Top 10 Best NAS (Network Attached Storage) Reviews

What is network attached storage (NAS) and why do you need it?

To explain network attached storage adequately would require a lot of technical jargon. In a nutshell, an NAS unit is a small networking computer designed to store mass amounts of data that can then be easily shared between numerous computers all tied in to a single network. They are often organized into what are called redundant storage containers.

Still with me?

Basically, NAS is used in places where many computers work together, such as an office, for easy data transfer and server access, making the transfer of large batches of multimedia files fluid and rapid.

The problem is, different network attached storage can vary tremendously in speed, memory and ability. If you’re not sure what things to look for, this guide will come in handy.

Things to Consider

Picking the right NAS can be a challenge for anyone, even those who know what they’re looking for, because there are so many different competitive choices. But if you aren’t really familiar with network attached storage, the following points can help point you in the right direction.

1. Diskless Drives

The first thing you need to know is that most network attached storage are sold diskless, meaning you will have to purchase hard drive disks (HDD) separately. The cost of an HDD varies dramatically, but you can expect to pay between $50 and $100. Bear this in mind when shopping.

2. Processing Power

NAS are like personal computers in a lot of ways. Not only do they require dedicated hard drives, they also have dedicated CPUs, or computer processors. As you may know, quad-core is better than dual-core and 3.0 GHz is better than 2.2 GHz. NAS also utilize RAM (random-access memory) the way a computer does, and more RAM is always a good thing.

3. Connectivity

You wouldn’t buy a wireless router or a cable modem with poor networking capabilities for your office. Don’t make that mistake with your network attached storage. Different NAS are rated for different levels of internet connectivity. Just bear in mind that if you’re looking for incredible performance ratings, it’s going to cost you.

4. Bay Count

No matter how great your external connectivity and internal specifications may be, data storage is finite. If you run out of bays, you’ve got nowhere to go. You should have a good idea of your data storage needs before you purchase an NAS. Pay attention to how many bays your network attached storage allows. You don’t have to fill up all those bays right away, but like any other business endeavor, it’s always a good idea to have room to expand.

5. Price

This is a whopper of a consideration. A run-of-the-mill NAS prices around $400-$500. You can get one for around $100 or less, or you can go big and spend $1000 or more. Price is an interesting consideration as far as NAS goes, because you really have to analyze your data and business needs very closely. Spend too little and you can shoot yourself in the foot with an NAS that doesn’t meet your requirements. Spend too much and you can blow hundreds of dollars on features you don’t really need.

An NAS is just like a computer. You need to evaluate your individual and company needs before you commit to any sort of purchase. Anything else and you’re asking for a headache. Trust me; I’ve been there!

EDITORS PICK

If you’ve struggled to understand what you just read, or if you just really hate shopping, we’re pleased to offer our recommendation for a network attached storage that will suit almost any need. The QNAP TS-453 is one of the finest NSA systems money can buy.

Quad-core Intel Celeron 1.6GHz processor.

8 GB DDR3 RAM with 6 GB/s SATA connection.

Fully supports 4K hardware decoding and transcoding.

Four storage bays for HDD expansion.

Offers AES-NI hardware-accelerated encryption.

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Best Network Attached Storage Under $200

10. Western Digital 2TB My Cloud Personal Network Attached Storage

Western Digital TB My Cloud Personal Network Attached StorageWestern Digital is a leader in affordable computer data storage, so this 2 TB My Cloud is a natural fit for them. This simple yet capable network attached storage was developed with residential use in mind. It creates a digital cloud network built on your own internet connection that connects your whole home with all of its computers, smartphones and tablets to a single network, allowing you to share movies, music and other multimedia files without the cost of maintaining a cloud network.

Advanced syncing software maintains constant updates between all of your devices. It is compatible with both PC and Mac computers. Although it contains a self-contained hard drive, the cloud drive can be accessed remotely, regardless if you are in the network or not. In other words, you will still be able to access your music files while sitting in the library so long as you have internet access.

This NAS has a couple of base settings, that I didn’t like, but with a little know-how it’s possible to maneuver around them. This is a budget NAS, after all. The model I checked out was a 2TB drive, but they also sell this item with up to 8 TB of storage. Unlike some network attached storage, this does include a hard drive, but there is no expansion bay, so once the drive is full, the only solution is ‘to transfer and delete files. With 2 TB of storage, however, this shouldn’t be a problem for a long time.

  • 2 TB of storage capacity
  • Cloud storage with remote access capabilities
  • No expansion bays
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9. Apple Time Capsule 2TB ME177LL/A [5th Generation]

Apple Time Capsule TB MELLA GenerationApple is known for creatively and effectively bridging the gap between all kinds of software and network solutions, and their Time Capsule is no exception. As you might expect from an Apple product, this is more than just a simple network attached storage, as it bridges the gap between several different technologies.

On the one hand, it functions just as you’d expect, acting as a backup data network for your Apple computers and devices. It can also function as a separate external hard drive, able to connect to your Mac through a USB connection. Finally, it functions as a WiFi station, turning your home into a protected ISP WiFi hotspot with both direct ethernet connectivity and wireless capacity.

