The most adaptable storage, however, is a network attached storage (NAS). There are several more advantages to purchasing a NAS device, which we’ll explore in this article. We’ve put the best connected drives to the test to help you decide which one is best. Start reading our guide and learn everything about these products and buy one of the best NAS devices of this moment.

Ben Grindlow

Ben Grindlow is the founder of ProXPN, a company that provides reviews about VPN products and services. Ben's interest in cybersecurity and privacy led him to start ProXPN, which has become one of the most well-respected VPN providers in the world. Ben is passionate about his work, and he is constantly exploring new ways to improve ProXPN's in-depth guides.

Last updated: 10:10AM 7/5/2022

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A computerized work environment needs storage as a vital cog. The best NAS (Network Attached Storage) device acts as a file-storage tool that you can connect to your home network.

A network-attached storage device contains multiple drives that keep backup files and databases in a central location.

Multiple users have easy access to the stored data in NAS drives. They can all access the stored data instantly and in real-time. Over the years, there have been significant improvements in Network-attached storage (NAS) devices.

Before you purchase a cloud personal NAS drive for your storage needs, there are several things you have to know to help you make an informed choice. You will find them in this article.

Synology DS118

  • Maximum storage capacity: 12000
  • GBNumber of hard disk slots: 1 Bay(s)
  • Processor type: Realtek processor
  • RAM: 1 GB
  • Number of Ethernet Ports: 1
  • Wired speed: Gigabit (Up to 1000 Mbps)
  • Max. number of users: 8

Synology DS920+

  • Maximum storage capacity: 8 GB
  • Number of hard disk slots: 2 Bay(s)
  • Processor Type: Intel Celeron processor
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Number of Ethernet Ports: 2
  • Wired speed: Gigabit (Up to 1000 Mbps)
  • Max. number of users: 10

Synology DS220+

  • Maximum storage capacity: 32 GB
  • Number of hard disk slots: 2 Bay(s)
  • Processor Type: Intel Celeron processor
  • RAM: 2 GB
  • Number of Ethernet Ports: 2
  • Wired speed: Gigabit (Up to 1000 Mbps)
  • Max. number of users: 10

The Best NAS Server Buying Guide: How to Make the Best Buy?

This buying guide covers the essential components of the best NAS devices and helps you pick today’s best deals tailored to your needs.

Advantages of a Network Attached Server (NAS)

More Storage Space

The key advantage of using NAS devices is the increment it brings to your storage capacity compared to traditional storage devices such as hard drives. NAS drives take data from serval drives to create a central storage volume.

Protection against Data Loss

This advantage is not as popular as the first, but just as essential. The RAID configuration in NAS systems protects against data loss even if one or more external hard drives fail.

Hard drives are prone to failure, especially when proper care is not in place. NAS devices can prevent you from encountering sleepless nights and worrying due to data loss.

Safety and Speed

Network-attached storage (NAS) devices protect your data from external factors. The only way to access your data is through your local network, saving you from hackers gaining access to your data.

You can add user accounts to share and control who has access to your Network Attached Storage (NAS) device. The speed of the best NAS drives runs close to your local network’s speed.

Better Data Management Tools

Some of the features of the best NAS drives are encryption, compression, and fully automated backups. Nas drives help you enjoy more efficient and secure storage. Team collaboration is easy as the team enjoys quick and real-time access to essential files.

Encryption

Data encryption is essential for sharing files securely. The best NAS drives come with built-in support for encryption. This data encryption involves storing your data in an encrypted format with encryption keys on the shared folders.

NAS devices use built-in data encryption support to block all unauthorized users from your encrypted data.

Drawbacks

  • You need computer skills to effectively use the NAS system, especially when you want to set different access levels.
  • You can only access files when you connect to the network
  • Network outrage affects almost all users

The performance of a NAS device depends on the system’s components and the upgrade possibility in the future.

NAS Storage Capacity (Drive Bays)

What distinguishes a NAS device from another is the number of drive bays it offers. The number of drive bays a NAS device provides determines the number of drives it can hold.

The higher the number of drive bays, the more storage you have to offer users. Multiple drive bays helps protect your data from hard drive failures.

The greater the number of drive bays, the more storage you can offer your users and the more flexibility you have to protect your data from failed drives.

The best NAS systems define their storage by the number of disks, the RAID scheme, and the shared volume created. A single drive does not offer you extra protection or performance. Using two discs is great for easy mirroring.

When building one volume from two disks, the ‘mirror’ becomes RAID 1. This prevents you from suffering data loss if any disk fails.

Using two disks support stripping, also called RAID 0. Raid 0 occurs when one volume cuts across two drives, resulting in one larger drive that brings about improved performance.

