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How To Buy The Best NAS drive

Looking to buy the best NAS drive? Check out our guide below and you’ll be well-placed to select the correct one for your needs.

If you’re a business owner, getting the best NAS drive you can afford is a no-brainer.
However, network-attached storage isn’t just for large corporations.
With so many computers, laptops, and mobile devices in most houses these days, having a single repository for your essential information makes sense.

It assures that you can access your data from wherever you are, even if you’re on the road, thanks to the included easy-to-use remote-access capabilities.
It’s also comforting to know that if one of your hard drives dies, your data will be protected by a multi-disk RAID array.
Furthermore, current NAS machines can handle a wide range of network applications, including video servers, databases, wikis, and security camera management systems.

A NAS can assist you with any of your needs.
We’re here to point you in the direction of the best NAS drives on the market right now, but first, let’s untangle the acronyms and figure out which NAS appliance is perfect for you.

How do you pick the best NAS drive for your needs?

What do all of the abbreviations mean?

Before we get started, here’s a quick rundown of some commonly used acronyms and what they mean (for the uninitiated):

NAS stands for Network-Attached Storage, which is a storage device connected to a local network.
NAS, according to storage vendor Seagate, is “like having a private cloud in the office,” and we agree.

RAID stands for Redundant Array of Independent Disks, which is a way of storing identical data across several discs in the event of hardware or software failure while simultaneously improving performance.

JBOD stands for “Just a Bunch Of Disks” — no, really.
JBOD allows you to aggregate many drives of varied capacities into a single volume.

JBOD and various RAID levels, from RAID 1 to RAID 10, are supported by all of the NAS devices on this list.
These levels are far too intricate to discuss here; if you’re interested in learning more, Tech Target has a decent, lengthy explanation.

What kind of NAS should I purchase?
And how many drive bays will I require?

The number of drive bays on NAS drives varies, with consumer models often appearing in one, two, three, or four-bay configurations.

A two-bay system with two matching hard discs in mirrored RAID1 configuration is a reasonable minimum.
That way, even if one drive fails, you’ll still have a backup of the entire data set.
However, don’t rely only on JBOD or RAID0 configurations: while they provide additional capacity, they lack fault tolerance, which means that if one drive fails, all of your data is lost.

A four-bay NAS drive is more adaptable if you’re prepared to invest a little extra.
You can create a RAID5 array with four discs, which provides a better mix of capacity and data security.
A piece of each disc is set aside for parity data from the other three drives in this configuration (which makes it possible to rebuild the array in the event of a failure).
With four 1TB drives, for example, you can store up to 3TB of data, and if one of the drives fails, you can easily replace it and keep working.

Additional features, such as extra ports and LCD displays, are common in four-bay NAS equipment.
However, they are naturally noisy and power hungry, as well as being far more expensive.

What kinds of connections should I be on the lookout for?

Most NAS equipment have one or more USB 3 connections, allowing you to connect an external hard drive to your network and exchange files.
A connector for one-touch copying is commonly found on the front of the NAS: merely plug in a USB hard disc and push the copy button, and the contents of the external drive are copied onto the NAS.
It’s a simple approach to consolidate all of your files into one location if they’re now distributed across a number of external discs.

You may also notice HDMI and audio ports for connecting your NAS system to a monitor and speakers.
These allow you to turn your appliance into a movie player or an audio jukebox by using built-in apps.
You might be able to connect a keyboard and mouse to the NAS appliance and run desktop software, but don’t expect blistering speed because NAS gear is fairly light by desktop PC standards.

How can I achieve the best results?

Your router’s Gigabit Ethernet port should be connected to your NAS drive.
Your speeds will be significantly limited if your router only supports 100Mbits/sec Ethernet; updating your router would be the first step toward getting the greatest performance.

Even if you have a Gigabit connection, don’t anticipate lightning-fast file transfers all of the time.
For a single large file, speeds can reach 100MB/sec, but for a folder containing many small files, the file system overhead will slow things down significantly.

I’m not sure which drives I should use.

All of the NAS drives we propose below can be purchased without a hard drive.
NAS drives such as the WD Red series, which are built for rigorous use and high-temperature settings, are usually recommended by the makers.
That’s certainly overkill for a home NAS; instead, buy cheap consumer drives or repurpose discs from abandoned PCs.
Just make sure you have plenty spares on ready in case one of them fails.

What should I know about add-on applications?

The majority of current NAS systems come with all of the essential services you’ll need to work with Windows, macOS, and Linux clients.
They’ll also work with Apple’s Time Machine backup service, and many will support Active Directory and iSCSI for corporate roles.

Furthermore, it’s worth looking into the programmes that are available, as they can substantially expand the possibilities of your NAS appliance.
Most units include a “app store” with dozens, if not hundreds, of apps that you can install with a single click.
These almost often contain a set of media server apps that allow you to stream audio and video from your NAS to smart devices in your home.
You’ll also find business and development tools, as well as IP camera surveillance programmes and content management systems like WordPress.

