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Help me choose a NAS

Discussion in 'Servers and Enterprise Solutions' started by dl8860, Jul 11, 2018.

  1. dl8860

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Jul 25, 2010

    Posts: 2,394

    Location: Surrey

    Until now my data backup efforts have just been using a 1TB external HDD to back up my PC's HDD, which is also 1TB. I also have a 256GB SSD which is not backed up, as SSDs are invincible amirite? PC's HDD is now pretty old, since 2011 I think. My HDD data is a mixture of videos, photos and music. SSD content is just programs and games.

    So it's about time I upgraded my backup approach to this decade, and seems like a NAS is a good way to do this. The benefits of being able to have access to all my files on the go, and also stream directly to Plex on my TV would be nice too. Wife's mac hasn't had a backup in a while either.

    My initial thoughts are a 2 bay NAS with 2TB in each bay, which gives me room for all of my current data plus more, and ability to have a RAID setup for extra performance and failure proofing.

    Regarding plex and video streaming, I keep reading about transcoding and hardware acceleration, but still can't work out if I need it. I never had any problems using direct play with my plex server just set up on my PC's hard drive and playing directly from there. So would I be OK with basically any remotely up to date NAS? Or do I need to worry about being able to video transcode?

    e.g. the Synology DS218Play chipset won't work with plex directly I don't think, whereas the DS218+ can. But is that just a transcoding thing and do I need to worry about it?
     
  2. bremen1874

    Sgarrista

    Joined: Oct 20, 2008

    Posts: 8,992

    For Plex I think you'd need one of their Intel based models (such as the DS218+ you mention). I don't think you can run Plex on the other models at all.

    2GB isn't very much nowadays.

    And obviously there's the usual warning that RAID != backup. You don't want any data you care about to only exist on the NAS.
     
  3. pcfarrar

    Hitman

    Joined: Jun 6, 2016

    Posts: 661

    I've got a DS218+, for best Plex transcoding performance you need to fit 2 x 4GB RAM modules. One module is in a tricky location to access and you have to strip the whole thing down to get at it. With 2 x 4GB it runs in dual channel mode which makes quite a difference to performance when transcoding.

    If your don't have loads of users doing simultaneous transcoding then it's fine with the stock 2GB + an additional 4GB module.

    This is the Crucial 4GB module that is compatible: CT51264BF186DJ

    Don't run Plex with just 2GB, it's not enough for transcoding.

    Only buy intel based Synology's for Plex, it's well supported. Don't even consider the DS218Play. I don't even think Plex currently works on the DS218Play anyway.
     
  4. dl8860

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Jul 25, 2010

    Posts: 2,394

    Location: Surrey

    Thanks guys that's useful info. Any idea if I even need to run with transcoding though? I've tried reading on plex help pages but can't work it out. When do you need to transcode as opposed to just playing direct? I almost always watch plex on my Samsung H6400. And you need plex pass to transcode anyway right?

    And if I'm not transcoding, then I guess I don't need to worry about which exact model I get, is that right?
     
  5. bremen1874

    Sgarrista

    Joined: Oct 20, 2008

    Posts: 8,992

    Check for yourself but as per my earlier post I believe that there are models that won't run Plex at all.

    Transcoding, if necessary, just needs enough oomph. Whether you'll need to transcode will depend on the original file, how it's encoded, the available bandwidth, and the playback device.
     
  6. pcfarrar

    Hitman

    Joined: Jun 6, 2016

    Posts: 661

    Even if your not transcoding its best to get an Intel based NAS. You could always look for an older model, I just sold a DS216+II with 4GB RAM on ebay for £120.

    A lot of the new Synology units that use the ARM v8 CPU aren't currently compatible with Plex. They are in the process of releasing a new version that supports it but it's still in the Alpha stage I think.
     
