Best Practice(s) for using a NAS (QNAP TS451+) to Install a Secondary Roon Core?

My intent is to run a multi-room – Amazon Alexa speaker – music system.

But for just a select few thousand FLAC tracks, I didn’t want to leave my primary Core HTPC running 24/7 (with its several HD’s and +200,000 FLAC tracks).

It would seem that a QNAP TS451+ NAS is marginal for use as a Roon Core. Nevertheless, it also appears that others are successfully using a 451+ as a core.

My QNAP 451+ has 1GB of RAM. Maxing the RAM out at 8GB, seems like a wise first step. Would you advise doing anything else?

Both Roon cores will be on our home LAN. Is there an easy, or recommended way to switch and authorize cores via my Galaxy S22 Ultra + phone?

NOTE: Thanks to “Guy_Finley’s”, recent post, I was exceeding pleased to find a method of using Roon to stream my music tracks: Use Roon to stream music to Amazon Echo speaker - #37 by Guy_Finley

I guess roon would be running on that one with 4GB of RAM if the library is rather small but I would expect it to be reacting annoyingly slow at times. The TS-451+´s CPU is rather disadvantageous compared to other QNAP models as it is a quad core Celeron with rather slow one-core performance.

My QNAP 451+ has 1GB of RAM. Maxing the RAM out at 8GB, seems like a wise first step. Would you advise doing anything else?

From my experience with such Celerons I would assume that the CPU could anyways just handle a small library. With less than 10k tracks, 4GB of RAM is more than sufficient, you would not notice the difference to 8GB. SSD installed carrying roon´s internal database is much more important.

Is there an easy, or recommended way to switch and authorize cores via my Galaxy S22 Ultra + phone?

You want to buy a second license or want to move the core license every time you switch between HTPC and NAS? The latter variant sounds rather complicated as de-authorizing takes a bit of time and you might end up with always ensuring you have a database update for both ´roon worlds´ up-to-date.

Running 2 cores in one network environment on the other hand is pretty easy and comfortable, I had this installed for quite some time. But it means paying for 2 licenses, naturally…

Is easy peasy between two servers whether or not they are in the same location or not. I do it several time a day, maybe 20 seconds.

Also, you don’t need to keep both servers in sync. I don’t. I let one server which is used for work mainly just have streaming content with only 2 or 3 local albums.

If you decide to go with two licenses, you should start a conversation here with accounts and get a second license added to your account instead of creating a second account. Databases can be shared on servers with licenses on the same account, database backups cannot be shared between accounts.

RAM is cheap. I would max it out. Why not? Switching one license back and forth between two servers is easy and quick. There is no need for two licenses (subscriptions) if you don’t need both servers running and usable at the same time.

Having said that, I ended up with three subscriptions for a couple of reasons I don’t need to explain here. If you decide to purchase a second subscription, make sure it’s on the same user account. Don’t set up a second account.

All of my music is streamed from Tidal and Qobuz with no local files, so Tidal and Qobuz keep my three servers and subscriptions in sync automatically.

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I’m doing a culling of tracks currently. But my guess is that there will be less than 5k.

I won’t be making the switch daily. Twenty seconds sounds doable and good to know. My primary server is the library I care about. The NAS library will essentially be fixed with little, if any changes. It will be used for greatest hits background music; this is unlike my primary library which drives my 2-channel room/rig and where I only do critical listening.

This substantiates Rugby’s comment and makes me even more sure that I will try switching (as needed) and see how it goes.

So, I would need to obtain a USB SSD to plug into my QNAP, with Roon installed? How necessary is that thought to be? I would guess that the USB path would perhaps be a hindrance. Excluding that thought, I suppose the goal would be to help take some of the processing load off the Celeron CPU?

I just found this link that address my NAS/SDD question:
Roon Knowledge Base: “Roon Server on NAS”

As mentioned, the de-authorization process by itself is easy, if you do not mind the time it is taking to ensure the other core is not active. You have to be aware what it means if Tidal/Qobuz accounts and Tidal playlists are involved. Every time you move the account to a different core, roon is trying to implement streaming-related changes on the other core. I tried this for some time and ended up with missing albums, Tidal playlist changes appearing and alike. To keep 2 libraries separated running alternately on the same account a full backup was necessary every time before de-authorizing as well as a full backup-restore after moving the account.

If that is not applicable to you as you are using solely local files, it might be easy.

RAM is cheap. I would max it out. Why not?

Because is does not bring any advantage as roon might be utilizing 1-2GB with such a small library. So 2GB might be insufficient but 4GB is on the safe side.

So, I would need to obtain a USB SSD to plug into my QNAP, with Roon installed?

