I’m building a new Plex / media server using a Synology DS918+ and Seagate IronWolf NAS drives

We have a primary media / backup storage model, but I don’t like it. If I had a million bucks, I’d structure things differently. Wouldn’t we all? When you have needs but finite resources… what to do?

[Trigger warning – if nerdy discussions about computers and other technologies makes you uncomfortable, please stop reading now.]

For the past few years, we have stored all music / documents / photos on our primary home PC (not usually used by the kids) on a internal hard drive and backed up to a 2 TB Seagate USB 3.0 external hard drive. Our movie and TV shows were stored separately on a 4 TB Western Digital MyCloud network attached storage (NAS) device. I use Norton Backup to back up music and docs etc yto the external Seagate drive, and we had no back up for movies and TV shows. All geographically located in our house.

A few problems with this setup:

  • The backup Seagate drive had reached max capacity.
  • The WD MyCloud had also reached max capacity.
  • These were all single drives with no redundancy.
  • All copies of our data are in our house. One disaster and we’re screwed.

Step 1 in all this is to add some redundancy and capacity for primary data use. After many moons spent thinking and thinking…. and more thinking, I purchased a Synology DS918+ 4-bay NAS box. I can add additional hard drives (up to four) as needed to increase capacity.

The DS918+ offers a number of interesting features, but I was mostly interested in the Intel Celeron J3455, Quad Core CPU inside. Supposedly, according to the research, it should be able to perform hardware-based transcoding of my movies and TV shows through Plex Media Server. It’s not a powerful CPU, but I didn’t want to spend oodles of cash, and I can always add a separate spare laptop or NUC as a dedicated Plex Media Server in the future.

It also supports Gigabit Ethernet, which is another reason I had the network jacks installed last year. It’s all coming together, people.

To start, I purchased two 6 TB Seagate Ironwolf NAS drives. I had planned on 8 TB WD Red drives, but these are slightly cheaper and I can add more capacity later.

I’ve been installing and migrating data over the past week. I’m still messing with it as well. The Celeron chip can’t transcode all that fast, but dialing down the bitrate seems to make it better.

I’ve also found that trying to copy files to the drive using the built-in File Station app sucks. Terrible transfer rate at 11 MB per second. I was perplexed, but later I created a network share and used Windows File Explorer to copy files over. 115 MB per second. Much better.

The next phase is to finish researching and find a better backup solution outside of my house. I’ve been looking at Amazon Web Services Glacier, Backblaze, and other external cloud providers, but I have 6 TB of data, and the cheapest options are either to:

  1. Purchase another NAS device, set it up as a private cloud, and host it at my parents’ house.
  2. Copy everything to a large capacity external drive, and lock it up at the bank.
  3. A mix of these two solutions above.

Stay tuned.

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