NAS for home lab and personal data: Build or Buy?

I wanted to get all of your inputs/opinions on whether to build a NAS with FreeNAS (or another recommend platform) OR buy a synology? From a cost, reliability/stability, and easy management standpoint. Why did you choose one way over another?

Also, if you could recommend what kind of "setup" you have?

I will be using the NAS for my ESXi/vSphere lab AND for all my personal files, pics, data, etc.
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IF you already have suitable hardware AND
IF you have experience or interest in managing an OS
THEN it probably makes the most sense to build your own NAS.

Where these conditions don't hold, or you're not sure, then you may be better advised to buy a device that's already configured to do what you need. You can find hardware to run FreeNAS for a little less than the standalone NAS devices, but FreeNAS (at least the recent versions) won't run well on just any disused PC.

At a previous job I used QNAP devices and found them to be pretty easy to deal with in a VMware environment. No experience with Synology, so can't make a valid comparison.

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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
What kind of total storage capacity are you looking for in your NAS ??

If it's not more than 18TB the WD My Cloud EX4 is a very simple to setup unit that can provide up to 18TB of protected storage using RAID-5 and 6TB disks.    The basic box is under $300 ... then you simply need to populate it with the drives you need.

I'd recommend using WD Red drives ... you can use 2TB, 3TB, 4TB, or 6TB drives depending on the capacity you need to achieve.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
We actually build NASes for our labs, using Solaris and ZFS if you have the skills, this gives us the flexibility of using the fastet version of ZFS, using SSDs for ZIL and ARC cache, and slower spinny HDD disks.

We use HP ProLiant MicroServers which can be obtained cheaply in the UK, at approx £80 after cashback, without disks, which makes them an extremely cheap purchase, you'll not get a case for £80 which can accommodate 6+4 disks.

checkout here, 16TB of RAW storage goodness with SSDs for cache. 

Also you may want to check do you require iSCSI, NFS, CIFS, SMB3.

recenly Nakivo (Backup and Replication vendor) can now integrate on a  NAS, so no need to install their software on a VM, this is a first, even Veeam cannot do this...using a Western Digital DL 2100 NAS.

see here

and then there are the Synologies, which are popular, or if you dig hard enough on the Internet, you can create your own Synologies NAS!

Also have a look here

So there are some ideas for you.
ITAddictAuthor Commented:
Thank you everyone!
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