Which NAS to buy?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by therealshimmsen, Apr 18, 2017.

  1. therealshimmsen macrumors newbie


    Jan 19, 2017
    Hey there,

    I'm looking for a NAS drive to do Time Machine backups for my MBP and my wife's MB. As well we'd like to use it as a bigger "Dropbox" and -eventually- put music/movies on there.

    My research came down to two options:

    1. Synology DS216j with two WD Red hard drives or

    2. Western Digital MyCloud Ex2 Ultra.

    Which one has the better apps and performance?

    Not considering QNAP though (don't like the design much). What do you guys recommend? Help is much appreciated!


  2. greywolfe macrumors member


    Dec 14, 2012
    Great Lakes Region of US
    Of the two mentioned, my suggestion would be the Synology.

    If you haven't done so already, got to their web site https://www.synology.com/en-us and take a look at the 'Live Demo'.
  3. cobracnvt macrumors 6502


    Apr 6, 2017
    I agree with greywolfe. I also think it depends on how much you want to learn about the NAS as well. It's another device to learn and maintain. If you are simply looking for storage and don't want to deal with the learning how the NAS works, I would push you to cloud storage such as iCloud and just use individual external drives for local time machine backups. The price of the NAS would pay for a lot of cloud storage for a long time.
  4. ach macrumors newbie


    Dec 13, 2012
    If you have laptops to be backed up by Time Machine, I strongly recommend a remote Time Machine network drive or NAS. I set up my TM up on the Airport Extreme and it works great. It automatically backs up when my kids and my laptops (4 of plus a desktop) are home from college. They never connect up the external TM drives I bought them to the laptop. Now Synology or QNAP works better than the Airport Extreme / Capsule because you can set limits that each computer / user is limited to. I have a large HD and one of my laptop winds up hogging up 1/2 of the drive and it is a total pain to purge it. I strongly suggest a NAS compatible with TM that you can setup a quota limit. The one advantage of a USB drive on a Airport Extreme is you can take the drive and plug it directly in to the computer to recover the drive faster. I plan to get a QNAP. I like them better when you are buying a more expensive 4 drive slot NAS.
  5. AndyR macrumors 6502a


    Dec 9, 2005
    Auckland, New Zealand
    I've had the Synology DS216j with 2x WD 6TB RED drives for a year now so that would be my choice.

    I use it for Media Storage for PLEX running from an Intel NUC which we watch on our Apple TV. Also use it as a general backup/storage drive for the family, Time Machine for my Mac, backups for the windows laptops and also as a download station. Fantastic device!

    If you want it to transcode movies its not great and you'll need to use the Synology apps, thats why I use Plex on a NUC to do the transcoding.
  6. Soondae macrumors member


    May 22, 2012
    Hua Hin, Thailand
    I have the Synology DS216play and simply love it. IMO there software is the best. Integration with my iMac and AppleTV 4 are fantastic. The DSVideo app on the Apple TV is also great.I had a QNAP a few years ago and there software then was far behind the Synology.
  7. MeValonicAcid macrumors member


    Sep 29, 2008
    Synology DS415+ (incl. 4x WD red) and loving it ;)
    Integration with both Macs, ipads, iphones, ... using it as backup/content storage, iTunes, plex & DSMovie server,...
    (in the near future to include: server for content for Bose clients, surveillance station)

    Helpdesk: !:D!
  8. HDFan macrumors 6502a

    Jun 30, 2007
    If you are going to put a media server such as Plex on the NAS the best two options right now are:

    QNAP TVS-471-i3 NAS
    Western Digital pr2100 and pr4100

    They both have processors powerful enough to do transcoding. I have the Pr4100 which meets my needs. The QNAP can do much more but is 2x+ the price. As of my last check Synology units in the same price range don't have equivalent horsepower:


    Plex pass members can get the WD and the QNAP 20% and 10% off respectively until the end of April. As I haven't seen any WD pr* discounts, it's a good deal.