However, stripping has risks attached to it, with the obvious one being losing one disk wipes out the entire volume.

RAID

RAID stands for redundant array of independent disks. It works by combining many hard drives into smaller volumes of one or more. RAID spreads data and disk recovery information across the available disks using different formats. Each format offers data protection to a certain degree.

RAID 5 supports a minimum of three disks. If a disk fails, RAID 5 survives it. The common NAS system configuration supports four disks. If you need more storage space and better performance, such as the ability to set a spare drive to fix a failed NAS drive, the NAS configuration you need has to support six to eight drives.

For the best NAS device with multiple bays, pick a NAS drive that supports RAID 6. RAID 6 is better than RAID 5 because it can still function even when two disks are lost or damaged. You enjoy better protection with RAID 6 than RAID 5.

Replacing a failed drive with a new one often leads to a lengthy rebuilding process to recover data and information. A new drive may fail during the rebuilding process in some rare cases.

RAID 6 helps you keep all your data if one or two disks fail. With Raid 5, you still stand the chance of losing data. You should prepare for a situation where the two disks fail.

If you opt to purchase a separate external drive from your NAS, ensure that the drive you buy matches the models and capacities for improved performance in the RAID volume.

RAM

RAM is an acronym for Random Access Memory. This NAS part handles random and occasional usage of data. The size of your RAM influences the number of tasks or programs or actions your NAS drive can handle at any period.

Most NAS devices have between 1 to 4 GB of RAM to supplement the processor and guarantee smooth operation.

Size of Disks

Do you know how much storage space you need to perform? It’s easier than you think. Add the number of hard drives and external drives (both in the home or office) that you want to back up, calculate the number of shared storage you want to make available for users, and estimate the growing demands of your shared storage space.

Keep a buffer figure in mind because your data needs vary every year. Estimate as high as two to four times your current data capacity value.

For example, let’s assume you have six users at your workplace with 2TB worth of storage space each on their laptops. Your team of six aims to use an extra 6 TB of shared storage for videos, images, and documents that are readily accessible to all.

To estimate the amount of storage you need, you need to multiply the 2 TB storage space for each of the six workers, which will result in 12 TB of storage. Add the 6 TB of storage to the 12TB of storage, and you will have 18 TB of storage. Finally, multiply the number by a growth factor of two, and your NAS needs at least 36 TB of storage.

Go for them if your budget allows you to buy larger drives and more drive bays. However, if you buy more massive drives than you need, note that you will be spending excessively on unused storage space for long periods.

If you are on a leaner budget, consider buying the best NAS system that offers you more bays for smaller drives to reduce your costs significantly. Over time as your storage space needs increase, you can replace the smaller drives with larger ones.

One advantage of NAS drives is the flexibility they afford to pick shared storage tailored for your needs.

Operating System

NAS operating system vendors offer similar services in an OS-like interface provided through a web server. Before you purchase an operating system, ensure you check the operating system’s compatibility with the NAS drive you are using.

For example, the Synology NAS brand operating system has several file-sharing methods, such as SMB for Windows users, the Apple File Protocol (AFP) for iOS users, and NFS for Linux users.

You can log in and access your NAS information by entering your NAS IP address. You can manage your NAS system’s settings and the storage volumes, set up users who can access your NAS device, configure and control your backup, and other settings.

Some NAS vendors offer you a demonstration virtual machine that you can use to test the workings of the operating system and specific user management features in your IT environment.

Processor

The processor offers computing power for the operation of the system, applications, and servers. Smaller NAS systems have smaller, built-in processor chips that yield good basic functionality.

The only drawback is that smaller NAS devices may crash when too many users use them or when encryption tasks are in process.

Basic processor systems support Intel Atom and ARM chips. Larger processors that deliver higher performance, such as Intel Core i3 and Core i5, are excellent for encryption and deduplication.

Deduplication

Deduplication eliminates data redundancy by removing redundant data blocks to free up more storage space for useful data. This process saves you from wasting money, and you end up spending less bandwidth when transferring data to and from an external hard drive.

There are many processors on the NAS servers, with the most popular including Intel Celeron and Marvell Armada. What distinguishes one processor from the other is the number of cores.

A processor with four cores is a quad-core processor, while one with two cores is a dual-core processor. Quad-core processors record better performance than dual-core processors.

Processor cores are distinct processing units found in the processor. The work of the processor core is to collect commands from a single computational task, work on it at clock rate speed, process it, and store it temporarily in the RAM.

A dual-core processor will handle your needs if it is a cloud personal NAS drive with one or two users. However, if you need shared storage for your office needs, you need a powerful NAS system with 4, 6, or 8 cores.

