The 8 Best Network Attached Storage Devices Reviewed
If you’ve struggled to find the best storage system that works for you, it might be time to consider switching to NAS or Network Attached Storage Devices.
What are Network Attached Storage Devices?
NAS stands for network-attached storage and is a form of information storage that allows you to access the information from any device attached to the network.
This not only makes NAS ideal for small business owners or creative teams working to keep each other in the loop, but it is also ideal for anyone looking to access their data from different devices, from laptops and desktops to iPads and more.
But let’s get a little deeper into NAS, and what you can expect from this storage system.
Unlike a traditional external hard drive, NAS does not need to be directly wired into your system, and in many cases can contain multiple hard drives.
Not only does this allow you to store more information in one location, but it also acts as redundancy protection, helping ensure your data stays safe even if one of the many hard drives fail.
NAS also allows you to sync information from multiple sources, and access it from multiple points, making it easier than ever to keep your team up to date on the latest tasks and programs. Some have compared NAS to a “personal cloud” for your data, but it is more than that. NAS allows you to only have as much storage as you need, without paying exorbitant fees for additional data. It also allows you to choose how much storage you pay for, allowing you to upgrade your NAS as you need to.
Network Attached Storage Devices Privacy
Another aspect of NAS is privacy. This storage option allows you to be in control of your data, without sending it to an unknown third party for storage. That way you can keep your data confidential, without slowing down the creative process of your team, or bogging down your computer with countless hard drives.
Another benefit is that most laptops are not made to work with several hard drives, meaning that NAS can help you expand the capabilities of your laptop, without shelling out thousands for a desktop computer.
It is worth noting that while NAS can be used as a backup system, a single NAS is not the same as backing up your computer. If you’re looking to create a backup system, you’ll need two NAS and some patience.
In general, it’s always a good idea to have multiple backups of your data, just in case of a catastrophe. Still, NAS is an excellent choice for anyone looking to expand their storage options, without handing off their data to a corporate cloud.
What to Keep in Mind Before Buying a Network Attached Storage Device?
The first thing to do before you invest in network-attached storage is to be honest with yourself the amount of data you need access to. If you are working from home with one or two data sources (like a laptop and a computer), NAS may make it that much easier to access your data on the go, and can help increase your available storage. In this case, you may only need a one or two hard drive NAS system, as you won’t need as much space.
However, if you work with incredibly large files, or are looking to set up a cloud alternative for your office, you’ll want to look into one of the larger NAS systems on the market, to ensure you have plenty of space to work with. The benefit of most NAS units is that you can add or remove discs to meet your unique needs, making them quite customizable.
Obviously, you should consider the strength of your Wi-Fi and your connection needs before investing in a NAS. If you are somewhere where internet is hard to come by, or you find yourself waiting for hours to load Facebook, you may want to improve your connection before making the jump to NAS. However, if you’re surfing high on bandwidth and are looking for a reliable storage method, network-assisted storage can make maintaining your data a breeze.
Best Network Attached Storage Options
Now that you have a better idea of what you’re looking for, here are the best NAS units available on the market today.
We’ve taken into consideration the number of bays available, ease of use, budget-friendliness, and of course, available storage space, before putting any of these options on our list.
That way you can shop with confidence knowing you’re getting the best storage option for you and your team. Without further ado, here are the 8 best network attached storage options on the market today:
1. Synology 4 Bay NAS DiskStation DS918+ Network Attached Storage Device
- 4GB DDR3L-1866 memory, expandable up to 8GB; Scalable up to 9 drives with Synology DX517
- Quad-core processor with AES-NI hardware encryption engine; Dual 1GbE LAN with failover and Link Aggregation support
- Encrypted sequential throughput at over 225 MB/s reading and 221 MB/s writing
The Synology 4 Bay NAS DiskStation DS918+ is one of the top options on the market, and for good reason. With a total potential storage space of 56 TB (with four 14 TB drives installed), this product offers you all the storage you’ll ever need.