You would need to obtain a USB drive if you do not have SSD in your NAS. I would recommend a really fast 64GB stick (although in your case 32GB will most likely do the job), I opted for Sandisc Extreme. Make sure you use the fastest USB3.2 port of your QNAP (QNAPs tend to also offer some slower USB2.0 for mouse, keyboard and alike, avoid those ports).

Roon does not have to be installed manually on the flash drive. You can do the installation process from the App Store and afterwards open Roon app in QNAP apps pointing to the preferred database location on the external USB drive.

Excluding that thought, I suppose the goal would be to help take some of the processing load off the Celeron CPU?

No, the idea is more to have the internal database on a fast SSD as roon is needing that one permanently with random access. It is neither replacing Cache nor RAM. If roon is trying the same from a spinning-disc HDD you end up with stuttering coverflow and machine-gun-like sounds from your harddrive´s head repositioning at an enormous rate. It sounds really unhealthy.

The CPU will anyways reach its limits when performing computing-intense operations such as coverflow or compiling a composition list. Be prepared for some delays but from my experience it should not effect the playback itself.

Whew, I dodged a bullet Re: the back-up/restore process when music streaming accounts are utilized (e.g., Tidal/Qobuz etc). Fortunately, I’m just dealing with my own local files. However, I have been considering trialing Qobuz purely for the heck of it. Following your sage advice, I will table that idea.

Superb explanations and recommendations!

An excellent description and advice, Arindal!
I appreciate your input based on experience. It was everything I was seeking and MORE…Cheers!
-Mike (Mrmb)

That is just not correct. You can switch from one core to the other instantaneously with zero issues. I stream from Tidal and Qobuz and have never had an issue.

@Mrnb you are very welcome! I am glad to share all these details about Roon on QNAP as I had to figure out most of it myself during the almost 4 years I am running it on different NAS´. I am quite surprised that there seem not to be too many people wanting such a setup as in my understanding it is very minimalistic. Especially since some affordable NAS offer a suitable CPU which was not the case 4 years ago. I ended up with one as I wanted something offering HDMI output, being completely silent (everything had to be positioned very close to my listening position) and offering sufficient storage space of 20+ TB.

@Jim Yes you can switch to one core easily by de-authorizing the other and let Tidal and Qobuz do some kind of sync job. The moment I tried to run a completely different library on the 2 cores - that’s what the original intend was here - I always ended up with trouble as one core tried to take over the library changes of the other one including adding lots of unwanted albums and deleting others.

What was your solution to have, let’s say one core having a 200k library and the over one a 5k library both alternately running on the same accounts (roon, Tidal and Qobuz) and not being synchronized by either Tidal or Oobuz?

My three libraries are identical. I now have three subscriptions, but when I only had one, there was never an issue switching back and forth.

You don’t. Both servers will have the exact same streaming library. If you want the alternate server to have different streaming content (or a subset) then you need to use a different Tidal or Qobuz account for that alternate server.

This is because what the service tells Roon what is in the library. Anything that you have made a favorite on the service will show up in Roon’s library. When you click the + button to add something to your library in Roon from Tidal you are also marking that as a favorite in Tidal. Alternatively, the moment you heart an album in Tidal using the Tidal app, that album will show up in your Roon Server’s Library. As it will for any server that uses that Tidal account. (or Qobuz).

This is why when you create a new server, without restoring a database, you can just sign into your streaming service and all those albums will populate in your library.

To clarify, for my QNAP NAS, I should install QNAP’S Roon App. At some point during that process, or afterwards, when I energize the App, I assume an installation wizard (of sorts) will ask where I want to install Roon’s (Core/Server/Database, I’m never sure if these terms are synonymous or not). Nevertheless, this is the point where I would select the location of the core (database) and I would choose the SSD? Is that essentially the sequence?

I’m asking, because it has been several years since I originally installed Roon and can’t recall the process specifics from then. Nor, have I installed any sort of App like this on my QNAP.

Once Roon is installed (via App Store or manually does not matter), you see the roon app icon in QTS´s App Center (All examples below show QTS 5.1.2 in German, different versions/languages might vary):

Hit the ´open´ button, a dialogue window will pop up:

The left side of the window is showing the internal database´s path as well as some version/driver infos. There are three buttons on the lower end of the window, the right one should be called ´change database location´. That is exactly the place to direct roon´s handling of the internal database to whatever fast SSD is available. In my case it is an external flash drive via USB3.2.

Perfect Arindal,

My QNAP TS451+ only has 2GB of RAM. But given my less than 5,000 tracks, more like 4k when I’m finished pulling tracks from my 200K+ tracks, the database should be small enough to maybe run without bumping-up the RAM.