Network and Connections (USB Ports)

The bulk of NAS drives has one or two USB ports you can use to connect external storage devices, printers, and other devices. You can use the USB port to add your external hard drive to your network through NAS.

Once you connect these external devices to your NAS drive, you can share them quickly and easily with other users.

There are different types of USB ports. The USB 2.0 port is suitable for printer sharing, while the USB 3.0 port is great for external storage. USB 3.0 is faster than the USB 2.0 port. A printer can work well with the USB 2.0 port.

A basic NAS system uses a Gigabit Ethernet connection, for short 1 GigE. 1 Gb/s throughput in network speeds equals 125 MB/s entering your storage system. The basic NAS system can only offer storage service to all connected users within the 1 Gb/s throughput limit, which is not a big deal as long as few users use the system.

Thanks to the expansion ports, many NAS systems allow you to easily upgrade to higher throughputs with a 10 GigE network card.

If your office is configured to use 10 GigE, it is only proper you use a 10 GigE NAS. Having more network ports at the rear of your system can make it perform better. If you do not have the budget for a 10 GigE system but may need such capability in the future, choose a budget NAS system that has expandability.

Some best NAS systems offer you Ethernet and Thunderbolt connections. The best NAS with Thunderbolt connections makes it easy to connect your laptops and desktops using Thunderbolt ports straight to the NAS. NAS with thunderbolt connections can offer up to 40 GigE (5 GB/s) bandwidth.

Shape Factor

The shape factor expresses a computing device’s size, shape, or physical characteristics (NAS device or network switch). It also influences the hardware components’ design and how it fits into the larger NAS unit.

NAS storage devices have two variations: tower models and rack models. Choosing between the two variations is easy. Rack models are a good fit for corporate networks thanks to their expandable capacity, while tower models are suitable for small-to-medium businesses.

Additional Services

The best NAS provides additional features, such as allowing you to install other solutions directly on the NAS drive. The memory and built-in processor of the best NAS are ideal for file backup and syncing tasks.

Qnap and Synology NAS are two popular NAS makers that provide users access to app stores directly from their management software. The software allows you to select the app you want to download and install on your NAS. Some of the available apps you can download are backup and sync solutions such as WordPress and Archiware.

Users can save music files on the NAS drives and have them play directly with your network player.

The 5 Best NAS Servers

1. Synology DS118

  • Maximum storage capacity: 12000 GB
  • Number of hard disk slots: 1 Bay(s)
  • Processor type: Realtek processor
  • Number of processor cores: 4
  • RAM: 1 GB
  • Built-in fan: Yes
  • Operating system compatible: Android | Chrome OS | iOS | Mac OS | Windows
  • Number of Ethernet Ports: 1
  • Wired speed: Gigabit (Up to 1000 Mbps)
  • Number of USB 2.0 ports: None
  • Number of USB 3.0 ports: 2
  • RAID: None RAID
  • Max. number of users: 8

2. Synology DS920+

  • Maximum storage capacity: 8 GB
  • Number of hard disk slots: 2 Bay(s)
  • Processor Type: Intel Celeron processor
  • Number of processor cores: 4
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Built-in fan: Yes
  • Operating system compatible: Chrome OS | Windows | Android | iOS | Mac OS
  • Number of Ethernet Ports: 2
  • Wired speed: Gigabit (Up to 1000 Mbps)
  • Number of USB 2.0 ports: None
  • Number of USB 3.0 ports: 2
  • RAID: Hot spare | RAID 0 | RAID-6 | RAID-5 | RAID-2 | RAID-10 | RAID-1 | Synology Hybrid RAID
  • Max. number of users: 10

3. Synology DS220+

  • Maximum storage capacity: 32 GB
  • Number of hard drive slots: 2 Bay(s)
  • Processor Type: Intel Celeron processor
  • Number of processor cores: 2
  • RAM: 2 GB
  • Built-in fan: Yes
  • Operating system compatible: Android | iOS | Windows | Chrome OS
  • Number of Ethernet Ports: 2
  • Wired speed: Gigabit (Up to 1000 Mbps)
  • Number of USB 2.0 ports: None
  • Number of USB 3.0 ports: 2
  • RAID: RAID-0 | RAID-1 | JBOD | Synology Hybrid RAID
  • Max. number of users: 10