One caveat: enabling a large number of apps and services may cause the hardware to suffer.
If that’s a worry for you, look for a laptop with a strong Intel processor and enough of RAM, or one that can be upgraded with additional memory as needed.
If you’re not sure how much headroom you have, the appliance’s web interface usually has an activity monitor that shows what’s using its CPU and RAM so you can notice any services that might be pressuring your hardware.

Is it possible for me to access my files remotely?

You can access your NAS equipment from anywhere in the world if you set it up correctly.
With no monthly subscription and a lot more storage than cloud services like Dropbox and Google Drive, it’s a terrific choice.
Every provider has a unique service, which is usually web-based and allows you to securely access your files from any web browser.

Many providers also integrate with third-party cloud services, allowing data in a specific folder on your NAS appliance to be immediately synchronised with your Dropbox account – and vice versa.
This is useful if you wish to utilise a printer or scanner that has Dropbox integration, as it eliminates the need to transfer files back and forth between services.

Is my NAS data truly secure?

Even RAID isn’t perfect.
A catastrophic electrical issue could fry your NAS system, or it could be taken during a break-in.
Many NAS systems include built-in support for remote backup services like Amazon S3 or ElephantDrive, which aren’t free.
If you have access to a second NAS appliance, most of them will allow you to automatically replicate your data over the internet.

Another thing to keep in mind is that a modern NAS is effectively a little computer, which means it’s just like any other computer when it comes to hacking and malware.
Install system updates as soon as they become available, and make sure your programmes and services are up to date. Most NAS equipment can do this automatically in the middle of the night to minimise disturbance.
That goes for all of your other machines as well; we’ve seen PC-based ransomware that particularly targets NAS appliances, and you don’t want to be caught off guard.

FAQ

Is it possible to utilise a standard hard drive in a NAS?

While normal hard drives can potentially be used in a NAS configuration if you really want to, they won’t provide the same degree of durability and performance as hard drives designed expressly for NAS.
A NAS HDD is built to last for weeks, whereas a desktop HDD can only read and write data for a few hours at a time.

Is it necessary to connect a NAS to a router?

While most NAS systems require an Ethernet connection to your network router, certain versions come with built-in Wi-Fi wireless connectivity and don’t require a router.

Is it possible to hack a NAS?

People are often startled to find how frequently NAS machines are “hacked” just by guessing the username and password.
The majority of access these days is provided by bot farms that repeatedly guess passwords in brute force attacks.

Is it true that NAS is faster than USB?

In general, the speed of a NAS server fluctuates between USB 2.0 and USB 3.0, and is significantly slower than Thunderbolt, which may reach up to 700MBps.

Is a firewall required for my NAS?

A firewall is an excellent line of defence since it can automatically block any connections that your NAS does not recognise.

Is there a firewall on the Synology NAS?

The Synology firewall is set up by default to enable access to everyone and their brother.
In almost every instance, having your Synology connected to the internet is a terrible idea.
It’s simple to set up firewall rules in DSM 5.0 by going to Control Panel > Security > and selecting the Firewall tab.

