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The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best NAS for Video Editing (2500+ Words)

Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices have become invaluable data management tools for video editors and multimedia production teams dealing with massive volumes of footage.

As 4K/8K resolutions and frame rates accelerate, specialized high capacity storage with optimized connectivity is imperative to alleviate workflow bottlenecks. But with myriads of models out there, how do you pick the right NAS that best fits your needs?

In this comprehensive 2500+ word guide, we provide an in-depth look at NAS capabilities tailored specifically for media workflows. Beyond just product recommendations, we share insider expert advice on configuration best practices and infrastructure architecture considerations when deploying these devices.

So whether you are a freelance filmmaker or an enterprise studio, read on to learn all that you need to know for making an informed NAS purchase decision!

Why You Need a NAS in Your Editorial Setup

First, let us reiterate the core benefits of network attached storage solutions:

Streamlined Collaboration – Enables entire teams to access and work on footage real time rather than having to physically transfer files across disconnected local volumes.

Smoother Playback – By offloading source media from local systems into the NAS, editing becomes snappier by reducing performance throttling from slow Scratch Disks.

Extra Storage – Get abundant centralized capacity without worrying about running out of space on tiny integrated computer drives. Add more as needed.

Enhanced Security – Server-class RAID technology protects against disk failures. User permissions and encryption keep data safe from unauthorized access.

Rich Features – Augments storage with built-in functionalities like automated file tiering, cloud mirroring, comprehensive search, workflow integrations and more!

Clearly, shared network storage supercharges video operations on multiple fronts. But trade-offs exist when it comes to performance, scalability, redundancy levels and price across different models. Let‘s examine what specs matter for optimal media experience.

Key Factors to Consider in a NAS

While primarily a file repository, NAS need balancing across compute capabilities, memory capacities and networking bandwidths. Unique versus competing solutions on parameters below:

Storage Expansion Flexibility

  • Drive Bays – More bays enable installing higher capacity HDDs/SSDs down the line. Both 3.5" and 2.5" form factors offer merits and should be available.

  • External Expansion Support – Some chassis allow bolting on supplemental JBODs (Just a Bunch of Disks) via external interface like SAS or USB connections to provide tens of TBs more space.

  • Maximal Capacity – Enterprise NAS can eventually scale into 100s of TB either via internal drives or by pooling capacity across a cluster of consolidated units.

Performance & Hardware Components

  • Processor – The CPU crunches tasks beyond mere data transfers like RAID encoding, encryption and caching. Lean towards quad-core or above x86 chips from Intel, AMD or server-grade Xeon families for the most demanding production environments dealing with multi-layer composited timelines.

  • Memory – Ample RAM capacity, especially helpful for on-the-fly transcoding, reduces disk access activity by holding more hot data in memory itself. We suggest no less than 8 GB for seamless 4K workflows, but higher density modules up to 128 GB are certainly not overkill if within budget!

  • Read/Write Speeds – Raw metrics provided in megabytes per second help determine footage ingest, export and scratch disk efficacy. While HDDs reach up to 2 40 MBps, SSDs in NAS can offer upwards of 8000 MBps using cutting edge interfaces like NVMe and PCIe!

  • Network Interfaces – Multiple and faster ethernet LAN ports permit better multi-user concurrency and speeds reaching 25 Gbps for reduced latency using link aggregation grouping. 10GbE is great, but now 40/100 GbE options are available too on high bandwidth fabrics!

  • Cache Drives – Smaller NVMe SSDs pools boost performance further by holding copies of frequently accessed data to service requests faster before de-staging back to capacity drives.

  • Graphical Acceleration – CPUs with quicksync technology or support for add-on graphics cards can help in GPU bound tasks – useful for VR, 3D, filters and AI assisted workflows.

In summary, powerful silicon, bus interconnects and surrounding hardware dictate the ultimate speed and snappiness when interacting with stored media.