4. Synology DS218play

  • Maximum storage capacity: 32000 GB
  • Number of hard disk slots: 2 Bay(s)
  • Processor type: Realtek processor
  • Number of processor cores: 4
  • RAM: 1 GB
  • Built-in fan: Yes
  • Operating system compatible: Android | Chrome OS | iOS | Mac OS | Windows
  • Number of Ethernet Ports: 1
  • Wired speed: Gigabit (Up to 1000 Mbps)
  • Number of USB 2.0 ports: 0
  • Number of USB 3.0 ports: 2
  • RAID: JBOD | RAID 0 | RAID-1 | Synology Hybrid RAID
  • Max. number of users: 9

5. Philips | CD-R | 700MB | 100 pieces

  • Maximum storage capacity: 32000 GB
  • Number of hard drive slots: 2 Bay(s)
  • Processor type: Realtek processor
  • RAM Memory: 1 GB
  • Number of Ethernet Ports: 1
  • Wired Speed: Gigabit (Up to 1000 Mbps)
  • Max. number of users: 9

NAS Server FAQ

What Can You Do with a NAS Server?

A Nas server is suitable for multiple devices needing easy access to the same data. They can include financial documents, photos, videos, or music files.

How Do You Connect a NAS Server?

NAS servers use basic service software and built-in hard drives to connect to your mesh router, Wi-Fi router, gaming router, and media player. After connecting your NAS enclosure, you can easily connect to the NAS unit through your web browser to set it up.

  1. Turn on the NAS server
  2. Wait until the NAS unit completes the boot process
  3. Launch your web browser and search the IP address of the NAS enclosure
  4. Follow the installation procedure
  5. Initialize the stations
  6. Set up your account

What Does NAS Stand for?

NAS is an acronym for the term Network Attached Storage. It is a file server that you can access over your office or home network (home NAS or office NAS). NAS servers allow you to share files easily between different users or computers.

Which NAS Server Should I Buy?

The best NAS server for you depends on your needs and budget. If you are new to NAS, you can get a beginner NAS and then level up based on how your needs increase.

Synology DS118

  • Maximum storage capacity: 12000 GB
  • Number of hard drive slots: 1 Bay(s)
  • Processor type: Realtek processor
  • RAM Memory: 1 GB
  • Number of Ethernet Ports: 1
  • Wired Speed: Gigabit (Up to 1000 Mbps)
  • Max. number of users: 8

Synology DS920+

  • Maximum storage capacity: 8 GB
  • Number of hard drive slots: 2 Bay(s)
  • Processor Type: Intel Celeron processor
  • RAM Memory: 4 GB
  • Number of Ethernet Ports: 2
  • Wired Speed: Gigabit (Up to 1000 Mbps)
  • Max. number of users: 10

Synology DS220+

  • Maximum storage capacity: 32 GB
  • Number of hard drive slots: 2 Bay(s)
  • Processor Type: Intel Celeron processor
  • RAM Memory: 2 GB
  • Number of Ethernet Ports: 2
  • Wired Speed: Gigabit (Up to 1000 Mbps)
  • Max. number of users: 10

Synology DS218play

  • Maximum storage capacity: 32000 GB
  • Number of hard drive slots: 2 Bay(s)
  • Processor type: Realtek processor
  • RAM Memory: 1 GB
  • Number of Ethernet Ports: 1
  • Wired Speed: Gigabit (Up to 1000 Mbps)
  • Max. number of users: 9

Philips | CD-R | 700MB | 100 pieces

  • Maximum storage capacity: 32000 GB
  • Number of hard drive slots: 2 Bay(s)
  • Processor type: Realtek processor
  • RAM Memory: 1 GB
  • Number of Ethernet Ports: 1
  • Wired Speed: Gigabit (Up to 1000 Mbps)
  • Max. number of users: 9

Conclusion

A NAS server is a storage device that helps connect your home or office network with other users with appropriate permissions to access the shared files.

Picking the best NAS server requires you first to identify your needs and find the best choice that matches your budget. I hope this article helped you make that choice.

Frequently asked questions

Typically, a NAS device’s primary purpose is to preserve data on a hard disk drive. The majority of home-office, small-business, and big-company workgroups use two to five hard drives in their NAS devices.

NAS devices are network-attached storage (NAS) devices that allow storage and retrieval from a centralized location. They are, however, not and should never be utilized as backup solutions. While they are designed as storage units, some firms misuse them as backup alternatives.

Remember that the ASUSTOR (and other QNAP models) supports more than 200,000 AD users and groups. It might take a while for all of them to become visible when joining an AD domain for the first time depending on the size of the users and groups.

The system is simple to use and does not require the services of a specialised IT professional. Simple data backup and recovery, with detailed security capabilities, are all that’s required.

You can use a NAS device without any problems as long as you keep it up to date and make some modifications to your NAS device. The NAS operating system is made with ease of use in mind, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding any of the aforementioned security features on your NAS device.

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