Synology DS420+Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central

Best Synology NAS Windows Central 2020

Those who are looking for network-attached storage (NAS) should give Synology a try. The company has numerous NAS servers available, ranging from affordable entry-level units with one or two drive bays up to enterprise-grade servers that cost a small fortune. We've rounded up the best Synology NAS enclosures.

Best Overall: Synology DiskStation DS220+

Synology DS218+Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central

Category Synology DiskStation DS220+
CPU Intel Celeron J4025
RAM 2GB DDR4 (max 6GB)
Drive bays 2x (SSD/HDD)
Capacity 32TB
Cooling 1x 92mm fan
Ports 2x 1Gb LAN
1x Rear USB 3.0
1x Front USB 3.0
Power draw Up to 14.69W
Dimensions 165 x 108 x 232.2 mm
(6.49 x 4.25 x 9.14 inches)
Weight 1.30 kg
(2.86 lbs)

The best overall NAS from Synology is the DiskStation DS220+. This enclosure has two drive bays, allowing for up to 32TB of data to be stored. This is more than enough for most NAS owners who are new to the market, and the 2GB of non-upgradable DDR4 RAM is brilliantly matched to the Intel Celeron J4025 processor.

The DS220+ is well designed too. You've got a front panel that covers the drive bays, resulting in a cleaner look. The sides and top are clear also. On the rear, you'll find the two USD 3.0 ports, as well as two 1Gb LAN ports. It would have been nice to see 2.5Gb ports here, but being able to link the two 1Gb ports up does help.

So the hardware is pretty good, but what makes Synology our top recommendation against competing vendors is the DiskStation Manager (DSM) OS. It's brilliantly designed, acting much like the OS you use daily on your computer. The included app store allows for a whole host of services and third-party apps to be downloaded and installed.

Whether you need the NAS for multimedia, surveillance, or simply a means to backup and store data; the DS220+ is a brilliant place to start. It's worth noting that this enclosure is simply that and enclosure. You'll need to purchase drives separately, but we've got an excellent guide for this that'll get you squared away with all the storage you require. Simply scroll down!

Pros:

  • Intel processor
  • Ideal for beginners
  • Excellent software support
  • Capacity of 32TB
  • 2x 1Gb LAN ports

Cons:

  • No M.2 cache
  • Only 1Gb LAN

Best Overall

Synology DiskStation DS220+

The best overall Synology NAS

The latest two-bay Intel-powered NAS from Synology is a cracking example of value. The newer Intel processor is more than capable of handling some transcoding (just not 4K), as well as other tasks you wish to run on the NAS.

Runner-up: Synology DiskStation DS420+

Synology DS420+Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central

Category Synology DiskStation DS420+
CPU Intel Celeron J4025
RAM 2GB DDR4 (max 6GB)
Drive bays 4x (SSD/HDD)
2x M.2 PCIe (NVMe) cache
Capacity 64TB
Cooling 2x 92mm fan
Ports 2x 1Gb LAN
1x Rear USB 3.0
1x Front USB 3.0
Power draw Up to 28.30W
Dimensions 166 x 199 x 223 mm
(6.54 x 7.83 x 8.78 inches)
Weight 2.18 kg
(4.8 lbs)

The Synology DS420+ is essentially the same as the DS220+, but with a few notable differences. Instead of the front plate, you've got full access to the drive bays without having to detach anything. This NAS also has four bays, instead of two. Then there are the smaller differences, like the addition of M.2 SSD cache support and an eSATA port.

If the DS220+ isn't quite good enough for your needs or you simply seek something with a little more in terms of functionality, the DS420+ is a great step-up and takes our runner-up spot. Because we're looking at an additional two bays, Synology included an extra fan, which means the DS420+ runs cool, and you barely notice any noise.

The issue with the DS420+, like the DS220+, is the lack of any 2.5Gb ports. This isn't a massive problem for most NAS owners who only have 1Gb networks but is something to note if you plan on upgrading your LAN infrastructure. Still, this is a solid NAS with four bays for plenty of network storage.

Pros:

  • Intel processor
  • Capacity of 64TB
  • M.2 SSD cache
  • Two fans for cooling

Cons:

  • Only 1Gb LAN

Best Value

Synology DiskStation DS420+

The DS220+ but with more bays

If you love everything about the DS220+ but need more drive bays, the DS420+ is the NAS for you. It rocks the same processor and more bays for extended capacity.

