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10 Best NAS for Home Surveillance – 2017 Recommendations

When I started using my NAS as my DIY NVR, it was more of an experiment than anything. Here I had a NAS that I primarily purchased for backing up all our devices and media serving, but which could also serve as an NVR. So why not try that before buying a dedicated NVR like a Hikvision?

But over the last 2 years, I have seen my QNAP TS-231+ NAS NVR mature into a real competitor to a dedicated NVR, and I have documented my journey here. Now its time to take a detailed look at the NAS market to see what choices we have for a multi-purpose low-power all-in-one DIY NAS NVR.

My top 3 recommendations for the Best NAS for Home Surveillance are:

  1. 2-bay: QNAP TS-251+
  2. 4-bay: Synology 416play and
  3. 8-bay: QNAP TS-853A.

Best NAS for Home Surveillance: Summary

NAS Disk Bays Max. Cameras Price
Best 2-bay NAS NVR
Synology DS216j 2 10

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QNAP TS-251+ 2 25

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QNAP TS-253A 2 40

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Best 4-bay NAS NVR
QNAP TS-431+ 4 40

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QNAP 416play 4 25

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QNAP TS-453A 4 40

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Best 8-bay NAS NVR
Synology DS916+ 8 40

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QNAP TS-853A 8 40

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QNAP TVS-882-i3-8G-US 8 80

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Which NAS do I use as my NVR?
QNAP TS-231P 2 25

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How does a NAS do surveillance?

A NAS is basically a computer that runs a custom Linux operating system created by the manufacturer (Synology, QNAP, Asus etc.). Most manufacturers offer various apps that can be installed on their devices to add or extend its abilities. These apps are usually called ‘stations’.

Examples of stations include Photo stations, Video stations, Backup stations and Surveillance Stations. In my opinion, the best surveillance station apps are the ones from QNAP and Synology.

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Choosing the right NAS NVR

The modern household is a tech-heavy environment. Every family member probably has at least a smartphone, and probably a laptop. Sharing media and documents across the home is a challenge without a central media server. This is where a NAS typically comes into the picture.

Providing redundant RAID storage, a NAS can serve up documents, stream music and movies to any device through the DLNA standard. But the NAS can do so much more. I use mine as a VPN server to securely connect from outside the home and access my home automation system, turn on lights, turn up the heating, check out my security cameras and more.

Almost every NAS sold today has a surveillance camera feature, but only two companies have the software that can really pull it off – QNAP and Synology. They are broadly comparable and so I consider them to be equally good.

To ensure you can record a decent number of IP cameras, and still have enough headroom for typical NAS duties, I suggest the following:

NAS NVR Must-haves NAS NVR Nice to haves
Basic Motion detection Advanced motion detection - tripwire / dwell / linger / missing object / new object/ face detection
Motion Detection Email alerts Push notifications
At least one high speed port (USB 3.0 / eSATA / Thunderbolt) Automated scheduled backups to an external drive
Live view of at least 4 channels simultaneously 24/7 Live view of all channels on external monitors through HDMI ports
Synchronous playback of at least 4 channels simultaneously Synchronous playback of all channels on external monitors through HDMI ports
Event timeline markers Intelligent video analysis to search for events
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Best 2-Bay NAS for Home Surveillance

Best Budget 2 bay: Synology 216j



Features

  • Dual Core 1.0 GHz (Marvell Armada 385 88F6820)
  • 512MB RAM
  • Max. 2 x 10TB hard drives
  • 1x RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet (1 GbE) LAN Port
  • 2 x USB 3.0 ports
  • Max. 10 IP Cameras (2 free licences)
  • Max. 150 FPS @ 1080p (1920×1080)
  • DLNA, Hardware encryption engine

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PROS:
  • Good performance
  • Can record 10 IP cameras at 15fps and 1080p
  • Low power consumption

CONS:
  • Disks are not hot-swappable
  • No HDMI, Transcoding not supported
  • HDD bays are not slot loading type, no front USB port

The DS 216 family comprises of the barebones DS216se, the DS216j, the DS216, the 216Play and the 216+II. The ‘se’ model is too weak for surveillance and so we recommend the 216j for this purpose.