The best NAS drives to buy

SaleBestseller No. 1
Synology DS220j 8TB 2 Bay Desktop NAS Solution, installed with 2 x 4TB Seagate IronWolf Drives
  • A Simple-to-Use Private Cloud for Everyone: 24/7 file server for your household to store share and backup personal data
  • Easy-to-use: Award-winning DiskStation Manager (DSM) brings intuitive operation flow and reduces learning curve
  • Seamless File Sharing: Access and share data with any Windows macOS and Linux computers or mobile devices
  • On-the-Fly Streaming: Integrated media server to support multimedia content streaming
  • Pre-installed with Seagate IronWolf drives delivering tough, ready and scalable 24x7 performance in multibay, multi-user environments - IronWolf Health Management and Rescue Data Recovery Services included
Bestseller No. 2
WD 4TB My Cloud EX2 Ultra Network Attached Storage
  • Centralised network storage: Organise your entire media collection, photos and files in one central, network location
  • Access from anywhere: Save, access and stream your content anywhere you have an internet connection with the My Cloud mobile app or MyCloud.com web access
  • Robust data protection: Multiple RAID and backup options to help protect all your valuable media, photos and important files
  • Operating System: Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Mac OS X El Capitan, Yosemite, Mavericks, Mountain Lion, or Lion. Supported browsers: Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Safari 6 or higher, Firefox 30 or higher and Google Chrome 31 or higher on supported Windows and Mac OS platforms
  • The socket is interchangeable and there are two types of socket in the box, 3 pin and 2 pin
SaleBestseller No. 3
Synology DS220+ 8TB 2 Bay Desktop NAS Solution, installed with 2 x 4TB Seagate IronWolf Drives
  • Accelerated Application Performance: Average 15% performance boost to photo indexing and other computing-intensive operations, as well as database response time
  • Effortless Data Sharing & Synchronization: Access, share, and sync your data easily across different operating systems and devices
  • Protect and Restore Data in a Snap: Back up critical data and reduce your Recovery Time Objective (RTO) with Snapshot Replication
  • Entertaining Multimedia Hub: Organize and stream your music, video, and photo collections across all your devices
  • Pre-installed with Seagate IronWolf drives delivering tough, ready and scalable 24x7 performance in multibay, multi-user environments - IronWolf Health Management and Rescue Data Recovery Services included
SaleBestseller No. 4
Synology DS920+ 32TB 4 Bay Desktop NAS Solution, installed with 4 x 8TB Seagate IronWolf Drives
  • Accelerated Application Performance: Average 15% performance boost to photo indexing and other computing-intensive operations, as well as database response time
  • Reach Optimal Performance and Capacity with SSD Cache: Built-in M.2 2280 NVMe SSD slots permit cache acceleration without occupying storage drive bays
  • Expand Storage with Ease: Flexibly scale up to nine drives to increase storage capacity as demand grows
  • Empower Collaboration and Productivity: Build an on-premises, multi-user collaboration environment with fine-grained control
  • Pre-installed with Seagate IronWolf drives delivering tough, ready and scalable 24x7 performance in multibay, multi-user environments - IronWolf Health Management and Rescue Data Recovery Services included
Bestseller No. 5
Synology DS118 4 TB 1 Bay NAS Solution, installed with 1 x 4 TB Seagate IronWolf Drives
  • Cross-Platform File Sharing and Data Synchronization: High-performance 1-bay NAS for small offices and home users
  • Optimal Price-Performance Ratio: Sequential throughput at over 113 MB/s reading and 112 MB/s writing, 64-bit quad-core 1.4GHz processor
  • Anywhere/Anytime Availability: 10-bit 4K H.265 video transcoding on the fly
  • Running on Synology DiskStation Manager (DSM): DSM provides simple destop-like experience to minimize effort in exploring and managing your Synology NAS
  • Pre-installed with Seagate IronWolf drives delivering tough, ready and scalable 24x7 performance in multibay, multi-user environments - IronWolf Health Management and Rescue Data Recovery Services included
Bestseller No. 6
Synology DS218PLAY 4 TB 2 Bay NAS Solution | Installed with 2 x 2 TB Seagate IronWolf Drives
  • 2-bay NAS with optimal multimedia solution for home users
  • 4K video transcoding on the fly with 10 bit H.265 codec support
  • Up to 112 MB/s and 112 MB/s sequential reading and writing
  • Installed with 2 x 2TB Seagate IronWolf Drives
  • Fully tested NAS solution configured using certified hard drives and the latest firmware updates
Bestseller No. 7
Toshiba 4TB N300 NAS 3.5 Inch SATA Internal Hard Drive. 24/7 Operation, Supports 1-8 bay Systems, 256 MB Cache, 180TB/Year Workload, 3 Year Warranty (HDWG440UZSVA)
  • 3.5" SATA Hard Drive
  • 7200 rpm, 256 MB buffer, 24/7 operation
  • Optimal for 1-to-8 bay NAS
  • High reliability and enhanced real-time performance
  • Toshiba Dynamic Cache Technology and Toshiba Stable Platter Technology
SaleBestseller No. 8
Synology DS220+ 8TB 2 Bay Desktop NAS Solution, installed with 2 x 4TB Western Digital Red Drives
  • Average 15% performance boost to photo indexing and other computing-intensive operations, as well as database response time
  • Access, share, and sync your data easily across different operating systems and device
  • Back up critical data and reduce your Recovery Time Objective (RTO) with Snapshot Replication
  • Organise and stream your music, video, and photo collections across all your devices
  • Freely access files on the go and back up mobile photos with iOS and Android apps
SaleBestseller No. 9
Synology DS120j 1 Bay Desktop NAS Enclosure
  • An easy-to-use 1-bay personal cloud storage for NAS starters
  • Sequential throughput at over 112 MB/s reading and 106 MB/s writing
  • Cross-device file sharing and syncing Platform
  • Reliable computer backup companion for Windows/mac OS and photos from mobile devices
  • Freely access your files on the go with iOS and Android mobile apps
Bestseller No. 10
Seagate IronWolf 8 TB NAS Internal Hard Drive HDD – 3.5 Inch SATA 6 GB/s 7200 RPM 256 MB Cache for RAID Network Attached Storage, 3 Years Data Recovery – Frustration Free Packaging (ST8000VNZ04)
  • With agilearray-firmware for RAID optimization and 24/7 deployment
  • Rotation vibration sensors on higher capacity drives to reduce vibration in multi-bay applications
  • Ironwolf Health Management is integrated into compatible wet operating systems that monitor the status
  • 180TB/year workload for busy multi-user environments, allowing users to transfer more data from the hard drive and NAS
  • Enjoy long-term peace of mind with the included two-year limited warranty and two-yr Rescue Data Recovery Services

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