There are different brand types of Network Attached Storage devices such as Synology, FreeNAS, QNAP, etc. This post from MiniTool introduces details about FreeNAS vs Synology for you. You can know the difference between them and which one to choose.

Network Attached Storage (NAS) Solutions allow you to enjoy storage in your home or anywhere in the world (depending on how it's configured) without plugging an HDD or SSD into your computer. There are some different NSA brands such as Synology, FreeNAS, QNAP, etc.

In our previous post, we have compared QNAP and Synology. Today, we will discuss FreeNAS vs Synology.

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FreeNAS and Synology


The FreeNAS project is an open-source storage operating system (OS) that allows storage to be shared over a network. It was created in 2005 and is based on the open-source FreeBSD operating system and OpenZFS operating system.


Synology NAS is created by Synology Inc. It centralizes data storage and backup, simplifies file collaboration, optimizes video management, and secure network deployment to facilitate data management. It can also be put at your home for daily use.

Now, you can continue to read the next part to get details about FreeNAS vs Synology.

FreeNAS vs Synology

FreeNAS vs Synology: Features

The first aspect of Synology vs FreeNAS is the features.


  • ZFS Technology - This ZFS (Zettabyte File System) technology eliminates the need for file system checks. So you can store whatever you want without worrying about system damage. This is specifically for FreeNAS minis that use FreeNAS systems but are produced by different companies. It does this all the time using checksums.
  • Time Machine Backup - FreeNAS systems support this type of backup option through the machine running the operating system.
  • Snapshot Check - FreeNAS's ZFS system creates snapshots of the entire system that you can access at any time. You can access the file anytime while taking a snapshot.
  • Many applications plus write your plugins - If you dislike the ins that come with FreeNAS, you can write your plugin application for this particular operating system.


Synology comes with devices like the DiskStation, which reviewers generally praise as a great value, especially if you opt for the cheapest variety possible. Synology offers many tools including routers with VPN and monitoring options as well as their famous NAS devices.

  • Expandable up to 16 GB - DiskStation216j gives you up to 16 TB of storage if you add the maximum capacity.
  • 4k Transcoding - The device can handle 4K UHD transcoding at 2160p via hardware.
  • Broad Compatibility - You can connect your device to Synology's own designed Cloud Sync app, but you can also connect to many different options for iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows. Examples include Google Drive, DropBox, One Drive, Azure, etc.

FreeNAS vs Synology: Pros and Cons

The second aspect of FreeNAS vs Synology is the pros and cons.



  1. The FreeNAS web interface looks modern. It makes tasks like provisioning drives into RAID volumes easy.
  2. The ZFS RAID option allows you to add SSDs as cache drives for improved performance.


  1. Synology DiskStation provides many options to create links to share files or request certain upload files. It makes it very easy to share a link that can have expired or visited counts.
  2. There's always enough storage space on our Synology DiskStation, and we never have to worry about something too big to upload or share.
  3. You can create shared folders as well as some private folders. This makes it easy to share collaborations with colleagues or clients.



  1. Not suitable for beginners as it requires in-depth knowledge of networking and storage.
  2. Most of the good and required features are not available in the free version.
  3. FreeNAS is worse for warranty.
  4. Since FreeNAS is essentially free, you may find that cloud access may sometimes require more setup or modification of ports on your router or setup software provided by third-party DNS. Thus, it may have DNS issues.
  5. If you are overly sensitive to noise vibration and typical mechanical noise, you will find the FreeNAS to be noisier overall.


  1. DSM's (Diskstation Manager) built-in backup software, HyperBackup often encounters problems.
  2. While Btrfs is a more advanced filesystem than ext4, it is also under permanent development, many features are not fully functional, and there are a lot of bugs. Synology has overcome many of these limitations by putting Btrfs on top of LVM, but Synology could use a better filesystem such as OpenZFS.
  3. The underlying Linux operating system offers significant advantages, but also adds considerable complexity.

FreeNAS vs Synology: Applications

Which scenarios are they suitable for? This aspect of FreeNAS vs Synology is the application.


FreeNAS is ideal for most storage service scenarios, whether for office file servers, backup destinations, data replication over the Internet, or as backend storage for virtual machines. It can serve various types of clients through many standard protocols, and can easily integrate with existing infrastructure using LDAP authentication and more.

