Small Business NAS of Choice
A small business NAS is perfect if you are a small business owner with five employees, a central Windows Server and all Windows based workstations? Perhaps your company is looking to expand with one graphic designer who will use a MAC, and an additional two people for their administrative department. Currently, you may need to store around 3TB but this may double in the next three years. So finding a solution that shares data centrally, eliminates local file saving, takes the load off the current server for the constant back and forth of accessing data, allowing the server to increase performance from eliminating the number of I/O’s.
A small business NAS is ideal for 5 people needing storage of up to 3TB. That is a simple example. I will also have to keep in mind that I do have a server and 5 workstations, so it will be necessary to have a bit more storage and scalability is something to consider if I expect this unit to be for us for the next five years or so.
It is important to consider several features and specifications of the small business NAS unit: size, power consumption, noise level, expandability, and longevity. Each of these things are of big importance when you take into consideration that you will be in a small building and do not need to spend the extra money on reducing sound levels and creating more space. Neither do you need a hefty electric bill. The balance between price and performance ratios are also crucial indicators, as is the longevity of the unit.
Our 3 favorite Small Business NAS units
After a bit of research, we have narrowed it down to 3 products. The first units we considered are both from the same manufacturer and have minor differences. They are the Synology DS1515 and the DS1515+. However, we highly consider the QNAP TS-831X.
Starting the comparison with the processor being the core of all the systems, we discovered they all shared the Quad-core design and where all near enough clocking the same speed at 1.4GHz, making my task easier so as not to worry about this comparison.
The memory is an area of importance as it allows various processes and applications the ability to perform more efficiently and with a higher level of performance. It was important to ascertain the maximum upgrade capability. Both Synology units came with 2GB of DDR3 RAM, and upgradable to 6GB, whilst the QNAP comes equipped with 8GB of DDR3 memory and can we upgrade to a generous 16GB.
Listing some of the other features of the QNAP we see it comes with 512MB of DOM, whereas the Synology’s don’t. The QNAP also comes with two 10Gb SFP+ LAN ports plus two 1GbE LAN ports, three USB 3.0 ports, a PCIe Gen2 expansion slot, is upgradeable to 16GB of memory, makes the least noise of all the units, but also consumes a bit more power at 46.36W with a 250W power supply and takes a bit more space, but not too much to make any noticeable difference.
Synology DS1515 and DS1515+
Moving on to the Synology units they are a bit louder, they consume a bit less power with the DS1515+ peaking at 38.39W. The Synology DS1515+ comes with four USB 3.0 ports and two eSATA ports while the DS1515 non + comes with two USB 3.0 ports and two USB 2.0 ports with two eSATA ports.
Both Synology units can hold up to 50TB of internal storage, with expansion units they can hold a current maximum of 150TB. Comparatively, the QNAP holds up to 80TB and with expansion units the maximum limit is currently 192TB. So in terms of scalability, the QNAP seems to win the battle in small business NAS.
Exactly how much do these units cost? The Synology DS1515 comes in at around $585, which is the lowest of all the units, but if you decide to upgrade to the DS1515+ you see an increase of about $115 from the standard model to $699. The QNAP turns out to best in our opinion but with a price tag $799.
In short we decided to go with the QNAP TS-831X. While its cost can be prohibitive, it does offer the most in terms of features and scalability in a small business NAS. These were factors important for us and the usability was a bonus as well easy and seamless to the users. The only downside for me was the extra power consumption but this in relative terms is like using a 100-watt light bulb.
The cons are that it does consume slightly more power, but it’s not that significant enough for me to justify buying the Synology units. But with 10Gb SFP+ ports, a PCIe slot, as well as the ability to upgrade the RAM to 16GB does make the QNAP an obvious choice for me. Not only is the QNAP better in the long term, but aesthetically it’s appealing and pleasant to the eyes. However, if you are looking for bang for the buck unit that still looks decent aesthetically, then you can’t go wrong with the DS1515 non + either. The other striking note is the QNAP is an 8-bay unit whilst both the Synology’s are 5-bays only.
Our Pros and Cons List
- Great scalability
- Lowest cost of all units
- Best short term offerings for the price
- Not great for long term use
- Can only be upgraded to 6GB of memory
- Lacks a lot of features when compared to the other units
Synology DS1515+ – ( Update 5-31-17 we now recommend the DS1517 Which replaced the DS1515 model. You can find this model here)
- Best processor of each of the units
- Best balance between price and performance
- Offers a bit more features than the standard DS1515
- Can only be upgraded to 6GB of memory
- Lacks a lot of physical features such as SFP+
- Not worth the additional price over the DS1515 non +
- Best scalability of all units
- Offers more features that all other units
- Very nice design when compared to both Synology’s
- Most Expensive of all the units
- Not the best processor of all the units
- Lowest price/performance ratio when considering for short term use