8 Best NAS for Home Surveillance – My 2023 Recommendations

When I first started using a NAS as my DIY NVR, it was more of an experiment than anything else. I originally purchased the NAS for backing up all our devices and for media serving duties. But I soon realised it could also serve as an NVR. With QNAP now including 8 NVR channels for free in their new QVR Pro NVR app, I have been very happy with my QNAP NAS in my DIY NAS NVR setup.

If you are interested in a similar setup, here are my 2023 picks for a multi-purpose low-power all-in-one DIY NAS NVR.

OVERALL BEST 2-BAY NAS
QNAP TS-251D
4 GB RAM
8 channel NVR, max 16
Advanced motion detection
HDMI port
OVERALL BEST 4-BAY NAS
QNAP TS-453D
4/8GB RAM
8 channel NVR, max 24
Advanced motion detection
HDMI, HW transcoding
OVERALL BEST 8-BAY NAS
QNAP TS-873
8GB RAM
8 channel NVR, max 60
Advanced motion detection
HDMI, HW transcoding

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Best NAS for Home Surveillance – 2023 Recommendations Summary & Comparison

NASBest for how many camerasNVR ChannelsRAMEthernetLatest Price
Best 2-bay NAS NVR
Synology DS220jUpto 4 IP Cameras2 free / 12 max512 MB1x 1 GbE
QNAP TS-251D 4GBUpto 8 IP Cameras8 free / 16 max4 GB / 2 GB1x 1 GbE
QNAP TS-253D 4GBUpto 16 IP Cameras8 free / 16 max4 GB2x 2.5 GbE
Best 4-bay NAS NVR
Synology DS420jUpto 4 IP Cameras2 free / 16 max1 GB1 GbE
QNAP TS-453DUpto 8 IP Cameras8 free / 24 max8 GB / 4 GB2x 2.5 GbE
QNAP TS-453BT3Upto 40 IP Cameras8 free / 40 max8 GB2x 2.5 GbE, 1x 10 GbE
Best 8-bay NAS NVR
QNAP TS-873A 8GBUpto 60 IP Cameras8 free / 60 max8 GB2x 2.5 GbE
QNAP TVS-872XT i5 16GBUpto 64 IP Cameras8 free / 64 max16 GB2x 2.5 GbE, 1x 10 GbE

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 such ‘stations’ apps 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.

QNAP has recently launched QVR Pro, a very capable alternative to its own Surveillance Station app. The main attraction of QVR Pro is that it comes with 8 free IP camera channels (or licences) whereas QNAP Surveillance Station and Synology Surveillance Station are limited to 2 or 4 free channels. I have explored the differences between QNAP QVR Pro and QNAP in detail here.

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 both support advance motion deteciton and so I consider them to be equally good. However QNAP models that can run QVR Pro come with 8 free IP camera licences which sometimes make them a better deal. I have considered this aspect in my recommendations.

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-havesNAS 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

Best 2-Bay NAS for Home Surveillance

Best Budget 2-bay NAS: Synology DS-220j

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  • Quad Core 1.4 GHz, 512MB RAM
  • 1x Gigabit Ethernet port
  • 2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports
  • Max. 12 IP Cameras
  • Synology Surveillance Station
  • 2 free IP camera licences
  • DLNA, Hardware encryption
  • Software transcoding only
  • 2 years warranty
Positive
  • Good performance
  • Advanced motion detection reduces false alerts
  • Very low power consumption
Negatives
  • Drives not hot-swappable
  • No HDMI, Software-based transcoding only
  • Drive bays not slot-loading, no front USB port

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Synology is well-known for its high-quality hardware and very intuitive OS called DSM. The Synology X20j series is the starter option in its NAS family and range from 1-bay to 4-bay models.

The DS220j can serve as your file server, stream media across the home, automatically backup your devices, set up your own private cloud for file-sharing and monitor your IP cameras as well.

This NAS looks very similar to its predecessor, the DS218j. But one big upgrade is the new quad-core processor, which improves performance substantially.

While the 512MB RAM may not sound like much, bear in mind that these NAS boxes are basically extremely energy efficient Linux PCs. Linux doesn’t need as much RAM as Windows and so 512MB RAM is good enough for recording up to 12 IP cameras at 1080p and 10fps using the built-in Surveillance Station app.

Only 2 free IP camera channels are included though, and extra channels cost around $50 each. So factor this into the total cost of ownership. Also the limited RAM and processor allow only for software-based media transcoding at 720p.


