The 10 best NAS devices
The best network attached storage devices, or NAS, can be a godsend if you’re looking for a way to optimize your data storage in your home or office. They’re simply the best way to store your essential files. However, you may be wondering which is the best NAS. Luckily, we here at TechRadar have created this extensive list of the best NAS devices on the market today – which includes our expert advice on what to look for when you go out looking for a NAS.
If you don’t know what a NAS is, they’re network-connected storage devices that anyone on your network can access. They won’t necessarily have the raw speed of the best SSDs, but if you need to share data between several computers, they’re extremely beneficial. Some NAS devices will even let you access your files remotely via internet. It makes sense then, that the best NAS devices are essential hardware for any small business where efficiently sharing files between devices is a necessity.
One of the most appealing things about the best NAS devices is that, for the most part, they’re platform-agnostic – they’ll work with any device no matter what operating system they’re running on. Windows, macOS or Linux – the best NAS devices will work for you regardless of your device.
Still, just like any kind of enterprise computer hardware, the market for NAS devices can be tricky to navigate – that’s why we’ve created this list of the best NAS devices on the market in 2018. And because we’ve tested them all in-house here at TechRadar, you can be confident that each device on this list is absolutely worth your time and money.
WD has achieved quite considerable success with its unashamedly consumer-friendly My Cloud products, which can stream to any DLNA-compliant device and can be accessed via mobile apps for iOS and Android.
Labeled as a ‘personal cloud,’ it’s a NAS box by any other measure and starts at 2TB of storage (you can also get it in 3 or 4TB). As it’s a one-bay unit, it can’t back itself up to a drive inside the unit, but it can back up to an external hard drive via a USB port on the back.
- Read our full WD My Cloud Personal review
Picking up on the ‘personal cloud’ theme, this unit from Seagate takes its lead from My Cloud, but it offers far larger capacities, along with dual bays for two hard drives. This allows the Seagate Personal Cloud 2-Bay NAS device to mirror the files on one hard drive to a second one, giving you protection in case one of those drives fails.
We also like the no-fuss appearance of this unit, meaning it can sit nicely under a router or on a shelf. It works with cloud accounts, including Dropbox and Google Drive, and you can also use an app to share content to streamers, including Chromecast and Roku.
The QNAP TS-251A is an awesome NAS device that comes with more features than you can shake the included remote control at. You’ve got dual Ethernet ports, a HDMI out for connecting it up to a TV and beefy hardware including a dual-core 1.6GHz Intel Celeron CPU and 4GB of RAM (that can be expanded to 8GB) for hardware transcoding media files.
The QTS operating system allows you to easily install a range of apps, from Plex Media Server, file sharing apps and even a karaoke app, as well as run Ubuntu Linux for even more flexibility.
In short – this is a fantastic NAS device, though you’ll need to buy the hard drives separately, so factor that in to the overall cost.
This 2TB dual-bay NAS (it’s also available in 4, 6, and 8TB capacities) comes from Buffalo, the company that also makes the TeraStation line of advanced NAS units.
The key selling point of this model is that it can integrate directly with BitTorrent, meaning it can download stuff for you even when your PC is turned off. Like many of the other devices here, you can also stream to it via various devices, it’s platform agnostic and you can use it as an iTunes server.
- This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Seagate Personal Cloud 2-Bay
Once in a while, a product comes around that challenges the conventions of their product category. The DS1817 is one such product. Most NAS devices that occupy the ‘value’ space tend to be underpowered and have little to no room for expansion. The DS1817 flies in the face of those conventions, and allows users to fill the included eight drive bays with whatever they choose, so that you can get as much (or as little) storage as you’d like. Plus, on top of this heaping expandability, the 10GbE LAN and Quad-Core CPU mean that you’ll never be left wanting for performance.
Read the full review: Synology DiskStation DS181
This two-bay unit can create a mirrored backup of your stuff (duplicating your data on both drives), using RAID configuration. That’s quite an advanced feature for a consumer box and you do pay quite a lot for that capability and WD’s user-friendly presentation, including an easy-to-master, browser-based control screen.
This is a 4TB unit (6, 8, and 16TB units are also available). For extra peace of mind, you can also back the contents up to Dropbox.
Anyone looking at purely technical aspects will instantly fall in love with the Synology DiskStation DS1517. Thanks to its quad-core CPU and up to 8GB of RAM, this NAS can reach sequential speeds of 111.4 MB/s write and 110.3 MB/s read without even breaking a sweat. When you combine that raw performance with the DS1517’s expandability, you have a recipe for a NAS that can stack up against the best NAS devices on the market. However, be aware that the DS1517 isn’t cheap, and unless you’re a creative professional, or you’re looking for a NAS for a small business, it might be overkill.
Read the full review: Synology DiskStation DS1517
As well as the RAID capabilities found in more expensive and complex NAS devices, this box is meant for small business use and supports Microsoft Active Directory. It can also act as a file server, FTP server, backup server and P2P download server.
WD’s EX series are also available in diskless variants, though this price is for the 4TB version. 8TB, 12TB and 16TB are also available. If you don’t need any of this extra stuff, then get the My Cloud Mirror.
If you’re looking for a NAS device to help manage your backup needs, the DL4100 might be worth. taking a look at.
One of the coolest features of this device is its web dashboard that offers users options for backing up to cloud services such as Dropbox and Box. Additionally, we really liked the ability to set up SMS and email alerts in case the system failed for whatever reason.
As far as storage options are concerned, the DL4100 comes with four drive bays in your choice of four configurations. Aside from some annoying issues with wireless transfers, we found that the DL4100’s 1.7GHz dual-core Atom processor and 2GB of RAM (configurable up to 6GB) performed admirably. Combine this with an easy setup and cloud connected web apps, and you have an interesting backup offering on your hands.
- This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the WD My Cloud EX2 Ultra
- Read our full Western Digital DL4100 review
While the Apple AirPort Time Capsule does offer a great experience for Mac users, its 2 and 3TB storage options are very expensive compared to their competition. But, then this is Apple we’re talking about. Now, while it’s entirely wireless, other NAS devices don’t really need to be wireless, because you’ll always wire them directly into a wireless router for optimal performance, so the wireless functionality here doesn’t affect the way you access your files.
However, the Time Capsule feature does make it easy to setup and configure automatic backups for Mac and iOS users. So, if you’re an Apple fan that doesn’t like getting into the fine details of tech, this is a good buy despite all of the nagging flaws.
- Read our full Apple AirPort Time Capsule review
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