Synology or Qnap?

Hi folks,

I’m searching for a storage solution for 20-30 TB. I have been looking at Synology and Qnap for a while, but I haven’t used any of them. Those brands seems to be the ones to choose if you want a disk storage cabinet solution, right?

The background is that my brother in law have like a dozen external drives that he wants to consolidate, and also replace a Time Capsule that broke down this weekend.

The reason I want to suggest a cabinet is because I would like to propose a dynamic, scalable solution with Raid.

Demands as I understand it:

  • The unit should be able to connect locally as well as via the network (locally because if we copy the other external disks we need the speed (Interface should be Thunderbolt 2 or quicker)).

  • Time Machine needs to supported. I understand that both Qnap and Synology have their own backup software, and that is fine as long as it works – I don’t want to get a phone call every now and then from him, because the backup software is doing “something” that he doesn’t understand (he’s not very tech-savvy to put it mildly).

  • Reachabiity over internet. Ie, if he’s not at his office he should still be able to reach his files. It looks like both Qnap and Synology have this feature, but I’m not sure if they work as they should, and without any trouble.

I realize the answer to these questions is embedded in Qnap’s and Synology’s home pages, but I am looking for real life cases and opinions. :hugs:



I bought my Synology about 4 years ago for the very reason that I wanted to keep our stuff in ONE place, vs the scattered dozen or more external drives we’d accumulated over the previous decade. I also wanted a place to house our media library of movies and stuff to get rid of all the DVDs we had taking up space on a shelf. I did the QNAP/Synology comparison and I didn’t find any glaring differences for my use scenario, so I went with Synology because it seemed to have more users that sung its praises, and anecdotally was more Mac-friendly.

I have never regretted the choice. That little box is probably the most rock-solid bit of kit I’ve owned. It does exactly what I need it to do, and I don’t even think about it. The longer I’ve had it, the more uses I find, and it does everything, including self monitoring for failures, etc. It allows us to have independent Time Machine backups from both Macs in the house without issue, and it allows me to get my files from any connection (although this will require a little finessing to set up proper permissions). As a media server, I cannot hope for better–we have Plex running on it with the app on the Apple TV and it’s pretty much flawless. We typically each work off a virtual drive on the Synology from our desktop computers anywhere in the house, so it’s essentially unlimited storage for us that doesn’t take up space on our computers and yet is redundantly stored on the Synology. It’s been up and running now for well over 200 days and hasn’t needed a thing from me. We keep ours in the bowels of the basement, and so it makes no noise we care about. If it needs anything, it just fires me an email and I go check. I also have it send weekly reports, just so I know all is well.

Honestly, if this thing ever dies on me, I would at this point have to replace it, so much has it wormed its way into our family’s day to day workflows.

Now, it may well be that QNAP does all of this as well, and perhaps cheaper, but from my experience with Synology, I won’t be going anywhere else.


I have had various Synology units for quite a few years, and they work well and reliably. I have not used QNAP, but from what I know they are equally robust.

Synology NAS units do not direct connect to a computer, and so typically you would populate files over the network. For instance, you would connect an external drive to your Mac, mount the Synology network share, and copy the files over the network. If you want, however you can plug an external drive into the Synology, connect to the Synology via its web interface, mount the drive on the Synology, and do a direct copy in the FileManager on the Synology. This does work. However, if the external drives are APFS formatted, I do not know that the Synology can mount them at this point in time.

I believe there are QNAP models that can either directly connect to a host computer or be network connected, so if that is the make or break feature for you, you might want to consider those QNAP models.

Once you actually have the files populated on the NAS (this is, after all, a one time event and so if it is a bit more cumbersome for the Synology vs the QNAP, this may still not be the deciding factor), you can access them in a variety of ways.

From your LAN where the NAS is connected, you can mount shares from the NAS directly to your computer via SMB. This can be done via Finder, AppleScript, utilities that keep them mounted like Automounter, etc.

You can also use SynologyDrive to build your own “Dropbox” equivalent if you preferred to work that way, but with 20-30TB on the NAS you would obviously not be able to mirror everything locally!

When you are not on your LAN, file access is always more difficult as protocols like SMB are not designed to work over the internet. You can use WebDAV which Synology supports (and I would guess QNAP does as well). You can also make a VPN connection to your home network and then mount the Synology. There are a variety of ways depending on your needs.

I suspect you would do fine with either Synology or QNAP. Gut feeling is there are more Synology users here than QNAP so you might have an easier time getting advice here for Synology. I don’t have any facts to back up that guess, however.

I do know that Synology is easy enough to set up, and supports not only SynologyDrive but a mail server, Plex (which I have on mine), HomeBridge (also running on mine) and many other things, so you will find uses for it beyond just file storage.


