of cases that can meet those needs without breaking the bank.

    • kingthrillgore
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      4 months ago

      I disagree with this. I have managed to get by quite well with my 4-bay Synology for over five years. They still even provide updates for it. That said, most of the “work” is done on a server of its own accord, and not on the NAS. More than anything, this server will be getting an upgrade later this year with a newer workhorse from either Dell or Supermicro to better suit the needs of virtualization and LXC, and on-hardware AI with whatever consumer PCI cards I can get my hands on.

      I don’t foresee a need to upgrade outside of disk replacements for storage for another few years, by that time it may be time for 10GigE at home and then, we can talk upgrade.

      • JJLinux
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        24 months ago

        I guess I misspoke. It became insufficient for me rather quickly. When I started to find new platforms that would allow me to replace the data-hogs out there by self-hosting, any of those devices would have trouble keeping up. I went the so-called “overkill” route and made sure what I built could handle at least double my needs in terms of power, performance and storage capacity. After all this time I have yet to see my processor reach over 20% utilization and my RAM hasn’t hit 25% even once. At the end of the day, we all need to make our own choices. I’m actually glad that your synology has worked so good for you, seriously. After all, it is an investment.

        • kingthrillgore
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          4 months ago

          For what its worth, I think building a NAS has a few benefits, one being Native Level ZFS support if you use FreeNAS. Synology has gone in a different direction with btrfs and LVM, and I wish they would just stick with ZFS in User Space instead. Synology has managed to do a lot in their consumer lineup, they’ve even ditched ARM for x86 so they can offer Docker/LXC which is a big win, even if its not as performant as my own Proxmox stack off consumer hardware. That said, use what you feel comfortable with.

          • JJLinux
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            14 months ago

            That’s the beauty of self-hosting, choice. This must be one of the very few subjects in which we can disagree on something, and it’s still always good advise regardless of the choice.

    • KaldoOP
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      24 months ago

      Hmm, I bought a used laptop on which I wanted to tinker with linux and docker services, but I kinda wanted to separate the NAS into a separate advice to avoid the “all eggs in one basket” situation (also I can’t really connect that many hard drives to it unless I buy some separately charged USB disk hubs or something, if those exist and are any good?)

      However I do see the merit in your suggestion considering some of the suggestions here are driving me into temptation to get a $500 NAS and that’s even without the drives… that’s practically more than what my desktop is worth atm.

      • JJLinux
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        14 months ago

        That’s exactly the point. Forking over almost 500 bucks for a low profile but low end computer to put disks into, while making it easier for less technology “risk taking” people to achieve some self-hosting features, when adding about 100 to 150 more you can actually get over 4 times the power any of those things can give you, kind of looks like a huge waste of money to me. I made that mistake once. I outgrew my QNAP in less than a year, so I ended up passing it over to my sister since she doesn’t tinker at all and uses it exclusively for backing up her data, nothing else. I self-host nextcloud, bitwarden, have a cloudflare tunnel set up to avoid opening ports in my PFSense, I host my own Wireguard, AdguardHome, Bitwarden, Joplin, Home Assistant, 2 search engines (SearX and Whoogle), and many things more.

    • @dillydogg
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      24 months ago

      I’d like to ask a clarifying question.

      I’m interested in building a computer to self host from that would exclusively run on my local network. I would like to have some storage (on the order of 2x 16TB HDDs in RAID1 or 3x in RAID5) but also have the ability to host some other services, like Nextcloud, Arr stack, RSS feed, Immich for photos, and a Joplin server. I would probably put Wireguard on there to access these services remotely (but not the *arr stack).

      Someday I might want to host some services that are accessible from the internet (not Wireguard), but I think that is for another time in my life.

      I am gathering from your comments that, for more than strictly local storage, it is probably worth building a server with storage, rather than trying to stretch a Synology NAS to do all of this for me. Does that sound right?

      I’ve been toying with this idea for a while and am not sure if I sound just go with a Synology or self build. But I think I have more interest in tinkering with the system than a Synology would allow. I’m not totally new to self hosting, I have a VPS that serves a few apps and my blog online, and use an RPi at home to serve a few things. I suppose a third option is to buy the NAS, but then build a computer to host the other applications using the NAS data.

      • @Clusterfck@lemmy.sdf.org
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        24 months ago

        Mainstream NASs (like Synology and QNAP) are very good at what they’re built for, which is be available on the network and have plenty of storage.

        They CAN do more, but then you start to notice the limitations. It is still “just a NAS.” It’s not called a NASAHVAVMM (Network Attached Storage and Hypervisor and VM Manager)

        If you want to do what you described, a smaller NAS would probably be good for backups, but look into a fully fledged, capable server too.

        • @dillydogg
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          14 months ago

          This is great advice. I think the smaller NAS is a prudent investment now, and the more capable server can come later. I think I don’t want to let perfect be the enemy of good and keep me from investing in a local storage solution.

      • JJLinux
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        24 months ago

        My personal opinion is that the devil is in the details. What I mean by this is that it will depend on budget, what you want to do right now plus what you want to do in the future, how willing you are to “build and rebuild” over time, how much physycal space you have to keep your rigs at, etc. I like having full control of my devices, both at the hardware and at the software levels, and I’m well enough financially that I can change whatever I need or want without affecting my family’s quality of life negatively. But I also dont just want to throw money out the window, so I research a lot when I want to add or switch something. Based on this, my preference is to DYI instead of choosing a pre-built server. For what you say you want to do, I think a QNAP or Synology NAS would suffice (I’ve had both, but I like QNAP better, although they are both very similar when you compare them at the same tier levels). However, if and when you decide to up your game, you already spent the money on the pre-built, and it’s not always easy to sell them used to recoup a fee bucks (which is why I chose to give mine to my sister instead of going the “selling it” route.) I speak from my experience, and I understand that what works for me won’t necessarily work for everyone else. But I like letting others know where I made kistaies in hopes that they can avoid them when the time comes. A good example is that you want to go the Raid way, whereas I have UnRaid because I like the array option much better (I think its a more flexible approach), which can also be achieved by using OMV. Your understanding of mybtrain of thought on this subject is exactly right. I personally prefer to have more control on as many components as possible in case I need/want to upgrade (RAM, storage, processor, GPU, TPU) because, in my experience, once I started self-hosting, I find something new I want to add almost daily (80% of the time I just test, end up not liking it, and remove, but this is how I’ve gotten my server to the state it’s in today, trial and error mostly 🤣🤣).

        • @dillydogg
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          24 months ago

          I think this is great advice. You’ve made me realize that I’m entering a stage of my training that is notorious for lack of free time, so maybe I’ll leave the self build tinkering for another day. It is more important for me to get the local storage going sooner than later but I will plan on building a tinkering PC someday.

          • JJLinux
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            14 months ago

            I’m genuinely happy I could help. I wish you the best luck with this, and above all, have fun. It is a lot of fun (until my wife starts wanting me to do something the moment I set my mind to start playing with my server or network, 🤪). You evidently have your priorities straight, and that’s great to choose the best course of action for each step. Another hack, in case you’re interested, I got my disks shucked out of some WD external drives that I knew were actually WD Red (3 10TB drives) and I ended up saving about 150 dollars total. But know that of you choose to go this route, you’ll need to disable the 3v pins on each drive, either by covering them with some electric tape, or just remonif the pins altogether (which is what I did). Enjoy buddy.