The quest for a NAS


TMS Founder
For the past few days I have been researching NAS systems. Time for a thread.
I will be using this thread as an overview of all research I've done. Makes it easier for me to eventually buy the NAS and start configuring everything. Hopefully it'll also be useful for someone else in the future.

Why am I getting a NAS?
For years I've been taking advantage of "unlimited" cloud services. Of course I've always known that this fairy tale wasn't gonna last forever. Google Drive lasted three years, while Dropbox only lasted 3 months. (and they never even allocated all the space I needed. Right now I still have 51TB "frozen" on Google Drive (can no longer upload), and have "only" 30TB on Dropbox, until they capped me.


Synology vs Unraid vs Truenas
These are by far the most popular solutions. In my research I have concluded the following:
  • Synology: while a great system and familiarity (I use it at work) is too expensive and not really future-proof. The real deal-breaker for me was no hardware transcoding. (this is needed when my device or internet speed cannot handle the original data stream. Granted this is only an issue when I'm not at home, but I do want to be able to enjoy my collection when I'm travelling for example.)
  • Truenas: while probably a good system, this solution does not allow you to mix and match drives. Which is pretty crucial since I have around 7 external HDDs lying around that I want to shuck and place into the NAS. Stopped looking at this option as soon as I discovered that all drives had to be identical. The learning curve is also a lot higher with Truenas, compared to Unraid.
  • Unraid: came out as the best option of the three. The mix-and-match capability is the main reason. GUI also looks really nice and the community is huge, both on Reddit and their forums. Only downside for now is the price. Minimum is $59, Pro is $129.

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Unraid: some doubts still

I still need to research some more things. I already know that Unraid uses a parity drive. (1 or 2). The more drives you have, the safer it'll be to have 2 parity drives.
IMPORTANT INFO: The parity drive decides how big your other individual drives can be. If you put in a 4TB drive, no other drive can be bigger than 4TB... So obviously I will put in my 16TB external HDD, or I might even buy a brand new 18TB/22TB one.
  • Will I be able to upgrade from 1 parity to 2 parity drives easily?
Another concern is the speed. With Synology you can reach speeds up to 900MB/s. With Unraid you seem to be limited to 100MB/s-ish.
  • What read and write speeds should I expect?


The serverbuilds forum has a great build guide called "Nas Killer". They're up to Nas Killer 5.0 now. Obviously I'll use this as my starting point.

Still the amount of options can be overwhelming. Some further research is still necessary.
For now I put together this build:

I'm 100% sure about:

CPU: Intel Core i5-12400
  • Quick Sync Video (great for Plex)
  • Intel UHD Graphics 730
  • Under €200
No other CPU matches these criteria (Intel UHD Graphics 770 is €235 at least for the 12600k)

Case: Fractal Design Define R5
  • 8 internal 3.5" Bays
  • €129
Also will need to figure out if this MoBo allows me to boot without a monitor. I do not plan to attach anything to this machine. Will manage it from web through my other devices.
  • All parts arrived
  • Build was put together
  • 5 drives were pre-cleared (took +48 hours)
  • Array was started for the first time, parity sync is still in progress (long time left)

There are also two unassigned drives, of which one is still being pre-cleared (post-read).
It's my 12TB WD, should finish in around 3 hours.

And here’s my first disk failure.
Immediately ordered a new drive, but I’m thinking of going double parity. It’s an awful feeling having no failsafe now.

I just realised that I can't really expand my number of drives beyond 8 for a while...
I have DDR5 memory, and the ONLY motherboard with more than 8 SATA-600 connections is this one.
It's €900+


Now fortunately my "roof" is still 120TB. I don't expect to hit that for at least a few years.
(2x 20TB parity + 6x free slots, each with a maximum of 20TB)
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