NAS is the most exciting technology that the storage industry has to offer. It allows you to add the advantages of typical external devices with cloud services’ connectivity and thus access data from a local network or from anywhere in the world via the Internet.
Brands such as Synology, Qnap, Western Digital, Netgear provide us with excellent options to manage our files online, set up our streaming server, or give a group of users access to a local network.
Everything is still under your control and they also provide you with an easy way to backup and share your content. You will even be able to use them as music servers (compatible with iTunes), stream to all your devices, or as a central point of your company information.
What is a NAS Server?
As its name suggests, a disk or NAS server is high-capacity storage that connects to your office or home network so that you can access your files from mobile devices and computers without connecting directly to the unit. You access it through the web.
You can share files with your workers, consult documents online outside your home, use it as a multimedia server, as a backup disk for your photos, etc …
The 10 Best NAS Reviews
Synology 2 Bay NAS DiskStation DS218
Synology Diskstation DS218 perfect option that competes directly with the QNAP model. With either of the two, you will not go wrong.
Synology’s operating system is the best you’ll find: it offers you the ability to install many apps, easily make backups, host your website, or create a server in several easy steps. Almost everything you can do with Linux, you can do with this NAS.
It allows Ultra HD 4K video transcoding and has AES-NI hardware encryption. It has Intel Celeron J3355 Dual Core 2 GHz CPU that offers up to 2.5 GHz, 2 GB DDR3L (expandable up to 6 GB), USB 3.0 ports, 1 GbE RJ-45 port.
WD 8TB My Cloud EX2 Ultra Network Attached Storage
You only have one hard drive from 2TB to 8TB in this configuration, but you have a model with two bays with two purposes that go up to 20TB storage.
You can automatically back up photos and videos on your phone and via the USB 3.0 port, you can import photos, videos, and documents from USB flash drives and external hard drives. It also has apps like PLEX, Dropbox, Google Drive to expand its streaming functions.
It does not have FTP, SMB, and other protocols that we expect to see in a NAS (the approach is different in this model: simplicity prevails). Their software is not as comprehensive as on the Synology or QNAP models.
TerraMaster F2-221 NAS 2-Bay Cloud Storage Intel Dual Core 2.0GHz Plex Media Server
It will surprise you, both by design and performance. It is made of aluminum, and the discs can be easily removed and inserted. It supports AES hardware encryption and HD 4K video transcoding.
It offers support for Time Machine and many applications such as file server, mail server, web server, multimedia server (PLEX), MySQL server, and many more … It supports DLNA and is compatible with iTunes.
It offers a 2.0 GHz dual-core Intel Apollo J3355 CPU and 2 GB of RAM (expandable to 4 GB). It is relatively quiet. You can go for the TerraMaster F2-221, which has Intel’s Quad-Core CPU and 4GB of RAM. It does not have HDMI.
QNAP TS-453Be-4G-US (4GB RAM Version) 4-Bay Professional NAS
This model has an Intel Celeron J3455 processor, Quad-Core at 1.5 GHz, Intel HD Graphics 500 graphics card, 4 GB DDR3L RAM (expandable). Internal capacity for 4 bays (you will be able to take advantage of everything that it offers a RAID configuration) and data transfer speeds of up to 225MB / s upload and download.
And best of all, it can be expanded with a QM2 QM2-2S-220A expansion card (or similar) to, for example, be able to add SSD disks for the data cache.
The QNAP TS-453Be is similar to this one but without the front-end add-ons like the LCD screen, the USB-C port, or the SD card port: that’s why it’s cheaper.
WD Diskless My Cloud EX4100 Expert Series 4-Bay Network Attached Storage
If you are looking for a NAS device to handle your backups, the EX4100 might be worth it. One of the most exciting features of this device is that it offers users backup options to cloud services such as Dropbox and Box.
The EX4100 comes with four bays that can accommodate different hard drives when it comes to storage options. It has a 1.6 GHz dual-core Marvell processor and 2 GB of RAM. Its setup is straightforward.