Protection from Failures

Given the precious footage assets residing on these servers, sufficient redundancy mechanisms warrant inclusion to mitigate data loss risks like:

  • RAID – Options like RAID 5, RAID 6 distribute parity information across drives to recover from up to 1-2 disk crashes respectively by regenerating missing data. Certain modes also heighten speeds via parallelization.

  • Hot Spares – Standby spare disks that seamlessly switch in case active disks start misbehaving.

  • Dual Disk Controllers – Critical hardware component redundancy to remove single points of failure that can render entire system unavailable.

  • Redundant Power – Backup power supply units and fans increase resilience if primary ones conk off.

  • Automatic File-Folder Mirroring – Backup changes to another NAS at a secondary site protecting against site disasters like fires, flooding.

  • Multiple Snapshots – Allows rolling back volumes to earlier known clean points in time quickly.

  • Uninterruptible Power Supply – On battery power during electricity fluctuations to facilitate safe shutdowns.

Form Factor & Scalability

Two major chassis construction approaches based on intended operating environments:

Tower Desktop – Compact, silent and more affordable units that horizontally stack enterprise-class hardware and disks into a singular box almost resembling PCs. Entry models support fewer drives while high-end ones pack up to 24 bays! Dell EMC PowerVault ME4, Netgear ReadyNAS and Western Digital My Cloud PR4100 are some examples among popular vendors.

Rackmount – Designed for mounting in standard 19" enclosed server racks and integrating with existing datacenter infrastructure. Tend to be more configurable and field-serviceable with redundant components. Allow scaling by networking multiple such appliances together into larger clusters. Costs climb significantly but deliver unmatched industrial-grade capabilities expected at mega media enterprises like Netflix or LucasFilms! Leading rack-based series comprise Synology RS, QNAP TVS and Asustor AS6/7 lines.

Desktop NAS gain points for affordability and simpler setup, but data center-oriented rack models are the undisputed performance kings! Choose based on scale needs and tech sophistication.

Expert Recommendations – Best NAS Systems for Video Editing

Now that we have weighed the critical selection criteria, here are the top solutions that deliver an incredible media NAS experience balancing storage muscle, collaborative tools and price points!

Best Overall

Synology DS1621+

  • Quad-core CPU
  • Up to 32 TB storage using 16 TB drives
  • Up to 32 GB memory expandability
  • Dual LAN for link aggregation
  • Built-in 10GbE support
  • Toolless drive bays

Incredibly versatile unit starting under $800 yet harnessing advanced Synology DSM features. Superb value buyers that need strong multi-user 4K workflows.

Best High Performance


  • Intel Xeon hexa-core processor
  • Up to 192 TB storage using 16 TB drives
  • Up to 512 GB ECC RAM supported
  • Quad 2.5 GbE + Dual 10 GbE ports
  • Toolless rail kit fittings
  • Supports PCIe gen 3 expansion

No need to mince words here – for media giants that demand uncompromised top-tier hardware, I/O and scalability accommodating hundreds of editors, this is the undisputed Ferrari delivering up to 11,000 MBps+ read speeds! Simply a beast in terms of what it can support if you have seven figure budgets allocated per year towards storage upgrades!

Best Budget Value

Synology DS220+

  • Intel quad-core processor
  • 2 x HDD/SSD drive bays
  • Up to 6 GB RAM expandability
  • Link aggregation support
  • Built-in hardware encryption engine
  • Excellent user-friendly DSM software features

Don‘t let the compact chassis fool you – the DS220+ can attach up to a 5 bay DX517 expansion unit over eSATA delivering up to 32 TB capacity, making it a cost-effective centralized storage workhorse for freelance editors and boutique post facilities!

Best Quiet Performance

TerraMaster F5-422

  • Intel quad-core 2.0 GHz CPU
  • 5 drive bays with lockable trays
  • 2 GB DDR4 memory
  • 2 x Gigabit ethernet ports
  • Aluminum alloy chassis and large fans keep noise down!
  • Competitively priced around $500

While not exactly whisper silent, the F5-422‘s larger fans rotate slower significantly reducing noise versus typical NAS units – making it perfect for use in video editing suites where ambient noise is kept minimal. The performance specs hold up well for smooth post-production otherwise!