Best Budget: Synology DiskStation DS220j

Synology DS220jSource: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central

Category Synology DiskStation DS220j
CPU Realtek RTD1296
RAM 512MB
Drive bays 2x (SSD/HDD)
Capacity 32TB
Cooling 1x 92mm fan
Ports 1x 1Gb LAN
2x Rear USB 3.0
Power draw Up to 12.46W
Dimensions 165 x 100 x 225.5 mm
(6.49 x 3.93 x 8.86 inches)
Weight 0.88 kg
(1.94 lbs)

If you want to save some money but still try out a NAS at home, the DS220j is an excellent budget-friendly option. This NAS is ideally positioned for those who are new to the world of NAS. If you need somewhere to back up data and don't trust the cloud, this is a great solution.

The CPU is a Realtek RTD1296, which basically means it's not that powerful. For streaming music, storing files, downloading stuff from the internet, and backing up your PC, the DS220j is excellent. But if you fancy doing some more intense tasks like media streaming, you'll have to look elsewhere.

It's affordable, meaning you can pick up a NAS to see if it's for you and your situation. Not everyone requires a NAS, where a simple external drive will do, but if you can work one into your life, it'll transform how you do numerous things. The best part of the DS220j is that it runs the exact same OS as the more premium options from Synology, DSM.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Small and compact
  • Gigabit LAN
  • Great for beginners
  • Excellent software

Cons:

  • RAM non-upgradable
  • Sluggish performance
  • ARM processor

Best Budget

Synology DiskStation DS220j

For when you're on a tight budget

The DS220j isn't powerful by any means, primarily down to the ARM processor, but it makes up for this in terms of price. Should you want to save a little and have a NAS for backups, this is a good choice.

Best for Plex: Synology DiskStation DS920+

Synology DiskStation DS920+Source: Synology

Category Synology DiskStation DS920+
CPU Intel Celeron J4125
RAM 2GB DDR4 (max 8GB)
Drive bays 4x (SSD/HDD)
2x M.2 PCIe (NVMe) cache
Capacity 64TB
Cooling 2x 92mm fan
Ports 2x 1Gb LAN
1x Rear USB 3.0
1x Front USB 3.01x eSATA
Power draw Up to 32.17W
Dimensions 166 x 199 x 223 mm
(6.53 x 7.83 x 9.17 inches)
Weight 2.24 kg
(4.93 lbs)

Synology's DS920+ is a serious piece of kit, which is why it costs considerably more than our recommendations thus far. What differentiates this four-bay NAS from the DS420+ is the processor. This enclosure comes rocking an Intel Celeron J4125 CPU, which is one of the best in Synology's line-up and better than what's found inside the DS420+.

This enclosure also supports up to 8GB of RAM, compared to the 6GB in the DS420+. Then you have full enclosure support (via the eSATA port), allowing you to throw in the Synology DX517 into the mix and add a further nine drives. Other than these improvements, the two NAS are pretty much identical in size and design.

The issue with this NAS is the lack of any 2.5Gb LAN ports. Synology opted for 1Gb only, which is a shame, especially given the competition is already moving away from 1Gb ports. But if you're looking for one of the most powerful NAS enclosures in Synology's catalog, this is about as good as you can get.

Pros:

  • Powerful Intel CPU
  • Can handle 4K transcoding
  • DSM OS
  • Up to 64TB of storage
  • M.2 SSD cache support

Cons:

  • Only 1Gb LAN ports

Best for Plex

Synology DiskStation DS920+

One of the best Synology NAS for Plex

What makes the Synology DS920+ so good for Plex use is the processor. It's one of the best Celeron processors from Intel found in Synology's NAS catalog and can even transcode 4K media.

Best Capacity: Synology DiskStation DS2419+

Synology DiskStation DS2419+Source: Synology

Category Synology DiskStation DS2419+
CPU Intel Atom C3538
RAM 4GB DDR4 (max 32GB)
Drive bays 12x (SSD/HDD)
Capacity 192TB
Cooling 2x 92mm fan
Ports 4x 1Gb LAN
2x Rear USB 3.0
Power draw Up to 101.6W
Dimensions 270 x 300 x 340 mm
(10.62 x 11.81 x 13.38 inches)
Weight 9.5 kg
(20.9 lbs)

The Synology DS2419+ comes rocking an Intel Atom C3538 processor, throwing the Celeron family out the chassis. This 12-bay monster of a NAS can store up to 192TB of data on installed drives. But that's not the crazy part. With the Synology DX1215 installed, you can bump that 192TB up to a whopping 384TB.

