External to NAS: There is only so much IO!

Hi guys,

I’m in need of a NAS. In fact, the whole Family is. No doubt, or argument.

The concern is the point of transfer. All those 1-2 TB USB2.0 external hard drives, we’ve been accumulating over the last decade would need to be transferred and no one of us is keen to plug a week worth of transfer time in and out every couple of hours. How do I parallelize best?

Plug them all in and start copying.
Since USB 2.0 is only half a gigabit and current USB 3.X at least 5gbit, there shouldn’t be any bottlenecks if you plug in multiple at the same time. Just make sure to not use any dodgy external hubs.

Are you asking for NAS Recommendations too?

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There is enough info flowing around here. The rest is shopping by criteria.

But since you are offering…

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What are your capacity requirements?
And how much are you looking spend on the NAS, not including the Hard Drives?

Based on that I can give you a recommendation on NAS and Hard Drives.

Generally speaking, Synology Plus Series and a Custom TrueNAS Build are the top choices.

The capacity would be around 40 TB after redundancy and above 1000€ before Hard Drives it get’s painful. so I tend more to a Custom Build.

Do you need 10Gbit nics?
Do you need to do transcoding?
Are you willing to buy used?




It is for media mostly. Capacity for a small server (shared calendar, PLEX,) would be nice but not necessary. client-side VLC is enough.

4x16TB Raid5 = 48TB usable storage. 16TB drives have very good $/TB. So a 4-bay NAS could be sufficient and allows for comparably cheap QNAP/Synology products. If you want more like 6-8 drives, I’d consider a DIY instead or second-hand NAS, as QNAP/Synology get really expensive >4 bays

Different RAID configuration, cache SSD, etc depend on the network you’re using. For 1Gbit network, you don’t need fancy upgrades.


I have QNAP (older ARM models), Synology (DS920+ Intel) and TrueNAS DIY, and from user friendliness point of view Synology all the way.
QNAP and TrueNAS both work reliably as well, no issues for 7+ year with any of them.

QNAP has a bit of a bad reputation on slow security issues mitigation, but I would never ever expose any of those to the Internet ever. VPN in, then use what you like.

Synology has a handy RAID calculator that will show you compatible models with your desired RAID setup.

Whatever you do, BACKUP. RAID is not backup.

Just my two (euro) cents.

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There are four things to consider in a NAS:

  1. Network throughput
  2. Storage Capacity
  3. Power draw
  4. Other uses (webserver? virtualisation?)

Since HDDs have a max throughput of 180 MB/s, a 2.5G ethernet will be able to serve 2 users at no bottlenecks, 5G will be able to serve 4-5 depending on load and 10G would serve 10 users with no bottlenecks. However, if all you got is a 2.5G switch, then that is your bottleneck.

If you are happy with a low power server, two options present themselves. Here are two core options that fits in pretty much any case you can think of, even 1u, for $550-ish:

Curiously, the Ryzen system draws less power even though it is more powerful. Both are solid picks though.

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And about your storage migration:

If you have 5-10Gbps speed to a USB hub, that’s plenty for 4 drives at a time. External USB enclosures have the same bandwidth to work with.
Just don’t use an old USB 2.0 hub and use USB ports directly from your PC if possible. PC can handle 10 HDDs no problem, it’s just USB bandwidth and the drive that’s been written to that may become a bottleneck. Folders with thousands of small files are the real trouble, as HDDs aren’t good at that. If this is a major problem, consider packaging everything in a .rar or .zip first. Temporarily moving the data to an SSD can also speed things up.
It’s a one-time process that needs some patience, but eventually will finish. And makes you love your new NAS even more :slight_smile:

I’m the guy who starts longer tasks before going to bed so everything is done after breakfast :slight_smile:

I’ve done this for myself and my family in the past. A zoo of old external HDDs is quite common. Having a central location in a NAS, easily accessed by Wifi is very convenient and not having to guess what HDD that old file is on also saves time.

The quoted power consumption looks like the max power draw to me …

I am currently running a X9SRi-F Motherboard, with 4 SAS/SATA , 4SATA and two SATA/SATADOM ports, with a 6 core E5-1650, an intel X520 10Gbit card, 32GB of ram, three WD red 6TB drives and 4 1TB NVme SSDs … the system idles at ~50watts when running

  • truenas as a host
  • vyos as my main router
  • A docker VM running 20-30 containers (home automation, sensor monitoring, unifi controller, plex, prometheus, grafana … whatever)
    The only time when power consumption goes up to ~100W is when plex transcoding using the CPU (no GPU in the system, from a power saving point of view a GPU is never a good idea IMHO)

Storage aside, I spent about 600EUR for the system …

A couple of caveats there: there will be no network bottlenecks but rust doesn’t like serving multiple concurrent users and you may face storage bottlenecks before network.

The reality is though that the chances of multiple users running flat out at the same time is small.

I run a bunch of 240 port switches at work and most of them run only 20-100 megabit (in total over the trunk ports) back to the SAN as users are generally only doing very small IO (office workload)

Media server may be different but even so streaming 4K under 100 megabit per stream.

Guess what I’m saying is that once the media is ingested, gigabit is fine for a few concurrent users unless they’re regularly copying large files around on it at the same time.

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