FreeNAS and Synology Diskstation are both Network-Attached Storage (NAS) solutions that provide a server specializing in storage and file sharing/serving. FreeNAS is a free operating system that can be installed on most hardware to create a centralized location for data access. In contrast, Synology DiskStation provides a complete hardware and software NAS device out of the box. Both NAS solutions are most popular with mid-sized and larger businesses, though they can also be used by smaller businesses.
Both FreeNAS and Synology Diskstation are functional NAS solutions, but they also have some features that set them apart from each other.
FreeNAS is a free to use software with flexible implementation options. While it usually does not come with any hardware of its own, it can be used on almost any hardware platform to create a NAS solution, so businesses are enabled to create their own solutions. Since FreeNAS is installed on custom hardware, it is easier to upgrade compared to prebuilt hardware options. FreeNAS is a strong choice for businesses looking for an affordable, or highly customizable solution.
Synology Diskstation provides software and hardware in a single, complete package. One major benefit of Synology Diskstation is simplicity. If there is any issue with the hardware or software, no troubleshooting is required as Synology will handle that for you since all parts are from them. Synology Diskstation also provides a more power efficient, quieter solution, compared to the custom hardware rigs that utilize FreeNAS. For businesses looking for a simple, ready to go solution out of the box, FreeNAS is a strong choice.
Though FreeNAS and Synology Diskstation offer feature rich NAS solutions, they also have some limitations that are important to consider.
FreeNAS is a free to use, highly customizable solution, but it doesn’t offer a complete, one time purchase solution. Businesses that don’t want to build their own hardware may prefer other solutions. Additionally, since FreeNAS rigs are built using custom hardware, the systems are generally less power efficient compared to Synology Diskstation. Businesses looking for a powerful, lightweight solution may prefer Synology Diskstation.
Synology Diskstation provides an easy to implement, complete solution with hardware and software, but this means it isn’t as customizable as FreeNAS. Businesses that want to choose their own hardware, or have highly specific spec requirements may prefer a more open software that can be applied to custom hardware. Businesses may also prefer the free pricepoint of FreeNAS, particularly if they already have hardware available for FreeNAS.
FreeNAS is a free to use, open-source software, though they also offer some hardware solutions that start at $700.
Synology Diskstation offers a wide variety of solutions with different specs. These solutions start as low as $160, and reach well above $1,000 depending on the needs of the buyer.
Provided by the TrustRadius Research Team
Published on August 21, 2020
Likelihood to Recommend
- The FreeNAS web interface is modern looking. It makes tasks like provisioning drives into raid volumes easy.
- The ZFS raid option allows you to add in an SSD as a cache drive to increase performance.
- Synology's DiskStation Manager (DSM) provides a robust RAID experience with multiple RAID types available, including Synology's own RAID implementation (Synology Hybrid RAID - SHR)
- DSM includes a full-blown app ecosystem to extend its functionality beyond its built-in features.
- Synology is constantly updating DSM with not only performance, bug and security fixes but with major changes as well. In fact, the newest version of DSM, DSM 7, was just recently released.
- The same version of DSM comes with all of Synology NAS products, from simple single drive models all the way up to enterprise-grade models with upwards of 20 drive bays.
- DSM is not just a simple firmware OS, it is a full-blown Linux OS with all the features and benefits (and pitfalls) that entails.
- The default file system for DSM is BTRFS. BTRFS provides some advanced functionality (such as snapshots, bit rot protection and compression) over Linux's default ext4 filesystem.
- The NAS User Interface could be made more user-friendly and easier to configure, but in the most recent version improvements have been made.
- It could be easier to back up the encryption key and configuration so they can be easily restored.
- We have seen isolated issues when streaming large files (8GB+) across the network, specifically video files. Uploading and Downloading is fine, when but streaming live sometimes we see an issue.
- the focus of synology is on SMB users, we have a 1.3PB Synology NAS unit that needs higher-end DiskStation software to handle the 95 x 16TB drives we have
- in summary, Synology NAS software doesn't handle enterprise customer needs
- syncing of files with android and IOS devices, in particular with DSM 7, the Synology Cloud sync software doesn't work (the staff are working on a release in the coming months). But syncing files from mobile devices to the Synology NAS is a key reason 2 of our Synology NAS units were purchased, and without the syncing we are limited
Likelihood to Renew
Return on Investment
- Backing up FreeNAS is not simple, as it does not have a built-in option to backup.
- It has helped us go from printing things out to file them away to going 100% digital with our files and documents because we have a secure place to save stuff.
- We are organized. I can't really put a value or number to how amazing this is for us, but when we deal with so many documents and files it can be so hard to keep things organized, but with Synology DiskStation, we have all our files in specific places and it helps us stay organized and definitely saves time because things are so easy to find.
- One negative thing has been that our Synology DiskStation relies on us either being plugged into the network in the office or having a strong internet connection at home. With the pandemic and everyone working from home, we have had "outages" where we were not able to sync our data, and things were lost and we had to start over.