    Both support time machine, although I have not tried it.
  9. arggg14 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 30, 2014
    Another vote for Synology here. It does so much more than TM backups... It's my server for files, photos, blu-ray rips, home surveillance, etc.
  10. kohlson macrumors 68000

    Apr 23, 2010
    Just curious why Time Capsule is not on your list? I've used one for 5+ years, and it's been transparent and so far, flawless in recovering those files when needed. Previously I used a ReadyNAS Duo, and it worked for a few weeks, then Time Machine would complain about something that necessitated doing another complete backup. After a few rounds of this I switched to TC. FWIW, I still use this 8+ year-old ReadyNAS as a RAID 1 network drive.
  11. MeValonicAcid macrumors member


    Sep 29, 2008
    I've (besides the Synology) also a TC running for 5+ years.
    My '-' for TC was storage limitations (1Tb) and a poor performance on the USB connector
  12. kohlson macrumors 68000

    Apr 23, 2010
    I ran out of room, too, and figured the drive was near end of life. So I bought a 4TB WD and popped it in there about a year ago. ifixit helped.
  13. MacDownunder macrumors member


    Jun 26, 2006
    Melbourne, Australia
    I started with a time capsule, but performance is somewhat lacking with large data sets, I then moved to a low end (TS-212) QNAP and was not overly impressed with network performance, I have recently upgraded to a QNAP TS-251 which offers dual ethernet ports, faster CPU and expandable ram and after messing around with link aggregation am seeing pretty decent throughput, its still nowhere near as fast as using same device with Windows, I have gigbit managed switch for all desktops and wireless devices connect via Airport Extreme AC so I know its not my network that is slow. If you want really fast NAS / storage look at the thunderbolt connected solutions that can be "networked" so all network machines can see it. QNAP do them, but as with any thunderbolt device they are expensive. A cheaper option would be to consider a dedicated MacMini and run OSX server on it and then attach some fast external drives to it, you could also consider an older MacPro / Xserve / PowerMac too and run OSX Server there too - these macs have dual ethernet and when set up well should provide the fastest connection for networked storage solutions. Bear in mind that the Xserve is really noisy so not truely ideal for home and consume fairly large quantities of electricity too - but you can get em cheap on ebay etc and have multi drive support with hot drive bays too. My 2cents worth
  14. adib macrumors regular


    Jun 11, 2010
    I'd recommend against using Time Machine on a NAS – otherwise you're just inviting frustration. Attached external drives – Thunderbolt or USB – are still the best for use with Time Machine.

    Time Machine backups over a network tend to get corrupted easily, which when it happens requires you to discard all backups made and start all over again. This usually happens every two weeks or so – depending on how noisy your wireless network environment is operating in or how frequent you disconnect while a backup is running.

  15. jerryk macrumors 68040

    Nov 3, 2011
    SF Bay Area
    I use a ReadyNAS, I like have a lot of storage (6 drive bays) and being able to allocate it to TM, fileshares, or what ever else I want.
  16. ach macrumors newbie


    Dec 13, 2012
    It is a good point that should be considered.

    I only have Experience with Airport Extreme, but I have been using it for > 4 years with 4 Macs. I am not swearing that it works perfectly, but I have not had problems with it the past 2-3 years, except for the usage I described. I have wipe out and restart the disk a couple of times the first year or so I started using the APE.

    Now I'm not sure how it will work with a third party NAS, but with the APE, I have removed the external drive and plug it to the Mac directly and perform a disk repair on the disk images to keep it healthy, Im not sure if I will need to or how to do this on the QNAP/Synology.

    I would not rely on the TM over the network as the only backup, and am prepared to wipe it out and restart it, but my kids have not plugged in the external TM drive since the first time I prepared their system. My critical data on my MacPro has two TM disks, 1 internal and other external USB along with other external normal backups.
    --- Post Merged, May 10, 2017 ---
    Apple is bailing out of the Time Capsule / TM Airport Extreme market leaving us stranded just like Pro Mac users. No updates for years while other routers/NAS picks up the support.

    BTW, i prefer the APE since the drive can be plugged directly to the Mac for quicker recovery or disk repairs.
  17. techwarrior macrumors 6502a


    Jul 30, 2009
    I have both QNAP (TS212) and Time Capsule. I used QNAP for TM backups, but had a lot of frustrations with it. Never tried a restore from QNAP, but got a lot of failed backups warnings. TC has been flawless, using it for several Macs and Hackintoshes, and no issues with backups or restores (several successful restores). But, in my experience, USB3 drives result in much faster restores (and backups) than networked drives.

    I would balk at jumping into third party NAS for Time Machine at this point. With Apple about to rollout the new APFS for Macs (I am assuming it will become the default in the next macOS release), compatibility is not certain with third party network storage systems, it may only work with Apple gear, or attached USB\Thunderbolt drives. They claim it will eventually become open source, but the timing may lag.