This NAS offers a quad-core processor with AES-NI hardware encryption engine, a dual 1GbE LAN with failover and Link Aggregation support, and encrypted sequential throughput at over 225 MB/s reading and 221 MB/s writing.
For those a little overwhelmed with the data, that means you can rest easy knowing your data is protected by state-of-the-art encryption services, as well as being serviced by a powerful unit that will make accessing and sharing data that much easier.
The Synology 4 Bay NAS DiskStation DS918+ is made to work with computers, RAID setups, surveillance devices, and more, giving you a reliable storage option that can handle nearly anything you run through it. Thanks to the multi-disc set up, you can rest easy knowing your data is protected by redundancy, allowing you to avoid significant data loss in the case of a hard drive failure.
As one satisfied customer noted in their review, “The interface is great. Very easy to use and very clean. It offers tons of packages you can install to provide various services to your network.” If you’re looking for a great baseline NAS that can scale up with your needs and help you streamline your data storage, the Synology 4 Bay DiskStation DS918+ is the right choice for you.
2. Synology 2 Bay NAS DiskStation DS218+
- Encrypted sequential throughput performance at over 113 MB/s reading and 112 MB/s writing
- Dual-core Processor with AES-NI encryption engine
- 2GB DDR3L memory (expandable up to 6GB)
While smaller storage-wise than our previous entry on this list, the Synology 2 Bay NAS DiskStation DS218+ is hardwired for helping you back up any videos or streams you may have going at any given time. This product can handle two concurrent H. 265 and H. 264.4K video streams, without placing undue strain on your computer or network.
Not only does this product come with two camera licenses installed, but it also offers an encrypted sequential throughput performance at over 113 MB/s reading and 112 MB/s writing. While this device is on the smaller size when it comes to storage capacity, it is perfect for anyone looking to take their streaming to the next level, or just ensure they can access their data from just about anywhere.
And for anyone looking to upgrade their security camera system, this little device will help you ensure that nothing escapes your watchful eye thanks to the concurrent streaming system.
The Synology 2 Bay NAS DiskStation DS218+ offers support for countless file sharing protocols, including CIFS, AFP, NFS, FTP, and more, allowing for easy exchange of information throughout the office. While this device is on the smaller size storage-wise, it can easily be upgraded and expanded to work with several NAS systems, allowing you to get the storage options you need, no matter the situation.
For anyone unsure about this system, one customer noted that they, “had the hardware up and running in less than 30 minutes. Installation was a breeze,” making it ideal for anyone looking to take the leap into NAS for the first time. If you’re looking to take your storage system to the next level, the Synology 2 Bay NAS Disk Station Ds218+ is a great, mid-range option for your data needs.
3. WD My Cloud EX2 Ultra Network Attached Storage
- High-performance 1.3 GHz dual-core Processor for lag-free streaming
- 1GB of DDR3 Memory to multitask with ease
- Centralized network storage and access from anywhere
Let’s start off by saying this is probably the most compact video capture device on our list. By connecting RCA cables directly to a USB 2.0 device, you can easily transfer your videos to your computer in just a few simple steps.
This product comes with easy-to-use video software to help ensure your VHS tapes don’t lose any quality during conversion, allowing you to convert your videos with confidence knowing you won’t lose any treasured memories. This product supports NTSC/PAL formats, as well as high-quality video resolutions of 720×480 at 30 FPS for NTSC, and 720×576 at 25 FPS for PAL.
With input formats including DVD+/-R/RW, DVD+/=VR, and DVD-Video, as well as output formats including DV, AVI, MPEG, WMV, VCD, and DVD, this is your one-stop-shop for all things video.
With over 500 customer reviews, this is one of the best compact VHS to DVD converters on the market. Customers did note this product worked better with Windows systems before Windows 10 but could run on Windows 10 with a little extra effort.
Some reviewers noted that the USB unit may start to overheat if used with an incredibly warm computer, so it was best to ensure good airflow during use. Still, if you’re looking for a great product that streamlines the video conversion process, the UCEU USB 2.0 Video Audio Capture Card Device Adapter is a great choice for you.
