NAS (or Network Attached Storage) devices differ from the best external hard drives and external portable SSDs, due to their ability to connect to the internet, as well as be accessed by other devices on a local network.
So, a NAS can sit in the center of your work or home network, and act as centralised storage. Every PC on the network can use it as if it was an internal hard drive, and if one PC fails, you know that all the data is safely secured in the NAS drive.
Meanwhile, that internet connection allows you to securely access the files on the drive from any internet-connected device. It’s quick and convenient, and it’s also a heck of a lot safer than lugging an external hard drive or USB memory stick around.
When choosing the best NAS device for you, consider the amount of storage space you need now and in the future, as well as your backup and redundancy needs. Many of the best NAS drives are able to hold more than one hard drive and can mirror that hard drive in case of failure. So, if one hard drive does go, your files are still intact on another. Since price is also a factor, know that some hold multiple hard drives that you can buy separately. This doesn’t just give you more flexibility, but can also potentially save you money if you bargain hunt.
The best NAS devices are your ideal storage solutions if you want access to your files when you need them, wherever you are, while keeping them secure. Take a look at our picks.
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IDrive, the cloud storage veteran, delivers tons of storage online for an incredibly small outlay. 5TB for $3.98 for the first year is unmatched till now and so is the support for unlimited devices and the extensive file versioning system available.
Best NAS devices at a glance
- WD My Cloud Personal NAS drive
- Seagate Personal Cloud 2-Bay NAS drive
- QNAP TS-251A NAS drive
- Buffalo LinkStation LS220D NAS drive
- Synology DiskStation DS1817 NAS drive
- WD My Cloud Mirror NAS drive
- Synology DiskStation DS1517 NAS drive
- WD My Cloud EX2 Ultra NAS drive
- Western Digital DL4100 NAS drive
WD has attained quite significant success with its unashamedly consumer-friendly My Cloud products, which can stream to any DLNA-compliant device and be accessed via mobile apps for iOS and Android.
Advertised as a ‘personal cloud,’ this WD is one of the best NAS drives by any other name and starts at 2TB of storage (you can also get it in 3 or 4TB). Because it’s a one-bay unit, it can’t back itself up since there’s only one drive. However, it can back up to an external hard drive thanks to a USB port on the back.
Read the full review: WD My Cloud Personal
Continuing with the ‘personal cloud’ theme, this unit from Seagate takes its lead from My Cloud, while offering 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 from one hard drive to a second one, securing your files in case one of those drives fails.
We also appreciate the no-fuss appearance of this unit, meaning it fits easily under a router or on a shelf. Plus, it can work with cloud accounts – like Dropbox and Google Drive – and you can also use an app to share content to streamers, such as Chromecast and Roku.
Read the full review: Seagate Personal Cloud 2-Bay
The QNAP TS-251A is an extraordinary NAS device that has more features than you can shake a stick – or the included remote control – at. It includes dual Ethernet ports, an HDMI out for connecting it to a TV and respectable hardware like the dual-core 1.6GHz Intel Celeron CPU and 4GB of RAM for hardware transcoding media files.
The QTS OS also lets you effortlessly install a variety of apps, from the Plex Media Server and file sharing apps to, surprisingly, a karaoke app, as well as running Ubuntu Linux for added flexibility.
Long story, short: this is an incredible NAS device, even if you do have to purchase the hard drives separately. Just factor that in to the overall cost.
As one of the best NAS drives out there, this 2TB dual-bay unit (also available in 4, 6, and 8TB capacities) comes courtesy of Buffalo, the company that also produces the TeraStation line of advanced NAS units.
The key selling point of this model is that it can integrate directly with BitTorrent, which means that it can download files for you even when your PC is not on. You won’t need to worry as much about your downloads getting interrupted. Like many of the other devices listed, 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
Every now and then, a product comes along 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 breaks the norms by letting users fill the included eight drive bays with whatever they desire, so that you can get as much (or as little) storage as you want. On top of this massive expandability, which helps rank it as one of the best NAS drives available, the 10GbE LAN and Quad-Core CPU also mean that you’ll never be left wanting for performance.
Read the full review: Synology DiskStation DS181
This two-bay unit can produce a mirrored backup of your data, duplicating your files on both drives, using RAID configuration. That’s quite an advanced feature for a consumer unit. Just keep in mind that you end up paying 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, though 6, 8 and 16TB units are also available. For extra peace of mind, you can also back up the contents to Dropbox.
Anyone looking at purely technical spec’s 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 any trouble. Combining that raw performance with the DS1517’s expandability, and you have a formula for a NAS device that has undeniably earned its spot among the best NAS drives on the market. Just know 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 a bit too much.
Read the full review: Synology DiskStation DS1517
Featuring RAID capabilities found in pricier and more intricate NAS devices, as well as offering Microsoft Active Directory support, this box is designed for small business use. That’s without mentioning that it can also act as a file server, FTP server, backup server and P2P download server.
In addition, WD’s EX series is available in diskless variants, though this price is for the 4TB version. 8TB, 12TB and 16TB units are also available to purchase. If you don’t need any of this extra stuff, then go with the My Cloud Mirror.
If you’re looking for one of the best NAS drives to help manage your backup needs, the DL4100 might be worth a look. One of the coolest features of this device is its web dashboard, which provides users options for backing up to cloud services such as Dropbox and Box. Additionally, it has the ability to set up SMS and email alerts in case the system fails for whatever reason.
As far as storage options go, the DL4100 is equipped with four drive bays and comes with your choice of four configurations. Despite 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) performs admirably. Combine this with a simple setup and cloud connected web apps, and you have an interesting backup device on your hands.
Read our full review: Western Digital DL4100 review
- 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