At the same time, this Time Capsule does not function exactly the way online cloud storage does, and it does not offer the same array of connectivity that you will find in other network attached storage. This Time Capsule is pretty great for Apple users, but if you don’t have a Mac, you’re out of luck.

  • 2 TB of storage capacity
  • Functions as a WiFi stationary
  • Only compatible with Apple operating systems
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Anchor8. Seagate 5TB Personal Cloud Home Media Storage Device

Seagate TB Personal Cloud Home Media Storage DeviceEspecially designed for personal household use, this handy network attached storage from Seagate 5TB Personal Cloud lets you replace your online cloud account with your own personal network. Sporting a massive 5 TB HDD, you will have nearly unlimited online virtual storage for all your files.

Advanced IFTTT (If This Then That) technology allows this NAS to instantly connect with your smart devices and hundreds of apps easily. Easily back up files and data from your PC, Mac, iOS or Android device. Share content with friends and family through secure URL. Access your files securely at home or remotely from your own personal cloud network. Enjoy ultra-fast streaming with a 1 GB/s LAN port. You get the picture.

One of the coolest features of this network attached storage was the ability to stream media to any connected device, including ChromeCast, Roku, Amazon Fire, Xbox One, you name it. This is really a powerful connectivity tool. Since it’s geared for home use and entertainment, it may not be sufficient to meet professional business needs, but it is a very capable device and a lot of fun.

  • 5 TB of storage capacity
  • Cloud storage with remote access capabilities
  • Compatible with most operating systems
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Best Network Attached Storage Under $300

7. Noontec-TerraMaster D5-300 Diskless Storage

Noontec TerraMaster D Diskless StorageWith the Noontec-TerraMaster, we enter the realm of serious network attached storage capability. This 5-bay can support an individual hard drive up to 10 TB in size, or up to 40 TB in combined hard disk storage, equal to five 8 TB HDD. Not only does this network attached storage support standard hard drives, it can also equip solid-state drives (SSD), which offer significantly improved speed and data retrieval. Constructed with an aluminum alloy and with excellent built-in heat dissipation, this NAS is durable, quiet and offers great performance.

The DR-3500 is also outfitted with the latest USB type-C interface, allowing for new ways to establish connectivity. Utilizing advanced USB 3.0 technology, this NAS is capable of data transfer speeds up to 5GBs. Using SSD over standard drives will boost the performance even more. This NAS also utilizes a redundant array of independent disks (RAID). I’m not going toh go into detail about how RAID works (this isn’t a tech blog), but it offers superior support and protection for your data than a standard disk drive can provide, especially at high RAID levels.

Bear in mind that this is a diskless NAS unit, and you will have to purchase disk drives separately. It’s best if you purchase all your drives from the same manufacturer, and you should make sure your disks are RAID compatible as well. This drive is well-suited for any advanced multimedia storage where large amounts of data are being stored. Unless you work from home, this is probably more than you would need, but it is a great budget choice for a professional setting.

  • Supports up to 40 TB of storage
  • Utilizes RAID technology to secure your data
  • Compatible for both PC and Mac
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Anchor6. Synology 2-Bay Network Attached Storage

Synology Bay Network Attached StorageAnother powerful choice is the Synology 16 TB / 20 TB NAS. This 2-bay network attached storage option can support two disk drives up to 10 TB apiece. It can also support one single, massive 16 TB external hard drive through an external USB connection. Powered by a dual-core 1.6 Ghz Intel Celeron CPU capable of delivering up to 2.48 GHz and featuring support for 4K UHD transcoding, this is a powerful model for anyone in the business of coding 4K data.

The NAS stores all of your data in a secure area network, offering you and anyone on your network access to a private cloud storage area, complete with remote access, with the power and ability to transmit movies in UHD in real-time. Synology utilizes both RAID and other flexible backup options to keep your data safe and secure. It also allows you to sync your extended data network together, letting you work from home just as effectively as from the office.

While Synology provides all the tools you need for your office, they also empower you at home. Remote access streaming technology allows you to stream ultra-high-definition movies from your office network all the way to the Roku on your 4K television, making this an excellent investment for your home as well as your office.

  • Supports up to 20 TB of storage
  • Utilizes RAID technology to secure your data
  • Fully supports 4K resolution transcoding
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Best Network Attached Storage Under $400

5. ASUSTOR AS3204T 4-Bay INTEL Quad-Core

ASUSTOR AS T Bay INTEL Quad CoreIf you’re looking for an NAS that suitable for both commercial and private use, the ASUS TOR AS3204T is a great choice. Powered by an Intel Celeron 1.6 GHz quad-core processor with 2 GB of DDR3 RAM, this 4-bay NAS can hold up to 32 TB of data! This network attached storage is designed for convenience, with simple, toolless HDD installation and an easy setup that can be done via smartphone.

Durably constructed and with excellent capabilities, this NAS is capable of UHD playback support, is compatible with both Apple and PC products, as well as smartphones, and is able to usher in a new era of connectivity for your home.

