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Question Newbie help with NAS choice

nickg1977

Active Member
Hi all

I'm looking to make the jump into NAS ownership.
Although I'm PC literate (having built my own a few years back) I'm pretty much a novice when it comes to NAS drives.

What I'm looking for is something that will:

1) Allow me to store my documents, photos, home movies and music
2) Run my Logictech squeezebox touch without having the PC on
3) (Not essential but I guess it's possible) - access the files on the NAS drive from my phone or another Internet capable device from wherever I am.

Total budget is around £400 but I can stretch a little if needed.

I was Considering the Synology 218j with 2x 4tb drives. Synology DS218j DiskStation 2-Bay 8TB Network Attached NAS Storage w/ 2x 4TB Seagate IronWolf Hard Drive

I'm guessing it's down to personal preference if you go for WD or Seagate drives?
I'd run in mirror, as my understanding is that if one drive fails the other still contains everything.

I think I'm also going to need some sort of router extension or switch, as I run a sky router and I'm pretty sure it's not gigabit friendly (my PC is). It also has no spare sockets left! All 4 in use.
No idea where to start with that though.

Any help or advice greatly appreciated!

Nick
 

cjed

Well-known Member
I have a Synology 218j and it will do everything you want. To make your home network backbone Gigabit, all you need is a 8 port Gigabit switch (around £15). then plug all your wired devices (including your router, NAS and PC) into the switch - you'll even have a couple of ports for expansion.

As to setting the NAS up, rather than running mirrored drives you should consider only putting a single drive in the NAS (to start) and getting an external USB drive in addition for backing up the NAS. The reason is the mirroring the drives (or any form of redundancy) is a technique to ensure the the system continues to work in the event of a drive failure. While this is important in a business environment, it's not so critical in a domestic setting, where having the system down for the couple of days that it would take to replace a failed drive isn't such a disaster. Mirroring doesn't protect from accidental or malicious deletion/corruption of your files, where having a backup would.
 

nickg1977

Active Member
Thank you for the advice.
Getting a single drive NAS and an external HDD sounds like a good idea.
Is it possible to backup the NAS to the external drive easily? For example is there a "one touch" type backup to run it when I plug the drive in, or is the idea that you leave it connected permanently? I like the idea of keeping the external drive at my parents house and brining it over once a month or so to do the backup.

Thanks
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
As
...For example is there a "one touch" type backup to run it when I plug the drive in, or is the idea that you leave it connected permanently?

It will depend on the operating system and/or additional apps. you select - you might find it built in, you might have to add it on, you might have to write it yourself - you'll need to check the spec. of the software offerings (and may need some hardware support to detect "hot" connection of external HDD's.)

If you are familiar with building PC (hardware) then a NAS is no different - it's just a PC like any other albeit with hardware (and hardware features) more akin to a "server" than a "desktop" form factor.

The major difference between NAS and PC is the operating system - either shipped with or integrated into it or something you install for yourself. Way back when, NAS OS's were seriously stripped down OS's with little ability apart from serving files - hence many are *NIX clones and derivatives (which had the added advantage of often being free of charge.) Over the years there's been a lot of "function creep" in the NAS OS realm with more and more features "added back" in so that these days there's sometimes little different between NAS and full fat OS's. But if one remains mindful of he original "simple file server" ethos of NAS, you'll hopefully understand why their OS's are as they are.

Others here know the NAS market much better than I and will doubtless opine over the merits of one particular NAS OS versus another.
 
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nickg1977

Active Member
Thanks.
Certianly seems a lot more capable than I need it to be!
I'm just really after additional storage, and the added ability to run squeezecenter without running the PC 24/7.
I've been toying with the idea of a NAS for a while, and done a little research on and off. Maybe the time has come for me to just bite the bullet and dive in. I think I'll learn a lot more by just "getting stuck in".
I couple more quick questions if you don't mind.

1) Would the spec in the attached screen shot work OK? 5m cable is because the NAS won't be next to the switch (the PC will, so I'd use the cable from the NAS to connect that)

2) If I go down this route of installing my own drive, is it easy to get the NAS up and running? I'd probably just go with synology recommended OS to start with, unless anyone else has a better suggestion, taking into consideration my primary requirements.

Thanks
 

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Abacus

Banned
Synology has a superb OS, (You don’t need any knowledge to set them up) however if you are going to use it for multi-media then get the play version as the j version will be too underpowered to get the best out of transcoding.

Any program you want is probably available for the Synology and can be downloaded to the OS just like you add an app to your phone.

Search for Span dotcom on YouTube and you will find a multitude of videos to help you choose which NAS is best for you, or just search for NAS recommendations as there are a number of sites out there.

