My drive failure rates are about the same from brand to brand. I picked up Seagate NAS drives(4TB each RAID1) for my Synology. It is a DS416j(1.33ghz dual core ARM with 512 megabytes of ram[part of the board], sure a long shot from the i5 750 and 16 gigabytes of memory in my media center). I have not had it running that long so I can not quite compare it to the computer that was used for longer. So far it seems to work ok. My computer could cache quite a few files due to the extra memory, but it is pretty impressive how well this nas works with so little memory.
As others have said above, an expensive nas tends to be faster(more cpu power and memory. Many have X86 cpus and upgradable memory some even allow a guest os to be installed.). Many of the newer ones are adding hardware video transcoding and other features that I did not need. The nas does have a recycling bin. Interesting enough if you delete a from a share, it is GONE(you can recover it, but it does not go to either systems recycle bin) on windows. A work around is to use a network location as a user folder, but if you access it via another method you can still delete files for good(can be recovered, but not easy like checking the recycle bin).
One of the biggest issues going the NAS route was file recovery if the unit fails, but Linux should be able to read my files and synology even has instructions. As someone who has used Windows for so long it was just a bit more easy for me. For instance if you want you can allow and deny permissions at the same time on Windows, while on this NAS(I can not speak for all units) you either allow or deny(not a combination). Now if you are a part of a group(lets say users or admin) and you do not modify the group permissions even selecting read only(unless you deny writing and i gets reading from your group) in the software still allows full read/write. This still applies to Windows but it is pretty easy to just outright deny what you do not want.
Selecting the properties->security of shared folders may be slower(you see the ID instead of the user/group name for a second or 2) with multiple users. I am not sure the cause of this. I just removed all groups and just added users. It seems to be near instant now.
Once you get used to it, setting up is very easy. I just remove all the groups I do not want and give each user permissions(no checking one is like a deny as long as the group is not giving them permission).
I do want to point out that some software does not like to run over the network. Nvidia Inspector and Open Hardware Monitor come to mind. Also note that Windows does not share your mapped drives with the elevated programs. You have to either make a registry entry I never tested or use a batch files from the admin command prompt to map the drive. This may have advantages if you do not want elevated programs being able to access your files(since many unwanted programs also require elevation).
You can use iscsi to solve this issue, but only ONE computer connects(or should connect) to these targets so it is not good for sharing. This block level setup looks just like an internal drive so everything should work from it. This is not a feature I have used.
Windows and Linux(well Samba) handle symbolic links in a different was as well. On Windows I had all my saved games as Symbolic Links(or Junctions) so they could ALL be stored in the same folder(I then hid these links so they did not clutter my documents folder. This also worked over the network and that was pretty cool). You can do this on Samba(it is off by default[but easy to change in the options of the current version of DSM] and you may have to ssh or telnet[off as well] into NAS to create them). While the idea works the same, deleting a symlink/junction in Windows removes the link and does not seem to effect the target folder. When accessing symlinks over Samba, removing it will take the target with it(you can break the link the same way you made it. It is just not as easy). Making a symlink hidden also hides the target(this is another difference.). It is important to know these issues come from having one program sort of fake to be another[so to speak]. EXT4 formatted drives appear to Windows as NTFS over Samba(its a pretty cool trick).
Overall switching has been pretty painless. I used robocopy to send my files over(keeping date modified since I like to keep that).
I still have some concerns for the future.
Performance over time since they claim EXT4 does not require fragmentation(having an over sized drive may help since EXT4 is supposed to leave some extra room for file expansion). This was a non issue on Windows since it is easy to defrag NTFS drives as needed.
Backups are a bit different. File versions are cool, but I NEED the nas to access these. They are not copies(what I am more accustom to) of the files. Some have the extension .bucket or something and they are not accessible via shares or anything like that. For the time I think i will keep backing up from Windows to my external drives. NTFS is just so easy to read since I have so many Windows computers.
Overall I am pretty happy with this D416j for the price(the drives cost more than the machine). It has 2 more bays I can use for larger or more drives in the future.
On the topic of RED VS Blue. Yeah I would bet the reds will last longer under nas workloads.
Here is the one that is still in my media center(I may use it for media center recordings at some point).
The blue used for recordings(It parks the heads when not in use and spins down. It spends lots of time sleeping and just wakes up to record/playback or watch live tv.).
Note the g-sense errors. It does NOT like vibration at all(but has caused no issues. WDC offered to replace it before, but I think it is just over sensitive[maybe because it is a laptop drive].).
Sorry if this was too much of a wall of text. This nas is new and these are the observations and comparisons to using my other computer for the job.Edited by Nukemaster - 2/11/16 at 11:56pm