The 216j has a dual core Marvell processor with 512MB RAM. While this may not sound like much memory, bear in mind that these NAS boxes are basically extremmely energy efficient Linux PCs. Linux doesn’t need as much RAM as Windows and so 512MB RAM is good enough for recording up to 10 IP cameras at 1080p and 15fps on Surveillance Station.

Best Value 2 bay: QNAP TS-251+



Features

  • Quad Core 2.0 GHz (Intel Celeron J1900)
  • 2/8 GB DDR3L RAM
  • Max. 4 x 10TB hard drives
  • 2x RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet (1 GbE) LAN Port
  • 2 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0
  • Max. 40 IP Cameras (2 free licences)
  • Intelligent Video Analytics available
  • DLNA, Hardware encryption engine, Hot-swappable slot loading HDDs, Transcoding, Virtualization

Check Price on Amazon

PROS:
  • Strong performance, ethernet link aggregation/failover supported
  • HDMI port lets you watch IP cameras on a TV
  • Hot-swappable slot loading HDDs, Front USB 3.0 port

CONS:
  • Mkv files not supported fully by QNAP media player
  • QTS OS not as user-friendly as Synology’s DSM OS
  • Mac support is spotty

Moving into QNAP’s Home and SOHO product offerings, the TS-251+ improves upon the popular TS-251 model. If you want a powerful Intel chip in your NAS, the x51 series are the go-to QNAP models.

The Celeron J1900 processor of the TS-251+ is not much faster than the Pentium N3700 series chips 1http://cpuboss.com/cpus/Intel-Pentium-N3700-vs-Intel-Celeron-J1900. But it does support virtualization which means you can run virtual machines which can even access the network ports. This is great for running different operating systems on your NAS, such as testing/development on Android.

While you can run Plex on this NAS, bear in mind that only the QNAP apps work over the HDMI port. So you live view your cameras over the HDMI port, which is the feature I am most interested in. Since a NAS has low power consumption, it makes the ideal DIY NAS NVR.

4K is not supported though, so consider the TS-251A if you need that feature.

Best High-end 2 bay: QNAP TS-253A



Features

  • Quad Core 1.6 GHz (Intel Pentium N3150/N3160)
  • 4/8 GB DDR3L RAM
  • Max. 2 x 10TB hard drives
  • 2x RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet (1 GbE) LAN Port
  • 4 x USB 3.0 ports
  • Max. 40 IP Cameras (4 free licences)
  • Intelligent Video Analytics available
  • DLNA, Hardware encryption engine, Hot-swappable slot loading HDDs, Transcoding, Virtualization, Linux OS support

Check Price on Amazon

PROS:
  • Strong performance, Ethernet link aggregation/failover supported
  • Two 4K capable HDMI ports, Snapshot backup feature
  • Hot-swappable slot loading HDDs, Front USB 3.0 port, LCD screen

CONS:
  • Rather useless 3.5mm mic input
  • HDMI ports are 1.4a versions and limited to 30fps
  • No tool-less disk installation

QNAP calls this NAS a QTS-Linux Combo NAS. That’s because the TS-253A can run both QNAP’s own QTS OS and Ubuntu, independently of each other. The Linux OS will even have access to all storage interfaces and shares.

Even though the NAS is aimed at small businesses, the multimedia features are what makes this NAS box shine. On offer are two HDMI ports capable of 4K output, audio in and audio out which can be very useful for surveillance applications, and powerful hardware to keep everything chugging along nicely.

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Best 4-Bay NAS for Home Surveillance

Best Budget 4 bay: QNAP TS-431+



Features

  • Dual Core 1.4GHz (Alpine AL-212)
  • 1GB DDR3 RAM
  • Max. 4 x 10TB hard drives
  • 2x RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet (1 GbE) LAN Port
  • 3 x USB 3.0 ports
  • Max. 25 IP Cameras (2 free licences)
  • Intelligent Video Analytics available
  • DLNA, Hardware encryption engine, Hot-swappable slot loading HDDs

Check Price on Amazon

PROS:
  • Very good performance, ethernet link aggregation/failover supported
  • Supports up to 25 IP cameras
  • Hot-swappable slot loading HDDs, Front USB 3.0 port

CONS:
  • First-run thumbnail generation slow
  • No HDMI, QTS OS not as user-friendly as Synology’s DSM OS
  • Mac support is spotty

The QNAP x31 series is the starter option in the QNAP NAS family and range from 2 bay model to 8 bay models. The + models add a bit more power which is really useful when it comes to running Surveillance Station.