    I wouldn't be so quick to assume Apple is bailing on the network gear. They simply said the teams were re-assigned to other products, which could mean a new product that does networking + ?. Maybe the speculated Siri device will be a network device with speakers, drives ala TC, and central iTunes storage\Apple Music... Rumors seem to be that they will unveil this in the WWDC keynote next month, so maybe wait and see what they have up their sleeve?
  18. bonkerz macrumors newbie

    May 11, 2017
    I didn't know anything about NAS but needed a Time Machine for both of our home computers. I wanted something that you could use Time Machine with and not have to be plugged into the ethernet or have the NAS near you. The Western Digital box works perfectly for that purpose. It was not too expensive, has plenty of storage, and has a public folder that you can give other people access to if you want to share large files with them. Most of the time the time machine process just goes on behind the scenes as expected. Occasionally (maybe a few times a year) it becomes unable to communicate with the disk, so I have to manually open the mycloud application, and the connection comes back on. But overall I am very pleased with the WD NAS one TB that I bought.
  19. TonyK macrumors 6502a


    May 24, 2009
    At the risk of hijacking the thread, I am looking for a NAS soluation but a little different. My MP has a 3TB drive and a 1TB drive. I would love to put these into a free standing housing (hence, NAS) so I can retire the MP and move to a newer MBP and be mobile throughout the house.

    The 3TB drive is partition into three 1TB drive units with 1 unit for photos, 1 unit for iTunes and the last is just misc stuff. Because of Lightroom, I don't want to lose the photos or the edits made. Same goes for iTunes and play lists.

    Am not planning on making the unit accessible outside the home and keep the MP is not in the plan either.

    Can any of the NAS diskless units work with individual disks or do they all assume some form of RAID?

    My other issue is the Airport Express which I love but it won't handle 2 network connections so I'll have to buy a switch so when I'm in the basement (basement/ranch home) I can plug-in and get faster speeds and the NAS can be cabled into the house as well.

    Thoughts, suggestions or helpful comments are appreciated. :)

  20. mollyc macrumors 65816

    Aug 18, 2016
    I have a Synology that I have set up as two separate drives. One for Time Machine, and the other for working files.
  21. TonyK macrumors 6502a


    May 24, 2009
    Ya, answered my own question regarding JBOD. So it will work for that. Figured out how I would make it work also with the Airport Express. Just use WiFi in the basement and no need for another hub/switch.

    My two 4TB drives (usb 3) would be plugged in so I would have access to those drives as well in the house. One drive is TM and the other is used for Chronosync.

    This will allow the retirement of a MP which uses a lot of power and allow me to be mobile. Anywhere I'm in the house I can work. When in the basement I can connect to the older cinematic monitor (old 30" monster with DVI) and my mouse and keyboard. Just have to figure out the USB 3 hub issue which I have ideas for too.

    May be ordering this from B&H along with a new laptop.

  22. Andy2k macrumors member

    Jul 18, 2015
    I own both. I would recommend a synology DSM. Way nicer interface and a ton of features. Synology is constantly adding features and quickly sends out patches and bug fixes. WD is good but DSM is better.

  23. TonyK macrumors 6502a


    May 24, 2009
    What a difference a week makes. Instead of using existing drives and doing JBOD, I will be doing RAID 1 on 2 new 5400PRM WD Red drives.

    Have the unit, just need to setup and configure and see if it will work for my needs. If not, there are alternative plans for moving backup and TimeMachine to NAS and using the attached drives for photos and iTunes.
  24. Keebler macrumors 68030

    Jun 20, 2005

    Another huge vote for Synology.

    The UI is flawless, performance is flawless and value for dollar (for me anyways!) has been great.

    It's honestly one of the best tech purchases I've ever made.

    I ended up with the DS416 and put 4 x 3 TB HDs in. Lots of space and it's perfect.

    Great peace of mind and loads of space for all sorts of media etc...

  25. Andy2k macrumors member

    Jul 18, 2015
    You might want to take a closer look at your router. I admit I have an Apple AirPort Extreme. I've done Time Machine backups wirelessly on both a WDMYCLOUD and Synology DSM with at least 4 different Macs and only had an issue 1 time where it got corrupted. I just rebacked it up and it has been fine ever since.

    Edit: Because doesn't everybody own 14 different Macs? :) :( ;)


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