The Intel CPU with the upgradable RAM (up to 32GB) allows one to do many tasks on the NAS simultaneously. Whether you're looking at a serious performer for Plex media streaming or a capable workhorse for the office, the DS2419+ has enough horsepower to get the job done.

There are four Gb ports that can be linked up and have failover support, but it would have been nice to see 2.5Gb or 10Gb ports available. It's a shame since this NAS has the price tag and the performance elsewhere to match these network speeds. Unlike other Synology NAS, you can purchase and install an optional 10Gb network card.

Pros:

  • Massive 192TB capacity
  • Solid Intel CPU
  • DSM OS
  • Extensible
  • 4x Gb LAN ports

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Optional 10Gb LAN card
  • No M.2 SSD cache support

Best Capacity

Synology DiskStation DS2419+

Maximum capacity

The DS2419+ from Synology is a monster of a NAS. It has 12 drive bays, allowing you to hit a capacity of a whopping 192TB. If you have plenty of files to store away, this is the NAS for you.

Best Compact: Synology DiskStation DS419slim

Synology DiskStation DS419slimSource: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central

Category Synology DiskStation DS419slim
CPU Marvell Armada 385 88F6820
RAM 512MB DDR3L
Drive bays 4x 2.5-inch (SSD/HDD)
Capacity 20TB
Cooling 1x 60mm fan
Ports 2x 1Gb LAN
2x Rear USB 3.0
Power draw Up to 20.28W
Dimensions 120 x 105 x 142 mm
(6.49 x 3.93 x 8.86 inches)
Weight 0.66 kg
(5.6 lbs)

Synology's DS419slim is an interesting little enclosure. It's super-compact, coming in at just 120 x 105 x 142mm, and weighs just 0.66kg. Because it's so small and it only takes 2.5-inch drives, Synology needed only to add a single 60mm fan to keep it running cool.

The four bays are ideally suited to SSDs, which further helps this enclosure to be used as portable storage. It's handy having an external drive ready for your trip, but these are limited in capacity and expensive. It'll be easier to carry around just one device that can contain everything you need.

The power draw is low, but you still get some beefy storage and the same OS that runs on Synology's larger NAS enclosures. There are a few drawbacks to this little unit, which include the price and the rather weak CPU. The former is simply a reflection of how much tech has been crammed into such a small package, but the weak CPU will be hard to live with if you expect decent performance for media streaming.

Pros:

  • Quiet running
  • DSM OS
  • Lightweight
  • Compact
  • Low power draw

Cons:

  • Pricey
  • Weak CPU

Best Compact

Synology DiskStation DS419slim

On-the-go storage

The DS419 from Synology is an interesting little NAS since it only supports 2.5-inch drives. Throw some SSDs inside the four bays, and you've got one compact NAS that will happily travel with you.

Picking the best Synology NAS to buy

Choosing the best Synology NAS isn't that difficult. Synology has plenty of top-tier NAS enclosures available, allowing you to pick one that suits your available budget and needs. If we were to recommend one as the absolute best option, it would be the Synology DS220+, offering an excellent balance between price and performance.

But not everyone can splash out such funds on a NAS, which is where the Synology DS220j comes into play. This handy enclosure doesn't cost much, which is great if you're new to NAS, but it'll gladly store terabytes worth of data for you.

Choosing some hard drives for your NAS

Most NAS enclosures come with no hard drives pre-installed. This is where the cost of the NAS as a whole can almost double. While you could throw in some old desktop drives you no longer use, this isn't recommended. NAS hard drives are specifically designed for continuous operation and come with some advanced features not found in desktop-class drives.

Choosing a drive depends on your budget and how much data you plan on storing. For data protection, it's best to run at least two drives in some form of redundant array of independent disks (RAID), which will help prevent any data loss. Thus, should you buy two 2TB drives and run them in RAID1, you'll only have 2TB of space for all your files.

The best storage drives for NAS

To get the most out of your NAS enclosure, you'll need to install some hard drives. We've rounded up some of our favorites, allowing you to store all the data on your NAS. Whether you need to save a little and go with a 2TB drive or go all out with 16TB or even an SSD for rapid transfer rates, we got you covered.

Best Storage Drives for NAS

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Rich Edmonds is a staff reviewer at Windows Central, which means he tests out more software and hardware than he cares to remember. Joining Mobile Nations in 2010, you can usually find him inside a PC case tinkering around when not at a screen fighting with Grammarly to use British words. Hit him up on Twitter: @RichEdmonds.

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