Best Overall 2-bay NAS: QNAP TS-251D

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  • Quad Core Intel J4025, 2/4 GB RAM
  • 1x Gigabit Ethernet port
  • 2 x USB 3.2 Gen1, 3 x USB 2.0
  • Max. 16 IP Cameras
  • QVR Pro with 8 free channels
  • Advanced motion detection
  • Hardware encryption, Hot-swappable slot loading HDDs
  • DLNA, Hardware Transcoding, Virtualization
  • HDMI 2.0, PCIe slot
  • 2 years warranty
Pros
  • Strong Intel CPU
  • Advanced motion detection reduces false alerts
  • Hot-swappable slot loading HDDs, Front USB 3.2 port
  • 4K transcoding to 1080p
  • HDMI port lets you connect NAS to a TV
Cons
  • Ethernet link aggregation not possible without adding a network card
  • HDMI output of QVR Pro requires 4 GB RAM upgrade

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Moving into QNAP’s Home and SOHO product offerings, the TS-251D 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 aging quad-core Celeron J1900 processor of the TS-251+ has been replaced by the dual-core Celeron J4005 (J4025 in some countries). You may think having 2 cores less would handicap the NAS. But actually the J4005/J4025 are much faster than the outgoing J1900. Also the new processors have the Intel HD Graphics 600 on-board which offloads certain tasks from the CPU.

The 4 GB RAM gives your NAS more headroom and performance when running intensive tasks like 4K UHD transcoding or using QVR Pro with the maximum of 16 IP camera channels. There is a 2 GB RAM model also but it won’t run QVR Pro and may also be a limiting factor if you want to run multiple applications.

The TS-251D also supports virtualization, so you can run virtual machines. This is great for running different operating systems on your NAS, such as testing/development on Linux or Android.

There is only 1 Gigabit ethernet port, so link aggregation/failover for network connections is not possible out of the box. But there is a PCIe slot allows you to extend the NAS capabilities by adding 10GbE support, SSD caching, or even a wireless card.

You can run Plex Media Server on this NAS and it supports hardware-accelerated transcoding up to 1080p. But bear in mind that only the QNAP apps work over the HDMI port. If you need 4K/1080p transcoding, consider the QNAP TVS-872XT.

Moving on to the NVR features of this NAS, you get 8 free IP camera channels using the included QVR Pro NVR app. If you want to go to the maximum 16 channels supported by this NAS, an extra 8-camera license pack is available for purchase.

QNAP has recently launched the QVR Elite app which offers 2 IP camera channels for free. However this product is subscription-based which I don’t recommend.

Now that QVR Pro supports the advanced motion detection of Hikvision and Dahua cameras, I don’t really need Blue Iris anymore for tying into my home automation system! Super low power consumption of just 15W under load makes this the ideal DIY NAS NVR.

You can live view your IP cameras over the HDMI 2.0 port, unfortunately this feature works only if you upgrade the NAS to 8 GB RAM.


Best High-end 2-bay NAS: QNAP TS-253D 4GB

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  • Quad Core with 4 GB DDR4 RAM
  • 2x 2.5Gbps Ethernet ports
  • 2x USB 3.2 Gen1, 3x USB 2.0
  • Max. 16 IP Cameras
  • QVR Pro with 8 free channels
  • Advanced motion detection
  • Hardware encryption, Hot-swappable slot loading HDDs
  • DLNA, 4K Transcoding, Virtualization
  • HDMI 2.0, PCIe slot
  • 2 years warranty
Pros
  • Strong performance, ethernet link aggregation/failover supported
  • Advanced motion detection reduces false alerts
  • Hot-swappable slot loading HDDs, Front USB 3.2 Gen 1 port
  • 4K USD transcoding to 1080p
  • HDMI port lets you watch IP cameras on a TV
Cons
  • HDMI output of QVR Pro requires 4 GB RAM upgrade

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If you would like a beefier CPU and more than one Ethernet port, the QNAP TS-253D is the best 2-bay NAS for the enthusiast.

Multiple Ethernet ports enable link aggregation to double network bandwidth, failover for redundnacy, and the freedom to assign different ports to VMs or the QVR surveillance software.

However you will still need an additional 4 GB RAM upgrade to enable HDMI output of the QVR Pro NVR app.