Have fun

Bill
 

nickg1977

Active Member
Thanks Bill

I'm only looking to stream rather than transcode though.
Do I really need the extra power if I'm not transcoding?
 

nickg1977

Active Member
Actually looking at the specs again, the 118 seems to do the transcoding (in case I need it) and is roughly the same price as the 218 I was considering.
Is that a better option than having the spare drive slot and a lower performance. I guess it's down to personal preference, but if anyone has an opinion either way it would be good to hear it

Thanks
Nick
 

BobA51

Standard Member
Might be some useful information in this thread - Help with Nas setup

I would re-iterate I'm on my 2nd Synology (3rd if counting my father's who I help manage) and find them easy and reliable.

Cheers,

Bob
 

Abacus

Banned
If you are only going for one drive check out your router, as many have USB ports that can be used as a NAS or Printer port, (You just set what you want to do in the router) thus giving you everything you need for streaming with just an external USB drive. (NOTE: It must have its own power supply)

If you are sure that you will only ever be using the NAS for streaming, the synology j version will be fine; however I always recommend that you go for more than you need, just in case your requirements change in the future. (NOTE: If you make sure you do regular backups, you can run the second drive in a 2 bay NAS in a Raid 0 configuration, thus increasing capacity and speed)

Bill
 

nickg1977

Active Member
Thanks guys. Router is a cheap sky one, without a USB socket.
I think I'll go with the 118, as I don't think I'll be needing more than the 4tb of storage I'm putting in. Even if I do, I could swap it out for an 8tb drive later on.

Thanks a lot everyone, appreciate the advice.
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
If you don't need to transcode in real time, almost anything will do - media streaming (even HD ones) are relatively low bandwidth. You only really need the mega processors if you want to trancode in real time.

Bear in mind that when streaming media, the playback device (client) "pulls" the data from the NAS (server) as required - the NAS doesn't "push" data to the client. All the server has to do is service the requests for "send me the next lump" as it receives them and that is relatively trivial in SOHO environments with few clients. The client devices "design in" that there is some delay pulling data from remote storage, hence all the "buffering" and short delays in start up when you hit "play."

I would not advocate RAID 0 - in a RAID 0 stripe, if any disc in the stripe is lost, you loose the data on all discs (due to the way the blocks of the volume are distributed amongst the discs.) "In the business" we tend to only use RAID 0 stripes nested within other RAID levels (for example RAID 1+0, AKA RAID 10,) - I've never seen RAID 0 used "on it's own."
 

TD17

Novice Member
If you don't need to transcode in real time, almost anything will do - media streaming (even HD ones) are relatively low bandwidth. You only really need the mega processors if you want to trancode in real time.

Bear in mind that when streaming media, the playback device (client) "pulls" the data from the NAS (server) as required - the NAS doesn't "push" data to the client. All the server has to do is service the requests for "send me the next lump" as it receives them and that is relatively trivial in SOHO environments with few clients. The client devices "design in" that there is some delay pulling data from remote storage, hence all the "buffering" and short delays in start up when you hit "play."

I would not advocate RAID 0 - in a RAID 0 stripe, if any disc in the stripe is lost, you loose the data on all discs (due to the way the blocks of the volume are distributed amongst the discs.) "In the business" we tend to only use RAID 0 stripes nested within other RAID levels (for example RAID 1+0, AKA RAID 10,) - I've never seen RAID 0 used "on it's own."

Sorry for slightly hijacking this thread with a question of my own, but i'd been following this thread as i thought it might help a problem i've got with some new equipment, and the above answer was very enlightening (about the playing device 'pulling' the file from NAS, rather than the NAS 'pushing' it).

I've got an old synology ds213j (Spec sheet says - 512MB RAM for Multitasking , Over 100MB/sec Reading, 70MB/sec Writing).

Having just gone 4k with a new TV, 4K Blu Ray and purchasing of UHD discs, i've found that 4k rips stored on this NAS won't play without severe lag/stutter/crashing via on board tv apps or through my usually reliable media player (running it's own linux based version of Kodi i think).
However, my 4k Blu Ray player has the ability to link to my NAS and does play these 4k files- but it's a case of trawling through a list of file names rather than the far more user friendly kodi type experience i'd get from the using dedicated media player. NOTE: the media player can play 1080p blu ray files ,some up to 40+GB in size and with Dolby Atmos or DTS HD, smoothly and without a problem.

Given the above post suggests (if im reading it correctly) that even an old low spec NAS should be able to serve up 4k files for a media player to transcode without a problem, can i ask if you think i'd be correct in looking to upgrade my old media player rather than upgrading my NAS to solve this problem ? I'm not exactly knowledgeable about this stuff but i would assume that a decent media player should potentially have better hardware that a NAS and therefor it's more beneficial to pay the extra for a decent media player than the NAS (my NAS works fine, and just about has enough storage at this current time).