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Anchor4. QNAP TS-451 4-Bay Personal Cloud with Media TranscodingAnchor

QNAP TS Bay Personal Cloud wit h Media TranscodingAnchorThe QNAP TS-451 is yet another seriously impressive NAS. This 4-bay diskless NAS is loaded up with an impressive 2.41 GHz dual-core Intel Celeron processor, 1 GB of upgradable memory, and a maximum storage capacity of 48 TB. This NAS is especially programmed for Linux computers, making it a hot buy for those of you who like to make your own computers with your own OS.

With the ability to quickly transcode Full HD (1080p) videos whether connected to a network or not, this is pretty cool machine. What’s better is that is can play those same 1080p videos through an awesome 7.1 channel surround sound via HDMI.

Like other NAS systems, this allows you to create your own personal cloud space and share it across a local network that can be accessed either directly or remotely. This NSA also has an incredible virtual machine function (requiring 2 GB RAM minimum) that allows you to centrally manage multiple functions from once station, as well as perform a whole host of other advanced features to complicated to explain briefly.

  • Supports up to 48 TB of storage
  • Advanced integration virtualization technology
  • Only compatible with Linux operating systems
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Best Network Attached Storage Under $500

3. Noontec-TerraMaster F5-420 NAS Server 5-Bay Intel Quad Core 2.0GHz 2GB RAM Network RAID Storage

Noontec TerraMaster F NAS Server Bay Intel Quad Core GHz GB RAM Network RAID StorageThis is another excellent NAS with a lot of potential. Powelocred by a quad-core Intel Celeron 2.0 GHz processor, supported with 2 GB of DDR3 memory and equipped with SATA 6 GB/s, this is compatible with 3.5 inch and 2.5 inch hard disks as well as solid-state drives. This NAS can support up to 5 10 TB drives for a total combined storage of 50 TB.

The F5-420 is designed with small businesses and private office practices and supports a variety separate server applications, including a file sever, mail sever, web sever, media sever, remote sever, and much more. The F5-420 also supports Dropbox cloud synchronization, making it easier to communicate and share information with clients and customers over separate cloud servers.

Made with aluminum alloy, designed with low-noise fans for quieter operation and fitted to operate with a minimum of power draw, this server lacks some of the flash and pizzazz of residential servers. But for those with specialized business needs, this is a powerful server for a very reasonable price.

  • Supports up to 50 TB of storage
  • Advanced network server specialization
  • Quiet, energy-efficient model
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Best Network Attached Storage Under $800

2. QNAP TS-453A 4-Bay Professional-Grade Network Attached Storage

QNAP TS A Bay Professional Grade Network Attached StorageIf you’re looking for a truly advanced network attached storage, the TS-453A is the answer. This impressively advanced diskless 4-bay NAS runs on a 1.6 GHz quad-core Intel Celeron processor, features 8 GB of DDR3 RAM and sports SATA speeds of 6 GB/s. Supporting up to 40 TB of RAID storage space, this is a powerful NAS machine.

There isn’t much this machine can’t do. It’s equipped with AES-NI hardware encryption, supports 4K hardware and video transcoding, offers a virtualization station and a surveillance station, is compatible with both Windows and Linux operating systems, sports dual HDMI output…you get the picture. You can even use this to build your own personal karaoke system by integrating its audio output and an OceanKTV app.

I don’t want to repeat myself excessively, so allow me to say that it supports every capability the other NAS models I’ve reviewed (except for the Apple Time Capsule WiFi) while adding even more advanced and critical features. This isn’t the most advanced NAS on the market, but it’s pretty close. You won’t find one with this type of adaptability any cheaper.

  • Supports up to 40 TB of storage
  • Features advanced storage, security and trancoding technologies
  • Compatible with all operating systems
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Best Network Attached Storage Under $1000

1. FreeNAS Mini – Network Attached Storage

FreeNAS Mini Network Attached StorageHere it is, the one you’ve been waiting for. An incredibly powerful 8-core 2.4 GHz CPU powers one of the most advanced NAS systems ever made – the FreeNAS Mini (which, ironically, is most definitely not free). With support for up to 32 GB of memory and up to 48 TB of storage, this NAS will take you places you’ve only ever dreamed of.

Featuring a wide selection of advanced proprietary technology, incredibly fast 10 GB ethernet connections, special protection against data corruption, ZFS compression that improves disk performance, a dedicated remote hardware management port, accelerated performance and a host of other features.

If you are looking for a top-of-the-line NAS, this is a great pick. It has a lot of exciting and advanced features, and you are going to love it.

  • Supports up to 48 TB of storage
  • Powered by an 8-core 2.4 GHz processor
  • Compatible with most operating systems
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Conclusion

Finding the right network attached storage can be tricky. It requires that you know carefully consider your individual needs and what exactly you’re looking for. You may even need to do some additional research to understand all the applications of advanced network storage. The QNAP TS-453 is one powerful machine, and is sure to be a good choice if you aren’t sure just what else to buy. If there are other ways we can help you in your search, let us know. We’d love to hear from you!