I’ve had a Synology for about 6 years, and it’s fine. Only two issues. First is that the Synology loses its network connection every 3 or 4 weeks – it’s still running, but I have to do a hard shutdown and restart to get it back online. I suspect it is a conflict with the FiOS router, and I’ve have tried dozens of suggestions from here and elsewhere to no avail. Second issue is that after years of trying I’ve never succeeded in getting Time Machine to successfully complete a backup to Synology. Again, probably a local issue only, but it confirms my own intense distrust of Time Machine reliability. Both issues are probably localized and not general problems; just wanted to mention them.

I’ll confirm that configuring weekly reports as @machei suggested is a good idea. I do the same.

I’d be concerned about having a broader strategy for backup for those 30TB of data. If your NAS is the only repository for those data, then that’s a gap that needs a good strategy.

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My Synology is still running nicely after 9 years of service, so very happy with value-for-money there.

More importantly, QNAP has a horrible history of serious security vunerabilities in its software. Security issues reported by researches go unpatched for months or years. The repeated patterns makes it hard to trust them IMO.


My experience with TimeMachine is similar to what others have experienced with any TM backup done over the network, eg it works most of the time, but I did have one instance in which TM became unable to backup to the Synology and I had to restart the whole backup. This seems to be a feature of TM, not necessarily the Synology.

@anon41602260 You bring up a very good point. Backing up a NAS itself is actually a non-trivial problem to solve. Synology does include its HyperBackup software, which can be used to perform incremental / versioned backup to a variety of cloud locations including Amazon or any S3 compatible provider (which now includes BackBlaze B2) or Synology’s own C2 cloud storage. I have used it and it seems to work but I have not had the need (fortunately) to do any restores other than a small test restore, and so I cannot personally vouch for it in the event of major local data loss.

Backing up 20-30TB into B2, S3 (Amazon, BackBlaze, Wasabi - which I am current using) is not going to be cheap. 30TB into Wasabi is over 2,000 dollars / year. Amazon Glacier Deep Storage will run about $350/year, much more palatable. The drawback is that Deep Storage’s intend is that you only retrieve data 1-2x/year and it takes 12hours or more to get your data, but that is probably not a big deal if you are only retrieving data in the event of a local catastrophe. (I may move my Synology backup to Glacier to save some money, actually, for this exact reason.)

If much of what you have on your Synology is archival storage, and if anything really “active” is mirrored somewhere else (this is actually my approach. My entire music and video library is on the Synology, along with a lot of archival data. My “active” data syncs via SynologyDrive to my MBPro, and is backed up via Arq from there as well, so I can get back my key files quickly and get the archival stuff back over time) then Glacier would be a good way to go at a much lower cost.

If HyperBackup is not to your liking, another approach is to mount the Synology shares on your Mac and let another system such as Arq send the data to the cloud. I got away from that just because I felt there were too many moving parts, but if you have a desktop that stays put or your laptop is regularly on the home LAN, this would also be an option. Arq can also backup to all of these cloud providers.

Some folks hook up an external drive the Synology and let HyperBackup copy data there, but you aren’t going to readily find a 30TB external drive (!). However, you could buy an external RAID box and put all those external drives into it once the data is copied to the Synology (note that Synology will NOT create a RAID array on a bunch of external drives as far as I have been able to figure out, so you need a hardware RAID device).

Another option, as the costs build, is another Synology located offsite where you have access to hook it into a network, and your local Synology mirrors to the offsite Synology. As I have an older Synology hanging around, I would do that IF I had the offsite location. Since I don’t, if anyone wants to buy a used Synology…

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If you can wait for the synology x22 models as their right on the cusp of a new refresh.

Synology software is clearly more mature than QNAP though historically that’s come presumably at the cost of more capable hardware. QNAP is a lot more aggressive for now at delivering stronger hardware platforms with 2.5 or 10Gb ethernet, NAND cache and CPU speeds.

If the x22 refreshes come with 2.5Gbe i’ll probably go with Synology as I like their software roadmap. If not I’ll go QNAP.

Pay close attention to security. ALL NAS vendors have been attacked recently with Ransomware attacks. It’s not much of an issue if you keep it all local but if you want remote access research how t prevent Ransomware attacks to be safe.


definitely recommend Synology over QNAP from a cybersecurity perspective


maybe I should add, avoid having remote connection if you do not need that

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I’ll add to the Synology votes. It’s like the Everready bunny, it just keeps going. However, you mention wanting RAID. Remember that RAID is for fault tolerance, not backup. He will need a backup solution for the Synology if it is the only repository for certain data.

For remote access I don’t like opening ports into my network. I have everything backed up to BackBlaze and can access the backup files when away from home. Also a great way to test your recovery process. That my be a little complex for him though.