  7. HoneyBadger

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Aug 2, 2016

    Posts: 2,080

    Location: Hoo, Kent

    Not an issue for any new device, but if buying an older device from eBay, make sure it supports SMBv2+ - Otherwise if it's limited to SMBv1.1, Windows 10 will not be able to map a drive to it. (Via SMB)
     
  8. Avalon

    Mobster

    Joined: Dec 29, 2002

    Posts: 3,830

    Another option is to look at something like a Gen8 Microserver, it'll probably be cheaper and more capable option with 4+ drives as an option. Unraid, FreeNAS or Xpenology are decent software options and a CPU mark of 2k is generally adequate for transcoding (usually slightly less will do) and CPU/RAM upgrades are readily available. It'll also be more suited to doing things like downloading with news/torrents, VPN work and any other services you wish to run.
     
  9. StevieP

    Soldato

    Joined: Jan 2, 2004

    Posts: 6,096

    Location: Chesterfield

    Microserver and unRaid for me! I switched from a Synology NAS and I've never looked back!
     
  10. neil_g

    Sgarrista

    Joined: Dec 9, 2007

    Posts: 9,656

    Location: South Hampshire

    nope.
     
  11. Avalon

    Mobster

    Joined: Dec 29, 2002

    Posts: 3,830

    Just to throw further fuel on the fire, if you run your Plex server on other hardware, the NAS doesn’t have the same overheads as it’s just serving files to the actual server, something like a ShieldTV, NUC or your existing PC/mac could do the heavy lifting (running Plex server/transcoding). Either way think carefully before going the NAS route.
     
  12. dl8860

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Jul 25, 2010

    Posts: 2,394

    Location: Surrey

    I've used my PC in the past to do the actual playing, but that means I need to have my PC turned on any time I want use plex. Sounds like a minor thing, but there's something attractive about an all in one box that sits on in the background and handles everything. I don't actually use my PC at home that often, 1 night a week maybe.
     
  13. Avalon

    Mobster

    Joined: Dec 29, 2002

    Posts: 3,830

    Then to address the proverbial elephant(s) in the room:

    You don’t appear to want a NAS at all, you want a server capable of doing everything. At the simplest level, this is a PC. Your basic options are an under spec’d/over priced hone server ‘appliance’ (no matter how they market them it’s a PC, usually running Linux), or buy an actual PC (server) and have room to expand as your needs change/grow.

    Next up hw will you add content to the Plex server?

    Hint: If you intend to download freely available (legal) media content, you probably still want to run a VPN routed torrent client (docker is your friend) and/or SAB/NZBD for news. VPN encryption and PAR/RAR work will eat a low end CPU (read high end NAS CPU) alive. By the time you add SONARR/RADARR into the mix (as you only use your PC once a week and doing it manually is just silly), the overheads get higher still. If you intend to encode your own content, then it’ll need encoding, that will take time and leads us into...

    What are you going to play content back with? Something, somewhere needs to be able to run as a Plex client (usually not your server), probably connected to a TV and using CEC and/or a suitable remote. Low end that probably looks like a Pi3. The client’s capabilities along with your chosen media formats will dictate if you need to transcode and what level of NAS you need to budget for, however as above i’d personally not suggest a NAS is the best option for this.
     
  14. dl8860

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Jul 25, 2010

    Posts: 2,394

    Location: Surrey

    When I said what I want is an all in one box that sits in the background and handles everything, I only meant handling data storage, access and playback, on an always on basis. As far as I can tell from research, I don't need any of the other benefits and features of setting up a fully fledged server.

    As far as adding content to the plex server, am I missing something here? Isn't it as easy as telling plex which drives to search? That's how I've always done it when I've hosted the plex media server on my PC's HDD.

    Your penultimate paragraph is lost on me.

    Content playback will be through my Samsung h6400 TV as per post #4. In future (if I get a plex pass) I may well sync content to my phone also.
     
  15. BigT

    Mobster

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002

    Posts: 2,769

    Location: UK

    Where do you obtain the content you want your Plex server to host? If it is solely from ripped CDs/DVDs/BluRays you own then that paragraph has little relevance for you. If it is from other sources, particularly those that you download from, then that paragraph is littered with reference to applications that make that sort of thing safe, secure from prying eyes and easy.