Synology 2 bay NAS DiskStation DS218j
It has better hardware than models from previous years, although the design is the same. It seems that Synology doesn’t like to change the look of its NAS.
Something bad? To mount and remove the hard drives, we will have to open the lid of the device. In some QNAP options, we can insert the disk more efficiently. It has the full power of Synology applications.
It has two bays with a Marvell Armada 385 88F6820 CPU (1.3GHz Dual Core), 512 MB DDR3 RAM, and the compatible drives are 3.5 ″ SATA HDD and 2.5 ″ SATA HDD (with adapter). You can fit up to 28TB. It has two USB 3.0 ports and an RJ45.
Synology DS120j 1 bay NAS DiskStation (Diskless), 512MB DDR3L
This single bay Synology offering offers a ton of features for the home user at a very affordable price.
While it’s a simple setup compared to the other options on this list, the DS220j includes Synology’s fantastic DiskStation Manager (DSM) software, making setup and management a breeze. It has a 1GbE RJ-45 port. It only lacks one USB 3.0 (it only has two USB 2.0s).
It has an 800Mhz dual-core processor and 512MB of DDR3L RAM.
Performance? It has sequential performance at over 112MB / s read and 106MB / s write.
Synology 4 bay NAS DiskStation DS418 (Diskless)
Synology’s DS418play is one of the best options for considering performance and features combined with a reasonable price. Its DLNA certification allows users to stream a wide variety of content to PCs and Smart TVs located on their network using Media Station software.
The DS418play has 4 bays for a total storage capacity of 40 TB. With an Intel dual-core processor and up to 2.48 GHz, 1GB of RAM, 3 USB 3.0 ports, 2 Gigabit LAN ports, Ultra HD 4K video transcoding, and excellent Synology DiskStation Manager software, this is a great option to manage your home network.
Synology 8 bay NAS DiskStation DS1817 (Diskless)
Synology’s DS1817 + is an eight-bay NAS solution that offers plenty of space for home and professional users. It supports up to 80TB with its internal drives, with the ability to expand to 180TB through its eSATA ports.
With its quad-core CPU and up to 16GB of memory, the DS1817 + packs a punch. It again highlights Synology’s Linux-based DiskStation Manager (DSM) software for its easy setup, navigation, and options.
Synology 2 bay NAS DiskStation DS220j (Diskless), 2-bay; 512MB DDR4
A cheap two-bay NAS server with up to 32TB capacity (2.5 ″ or 3.5 ″ disks) perfect for home use or small businesses thanks to being able to implement RAID, RAID 1, JBOD, Basic and SHR. Its performance is good, it has the Synology operating system and has many apps available.
It is a good upgrade compared to the DS218j since it has a 1.4GHz 4-core processor and 512MB of DDR4 RAM (the DS218j has a 1.3GHz dual-core chip and 512MB DDR3 type).
It only has a LAN port and 2 USB, the discs are not included and you have to open the device to insert them.
What is a NAS and What is it For?
NAS works similarly to cloud storage systems: they allow you to access all your files from any device that is part of the network. This means that this technology shares the storage of a computer with other personal computers.
You can use them to store music, videos, documents, photos, or any other type of file. One of the most popular uses of NAS is playing videos since you can view them from your TV without connecting your computer to it.
A NAS disk is designed to be permanently on, so you can have access to your photos, music, videos, etc., whenever you need it. Most have timers that you can set to turn off or on as often as you like.
Here we talk about some of the features that we think should be considered before buying a NAS.
What to Consider When Choosing The Best NAS
A distinctive feature of this type of equipment is that it works autonomously from personal computers or mobile devices from which they can be connected. To do this, they have their own internal hardware, connection ports, operating system, and applications.
In terms of capacity, the industry offers simple models for consumption with one or two storage units, up to large racks for data centers that can use hundreds of them.
They also vary in the inclusion or not of storage units. Some consumer models come fully equipped, while others (most) come with empty bays for the user to mount their own.
