From home offices to server rooms, we select the best network attached storage devices for every need.
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Online services like Dropbox and are a great way to access files from anywhere, but they have their limitations. Imagine if you could build your own cloud, with instant access wherever you are to all the media and files you already have on your hard drive. That’s where network-assisted storage (NAS) appliances come in.
They’re basically internet-connected drives that users can access securely via web connections from anywhere in the world. While similar in function to cloud-based services, they have a couple of advantages, such as greater control, higher storage capacity and a cheaper long-term price point.
If you’re purchasing your first NAS appliance, our NAS buyer’s guide is an ideal primer – and here we have selected the best NAS device for every use-case, from home office devices, all the way up to rack-mounted offerings for those businesses with server rooms.
Let’s start at the budget end, because not everyone needs the mammoth storage capacity and advanced management features of business-grade NAS devices. If you're self-employed, have a micro business or need centralised storage for your home office, chances are one of the more consumer-friendly appliances will be perfectly sufficient for your needs.
WD My Cloud Mirror Gen 2
If you’re looking for seamless syncing features, quick performance and good value, WD’s second-generation My Cloud Mirror is hard to beat. To top it all off, it's also wrapped in an aesthetically pleasing package that won’t make your home or office look like a server farm.
Read our WD My Cloud Mirror Gen 2 review for more information.
- Price: $499 (4TB)
- Specs: 2 x hot-swappable drive bays; 1.3GHz dual-core Marvell Armada processor; 512MB RAM; RAID 0, 1 and JBOD options; 1 x Gigabit Ethernet, 2 x USB 3.0 ports.
We were fans of its predecessor, the DS216+, and with the DS216+II, Synology has stuck with much the same specs and successful design – with the key difference being a minor processor upgrade to an Intel Celeron N3060. As such, the DS216+II is good performer for its sub-$500 price.
Its connectivity options are a bit light on, with one Gigabit Ethernet, one eSATA, one USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports – but Synology’s DiskStation Manager OS strikes a nice balance between powerful features and ease-of-use. It also offers an excellent app ecosystem, so it’s easy to add features.
If you’re looking to run a media server, automate backups, create your own email server or even build your own CRM solution, the DS216+II has you covered.
- Price: $410 (without disks) or around $605 with 2 x Seagate 1TB IronWolf NAS drives
- Specs: 2 x hot-swappable drive bays (3.5/2.5in SATA III/II HDD/SSD); 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Celeron N3060 processor; 1GB RAM; RAID 0, 1 and JBOD options; 1 x Gigabit Ethernet, 1 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0 and 1 x eSATA ports.
Many NAS appliances are suitable for novices, but Qnap’s TS-451+ is not one of them. You’ll need to have a bit of experience to properly set it up, though once you get it going, the TS-451+ rewards the tech-savvy with prodigious power and shedloads of apps and features.
Read our full Qnap TS-451+ review for more information.
- Price: $765 (without disks) or around $1,160 with 4 x Seagate 1TB IronWolf NAS drives
- Specs: 4 x hot-swappable drive bays (3.5/2.5in SATA III/II HDD/SSD), 2GHz quad-core Intel Celeron J1900 processor; 2GB RAM; 0, 1, 5, 6, 10 and JBOD RAID options; 2 x Gigabit Ethernet, 2 x USB 3.0 and 2 x USB 2.0 ports.
Next: Best higher-end desktop NAS appliances
Once a business grows above a certain size, its IT needs demand more specialised equipment and the same is true of storage. Carrying more drive bays than a typical consumer NAS appliance, these units offer more sophisticated capabilities along with greater raw power.
Synology DiskStation DS916+
It’s not the most easily upgradeable NAS drive in the world, but if your business has strong data protection needs then the Synology DiskStation DS916+ is well worth considering. Cloud support is also a highlight, with support for no less than 18 different public cloud providers.
Read our full Synology DiskStation DS916+ review for more information.
- Price: From $655 (2GB RAM model, without disks), $778 (8GB RAM model without disks), $1,165 (8GB RAM model with 4 x Seagate 1TB IronWolf NAS drives)
- Specs: 4 x hot-swappable drive bays (3.5/2.5in SATA III/II HDD/SSD); 1.6GHz quad-core Intel Pentium N3710 processor; 2GB or 8GB RAM; SHR, 0, 1, 10, 5, 6 and hot-spare RAID options; 2 x Gigabit Ethernet; 3 x USB 3.0 and 1 x eSATA ports.
The Qnap TS-563 is an affordable yet seriously kitted-out machine, with a quad-core 2GHz AMD processor and support for 10Gb Ethernet. Its five internal bays can also be supplemented with up to 21 drives.
Read our full Qnap TS-563 review for more information.
- Price: From $805 for the 2GB RAM model without disks, $996 for 8GB version, $1,480 for 8GB version with five Seagate 1TB IronWolf NAS drives.
- Specs: 5 x hot-swappable drive bays (3.5/2.5in SATA III/II HDD/SSD); 2.0GHz quad-core AMD G-Series GX-420MC processor; RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, 10, hot spare and JBOD options; 2GB or 8GB RAM; 2 x Gigabit Ethernet and 5 x USB 3.0 ports, PCI-E Gen2 x4 expansion slot.
