Thoughts on NAS versus USB/SSD storage?


My library contains about 85,000 tracks (8000+ albums). I don’t use heavy DSP and I do have a lot of high-res music files with a lot of DSD music files.

Today I am using a Roon ROCK install on an Intel NUC device (NUC12WSHi7) with 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. I have a decent 4-Bay Synology NAS setup at home, and it works fine since my home network is all wired up.

I read somewhere that for best Roon UI performance (search, album browsing, etc.) it is best to have the music files directly connected to the NUC, either in internal SSD or via a USB hard drive. Also read that this can positively impact sound quality (less jitter due to network transmission errors, etc.)…

Any experience and advice on this subject would be highly appreciated, keen to hear what people have experienced with this.


Directly connected storage is less stuff to worry about, less network utilization, and an overall snappier experience. Forget anything you read about SQ or jitter, it does not apply in either scenario.


There is also the option on a large internal NVMe SSD, but not sure I can run NVMe M.4 large SSDs in a Roon ROCK NUC setup…

The location of the media is not very important. Until you hit play, the location where your rips/FLAC/etc are stored is not accessed at all. So the “snappiness” / responsiveness of remote is entirely determined by your core, it’s processor, memory, and the db storage (all of which are internal to the NUC). Generally you’re better off the “closer” (from a network topology standpoint, not physical distance) your core and library are because traversing a bunch of switches etc is quite likely to cause performance issues - think of the fact that music has to go from your library to your core and then on to your endpoint (s) every time you are playing, and you can see why any latency might be bad. So the “ideal” is internal storage to the NUC or a drive connected by USB directly to the NUC. Next best is “both NUC and library are connected directly to the same switch”, and then after that it’s topological distance. But all that said, this is one of those issues where “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” - if you have no dropouts or other network issues while playing, don’t worry about it. There are no SQ or other potential issues.


Got it, thanks for the replies… Any idea if I can install a large SSD inside a NUC? I can see these available but nearly all are NVM2 M.4 instead of M.2 so not sure that would actually work.

This is a SATA drive if your NUC accepts drives

I believe many Roon users have this or the 2 or 4 tb options, mine is a 4Tb Crucial, as Samsung were OOS when I built

Generally it’s a better solution for a number of reasons to use an external enclosure connected via USB. These are all practically related (eg, so you can use sneaker-net for periodic offsite backups etc) so if the aesthetics are worth increased cost & complexity, and you have one of the tall case NUCs and you want to, then by all means get an internal drive.

If you have your machine in a server closet/rack, and one additional small item is not a big deal, the simplest thing is to get an enclosure like the one below - there are a gazillion available that all cost about $10, you can & should choose your own because the failure rate is not zero in items this inexpensive and none of us want to tell you which one to get.

Then get whatever SSD you want and hook it up.

I actually have 3 identical ones - which are distinguished from one another by masking tape. Every 3 months or so (in reality I manage maybe 3 times a year) I take one copy and put it offsite. So I always have a master. I spent so many hours ripping 1000’s of CDs in my 30’s and I just don’t want to do it again.

Agreed, I hear you on the “don’t want to go thru ripping my CDs again”… It took me weeks to move my library from CD to lossless FLAC and I would hate the prospect of having to do it again. Got my backup strategy well placed and I am very disciplined about it.

I was more curious from a performance / sound quality perspective. I guess a USB connected SSD drive will not be much slower than an internal one, that is most likely the way to go… I am not a sucker for looks, I prefer the practicality and flexiblity.

If your setup is working and you are happy, then leave it alone and just enjoy the music, imho.

If you do want to move your music local, then I’d suggest an external usb drive. Even the USB interface with an standard HDD is faster than is required for playback.



I’m going to sound a little contrarian here.

Your core needs to be co-located with your database for reliability and performance. Period. You should have fast media, preferably SSD, and a sufficient amount of RAM. You absolutely need to follow the guidance here.

Beyond that, I do not ascribe to the assertions that your local library needs to be proximal to your core either in the form of an attached USB drive or even through the reduction of home switches.