The way I have solved remote access is to set up a VPN endpoint on my Ubiquiti router, then connecting through that when needed. Luckily, home office has been the mode of delivery for the last two plus years now, so the VPN service has not even been running :slight_smile:

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BMW or Mercedes … Don’t think you can go wrong with either Synology or QNAP. I have had both, but currently sit firm with Synology.

Make sure you think through your specs and needs and buy with the future in mind as a NAS is likely going to stay around for a long time. Under spec it will lead to regrets.

If you start building your media you need enough disks to allow Raid 5,6 or 10 to allow for disk failure. Also look at ways to increase storage over time. Synology allows you to “grow” your NAS by putting larger disks inside. These will also become cheaper over time.

Don’t only look at disk space, but also CPU power, memory and ability to encode 4k video and network (10Gb, 2.5Gb, ability to combine network ports for bandwidth). You might not need all now, but will in the future.

Look at use cases as there are many: ext storage, backup, media server, VM server, other home-based servers like Home Assistant, Hoobs, Pi-hole you name it.

Youtube Channel NASCompares has good reviews of most models, suggest to watch the ones for your downselected favourites before you buy.


Thank you all for your input, highly appreciated!

Some thoughts:

  • I thought that off-site sharing with at least Synology was made on port 80, and thus you don’t need to open any extra ports and forwarding etc?
  • I had a Drobo once. You could mix disk sizes and remove them during use with no hazzle. Is this doable with Qnap and/or Synology? (not a dealbreaker but good to know)

If you use the Synology Connect functionality, you don’t have to open ports. Despite that, I still only do it through VPN.

I too came from Drobo. I would advise against using different disk sizes. Then again I use Raid 5 and not Synology Hybrid Raid. Always look at drive compatibility and Raid configurations before you buy drives.

Given your volume of data and media intentions, I would buy a 4 or 5 bay NAS with SSD cache and 32Gb RAM and start with relative cheap 8Tb or 10Tb drives. You can then grow when 14Tb-16Tb drives come down in price.

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I have a QNAP 4 drive NAS as the storage for my Plex server. It’s given me very few issues in the seven years it has been in service.


Just noting that I have a QNAP TR-004U, which is effectively a rackmount DAS RAID setup. It misses some of your network functionality, but it definitely direct-connects. If you could remote into the Mac and manage files from there though, it would work fine.

I’m really enjoying my Unraid setup. As in, I messed with it for half a day and haven’t needed to touch it since. It’s rock solid and not open to the internet so I don’t even update it often because I’m not concerned with outside security threats.

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In terms of disk of differing sizes, that is possible with Synology (and probably with QNAP but I don’t know that for sure), but not the same way as with a Drobo.

Drobo uses a proprietary technology that allows them to utilize drives of multiple different sizes effectively. The advantage is you can put in a polyglot of drives and have it work; the disadvantage is that recovering data from a Drobo drive set without a Drobo (and sometimes, from what I have read, without the same model of Drobo) is difficult to impossible. I have read of companies providing this data recovery service, but I understand it it be very expensive.

Synology supports, in addition to the “standard” variety of RAID configurations, “Synology Hybrid Raid” or SHR. What they basically do is utilize a portion of larger drives equal to the size of the smallest drive to set up the RAID arrays, but in contrast to standard RAID 1, or 5, for example, they also use the “leftover” parts of the larger drives as additional RAID sets and then aggregate all of that into one logical volume, making it transparent to the user.

For example: 4 drive Synology with 3 x 10TB and 1 x 6TB. SHR would create a 4-drive RAID5 equivalent with 6 TB of each drive. The 6TB drive is now fully utilized, but the 10TBs each have 4TB unused, so SHR would create a 4TB RAID5 equivalent with 3 drives. The total can them be put together to one logical volume of 10TB. You still have the protection of being able to recover from a single lost drive.

There are some caveats with SHR. It really isn’t designed for multiple different drive sizes, so in a 4TB setup I might have one smaller drive, or two drives of one size and two of another, but if you put in a 2TB, 4TB, 6TB and 8 TB, it won’t be very efficient or as useful as a Drobo because of the way the components of the volume get constructed. Also, with SHR you can only replace a drive with a larger drive; you cannot go down in drive size as you can with a Drobo.

My understanding is that SHR is based on generally available Linux volume management tools and as such you can, at least in theory, access an SHR volume by plugging the set of drives into a Linux box, but you would need a certain amount of Linux-fu which I had years ago but would not like to bet my crucial data on these days as I have not been a Linux user in >10 years since I moved to Mac.

Hope this is useful. :slight_smile:


Seems like a good place to throw this in.

Here’s something you don’t want to get a notification for.

That said, this is the second time in 6+ years that the QNAP has warned me about a potential drive failure. Both times it has notified me in a way that got my attention, and both times I’ve been able to create a backup and order a new drive before anything bad happens. (The new drive will be here in 4 hours, thanks Amazon!) If you’re going to have a failure, this is the kind you want!