In fact, you can use both the hard drives that you have at home or in the office without using that you have been withdrawing from other computers or acquire new models specialized in NAS, optimized for lower consumption and greater durability, something to keep in mind if as is common in NAS, you will have them running 24/7.
In terms of internal hardware and just like a PC, it varies tremendously, ranging from a base with a simple ARM processor for a basic home NAS to a 48-core Xeon for one of the powerful existing models for data centers.
Installing a NAS
WD My Cloud Pro PR4100 systems are advisable to use hard drives instead of SSDs due to their higher capacity and better price per GB. The performance advantages of SSDs here are not as significant as those of a personal computer when running over the local network.
If you have a free hard drive at home, a NAS will be the best use for it. The hard drives don’t need to be of the same brand, nor is it mandatory (yes recommended) to have the same size.
However, depending on the RAID level you use, you can only take advantage of the capacity of the smallest of them. Once the hard drives are mounted and connected to the local network through its Ethernet connector, it’s time to configure the NAS.
Specialized manufacturers such as Synology or QNAP offer unique web-based operating systems, with installation wizards to format and prepare disks, with automated setup, easy-to-use user interfaces, and a host of applications to extend its operation beyond Save data.
As we said initially, a NAS’s possibilities go far beyond serving as a storage medium, keeping our files and backup copies have done locally or via the Internet from any device, and allowing its use as a multimedia media server to transmit content to other computers.
If you are going to use the NAS to store files, its capacity will be one of the main elements to take into account.
Some NAS come without any hard drive, the advantage of which is that you can choose what capacity you need yourself.
You can find disks of up to 10 TB (although you will have to pay at least € 400). If you don’t need this high amount of space, you can go for 4 TB drives, which is also a lot of space but will cost you much less money.
Disks for NAS
When you choose disks for your NAS, you have to note that they have been designed to work within a NAS box.
Suppose the disk has been designed for this purpose. In that case, it will have more excellent resistance to vibration, something quite necessary since, as we have said before, the NAS will be on almost always (which produces continuous vibration).
Disks designed for NAS also often have a utility known as Intelligent Failure Recovery, which prevents you from being disconnected from RAID in the event of extensive error recovery (see what RAID is below).
They usually also have a command completion system. Suppose for a specific reason the connection is interrupted. In that case, the disk designed for NAS is programmed to minimize data loss thanks to completing the command in process before disconnection.
The acronym RAID stands for redundant array of independent disks, that is, redundant array of independent disks. You still don’t understand.
In a simplified way, we can say that RAID is a data storage system between different devices such as hard drives, SSDs, etc., between which data exchange or replication is possible.
Initially, RAIDs began to join more impoverished performance devices (usually older or low-cost) in a single network, thus achieving much more power and better performance through this union.
Today RAID is used for many other purposes, including connecting different devices, higher performance, more speed, efficiency, protection against possible errors or failures, etc.
One of its most popular uses is undoubtedly the security that RAID provides since if a disk fails, all your data will be kept safe.
Most NAS come with at least two slots, which means that you can use one of them to install a RAID. In this way, hard drive 2 will be a mirror of the first one, and if either of the two fails, all your data will be protected.
The hot-swap feature means that you can remove or insert a hard drive without turning off the NAS first, which can be very useful if you do not want to interrupt any activity that the NAS is carrying out.
You must consider whether you will need remote access to the NAS. Previously, it was necessary to be subscribed to services offered by third parties. Still, when you buy a NAS you can also create an account with the same company that will configure the NAS that gives you the remote connectivity service.
In this way, you will only have to log into your account, and the company will make the connection to your NAS possible.
The many applications, both home and professional, of NAS, have caused its use to increase enormously in recent years. No doubt, acquiring one implies a significant financial investment. However, the many benefits they offer make it worthwhile.
Choosing the right one depends mostly on your minimum technical knowledge and perfectly knowing your real needs. To do this, first of all, you must ask yourself what use you will make of it.
From there, you can start thinking about which configuration and which manufacturer is best for you.
Finally, if you consider that this guide has been useful in your purchase process, you can leave us a comment or share it with your friends through social networks.