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Some questions about upgrading my Synology NAS, now 3.5 years old (DS213).

 

The immediate problem is that the 2TB discs are getting full. I can buy either 4TB or 6TB replacements (8TB would be overkill). IIUC manufacturers make higher-capacity discs by squeezing the tracks closer together. I imagine that this makes larger discs more prone to failure, but don't really know. The 6TB units would of course go longer without filling up. On the other hand, my offsite backup system has been to rotate two portable WD Passport drives, which have a maximum size of 4TB, so I would need to find another solution if I went with the larger drives. I have used WD Red discs with good success and will probably get them again unless someone knows a specific reason not to. Comments?

 

It looks like digital audio and I are in for a long-term relationship, so I would like to move to a file system that provides better protection against file degradation (bitrot). Since I have to get new discs, this might be the time to invest in an updated NAS, although my DS213 is still working well. I've been happy with Synology, both hardware and software, but would consider a different brand.

 

Synology offers the BTRFS system on their DS216+II. This unit would meet my needs, although there are a couple of odd things about it (no USB 3.0 port on the back, mainly). The fact that Synology has upgraded the DS216+ to a Mk II suggests that there may not be a DS217+, but I don't know. I can wait 2-4 months until my discs get too full for comfort, and I would hate to buy a new NAS soon only to see a better one appear right after. Does anybody know about this? Anyone have experience with a DS216+?

 

I'd be happy to consider other brands in the same price/performance range as the DS216 if they offer a more secure file system; suggestions?

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Magister,

I don't have much experience with Synology, but in general, unless here is a compelling feature in a new NAS, I don't think it would be worth upgrading the box, you should be able to get 2-3 more years out of it.

 

As for drives, they upgrade capacity by both changing density of data per platter, and (as you suspect), by just varying the number of platters. However, when it comes to failures, heat and vibration are your two enemies, and the easiest way to control heat is to just get disks that spin slower. In fact, many of the "NAS" branded drives are completely identical to desktop versions, but just set in firmware to spin slower to lower heat, and priced for $20 higher. Stay away from Raptor and other drives marketed toward speed. But, in general, if you are concerned with failure rates, I would just look at RPM and stick to 5400 or slower. That is plenty for music, particularly when split across two spindles.

 

When I built my last NAS, I picked up 4x4TB desktop drives, and just bought the cheapest desktop drives that were below 7200. Keeping your NAS in a cooled, well ventilated environment (I.e., not a closet) is more important than the label on the box the drive came in.

 

For backup, that is another story. Take a look at services like BackBlaze or Crashplan, they have online backup services with unlimited data for like $5-6/mo. Many of these services have plugins for Synology. I don't know enough about the Synology backup service, but there is a possibility you could continue to leverage your existing 4TB drives, and just buy two more. Alternatively, is there data on there that you don't need backed up, and would be fine if you lost it (movies, etc). TBH, those online services aren't really much more expensive over a 3 year lifetime. However, initial backups and recalls may take a little bit of time, depending on your pipe.

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I don't have much experience with Synology, but in general, unless here is a compelling feature in a new NAS, I don't think it would be worth upgrading the box, you should be able to get 2-3 more years out of it.

Thank you for the detailed reply. I'm thinking about the more secure file system (BTRFS or ZFS), which is not available with my current box. Otherwise I would anticipate another couple of years from it.

. . . heat and vibration are your two enemies, and the easiest way to control heat is to just get disks that spin slower. In fact, many of the "NAS" branded drives are completely identical to desktop versions, but just set in firmware to spin slower to lower heat, and priced for $20 higher.

Ah! I wondered why the WD Red drives are sold as "5400 class" rather than the higher speed since they are (supposedly) better-than-average drives. Now I know, and it makes sense.

For backup, that is another story. Take a look at services like BackBlaze or Crashplan, they have online backup services with unlimited data for like $5-6/mo. . . . However, initial backups and recalls may take a little bit of time, depending on your pipe.

I've always been reluctant to look at online backup because uploading terabytes of data seems like quite a task, even though my internet connection is reasonably fast. And, being old-fashioned in some ways, I tend to trust the safe deposit box more than the cloud.

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