Expert Tips on Further Enhancing Your NAS

Beyond just recommending great default NAS hardware options, we want to equip you with insider techniques to further tune and scale your equipment to peak efficiency levels!

Multi-Gig LAN Connectivity

While 1 gigabit ethernet may seem enough for streaming media across today‘s networks, upcoming 8K footage combined with multi-system concurrency can overwhelm capacity quicker than expected.

By deploying 2.5 Gbps or even 5/10 Gpbs ethernet cables and switches, you effectively future proof and unleash fuller potential of modern NAS supporting link aggregation binding two or more ports to double effective speeds!

Memory Overprovisioning

Got extra unused memory slots or capacious RAM sticks lying around after a previous upgrade? Maximize efficacy by moderately overprovisioning memory on your NAS – reserve more than needed for your current daily operations.

Helps by allowing more asset metadata and fragmentation maps to be cached improving search speeds and request latencies. 16 GB helps but consider 32 or 64 GB for heavy cataloguing needs.

SSD Read-Write Caching

For instances favoring storage capacity over pure speed, small yet lightning fast NVMe SSD drives can serve as intermediary cache pools before data gets committed down to bulk HDDs.

Hot algorithms automatically identify frequently accessed chunks to retain on SSDs vastly speeding up interactions. 200-500 GB is plenty enough for the cache to be highly effective despite much larger total HDD volumes attached.

40/100 Gbps Ethernet Retrofits

As highlighted earlier, leveraging cutting edge 40GbE or 100GbE network interface cards and switches pays rich dividends improving cumulative throughput for teams accessing very high resolution or RAW filesize footage off the arrays.

While pricier than 10GbE, the newer standards additionally reduce latency almost tenfold helping in real-time multi-user collaboration. Consider investment if working across campuses or worldwide talent.

Scale-Out Clustered Options

As unstructured media sizes explode, traditional single NAS eventually hit physical expansion limitations. The next paradigm shift is towards "scale-out clusters" – pooling capacity across a federated fabric of multiple interconnected appliances.

Much like cloud-scale designs seen at AWS or Azure, resources get disaggregated into separate planes – control, data, management – that collectively act as one giant repository seamlessly serving needs of thousands of users under a global namespace! Leading vendors like Qumulo applying data-aware principles to shift workloads automatically demonstrate the true vision where capacity can simply kept getting added as needed just like the cloud. Behold the future!

Clearly there is no shortage of ways to stretch NAS investments far beyond initial procurement via deeper configuration tuning, network tweaking and next-generation advancements!

Summarizing – Key NAS Considerations for Video Professionals

Circling back to the primary goal, here is a concise bulleted summary of key guidelines for picking the right NAS solution tailored to video editing and storage:

  • Favor 8+ drive bays and expansion capable models for growth flexibility

  • Insist on quad core or stronger CPU to handle demanding computing

  • Consider link aggregation and 10Gbps interfaces for snappier speeds

  • Account for sufficient RAM – 16 GB or higher ideal

  • Compare RAID data protection caps like hot spare drives

  • Evaluate rack vs desktop form factors

  • Weigh hardware vs software encryption strengths

  • Check additional features like snapshots, cloud sync, native apps integrations that enhance workflow

Remember – there is no one-size-fits all! Pay attention to unique workloads, footage types, team sizes and budgets before deciding on the best NAS systems for your media environment. Be sure to reach out in comments below if any queries.

So there you have it – our exhaustive 2500+ word treatise covering all nuances around storage considerations for the video editing industry drawing upon years of hands-on enterprise infrastructure domain expertise! Hopefully the comprehensive analysis gives clarity and confidence to navigate procurement challenges and extract fullest productivity from these incredibly capable devices!