Best 4-Bay NAS for Home Surveillance

Best Budget 4-bay NAS: Synology DS420j

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  • Quad Core 1.4 GHz with 1GB DDR4 RAM
  • 1x Gigabit Ethernet
  • 2 x USB 3.0 ports
  • Max. 16 IP Cameras (2 free licences)
  • Advanced motion detection
  • Hardware encryption
  • DLNA, Transcoding
  • 2 years warranty
Pros
  • Good performance
  • Supports up to 16 IP cameras at 1080p
  • Advanced motion detection reduces false alerts
Cons
  • No hot-swappable HDDs, no front USB port
  • No HDMI, ethernet link aggregation/failover supported
  • No hardware transcoding

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The DS420j is the 4-bay version of the DS220j we saw above. But it does have twice the RAM at 1GB. This lets the DS420j manage up to 16 IP cameras at 1080p instead of the DS220j’s 12, and up to 3 times more frames per second.

Why is this NAS the budget king of 4-bay NAS NVRs? Because you can get advanced motion detection alerts from Hikvision and Dahua cameras, which is possible only on Synology at this price.

If you want the same feature on QNAP, you need a NAS that has at least 4GB RAM so that it can run QVR Pro.


Best Overall 4-bay NAS: QNAP TS-453D 4/8GB

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  • Dual Core 2.0 GHz Intel Celeron with 4/8GB DDR4 RAM
  • 2x 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet
  • 2x USB 3.2Gen1, 2x USB 2.0
  • Max. 24 IP Cameras
  • QVR Pro with 8 free channels
  • Advanced motion detection
  • Hardware encryption, Hot-swappable HDDs
  • DLNA, 4K Transcoding, Virtualization
  • 2 years warranty
Pros
  • Strong performance, 2.5 GbE aggregation/failover
  • Advanced motion detection reduces false alerts
  • Hot-swappable HDDs, SSD support, HDMI, Front USB 3.2 Gen 1 port
Cons
  • HDMI output of QVR Pro NVR software requires 8 GB RAM version

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The QNAP TS-453D is the new best value-for-money 4-bay NAS you can get right now. The 4 GB RAM version should be sufficient for most users but if you want to output surveillance cameras over HDMI, go for the 8 GB RAM version.

It supports M.2 NVMe 2280 SSD slots that you can use for SSD cache acceleration. Basically the SSD acts as a cache to speed up data transfer from the NAS to your networked devices.

This NAS has an Intel Celeron CPU that allows for virtualization. Using the multiple 2.5 Gigabit Eternet ports, you can assign different VMs to different ports for maximum bandwidth.


Best High-end 4-bay NAS: QNAP TS-453BT3

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  • Quad Core 1.5 GHz with 8 GB DDR3L RAM
  • 2x Gigabit & 1x 10G Ethernet
  • 5 x USB 3.0, 2 x Thunderbolt
  • Max. 40 IP Cameras
  • QVR Pro with 8 free channels
  • Advanced motion detection
  • Hardware encryption, Hot-swappable HDDs
  • DLNA, 4K Transcoding, Virtualization
  • 2 years warranty
Pros
  • Strong performance, 10GbE failover supported
  • Two 4K capable HDMI ports
  • Advanced motion detection reduces false alerts
  • Hot-swappable slot loading HDDs, Front USB 3.0 port, LCD screen
Cons
  • HDMI ports are 1.4b versions and limited to 30fps

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Just like the TS-253A, the TS-453A has been replaced by newer models. But the 453 family is quite large comprising of the TS-453B, the TS-453Be, the TS-453BT3 and the TS-453Bmini. The T3 in the model name represents the 2x Thunderbolt 3 ports on this NAS.

Thunderbolt support is a must-have for creative professionals and video editors, so that’s the target audience here. However it is also useful for high speed data transfer which is great for surveillance data access purposes.


Best 8-Bay NAS for Home Surveillance

Best Overall 8-bay NAS: QNAP TS-873A 8GB

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  • Quad Core AMD with 8 GB DDR3L RAM
  • 4x Gigabit Ethernet
  • 4 x USB 3.0 ports
  • Max. 24 IP Cameras
  • QVR Pro with 8 free channels
  • Advanced motion detection
  • Hardware encryption, Hot-swappable HDDs, PCIe
  • DLNA, 4K Transcoding, Virtualization
  • 2 years warranty
Pros
  • Strong performance, ethernet failover supported
  • Advanced motion detection reduces false alerts
  • Hot-swappable slot loading HDDs, Front USB 3.0 port, LCD screen
Cons
  • HDMI ports are optional

Check Amazon Price

The TS-873A replaces the TVS-873 from last year. It uses a fast and powerful AMD processor with on-board Radeon graphics. This makes the NAS particularly suited to multimedia and surveillance duties.

