DeviceDeal Blog / Buying Guides / QNAP vs Synology
Learn the differences between QNAP and Synology NAS devices and decide which is right for you.
Article - Last updated: 3rd December 2021
Buying a NAS is an important decision. You will trust your data, files and storage to your NAS device. Naturally, you'd want to choose a NAS that offers reliability, speed, and ease-of-use.
Among NAS brands, there are two which stand above the rest: QNAP and Synology. Both are very recognisable brands for NAS devices, and both originate from Taiwanese firms.
While you can't go wrong with either of them, the two brands do have their differences that set them apart.
In this guide, we will compare the benefits and differences between QNAP and Synology NAS products. We'll go over their operating systems, remote access methods and models. We hope this guide will be useful for anyone looking to purchase a NAS model for their home or business.
The operating system of a NAS server is the backbone of the device. QNAP and Synology have developed their own operating systems for their respective systems.
The two operating systems — DSM for Synology and QTS for QNAP — have similar features. You can access your NAS through a desktop-like interface which houses a menu bar, icons, and windows for applications.
Synology uses an in-house operating system called Synology DiskStation Manager. Developed since 2004 and based on Linux, the operating system has a user interface which would look and feel familiar to most users (especially if you're used to Microsoft Windows).
It is designed to be fairly easy for beginners to understand and use. However, due to this, more technically-minded users could have trouble finding out the right places to manage most of their NAS's technical parameters.
DiskStation Manager also includes a package manager similar to those found on most Linux distributions. You can simply and easily install packages from Synology's repositories, expanding the functionality of your NAS. Some applications come from Synology, but there are also many applications from third-parties as well.
QNAP Turbo Station adopts a mobile-like interface which contrasts with DSM's Windows-like desktop interface. Despite this fact, QTS does offer a more comprehensive experience than Synology's offering. The downside is that novices may find it slightly harder to manage.
Since QTS is also based on Linux and supports a package manager, it is capable of installing both first-party (from QNAP) and third-party applications. And thanks to the large install QNAP install base, there are many apps available to download.
One of the main advantages of a NAS server is remote access to your saved data. Whether with QNAP or Synology, all devices are easily accessible from both your web browser or smartphone.
You may access your Synology NAS from any device with an internet connection. There are three methods which allow you to remotely access your Synology NAS: QuickConnect (setting up a customised URL), creating a hostname with DDNS, and configuring port forwarding. Out of the three, QuickConnect is the simplest to setup and use.
The Synology website offers in-depth instructions for setting up your NAS for remote access, so check it out if you need help.
Remote access with QNAP NAS is done through the myQNAPcloud service. The instructions are relatively straightforward, only requiring a simple setup procedure. From there, you can login to myQNAPcloud using any web browser to access your remote files, apps and more.
The strength of QNAP NAS devices is that they allow you to couple applications together with IFTTT (If This, Then That) logic. This allows you to automate certain tasks with your QNAP NAS. For instance, you can create applets that go something like this: "If someone tags me on a Facebook photo, then upload it to my NAS", or "When a file is saved to Dropbox, then also save a copy to my NAS". The possibilities are rather endless.
Whether you go with QNAP or Synology, both brands offer a wide range of NAS devices that cover almost all budgets and use cases. In general, we think QNAP offers slightly more value as well as more connectivity options in their mid-to-high end models that are not found at Synology. QNAP's high-end models also offer increased configuration options - in particular, they tend to offer more PCIe expansion slots.
However, where Synology tends to outperform QNAP is in RAID configurations. In addition to the usual RAID configurations you can normally find in a NAS, Synology takes it one step further and offers an innovative RAID system, the Synology Hybrid RAID (SHR). SHR allows for increased flexibility in your RAID configurations, optimising capacity and performance in comparison to standard RAID systems.
When choosing a NAS, it's also important to consider what number of drive bays to go for. We'll run-down some of the common configurations below.
Single-bay NAS models are a decent option if all you need is simple storage. That being said, they are not too popular among enthusiasts and power-users since they are not capable of mirroring. You cannot setup a RAID array using a single-bay NAS, as this requires having at least two hard disks. Hence, a single-bay NAS is great for storing family files and documents, but not for backing up files.
Dual-bay NAS models are one of the more popular configurations for a NAS. Since they can attach two hard drives, 2-bay NAS models can use mirroring and RAID configurations to backup data in the event of unexpected data loss. Thus, if a drive fails or corrupts data, you can have a backup stored on another drive.
NAS models with 4-bays are generally used for home and small business users who want to backup their data securely with RAID configurations. You will have ample space for your media, files and documents, while protecting your data against drive failure with a RAID configuration.
In the end, both QNAP and Synology provide intuitive, easy-to-use NAS models that fit a variety of needs. From home and server use to SMB and enterprise, you won't be disappointed with either brand. It really comes down to personal preference (in terms of using the NAS operating system and third-party apps), as well as how much you are willing to spend.