What users are saying about
18 Ratings
51 Ratings
18 Ratings
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Score 8.8 out of 100
51 Ratings
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Score 8.9 out of 100

Highlights

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.

Features

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.

Limitations

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.

Pricing

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.

Likelihood to Recommend

FreeNAS

If the user has system administrative experience and is willing to spend time learning FreeNAS, then FreeNAS is well worth it. If the user does not have much experience or does not have the time to learn FreeNAS, then using a COTs product that is more intuitive and easy to use might be beneficial.
FreeNAS is very powerful and can do basically anything you want it to do. The user just needs to spend the time to learn it as it may not be clearly intuitive how to implement the features that are needed for the user's organization.
Anonymous | TrustRadius Reviewer

DiskStation

Synology DiskStation would be well suited for a smaller organization of under 100 employees where you have a lot of collaborating between teams and clients. If you have to have a common space to save documents and project files so both employees and clients can access or upload if needed, this product is perfect! You can create links for clients to access or upload files, while you and your coworkers have a shared collaboration space. If you have a large team, over 100 I would not recommend this product. For us, it seemed to work really well because there were about 20 of us using it, but it is hard for me to imagine it working well for a group that is 5x our size. I don't know, maybe it would still work really well. If you had to know exactly when something was updated and have real times updates on things being added, I would also not recommend this product.
Anonymous | TrustRadius Reviewer

Pros

FreeNAS

  • 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.
Chris Thibeau | TrustRadius Reviewer

DiskStation

  • 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.
Aaron Pinsker | TrustRadius Reviewer

Cons

FreeNAS

  • 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.
Anonymous | TrustRadius Reviewer

DiskStation

  • 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
Reed Huish | TrustRadius Reviewer

Likelihood to Renew

FreeNAS

No score
No answers yet
No answers on this topic

DiskStation

DiskStation 10.0
Based on 1 answer
We are planning on buying two more this year.
Paul Tedder | TrustRadius Reviewer

Usability

FreeNAS

No score
No answers yet
No answers on this topic

DiskStation

DiskStation 9.9
Based on 2 answers
The Synology DiskStation is fairly easy to use, but maybe a challenge for those who not super IT savvy. With some trial and error, you can pretty much figure out how to configure the NAS the way you want it configured. I would say it is easy to use once it is set up and maintaining the device is likewise pretty straightforward as well.
Anonymous | TrustRadius Reviewer

Support Rating

FreeNAS

FreeNAS 8.0
Based on 1 answer
There were some things that can be found by other users on forums and Google and some things that were not.
Anonymous | TrustRadius Reviewer

DiskStation

DiskStation 8.7
Based on 12 answers
Unfortunately, the one time I've had to reach out to DiskStation support, it did not go well. My NAS appliance wasn't appearing on the network, and no matter what the support team tried, they could not get it back online. Instead of offering to send me a new unit, they told me to go buy a new one - obviously, this was a disappointing response and not very eco-friendly either!Fortunately, through some internet research of my own, and some ingenuity, I figured out I could restore my NAS to factory settings by removing all the drives and resetting. Only then did I realize I had a bad disk. I had to experiment for a while to figure out which one it was. Once I had done that, though, I was able to get the latest DiskStation loaded back on, no thanks to the DiskStation support crew. If notifications were rock solid, I suspect I would have caught the bad disk before it because an OS problem, but I never received a bad-disk notification.
Anonymous | TrustRadius Reviewer

Alternatives Considered

FreeNAS

If you are ready to build it yourself, FreeNAS is the best. I tried so many alternatives, including paid versions, and nothing compares to the power of FreeNAS. If you need an enterprise-grade NAS, you would go with an HPE or Dell because of the support, not the features. If you want a middle-range - QNap, Sinology, Netgear - they have an awesome product with powerful features, but you need to buy the hardware and software from them, with fewer options, and very basic support.
Tommy Boucher | TrustRadius Reviewer

DiskStation

Synology DiskStation packs a punch with the latest and greatest feature set which goes above and beyond many other vendors. It allows for a turn-key solution to cover almost every use case in the SMB market leaving other vendors behind.
Anonymous | TrustRadius Reviewer

Return on Investment

FreeNAS

  • Backing up FreeNAS is not simple, as it does not have a built-in option to backup.
Chris Thibeau | TrustRadius Reviewer

DiskStation

  • 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.
Anonymous | TrustRadius Reviewer

Pricing Details

FreeNAS

General

Free Trial
Free/Freemium Version
Premium Consulting/Integration Services
Entry-level set up fee?
No

DiskStation

General

Free Trial
Free/Freemium Version
Premium Consulting/Integration Services
Entry-level set up fee?
No

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