4. Synology 4 Bay NAS DS420j Network Attached Storage Device
- 4-bay home NAS with over 60 TB raw capacity support suitable for data backup and file sharing
- 64-bit 4-core 1 4 GHz processor and 1 GB DDR4 memory
- Over 112 MB/s encrypted sequential reading and writing throughput
This NAS falls into what we like to call the “set and forget” storage options. Not only does this incredible system support up to 60 TB of raw capacity support, but it also features a 64-bit 4-core 1 4 GHz processor and 1 GB DDR4 memory, making it ideal for handling large projects.
This is one of the top recommended NAS options for security systems, as the device features over 112 MB/s encrypted sequential reading and writing throughput, as well as support for up to 16 IP cameras. For those just looking to help ensure they don’t lose their next big project.
This storage option allows you to access your data from just about anywhere on the network, and with a hibernation mode that only consumes 7.88 W of energy, you don’t have to worry about racking up your electric bill.
Not only does this product give you the security features you expect of independent storage solutions, including Auto Block and two-factor identification, to help keep your data safe and secure. No matter if you’re looking to back up data from your desktop, or are looking to create a creative space for your entire office.
This product will ensure your files are safe, secure, and easy to access from any device on the network, helping speed up your productivity to new heights. If you’re looking for one of the top options in NAS, the Synology 4 Bay NAS DS420j is an incredible choice sure to cover all the bases.
5. Synology 2 Bay NAS DiskStation DS218j Network Attached Storage Device
- A versatile entry-level 2-bay NAS for home and personal cloud storage
- Over 113 MB/s reading, 112 MB/s writing
- Dual-core CPU with hardware encryption engine. Operating Temperature: 5°C to 40°C (40°F to 104°F)
Another option on our list, another Synology. It’s no surprise that they produce some of the top NAS options on the market, and this product is no exception. This NAS is a good entry-level product for anyone looking to ease into the world of NAS.
The two-bay system is easy enough to customize, and provides enough storage for one device, on average, while still giving you the redundancy features that help keep your data secure in case of catastrophe. The dual-core CPU with hardware encryption engine supports over 113 MB/s reading, 112 MB/s writing, meaning you can access the latest data almost as soon as you send it over.
While this device does have a max volume of 16 TB, it is easy to use and a viable option for anyone looking to make the jump to personal cloud storage.
Like many Synology NAS products, this one comes with a security system integrations standard, making it an ideal option for the home office or small businesses. With a reliable design and plenty of storage, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more versatile beginner NAS system, making this easily one of our top choices on the list when it comes to first time NAS buyers.
If you’re looking for a network-attached storage system that covers all the bases while still being intuitive to use, the Synology 2 Bay NAS DiskStation DS218j is the perfect choice for you, hands-down.
6. WD 4TB My Cloud Home Personal Cloud Storage Network Attached Storage Device
- One central place to store all your photos, videos, music and files
- Quick and simple setup from your phone
- Auto backup for photos and videos on your phone
This product is lower on our list simply because it is, at its core, a single drive system. Still, not only are there two-bay options available for this product, it does come with a hard drive, unlike some of the diskless options on our list that require a hard drive investment right off the bat.
With a storage system that can handle up to 20 TB, depending on the model, this is a good beginner NAS for a single user or household. Not only can this product ensure that your photos, videos, files, and more are easily accessible at a moment’s notice, it allows you to easily access your files from almost any device, including mobile.
It is worth noting that this NAS is largely marketed as a backup solution for your computer, and with the dual drive choice you can rest easy knowing your data is protected from hard drive failure. Still, as with most NAS systems used for backing up data, it may be a good idea to set up a dual NAS system to ensure you have the most efficient storage options possible.
That being said, this system is a great beginner option for the individual looking to store precious memories or treasured pictures, without worrying about potential hard drive crashes.
It is worth noting that this NAS is compatible with the My Cloud Home phone app, allowing you to easily access your files on the go, without having to bring your laptop or other devices with you.