The Qnap TS-853A is an affordable and fast eight-bay NAS appliance with business-class data protection, virtualisation tools and some unusual features – such as the ability to use it as a Linux or Karaoke machine.
Read our full Qnap TS-853A-8G review for more information.
- Price: From $1,415 for 4GB RAM model (without disks), $1,610 for the 8GB RAM model, and $2,380 for the 8GB version with eight Seagate 1TB IronWolf NAS drives.
- Specs: 8 x hot-swappable drive bays (3.5/2.5in SATA III/II HDD/SSD); 1.6GHz quad-core Intel Celeron N3150 processor; 4GB or 8GB RAM; RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, 10, hot spare and JBOD options; 4 x Gigabit Ethernet, 4 x USB 3.0 and 2 x HDMI ports, 2 x 6.3mm microphone jacks.
Synology DiskStation DS3617xs
Synology’s huge 12-bay DS3617xs offers plenty of everything – internal storage capacity, features, performance and expansion potential. The fact that it’s amazingly versatile in terms of DSM apps is an added bonus. It’s also quite reasonable value, making it ideal for fast-growing businesses.
Read our full Synology DiskStation DS3617xs review for more information.
- Price: from $3,555 without disks or $6,330 with 12 Seagate 2TB IronWolf NAS drives.
- Specs: 12 x hot-swappable drive bays (3.5/2.5in SATA III/II/I HDD/SSD); 2.2GHz quad-core Intel Xeon D-1527 processors; 16GB RAM (expandable up to 48GB); RAID 0, 1, 10, 5, 6, hot-spare and JBOD options; 4 x Gigabit Ethernet (with link aggregation), 2 x USB 3.0 and 2 x expansion ports; 1 x PCI-e 3 slot.
The Qnap TVS-1282 offers excellent data protection and virtualisation tools, along with loads of storage capabilities, making it a superb all-round NAS appliance for businesses that need one device for many jobs. It’s available in eight configurations for various budgets, with options for Core i3, i5 and i7 processors, 8GB to 64GB of RAM, and two different power supplies.
Read our full Qnap TVS-1282 review for more information.
- Price: from $2,585 to $4,804 for eight diskless models, or $5,572 for the high-end model with 8 x Seagate 1TB IronWolf NAS drives.
- Specs: 8x hot-swappable LFF bays (3.5/2.5in SATA III/II HDD/SSD), 4 x hot-swappable SFF bays (2.5in SATA III/II HDD/SSD), 2 x M.2 SATA III SSD slots; 3.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i3-6100, 3.2GHz quad-core Core i5-6500 or 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7-6700 processor; 8GB, 16GB, 32GB or 64GB RAM; RAID 0, 1, 10, 5, 6, hot-spare and JBOD options; 4 x Gigabit Ethernet, 5 x USB 3.0 and 3 x HDMI ports; 1 x PCIe Gen3 x8, 2 x PCIe Gen3 x4.
Next: Best rack-mounted NAS appliances
If you’re looking for enterprise-grade network storage for a server room, then chances are you're looking at a rack-mounted appliance. These units offer the maximum amount of capacity, with all the management options a sysadmin or IT manager could ask for.
What really singles Qnap’s TS-1263U out from its competition is the support for 10GbE – even taking into account the fact that you’ll need to source a transceiver separately, there are very few rivals offering the same functionality at this price bracket. Complemented by robust features and solid performance, that makes the TS-1263U excellent value.
- Price: From $2,665 (diskless).
- Specs: 12 x hot-swappable drive bays; 2GHz AMD GX-420MC processor; 4GB DDR3 RAM; RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, 10, hot spare and JBOD options.
Synology RackStation RS2416RP+
Data protection and cloud integration are the strong suits of this NAS, with the Synology RackStation RS2416RP+ offering staggering restore speeds from snapshots. It won’t be able to keep up with some of the most powerful enterprise-grade NAS appliances on the market, but it’s ideal for smaller businesses.
- Price: From $3,003 (diskless)
- Specs: 12 x hot-swappable drive bays; 2.4GHz Intel Atom C2538 processor; 2GB DDR3 RAM; RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, SHR, hot spare and JBOD options.
Businesses looking for versatility will be pleased to note that this storage array includes support for two operating systems: QES for mission-critical storage, and QTS for general-purpose NAS tasks. There's no hot-swapping between operating systems, and you’ll have to do a complete reset and re-installation if you want to switch, but fast speeds and good value paired with great flexibility make this rack device a real winner.
- Price: $8,284 (64GB RAM, diskless)
- Specs: 12 x hot-swappable drive bays; 2.2GHz six-core D-1531 Xeon processor; 64GB/128GB DDR4 RAM; RAID 1, 5, 6, 10, 50, 60, RAIDTP and Triple Mirror options.
Perfect for the business on a budget, the Qnap TVS-EC1280U-SAS-RP is an enterprise storage appliance at an SMB price. On top of great value, it offers heaps of support for cloud backup apps, an embedded SAS 3 expansion port and a superb management console.
- Price: $8,366 (8GB RAM, diskless)
- Specs: 12 x hot-swappable drive bays; 3.5GHz Intel Xeon E3-1246 v3 processor; 8GB/16GB DDR3; RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, 10, hot spare and JBOD options.
This feature is based on an article that originally appeared at IT Pro.