Mac and Windows affordable Plex NAS +surveillance

I’m looking to buy my first NAS and upgrade my current “home server” (which is two 500GB USB HDDs plugged in my router, USB 2.0 speeds). I read a few articles online and I think you could help me figure things out!

Here’s a recap of what I’m looking for:
– For 2-3 frequent users
– For media streaming (might start using Plex soon), important file storage and eventually a small surveillance system (1-2 cams)
– 2-bay system
– Works with Mac and Windows
– RAID 1 with 4TB capacity (8TB total)
– 2x external USB 3.0 ports (to “backup” data to my two external HDDs)
– ~100MB/s read/write speeds
– 500$ to 700$ CAD budget for a populated system

I’m considering either the Synology DS218j with 2x 4TB WD Red (for ~550$ CAD) or an all-in-one solution in the WD 8TB EX2 Ultra (for ~600$ CAD). So I’d like to have your opinion on this or other solutions I didn’t consider. Again, my budget is for a populated, 8TB system.

Also, if I were to choose an unpopulated system, do you have any recommendations for the HDDs? I figured that the WD Reds were the best bang for my buck considering my NAS usage…

You have done your homework. DS218j is very affordable NAS which supports even PLEX. It won’t have the power to transcode over the internet but it will be working fine for streaming on your local network. You can connect external drives and connect to it from a MAC and PC. Also, surveillance app is available free of charge and has outstanding functionality. If you need some future proofing I recommended getting DS218+, but if that is over the budget then stick with ds218j.

The most popular and recommended hard drives for empty NAS are WD red. They seem to be very reliable and quite.


 


What can I connect to a NAS?

Wireless Speaker Sonos

The great thing about Sonos is that you don't need to pay for music subscription service. With the cheapest NAS at home like DS115j or any other, you can have your backups done for all of your devices and still use your network drive as a Sonos music library. Sonos will connect to your NAS via your network and let access your provided music library. If you have little more of IT knowledge, you can even set up your Alexa or Sonos with Alexa built in to play music on your voice commands ("Alexa! Ask DS Audio to Play Music!").

Casting devices

Nowadays it is so cheap to upgrade your old TV and make it smart. All you need is Google Chrome or EZcast alternative plugged into your HDMI port at the back of your TV. Now you have great functionality added to your TV to send a video file directly from your NAS to a TV. No need for wires and chargers and other mess. You can use your phone as a remote to go to your movies or family videos and cast that content on your TV during family or friend gatherings.

 

Apple TV

Amazon Fire TV

You may not have a smartphone, or you just simply prefer to control your content with a remote in that case Amazon Fire TV will be a great addon to get to your TV. It also plugs into your HDMI port and will play content from your NAS to a TV. No wires no mess.

nVidia Shield TV

It gets even better! If you want some more entertainment and all previously mentioned functions - nVidia TV is a great thing to get. You can use it for playing games and watching movies from your NAS. The greatest thing is - shield TV does video transcoding. So even if you have a cheap NAS with a weak CPU, in a combination of shield TV you can now automatically on the fly change video file size and format for a destination device. It is a great way to reduce network load and let older devices to play video content which normally was not supported on the device.



 
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