My own NAS system – Part 1: a hard farewell to Synology
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My own NAS system – Part 1: a hard farewell to Synology

Richie Müller
Translation: Patrik Stainbrook

My Synology is getting on in years. Now I’m thinking about a new network storage device. Welcome to part one in my search for the right family NAS.

We have a Synology DS916+ in our living room. I bought this Network Attached Storage (NAS) in September 2016. Since then, the box has been in permanent operation, all family members save their data on it. Photos, documents, videos. Our film collection and digitised CDs are also stored there, as well as documents for the company I run on the side. In addition, my sound system accesses the music files via Roon.

At its limit

By now, however, my Synology is slowly reaching the limits of its storage capacity. In addition, the NAS has many hours of operation under its belt. It’s evident: I need a replacement for my reliable Synology. But I’m not sure if I want to buy another identical model. The alternative? Breaking new ground.

The Synology makes its home in a piece of multimedia furniture.
The Synology makes its home in a piece of multimedia furniture.
Source: Richard Müller

To buy or not to buy…

I’m very satisfied with Synology in terms of its functions and features. The network storage manufacturer has developed a stable operating system in Diskstation Manager. I rarely encountered any problems. Even with little or no experience, you can set up Synology NAS. Martin Jungfer, a novice, proved this. Here’s his article:

  • Product test

    I’m a NAS newbie. Here’s how I set up my backup solution

    by Martin Jungfer

Synology is basically the Apple of NAS manufacturers. Regardless of whether you buy a device with two hard disk bays or a Synology with twelve bays, they all work the same. At most, there are one or two apps that you can’t use on the smaller models. The manufacturer’s focus is clearly on user-friendliness – from set-up to additional features. Synology has published numerous tutorials.

Division leader with an ecosystem

Apps, which Synology calls Packages, work reliably. They’re also easy to use and part of the Synology ecosystem. Nevertheless, professionals still get their money’s worth. Perfect fine-tuning of the network storage device is also possible, as is the installation of community packages, apps that weren’t developed by the manufacturer. You also have a powerful tool at your disposal in Docker, which incidentally doesn’t only run on Synology. This opens up additional virtualisation options for applications.

Docker containers are virtually separated environments. These are groupings that contain an application and everything necessary for its operation – all but the operating system. This allows you to run programs on the NAS that aren’t available as a Synology app. The selection ranges from small tools such as Pi-hole to Windows, Nextcloud or tracking software for mobile devices.

From my point of view, Synology NAS is basically perfect for my requirements. I have plenty of options at my disposal, most of my needs are covered. However, there’s just one thing that gives me pause for thought.

The price is right high

I paid 610 francs for my old Synology DS 916+ in 2016. Adding the four hard disks, I end up at around 1,200 to 1,400 francs. Since I’m aiming for more than four hard disk bays, things get spicy when I look at current Synology models with 12 bays:

Synology DS2422+ (0 TB)
1949,– EUR

Synology DS2422+

0 TB

Synology DS3622xs+ (0 TB)
3064,29 EUR

Synology DS3622xs+

0 TB

Synology DS2419+II (0 TB)

Synology DS2419+II

0 TB

Over 2,600 francs for a Synology DS3622xs+, now that’s a hefty price tag! And that doesn’t even include hard disks yet. Currently, my Synology DS 916+ contains multiple 8 TB NAS hard disks. One Western Digital model with this capacity costs 172 francs in our store. Times twelve, that’s an additional 2064 francs.

WD Red Plus (8 TB, 3.5", CMR)
198,90 EUR 24,86 EUR/1TB

WD Red Plus

8 TB, 3.5", CMR

WD Red Plus (8 TB, 3.5", CMR)
Hard drives
198,90 EUR 24,86 EUR/1TB

WD Red Plus

8 TB, 3.5", CMR

All in all, including hard disks, the Synology mentioned above would cost around 4,700 francs. To be fair, I don’t necessarily have to fill all 12 hard disk bays right from the start.

The requirements for my new NAS system

For me, pricing is the biggest factor in the end. There are cheaper options. Coupled with my desire for DIY, I know I won’t be buying a new Synology. Instead, I’ll build my own NAS. Here are my requirements for the new system:

  • Enough hard disk bays.
  • Sufficient storage capacity.
  • A powerful system.
  • A scaling system.
  • No closed ecosystem from the manufacturer.
  • A system that’s easy to configure with little programming knowledge.
  • Good documentation of the operating system.

In the next article, I’ll be looking for an operating system that I can master quickly and that meets my needs. I’ll deal with the hardware in another article.

Also looking to move away from Synology? Tell me why in the comments!

Header image: Richard Müller

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I'm a journalist with over 20 years of experience in various positions, mostly in online journalism. The tool I rely on for my work? A laptop – preferably connected to the Internet. In fact, I also enjoy taking apart laptops and PCs, repairing and refitting them. Why? Because it's fun! 

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