Storing your data on a NAS with drive redundancy is an investment in not losing your data. The minimal best practice is some form of RAID redundancy coupled with an offsite backup. Synology, as an example, makes this simple with a variety of RAID options and HyperBackup which does incremental backups to a variety of storage providers.

There may be a scanning/import penalty for having your files on a NAS. I don’t doubt that importing a large library from a NAS over SMB would take more time than importing that same library when connected to a fast USB-attached drive. I do doubt that, in most cases, you’d find that searching, exploring, etc. would be any different because that’s driven by the local database. And I can’t imagine that you’d have playback issues. Keep in mind that most of us stream music over hundreds or thousands of miles of internet cable and that by the time data enters your house it’s traversed a dozen or more switches starting in very physically distant data centers.

Bad switches, bad cables, bad wiring can certainly cause issues. That’s a different discussion.

My point here is that I’d think twice about giving up a NAS if your goal is performance. And there are good reasons not to give it up.

Danny isn’t a fan of NAS storage though, for Roon’s music drive directly. The streaming from the internet is not directly related, e.g., the is no watching for new files in the internet scenario.

Of course a NAS and redundancy is good for safety, but one can use attached music storage for Roon’s direct access and back it up to a NAS and off-site backup from there

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Yep, this is best. NAS really isn’t a true backup solution, it’s just one where availability is redundant to the failure of a single drive. It’s more meant to keep your music on line no matter what, which might be your goal. But if your goal is not to lose your music, a NAS provides a false sense of security. People (including me at times) confuse availability with backup.

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I don’t want to wade into some sort of debate here but I’m curious if anyone is suggesting to the original poster that they will experience a material improvement in performance or sound quality by moving from a NAS to a USB drive. I don’t think anyone has.

I used to work with a guy who frequently talked about “sideways innovation”. In tech, it’s easy to fall into this trap - re-platforming, changing languages, re-building tool chains. Activity that doesn’t produce progress, just gets you essentially back to the place you started. I think that may be what a move from a NAS to a USB drive would achieve in this case.

Just my 2 cents.

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Not suggesting anything will get better. I am suggesting that you’ve eliminated one thing that is in the list of “crap that can go wrong” by not having your music traverse your network prior to going from core to endpoint. But if there are no symptoms, it’s a bit much to chase a solution to a non-problem. However… spend some time on the boards and you’ll realize that the idea of chasing down issues that haven’t yet manifested is remarkably common.

Fair enough :slight_smile:

Decades of running home-built RAID arrays transitioning to NAS coupled with professional bona fides in these areas influence me. Probably to the point of hubris. I get your points - 1) content to core is an extra hop that isn’t never going to help anything and 2) stability up front means less frustration and debugging later. It would be silly to argue against either of those.

No it won’t, but smoother operation is nice too

I suggested the OP leave a currently working setup alone, because, it is working.

Otherwise, I too would have suggested that the files should be local to the core. As others have suggested, it removes a potential source of playback issues. Having helped fellow users out on these forums for seven years, I have seen a variety of different issues which can crop up with files on the NAS. (i.e. the frequent “New files on the NAS don’t show up unless I rescan storage”, or, “Roon is keeping my NAS’ hard drives constantly spinning”)

That seems like a good recommendation. Thanks for the additional info.

Today I have an 8TB WD HDD connected to the Roon ROCK device, that’s where all my music is stored, I have my Synology backup the music libraries on a weekly schedule, as well as the Roon database. I also have an offline copy of the NAS which I periodically keep refreshed. I am not concerned about losing data.

I was not sure if the network latency affects the UI operation of Roon and if it introduces any sluggishness in the roon server operation… Also was curious if the immediacy of the location (ie. SSD inside the NUC) can improve sound quality or not.

As it stands today, the only thing that is not smooth, is that the 8TB drive goes to sleep, so when I first start to listen there is a 5-10 second wait for the drive to spin again before local playbacks starts. But that really is not a deal breaker and only happens at the very start of a listening session.

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Not that I’ve found. The only difference really is that startup delay with the external drive on the first play. Other than that the external drive is already more than fast enough for playback, SSD speed is wasted for the most part.

There is a price point difference between a large internal SSD and an external usb drive and the external drive is easier to move between systems if you need to.

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