The 231+ has a good dual core Alpine processor with 1GB RAM. The 1GB RAM makes this NAS a very capable multi-tasker. I have the 2-bay version of this NAS, the TS-231+. It can easily record 4 IP cameras and still have a CPU utilisation of only 10%. That leaves a lot of headroom for streaming media using Twonky (DLNA).

Best Value 4 bay: Synology 416play



Features

  • Quad Core 1.6 GHz (Intel Pentium N3060)
  • 1GB DDR3 RAM
  • Max. 2 x 10TB hard drives
  • 2x RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet (1 GbE) LAN Port
  • 3 x USB 3.0 ports
  • Max. 25 IP Cameras (2 free licences)
  • Max. 300 FPS @ 1080p (1920×1080)
  • DLNA, Hardware encryption engine, Hot-swappable slot loading HDDs, 4K Transcoding

Check Price on Amazon

PROS:
  • Strong performance, Ethernet link aggregation/failover supported
  • Can record 20 IP cameras at 15fps and 1080p
  • Hot-swappable slot loading HDDs, Front USB 3.0 port

CONS:
  • Can slow down during 4K transcoding
  • No HDMI, Ubiquiti G3 cameras currently not supported
  • Plex 4K transcoding may be troublesome

The play variants of Synology’s NAS boxes are aimed at those looking for a rich multimedia and DLNA streaming experience. So it has a beefier Celeron processor which is great for running Surveillance Station.

You can stream music, a single 4K stream or up to 3 simultaneous streams of 1080p video across your network using DLNA. H.264 (AVC), H.265 (HEVC), MPEG-2 and VC-1 video formats can be decoded by the 416play. There is no support for virtualization.

There is no HDMI port but if you don’t want one the 416play may be the right choice for you. But there is an interesting option if you want to expand on the surveillance abilities of this Synology Diskstation, you can buy the add-on Visual Station VS360HD device. Synology describes the VS360HD as a “live view and management companion”. It is basically a turnkey NVR which offloads the Surveillance Station functionality from the NAS on to itself.

Best High-end 4 bay: QNAP TS-453A



Features

  • Quad Core 1.6 GHz (Intel Pentium N3150/N3160)
  • 4/8 GB DDR3L RAM
  • Max. 4 x 10TB hard drives
  • 4x RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet (1 GbE) LAN Port
  • 4 x USB 3.0 ports
  • Max. 40 IP Cameras (4 free licences)
  • Intelligent Video Analytics available
  • DLNA, Hardware encryption engine, Hot-swappable slot loading HDDs, Transcoding, Virtualization, Linux OS support

Check Price on Amazon

PROS:
  • Strong performance, Ethernet link aggregation/failover supported
  • Two 4K capable HDMI ports, Snapshot backup feature
  • Hot-swappable slot loading HDDs, Front USB 3.0 port, LCD screen

CONS:
  • Rather useless 3.5mm mic input
  • HDMI ports are 1.4a versions and limited to 30fps
  • No tool-less disk installation

The TS-453A is the 2-bay version of the TS-253A described above, and so has exactly the same features, pros and cons.

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Best 8-Bay NAS for Home Surveillance

Best Budget 8 bay: Synology 916+



Features

  • Quad Core 1.6 GHz (Intel Pentium N3710)
  • 2/8 GB RAM
  • Max. 4 x 10TB hard drives
  • 2x RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet (1 GbE) LAN Port
  • 3 x USB 3.0, 1x eSATA
  • Max. 40 IP Cameras (2 free licences)
  • Max. 1000 FPS @ 1080p (1920×1080)
  • DLNA, Hardware encryption engine, Hot-swappable slot loading HDDs, Transcoding

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PROS:
  • Very good performance, ethernet link aggregation/failover supported
  • Can record 40 IP cameras at 25fps and 1080p, transcoding supported
  • Hot-swappable slot loading HDDs, Front USB 3.0 port

CONS:
  • Can slow down during transcoding
  • No HDMI, Ubiquiti G3 cameras currently not supported
  • FTP feature can be tricky to get right

Synology positions the DS-916+ in the Workgroup and SMB category, but that doesn’t mean its not suitable for home use. If anything it has more than enough power for home surveillance applications.

