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Synology NAS Buyer’s Guide: How to pick the best NAS for you


After shopping around for Network Attached Storage (NAS) units, you may have decided on Synology as a brand. That’s only the first step, as the company offers a wide collection of NAS boxes, depending on what you need.

I’m going to run you through a few things to make choosing the right model that little bit easier.

Synology, like other vendors, uses model numbers to differentiate between the various options. The DS prefix is always present, which stands for DiskStation. After that, you have a number that usually indicates how many drive bays are present. The last two numbers are tied to each generation (representing the year of release). For example, the 2016 DS216 has two drive bays but is likely to be slower than the newer DS218 from 2018. It keeps it simple.

Some units from Synology may have a suffix at the end that shows a unique or more capable system. Here are a few examples such suffixes:

  • se – Budget-friendly option.
  • j – Affordable option for home use.
  • play – Usually has a more powerful processor for better transcoding.
  • + – Sports an Intel processor.
  • +II – The same model as the “+” but with a newer processor.

A DS218+II would be a DiskStation NAS with a newer generation of Intel processor. The DS218j, on the other hand, would contain less powerful internals but command a more affordable price.

Comparing models

Here’s a comparison table with a few of the latest models from Synology.

The more affordable options like the j models will not be very good at transcoding video and other intensive tasks but can be used to store music and other files and stream them to connected devices. The more expensive options will be better suited and cost a little extra. The base (DS218) and Intel-powered + models are an ideal middle ground. And the DS218+ won the Windows Central Choice Award.

Unless stated otherwise, NAS listings usually do not come with hard drives. So you’ll need to factor purchasing these into the final price. We’ve got a few guides available on choosing the best hard drives for a NAS.

More NAS resources

Updated on May 09, 2018: This guide was updated with further information on Synology NAS models.





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