I’m a bit dubious about throwing any money, or spending any time tearing into my QNAP. Because, apparently there is a failure point (perhaps a resistor) on the Intel CPU, that is causing many to die. Apparently, it’s not a matter of IF it will happen, but when. Apparently, Synology NAS’s with the same CPU are having similar failure rates.

The new NAS loaded database will be to used for multiple Amazon Alexa speakers. This will be for background, non-critical listening only. I was pleased to recently learn that streaming my music from Roon to an Alexa speaker group was finally doable with the addition of 2-devices. The following forum post was quite helpful in that respect: Use Roon to Stream Music to Amazon Echo speaker

At any rate, thanks for the info., you’ve been quite helpful!

Not sure about that. If I narrow down the enabled storage of my collection to 5k tracks, roon is still using in the region of 1.2GB of RAM. Add the RAM consumption of QTS´ standard processes and the 2GB is almost eaten up causing the system to swap RAM and memory on spinning discs. I had experienced a similar behavior with my previous Qnap and that started as RAM consumption exceeded 80% significantly slowing down everything. And you 451+ is even disadvantageous in terms of CPU-single-core power. To make things worse this was affecting both the playlist pages as well as coverflow and starting streams.

If you do not want to put money into an anyways underpowered and doomed NAS I would get a previous-gen affordable Qnap with a suitable Duocore Celeron CPU if I were you. Maybe a used one. Units such as TS-251D run roon astonishingly smooth as long as the library is small. You do not need to install anything, just plug in the drives from the old one and point roon app to the SSD path of the internal database.

You don’t. Both servers will have the exact same streaming library. If you want the alternate server to have different streaming content (or a subset) then you need to use a different Tidal or Qobuz account for that alternate server.

That is exactly my experience. Running the very same 200k+ roon library on a powerful HTPC and an underpowered NAS alternately and letting Qobuz or Tidal do the sync would make things complicated when moving the roon account from one to another.

In case the library is only consisting of local files, on the other hand, that should work as roon is mostly ignoring files from storage locations which have never been activated on the particular device carrying the internal database.

Great facts based on your usage with relevance to my 2GB RAM QNAP. I assumed that 2GB would be quite marginal and your use experiences confirm it…thanks for that.

Excellent advice. I need to circle-back and establish how important running Roon on a NAS is. A NAS like my TS451+ – with huge odds of failure, based on this 35-page thread ( and lots of other associated information – is not a device that I want to spend money and time mofidying.

What are my options? Your previous generation “Duocore Celeron CPU” unit suggestion is appreciated.

The ability to utilize my extensive music library (with no other streaming like Qobuz or Tidal etc., being involved) for whole house music, is just too inviting to ignore for long!! But, I need to consider what has been discussed herein and compare that with my options, before moving forward.

I am not familiar with all legacy Qnap models but I used to own a TS-251D. These and similar models (e.g. the TS-451D2) come with a Celeron J4005/J4025 Dualcore processor. Not a fast CPU but roon runs nicely and smoothly on that one if your library stays south of 20k tracks and you have 4GB of RAM. A more current home NAS like the TS-262 is even better, equipped with a Celeron N4505 or alike. Roon experience is really smooth on that one, comparable to a Roon Nucleus with smaller libraries.

Avoid quadcore Celerons unless you get a really fast and current model (such as N5095 or N5105).

Thanks again Arindal.

After contemplating my present options and considering what to do, running a Roon Server on NUC, seems inviting. As my QNAP NAS was specifically for in-home storage and with its well-known life limitations, I thought why not buy another NAS for FLAC file storage and point the new NUC to the new NAS?

I like the specs & cost of these two:

  • Asustor AS1102T - 2 Bay NAS, 1.4GHz Quad Core, Single 2.5GbE Port, 1GB RAM DDR4, $179
  • Asustor AS5202T - 2 Bay NAS, 2.0GHz Dual-Core, 2 2.5GbE Ports, 2GB RAM DDR4, $259

Now that the subject has changed, I created this new post:
Questions Re: Replacing a HTPC Core with Internal Storage with a NUC Core NAS Storage

To be honest, I fail to see the point in buying a 2-bay NAS – especially if its only purpose is to hold your music files for Roon. IMHO you’re better off buying external USB storage for your NUC (it is well known that Roon works best with local storage), either pre-built or expansion cases you can complete with drives yourself (examples in the links).
You can, and IMO should, still complement that setup with a large(r) NAS to hold backups of all your important data (including your music library and Roon database backups) along with the option to provide additional network services if you like (uPnP audio, video and photo server for example).