The Pentium chip is a quad core model which helps it breeze through typical tasks. But it may struggle when it comes to 4k->1080p transcoding. The Intel chip good as it is, is not quit up to the job for 4k transcoding.

You can get the 916+ in either 2GB or 8GB RAM variants – the extra RAM can be useful if you are running close to the maximum 40 IP cameras.

Best Value 8 bay: QNAP TS-853A



Features

  • Quad Core 1.6 GHz (Intel Pentium N3150/N3160)
  • 4/8 GB DDR3L RAM
  • Max. 8 x 10TB hard drives
  • 4x RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet (1 GbE) LAN Port
  • 4 x USB 3.0 ports
  • Max. 40 IP Cameras (4 free licences)
  • Intelligent Video Analytics available
  • DLNA, Hardware encryption engine, Hot-swappable slot loading HDDs, Transcoding, Virtualization, Linux OS support

Check Price on Amazon

PROS:
  • Strong performance, ethernet link aggregation/failover supported
  • Two 4K capable HDMI ports, Snapshot backup feature
  • Hot-swappable slot loading HDDs, Front USB 3.0 port, LCD screen

CONS:
  • Rather useless 3.5mm mic input
  • HDMI ports are 1.4a versions and limited to 30fps
  • No tool-less disk installation

The TS-853A is the 2-bay version of the TS-253A described above, and so has exactly the same features, pros and cons.

Best High-end 8 bay: QNAP TVS-882



Features

  • Dual Core 3.7 GHz (Intel Core i3-6100 )
  • 8/16 GB DDR4 RAM
  • Max. 6 x 3.5″ 10TB hard drives, Max. 2 x 2.5″ SSD
  • 4x RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet (1 GbE) LAN Port
  • 5 x USB 3.0 ports
  • Max. 80 IP Cameras (8 free licences)
  • Intelligent Video Analytics available
  • DLNA, Hardware encryption engine, Hot-swappable slot loading HDDs, Transcoding, Virtualization, SSD support

Check Price on Amazon

PROS:
  • Excellent performance with PC class processors, DDR4 RAM, and SSD support
  • Three 4K capable HDMI ports, Snapshot backup feature
  • Hot-swappable slot loading HDDs, Front USB 3.0 port, LCD screen

CONS:
  • Suggested retail price is at the top end of the market

if you want the ultimate backup server, media server, and DIY NAS NVR, don’t look any further. The TVS-882 is at the top end of the market but that’s because you get the latest hardware technology together with enterprise level software features.

There are 3 HDMI ports which can each support 4K at 30fps. This means you can have mirrored or extended display configurations to monitor your IP cameras. Speaking of which, this NAS is so powerful that it can record up to 80 separate channels.

Also consider: QNAP TS-231P



Features

  • Dual Core 1.7GHz (Alpine AL-212)
  • 1GB DDR3 RAM
  • Max. 2 x 10TB hard drives
  • 2x RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet (1 GbE) LAN Port
  • 2 x USB 3.0 ports
  • Max. 25 IP Cameras (2 free licences)
  • Intelligent Video Analytics available
  • DLNA, Hardware encryption engine, Hot-swappable slot loading HDDs, Transcoding

Check Price on Amazon

PROS:
  • Good performance
  • Hot-swappable HDDs, Front USB 3.0 port
  • Low power consumption

CONS:
  • First-run thumbnail generation slow
  • No HDMI port
  • No tool-less disk installation

This is my current NAS and is a great option if you can find a good deal for it. The TS-231P is the newer faster version of the TS-231+. The only differences are the processor speed (231P runs at 1.7GHz instead of 1.4GHz) and the maximum number of cameras (25 vs. 16).

Running on ARM processors, the slower 231+ is powerful enough to run my 4 IP cameras at 1080p and 3MP resolutions without breaking a sweat.

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Conclusion

So there you have it, these are my recommendations to build the best DIY NAS NVR in 2017. Leave your thoughts below!

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Acknowledgements: Images obtained through Amazon Produc more...

References   [ + ]

1. http://cpuboss.com/cpus/Intel-Pentium-N3700-vs-Intel-Celeron-J1900

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