DIY Linux Server or Synology NAS?

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New Member
Dec 28, 2019
Hi, I am wanting to upgrade my current home server to something that doesn't use Windows and am having a crisis with choosing what I am going to do. Here are my list of things that I need as well as some prefered things
GUI for 90% of tools that I will be using (I can do some things in terminal, but prefer to use GUI for most tasks)
Secure Email Server
Backups for my PC
Easy Storage Expansion

I've been leaning towards Synology mostly because linux servers scare me too much, but synology is crazy expensive so i am willing to budge... thanks!


Build. Break. Fix. Repeat
Feb 15, 2015
I had a Synology for ~ 5 years before that a NetGear NAS for a few years before that a DIY file server for many many years. Then I went to FreeNAS, then Napp-IT + FreeNAS backup, and then I too debated going back to Synology (on-going\now\current ha ha).

Synology is SIMPLE, EASY, and it just works... at-least it did for my basic file sharing and testing of their other features.

Today I still use Napp-IT but I also have a 2-Bay QNAP that's a couple years old and I don't like the interface\menus as much as Synology, and this one specifically is very slow and pegs the CPU (it's a low-end model not saying all qnap are slow).

I personally have decided to go back to FreeNAS on baremetal, small form factor, and as low power as I can, and for my family\home NAS it will be for file sharing, and family media sharing only, just the storage. As it will be storage only,.. so email server, plex, etc, will run on another system and use the NAS for the storage.
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Well-Known Member
Jan 6, 2016
If building your own Linux system with Wordpress and email then I would just go Synology where it’s done for you. It’s just easy and it’s power sipping and when you all all the costs to build a system not that far out, especially for what you get.


Well-Known Member
Jan 6, 2016
Do you really want to mix your PC backup , personal files with a Internet facing server?
If you do, you need to consider the security issue.
Synology make it easy to deploy a virtual instance but this is also assuming a decent firewall in front. No way I would in 2019 be running a mail server at home, just don’t think it’s worth the effort and risk.


Active Member
Sep 23, 2015
Paris, France
Sinology choice is an easy one and very cost effective and often hassle free !

DIY choice is probably more fun (at least for me) but it's:
- Costly if you try to build a better NAS server that you would have with a All-In-One (that is often the case)
- More complex in hardware choice, building, configuring, etc...
- You spend more time to build it (the time to find pieces or good offer)
- It can be never finished (always a new good offer that let you rework on it for enhance it)

So if your main goal is to have a NAS and go on, choose the Sinology.
But if your main goal is to play with all aspects of building a NAS, choose the DIY route.


Well-Known Member
Dec 31, 2010
Every solution has its special advantages and disadvantages.

Synology for example is basically an average Linux system, paired with some special raid options and a quite low quality hardware if you compare the price. Storag features are not as state of the art compared to state of the art solutions like Netapp or ZFS. But Synolgy add a bunch of extra non storage apps like media, foto or cloud applications and the are maintained in a superiour manner.

Qnap is similar but with a little more focus on hardware and a little less on extras.

The alternative (igoring cheap desktop hardware) are server systems from Dell, HP, HP, Lenovo or Supermicro with a far higher hardware quality and much more options. You can pair such a hardware with any software solution. Only remain aligned with the typical suggestions for a good ZFS filer. If this fits, every standard OS solution will fit ex see

ZFS is the storage champion nowadays, the state of the art filer solution and the only free system comparable to the real high end systems ex NetApp.For ZFS you also have the options

Solaris, where it comes from, either a commercial Oracle Solaris with native ZFS or the free Solaris forks like OmniOS or OpenIndiana. They offer the best of all ZFS/OS integration, the kernelbased SMB server with best Windows compatibility and Comstar, a enterprise iSCSI stack. Perfect if you mainly look for a trouble free ZFS server for FC/iSCSI, NFS and SMB with very newest ZFS features like encryption or special vdevs where "Solarish just works out of the box on a minimalistic setup". If you are looking for a special media app ex Plex or integrated apps, you propably won't find. Virtualisation of Linux or Windows for them is then the answer.

Linux offers everything. Hard to find a hardware or software that you cannot use on Linux. Problem is often complexity and reliability on ZFS, software or app updates (this is why Synology is there). Sometimes more an adventure game than a "it just works" solution.

Free-BSD ex with FreeNAS is somewhere between. Very good ZFS integration (although currently outdated as all new ZFS features are missing, will change propably mid 2020) but with many apps that you can install ontop of FreeNAS - but far away from the trouble-free Synology experience but with superiour storage features over Synology.


Well-Known Member
Feb 15, 2017
Do you really want to mix your PC backup , personal files with a Internet facing server?
If you do, you need to consider the security issue.
I recommend FreeNAS for this, then you can just put wordpress/etc else that is external-facing in different jails, leaving the rest of your storage reasonably protected.

There isn't an easy way to do this in synology.


Well-Known Member
Mar 8, 2013
I spent a lot of years with custom hardware as well as virtual XPEnology systems, and recently decided it was time for a change.
I tested pretty much everything and in the end went with UNraid, even though it costs me $89.

I worked out that for just serving up files at home, running docker apps and doing backups etc. it is incredibly flexible and hard to beat.
Storage is dead easy. Expand-ability is fantastic. Speed is very good over 10/40Gbps links using NVME as cache.

The community app store and all of the add-ons is where it really shines.
If I need something, I can usually just spin it up in seconds and start configuration all through the GUI.
You can check out the list of apps here - unRaid App List

I run all of the following:
  • Nextcloud
  • OnlyOffice
  • HomeAssistant
  • PLEX/Emby/Jellyfin with nvidia hardware transcoding
  • NginxProxyManager
  • pihole
  • cloudflare-ddns
  • Deluge
  • SABnzbd
  • NZBHydra
  • Jackett
  • Sonarr/Radarr/Lidarr/Lazylibrarian
  • Calibre
I gave FreeNAS a good long trial as well, but ultimately I like tinkering with new docker instances all the time and UNraid makes it too easy :D