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


Best High-end 8-bay NAS: QNAP TVS-872XT-i5

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  • Hexa-Core Intel Core i5 with 16GB DDR4 RAM
  • 2x 1Gbps, 1x 10Gbps Ethernet
  • 1 x USB 3.2 Gen1, 4x 3.2 Gen2, 2x Thunderbolt, HDMI 2.0
  • Max. 36 IP Cameras
  • QVR Pro with 8 free channels
  • Advanced motion detection
  • Hardware encryption, Hot-swappable HDDs, PCIe
  • DLNA, 4K Transcoding, Virtualization
  • 2 years warranty
Pros
  • Excellent performance, DDR4 RAM, and SSD support
  • Advanced motion detection reduces false alerts
  • Hot-swappable HDDs, Front USB port, LCD screen
Cons
  • Only 1 HDMI port

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If you want the ultimate backup server, media server, and DIY NAS NVR, don’t look any further. The TVS-872XT 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 is 1 HDMI port which can support 4K at 30fps. You can add up to 36 IP cameras in QVR Pro or 72 IP cameras in the standard Surveillance Station app.



Conclusion

So there you have it, these are my recommendations to build the best DIY NAS NVR in 2023. Leave your thoughts below!

Daniel Ross

Daniel Ross

I am Daniel and VueVille is where I document my DIY smart home journey. I focus on 100% local-processing and local-storage because that’s the only way to secure my family’s safety and privacy. Oh and I don’t like monthly subscriptions!

25 Comments
  1. Daniel,

    Thank you and your family for your awesome blog. I understand that yours is an Android family, but I wonder if you might have some Mac/iOS pointers.

    I’m an Android guy like you, but my wife is a Mac/iOS user. I see that you’ve noted both the QNAP TS-251+ and the TS-431P2 with “Mac support is spotty”. I’ve also noticed that both the QNAP QVR Pro Client and the older VMobile apps have very low ratings on the Apple App Store.

    Do you have recommendations for someone like me who wants to follow your Pro-DIY path, but also make sure my wife is happy with the eventual solution?

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

    Dave

    • Happy that you like my content! Yes we are a 100% Android family. I do not review the recorded footage on my mobile, so I rarely use the QNAP mobile apps – the Android ones are not great either. I pull up the QVR client on a laptop if I want to review footage.

      For live-viewing cameras on mobile devices, any iOS IP camera viewer app should be able to pull all the cameras together into a single screen. Because my QNAP is hooked up to my HA system, whenever any camera detects motion the tablets around the house switch to the specific camera for a short while. This is done using the Imperihome app.

  2. Hi Daniel,
    I appreciate the information your have provided, I have found it useful as I am just starting my first security camera system setup.

    I would like to ask, what are your recommendations for 2018? For example, what is your opinion on the new QNAP HS-453DX?

  3. Daniel–One additional question: Do the NAS devices include the applications to run as a surveillance NVR, file server, and VPN? Or do those applications/licenses cost extra? It’s hard to tell from their websites.

    • Yep all of this and more comes pre-loaded on the NAS. They are incredibly cheap for what they can do! Just remember that the number of IP camera licences that come bundled with the NAS depends on the specific model. For example my QNAP TS-253A has a very unusual 4 IP licenses. 2 is more common for 2-bay models. With the 64-bit x86 based QNAP models that have more than 4GB RAM, you can also install the free QVR Pro alternative to Surveillance Station that gives you 8 IP camera licences regardless of how many licences it came with originally. One downside of QVR Pro is that it can only play back the last 14 days of videos.

  4. Thanks for the reply. Also can you give me your thoughts on the usability of the QNAP systems vs. the Synology. You mention that the Synology OS is slightly more user friendly. Is there a tradeoff in functionality? I am somewhat technically savvy, but am no IT professional. I plan on using the NAS for Surveillance Station, a VPN, and file storage. I plan on integrating the cameras into Homeseer, possibly using Blue Iris as well. I would like something easy to setup and maintain, but I don’t want to give up a bunch of functionality. I would appreciate any thoughts you may have. Thanks, Greg

    • I think the Synology software is just a bit more polished. I haven’t spent enough time playing with the Synology DSM software to comment on functionality unfortunately. My understanding is that the Synology and QNAP are evenly matched when it comes to Surveillance Station, VPN and just using it as a RAID server. The main difference is cost. In my experience, QNAP is up to 10-30% cheaper than the comparable Synology model. Plus some QNAPs come with more free IP camera licenses than Synologys. With QNAP you don’t need Blue Iris to connect your cameras to HomeSeer. I have written a tutorial that shows you can connect Surveillance Station directly to HomeSeer.

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