Again, sorry for hijacking thread.
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
Are you using your media players over wired ethernet or Wi-Fi...?

If the latter, it may be that Wi-Fi is a potential issue. With wired ethernet networks, each cable lobe can transfer data independently of all the others, one of the reasons ethernet can be pretty fast are reliable. Wi-Fi differs in that in Wi-Fi networks (in each Wi-Fi cell) "only one thing at a time can transmit" - the more "things" you have, the more data you need to shift, the more competition there is for some "air time." Throw in some poor signalling conditions and Wi-Fi can become unreliable pretty quickly. Of course, when trying to stream media with higher bandwidth requirement, it tends to "find out" such issue where a bit of internet surfing and email (or maybe SD video) doesn't.

If you are using Wi-Fi, if you can test you media players over wired ethernet and see if it makes the problem go away, that would give you some evidence that Wi-Fi network could be culpable (and prove that the player have no issue retrieving and rendering the media in a timely enough fashion.)
 

TD17

Novice Member
Hi Mickevh, thanks for the reply.

Sorry, i should have mentioned in my original post that all my devices are connected via ethernet, i've got the latest Sky Q router with one out going to Sky Q box and the other to Netgear switches. However it suddenly dawned on me yesterday that one of the switches was quite old (i added a 2nd due to adding extra devices) and on checking, it isn't a Gigabit switch (like the newer one is).

Now i don't know enough about these things but that suggests to me that information is able to travel quicker through the newer switch than it is through the older one (i hope its that simple!). So unless someone on here tells me differently, i will aim to make sure that the NAS,Media Player and TV ethernet cables all go through the same Gigabit switch. That sounds like it should make sense ! I'll then test the media player and TV again with the files that were unable to play on these devices and see if that has made a difference.

All these things are a little over my head tbh but i hope some common sense and logic can get me through !
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
It's certainly worth a test to see if eliminating your 10/100 switch from the pathway makes any difference. (Of course, if that switch is not in the pathway between source and sink device - NAS and media players - it'll make no difference.)

Ethernet links is a case where throughput scales almost directly with link rate - ie a 1000mbps link should have 10 times the capacity of a 100mbps link. The time is takes the packets to pass "through" the switch proper is almost negligible, but the time to transmit data to/from a switch has an impact. If one thinks of it in terms of "time" rather than data volume, pretty much it takes 1/10th of the time to transmit any given data packet over a 1000mbps link than a 100mbps link.

Most switches in the SOHO realm us a "store and forward" paradigm, (rather like sorting offices in the postal service.) To progress through a switch, a packet takes some time to ingress, thence the switch decides which port the packet needs to egress through, then the packet is despatched through the appropriate egress port(s - could be more than one for broadcast and mulitcasts.)

The time taken to decide which port to egress through is negligible (a really good switch will have decided this before it's even finished receiving the packet as the addresses needed to make the decision are at the start of the ethernet packet format.) But the ingress/egress times are significant, so if we shorten them (by making the links faster) we get a performance boost.

It's also worth mentioning that each ethernet lobe is of finite capacity - the more competition there is for the capacity the more likely you are to experience congestion. By increasing the "speed" of a link from 100 to 1000, you increase the capacity (about 10 fold) so paradoxically the "benefit" of the speed increase could not be the speed in and of itself, (though that's welcome,) but the capacity increase (we call this "bandwidth" in the business.) This could be particularly significant on the "uplink" between switches and/or switches and router as if they are constrained to 100mbps on some particular path, then increasing that to 1000mbps may be a big help, even if all the end stations downstream of the switch are "only" 100mbps.

For example, if I've got a switch with 4x100mbps end stations and a 100mbps uplink to the rest of the network, if all those end stations are going at it full chat, then the 100mbps uplink doesn't have the bandwidth to cope and increasing it to 1000mbps will "fix" the problem (or possibly move it somewhere else.) But if all of the 4 endstations "only" consume quarter capacity as (for illustration let's say the equivalent of) 25mbps then a 100mbps would be (just) adequate. Such is that black art of network planning - predicting traffic levels is our Nemesis.

Of course, Gigabit switches are cheap as chips these days - if eliminating your 10/100 makes the difference, then upgrading 10/100 to 10/100/1000 (Gigabit) is a cheap and simple fix.

Gosh, this ended up being a longer post than I planned. :D
 

TD17

Novice Member
Appreciate the post Mickevh, i feel i've actually learnt something ! I should receive a new Gigabit switch today and will then make sure my Router, NAS and any media device used to play video are on the new switch together.
 

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