Not only is this a very convenient option, but it can also help streamline use for those simply looking to take their favorite photos with them, without having to fight with phone storage. If you’re looking for an intuitive backup system, the WD 4TB My Cloud Home Personal Cloud Storage is a great option for you.
7. Synology 6 Bay NAS DiskStation – DS1618+ Network Attached Storage Device
- Powerful and scalable 6-bay NAS optimized for data-intensive work environment. File or folder level data restoration makes data recovery fast and flexible
- Quad-core, 2.1 GHz CPU with AES-NI support and 4GB DDR4 memory, expandable up to 32GB; Outstanding performance at over 1,550 MB/s reading and 580 MB/s writing
- Boost IOPS system performance with M.2 SSD cache by using optional M2D17 adapter card
The only reason this option is lower on our list is that it’s not exactly practical for the individual user. However, if you’re a small business owner (or even the head of a department in a larger company), this storage system is sure to streamline your life in seconds flat.
Featuring six individual bays for incredible total storage capacity, this is the perfect NAS for those working with larger files, or who want to ensure that their data stays safe and secure. This product includes an incredible 1,550 MB/s reading and 580 MB/s writing capacity, almost five times faster than some of the other products on our list.
Not only does this product offer a maximum capacity of 108 TB, far above what the average consumer needs for storage, but it’s also security features and redundancy protocol ensure that your data stays safe and secure, while still being easily accessible by members of your team.
While this product isn’t exactly geared at the average consumer, for the small business owner or team leader, this NAS is hard to pass up.
Not only do you get all the benefits of a basic NAS system, but you also get added security, virtualization-ready programming, and storage capacity that outshines almost every other entry on this list, let alone the average PC. If you’re looking for the best-of-the-best for a high-use situation, the Synology 6 Bay NAS DiskStation DS1618+ is sure to get the job done.
8. QNAP TS-231K-US 2-Bay Annapurna Labs AL-214 Quad-Core 1.7 GHz Processor with 1 GB RAM
- Annapurna Labs AL-214 quad-core 1.7 GHz processor
- 1GB DDR3 RAM
- 2 x 1 GbE port
While it may feel a little bit like whiplash to go from a 6-bay system to a compact 2-bay system, this product still holds its own when compared to some of the more complex NAS on our list. Perfect for home use or use by a small creative team, this NAS is compact, easy to use, and is outfitted as a backup system.
If you’re looking to set up a personal data cloud that doesn’t cost any monthly fees and can be easily accessed by any member of your team or household, this is a great option for you. While a bit on the modest side compared to some of the options on this list, this product makes up for it’s tamed appearance by being easy to install and even easier to use, making it one of our top choices for anyone new to the NAS game.
If you’re looking for a great basic NAS that will streamline your life while still providing you access to all your storage no matter where you are, this is the perfect option for you.
FAQ about Network Attached Storage Device
What Is the Difference Between NAS and External Hard Drives?
In short, an external hard drive is attached to your computer and provides external storage to one device. It cannot be accessed by other devices easily, and will only store information from that one computer.
Network accessible storage, on the other hand, can store information from multiple sources and can be accessed by multiple devices, making it ideal for large teams of people working together, or for anyone who finds themselves working at different locations and on different devices.
Most external hard drives are very easy to break, and only contain one hard drive, meaning that if there is a hard drive failure, you run the risk of losing your data. NAS, on the other hand, usually contains more than one hard drive, allowing you to have data redundancy in place, so you don’t lose all your data if one driver runs into an issue.
NAS tends to also be more durable than external hard drives and can be placed away from your computer to provide added protection, as it does not need to be plugged into your computer.
Can I Use NAS to Back Up My Data?
While you can use NAS to back up data, it is worth noting that a single NAS system is not technically a backup. You’ll want to have two NAS systems to have a functional backup, and in general, this is not as efficient as some other backup options on the market.
Why You Should Invest in NAS
Here is a great video that goes over the advantages of NAS, while giving you a quick tutorial on the importance of backing up your data: