When you’ve got a lot of devices in your home, such as a few computers, a few smartphones, and a TV set or two, choosing the best NAS device is something you should be looking into. A NAS will give you a centralized storage location for all your data, and it makes it incredibly easy to store everything, such as games’ save files.
However, unless you’re fairly well versed in the world of NAS drives, it can be daunting to choose one. Diskless, with disks, RAID, network speeds, and a few other things can easily make it confusing. So, let’s make it easier, then.
When you’re shopping for a NAS, there are a couple of critical factors that can significantly impact the price, as well as the performance you’ll get.
But before we get into performance, the first major price factor is whether the NAS is diskless or not. A NAS without hard drives will be significantly cheaper, but you’ll still need to get a couple of reliable 24/7 drives, so in the end, you might not be saving that much. Manufacturers who make hard drives, like Seagate or Western Digital, will usually give you their own drives in a NAS. And even if they don’t, you can get yourself some good hard drives for not all that much money.
Next up, you should consider the RAID levels if you have more than a single drive. RAID is a system that allows drives to work together to get you better speed, more storage, or better security. With RAID0, you get the combined amount of storage of the two drives and slightly better performance. But if one drive fails, all data is lost. With RAID1, you use two same size drives, and you get the capacity of a single drive instead of combined. However, even if a disk fails, you still have all your data on the other one. Last but not least, with three or more disks, you can go for RAID5 where you get great performance, and the security of RAID1 because your data is written on more than one disk.
Last but not least, take a look at any additional features you might be getting. Built-in Wi-Fi is one of the key ones for modern environments, so you can stream your data easily. It’s these kinds of things that will allow you to use your NAS for gaming, such as for storing save games accessible across devices.
One thing to note is that you’ll need a good router if you want to make the most of it, so keep that in mind when budgeting.
Western Digital’s NAS solutions have been truly great in many regards, but the My Cloud EX2 Ultra is the best NAS device for home-usage. The 4TB capacity is thanks to two 2TB drives, so you do get plenty of storage. However, WD does give you multiple RAID configuration options, so you can go for RAID1, for example, or RAID0 for better performance.
The dual-core 1.3GHz CPU is paired with 1GB of RAM, and as a combination, they work well when you’re trying to stream content. No slowdowns, no glitches, nothing – it just works. And it also works when you use WD Sync, and you want to sync your data across devices.
The best thing about it? When you factor in how much storage room and features you get, it’s not at all expensive. And it’s the best NAS out there for home users.
Synology has been making NAS solutions for ages, and they’re currently one of the most popular options on the market. The DS220j is their budget option, and it comes at a very reasonable price. And yes, the price still makes it the best NAS for users on a budget, even when you consider it’s diskless.
To begin with, the DS220j comes with capacity for up to 32TB and two drive slots. You also get a quad-core 1.4GHz CPU, as well as 512MB of RAM. This means that any task you throw at it will be handled with relative ease. You can even set it up as a surveillance drive if you want to.
You do get Synology’s hardware encryption engine, so your data will remain safe, as well as a Gigabit Ethernet port. A great budget choice for just about anyone.
Another option by Western Digital, the My Cloud Personal drive is a compact solution that you can put on your desk without it taking up a lot of space. It’s also rather easy to set up and comes at a reasonable price for a 3TB NAS.
The main thing about the My Cloud Personal is the software – it makes it incredibly easy to get things up and running. It also makes it very easy to back up not just your computer and save games, but also your smartphones and tablets because it has wireless connectivity. The software also allows you to keep everything in sync across platforms, which is rather neat.
Overall, the My Cloud Personal is a great home solution if you don’t want to bother with complex software, and you’d rather set things up and just use them.
Oftentimes you don’t need multiple drives and RAID configurations, and you just want a simple solution that you can get for a reasonable price. If that sounds like something you need, the 4TB LinkStation 210 by Buffalo is a great choice.
To begin with, it comes at a rather reasonable price for what it is. The software is pretty easy to use, and all you have to do is just plug it into your router to give it network access. There’s a personal cloud solution, too so you can access your data from anywhere as long as you have internet access.
Last but not least, this is a DLNA-ready drive with a built-in BitTorrent client, so streaming and downloading is a piece of cake. If you’re looking to save a few bucks and you only need a single drive, it’s something to consider.