One situation where it might not be suitable is S3 storage. However, the S3 functionality was added in a recent release and has probably improved a lot since then.


Synology DiskStation is ideal as a NAS solution that easily mirrors Windows file server share setups. No need to purchase a tape backup solution to access the Hyperbackup utility. A portable USB drive can be used as the initial backup destination. For air gap purposes, Hyperbackup can be connected to various cloud providers like AWS, Azure, GCP, etc. to replicate backup data there.

It's also great to use it as a backup solution instead of buying tape solutions, tapes, and offsite tape storage. Active Backup for Business is another great backup utility for physical servers, VMWare virtual machines, etc. Recovering files is very intuitive.

Before Synology introduced a dual-controller setup, it wasn't a good idea to use it as a SAN, since there would be occasional downtime when there was a problem with the controller.

FreeNAS vs Synology: Price

FreeNAS is a piece of free-to-use software, but they also offer some hardware solutions starting at $700.

Synology Diskstation offers a variety of solutions in different form factors. Prices for these solutions start as low as $160 and can go well above $1,000 depending on the buyer's needs.

The advantage of FreeNAS systems over traditional NAS from companies like Synology is price first. In most cases, the hardware you buy will cost 50% or less than the cost of the NAS brand.

FreeNAS is cheaper than Synology NAS in terms of hardware.

FreeNAS vs Synology: Which One to Choose

After getting information about the differences between FreeNAS and Synology, now you may wonder which one to choose. Here is a brief conclusion.

FreeNAS is a customizable solution, but it doesn't offer a complete one-time purchase solution. Businesses that don't want to build their own hardware may prefer other solutions. Also, since FreeNAS rigs are built using custom hardware, these systems are generally less energy-efficient than Synology Diskstations. Businesses looking for a powerful, lightweight solution may prefer Synology Diskstation.

Synology Diskstation offers an easy-to-implement, complete hardware and software solution, but that means it's not as customizable as FreeNAS. Businesses that want to choose their own hardware or have highly specific specification requirements may prefer more open software that can be applied to custom hardware. Businesses may also prefer FreeNAS's free price point, especially if they already have FreeNAS-ready hardware.

Back up Data to FreeNAS or Synology

Whether you choose FreeNAS or Synology, your purpose is to back up files to it. To back up files to your NAS, the professional backup software – MiniTool ShadowMaker is a great choice. It is a great backup program that can be used to back up operating systems, disks, partitions, files, and folders. Besides, it is a user-friendly program to protect your computer and data.

MiniTool ShadowMaker supports almost all storage devices that can be recognized by Windows, such as HDD, SSD, USB external disks, Hardware RAID, Network Attached Storage (NAS), Home File Server, etc.

This backup software offers a Trial Edition that allows a 30-day free trial for all backup features. Now you can download and try MiniTool ShadowMaker to back up your data to FreeNAS or Synology.

Free Download

Now, let’s see how to back up files to NAS with MiniTool ShadowMaker:

Step 1: Launch MiniTool ShadowMaker and click Keep Trial to continue. Enter its main interface.

Step 2: Go to the Backup page. Then click the Source module to choose the backup source. Choose Folders and Files and choose the files you want to back up.

choose Folders and Files

Step 3: Click the Destination module to continue. MiniTool ShadowMaker provides four destination paths to be chosen. Here, you can choose your NAS device as the destination. Here, you need to click the Shared tab. Click the Add new button, and type the path, user name, and password to connect your NAS device.

choose Nas as your destination

Step 4: After selecting the backup source and destination, you can click Back up Now to perform the backup task immediately. Or you can click Back up Later to delay the process.

Back up Now or Back up Later

After all of the steps are finished, you have successfully backed up your files to Synology or FreeNAS.

Related post:

Bottom Line

In this post, we show you some information on FreeNAS vs Synology and you know which one to choose. Besides, MniTool ShdowMaker can back up your important data to FreeNAS or Synology to keep your PC safe.

If you have any other ideas or questions when using MiniTool software, don’t hesitate to tell us by leaving a comment below or contacting our support team via the email [email protected]. We will reply to you as soon as possible.

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