Even though they do have more wallet-friendly options, when you want a premium NAS solution and you aren’t opposed to paying a bit for it, the DS920+ by Synology is a great pick. Make no mistake, it’s a large and expensive drive that also requires you to buy your own hard disks, but it’s very much worth it.
To begin with, the hardware is great. You get a quad-core CPU with a hardware encryption engine, as well as 4GB of memory that you can upgrade to 8GB if necessary. There are two built-in M.2 drives, too, so you can add NVMe drives to allow for cache acceleration. Oh, did we mention you can use the Synology DX517 to add five more drive slots?
Overall, this is very likely the best NAS solution for users looking for four drive slots and an overall premium experience.
Do you need a lot of storage and a quality experience? If that’s the case, something like Western Digital’s My Cloud Pro drive may be just what you’re looking for. With dual 6TB drives, you can get up to 12TB of total capacity, and this thing is built like a tank.
Inside is a quad-core Intel CPU and 4GB of RAM. This gets you excellent performance in just about any task, including video transcoding. This is something the NAS offers for HD streaming on Plex. The software is WD’s My Cloud OS 3 and is very easy to set up and use.
Add to this the comprehensive security solution that includes AES 256-bit encryption, and you’ve got an excellent NAS. Whether you need it for personal storage and backups, or surveillance, it works well. And, it’s reasonably priced considering everything you get.
QNAP is a company that sits somewhere between the value best NAS solutions, and the premium ones. The TS-251+ is a dual-drive solution that’s priced pretty well for what it offers, and it also comes with two of Seagate’s excellent IronWolf drives for a total capacity of 4TB. They’re set up in RAID1, which is nice.
The hardware inside the QNAP is pretty good. You’re looking at a quad-core Intel Celeron processor that’s combined with 2GB of RAM. You can upgrade it to 8GB if you want better performance. There is 2 Gigabit LAN, as well as things like hardware encoding and HDMI out so you can play content directly. You also get a remote for it, too.
Overall, even though nothing to write home about, the QNAP TS-251+ is a very reliable drive for people who want to set it up when they buy it, and then just use it for years to come.
With a modern design and two drive slots, TerraMaster’s F2-221 is one of the best NAS options for users who don’t want to spend too much but want great quality and reliable performance.
The dual-core Intel CPU does work rather well. There’s also 2GB of RAM that you can expand up to 4GB, as well as an AES hardware encryption engine that will keep your data safe and sound. The BTRFS file system that TerraMaster use is excellent. It gets you reliable backups and plenty of snapshots.
The F2-221 also comes with things like real-time hardware transcoding and up to two 4K streams at the same time, which is great for home users. And last but not least, the aluminum shell and quiet fan only add to the overall experience of a great NAS solution.
Getting plenty of storage on a budget is certainly a possibility, especially if you take a look at something like the Asustor AS1002T v2. At a price that’s a fraction of the competition, you get a reasonable performer and two 4TB Seagate IronWolf drives for a total of 8TB of storage.
Even though Asustor sells this as an entry-level NAS, it still comes with a dual-core processor and 512MB of RAM, which give it respectable performance. The read and write speeds hover around 100MB/s, which is not bad at all.
You get excellent software, too, which gets you things like backup and utilities for syncing, streaming, and even surveillance. And while we’re talking surveillance, you get four camera licenses, too. Overall, if you need plenty of storage but you don’t want to spend too much, the AS1002T v2 could very well be the best NAS for you.
NETGEAR is well known for their networking products, but they also have a fairly extensive NAS lineup, too. And for general day-to-day usage and save games, the RN214 is among the best NAS options they have. It’s part of their media series and has plenty of functionality.
Inside is a quad-core CPU that runs at 1.4GHz and is paired with 2GB of RAM. Since this is a diskless drive, you get four drive slots for up to 32TB of total storage. You also get things like RAID5 and RAID6, too, so you can set things up just how you like them for your own needs.
Last but not least, you get things like streaming at 1080p, anti-virus software support, and a rather large number of apps that you can install on it for various utilities. Overall, it’s an excellent premium pick, especially when you add high-quality drives.
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