Tech reviews

Best NAS Drives 2019: Top NAS Drives Buying Advice & Reviews


NAS drives are lot like cloud storage services: you can access all your files from anywhere, both inside and outside of your home or office. You can use them to store and play your music and video collections, as well as documents and other files. You can even install apps on them so they can do more, such as run your home security cameras, download files automatically and even host a website.

NAS drive buyer’s guide

NAS stands for Network Attached Storage. Put simply, it’s a big hard drive that connects to your router. 

They make it easy to access your music, movies, photos and documents anywhere at all times. One of the most popular reasons to buy an NAS drive is for media playback. Your personal video library can be viewed on your TV, without having to connect a laptop. A bit like having your own Netflix.

Similarly, you can use an app on your phone to control music playback, much like your own personal Spotify.

A NAS drive will use much less power than a regular PC, too. For ease of setup and ease of use, a dedicated NAS drive is hard to beat.

Disks for NAS drives

One of the first decisions to make it capacity. Try to work out how much storage you need right now, and what you’ll require five years from now. Many NAS drives come with no disks at all – these are known as diskless or bare drives.

The advantage is that you can choose the drives you want and easily upgrade them later on.

You can now get disks up to 12TB is size, and you can expect to pay around £25-30 per GB for a drive specifically for NAS use. NAS drives usually cost slightly more than normal PC hard drives, but it’s worth spending the extra because they’re designed to run constantly and tend to have a better warranty.

Hard disks designed for NAS use include more secure construction providing more resistance to vibration, which makes a lot of sense for a drive that’s designed to be on the whole time. They also offer power management so they can adjust performance based on their temperature.

A popular choice is the WD Red range. You can buy the 6TB version for £177 from Amazon, and the 3TB is £90. It’s better to buy two disks and configure them in a RAID, rather than rely on just one disk.

What is a RAID?

RAID stands for redundant array of inexpensive disks. RAID can be quite complex but at a basic level you’ll want to use it primarily to provide redundancy so if a disk fails your data is still safe. Three of the most popular variants are RAID 1, 5 and 6.

Most NAS drives will offer at least two bays, which means that you can set them up as RAID 1. In this scenario the second drive is a mirror of the first, so if one drive fails completely all your data is safe on the other. You can then replace the faulty disk, and rebuild the RAID array.

RAID 5 requires at least three drives and offers parity data. That means a RAID 5 array can withstand a single drive failure without losing data or access to data. As data is ‘striped’ across three drives, reads are fast, but at the expensive of slower writes because of having to also write the parity data.

RAID 6 meanwhile requires four drives but offers both striped and dual parity, so two drives could fail and the RAID could still recover.

Whichever you choose however, don’t consider your NAS to be your only backup of your data. If the box just dies, or if something catastrophic happens like a fire, you’ll still lose all your data. To mitigate this you’ll want another external backup, preferably to the cloud.

Apps

After storage, the next main concern is software and features. We prefer NASes which have an app store where you can download popular apps such as Plex instead of forcing you to use the manufacturer’s own media software. 

Some NAS drives also offer apps for Android and iOS, which make it a lot easier to get to your photos, videos and music from your phone or tablet. 

Our reviews explain exactly which apps you get with each NAS.

Remote access

You’ll probably need remote access to the files on your NAS when you’re not at home. Previously this required signing up to a third-party DNS service, but these days with most NAS drives you can just sign up for an account with the manufacturer as you set up the drive. Log into the account and they’ll handle the connectivity to your box at home using their own servers.

Transcoding

How powerful does your NAS’s processor need to be? The dedicated OSes that NAS drives run are lightweight, but a faster processor and more RAM will enable features such as transcoding.

This means that any media files can be converted on the fly into a format that’s playable by your TV or set-top box, so you don’t have to worry if it can’t play the file as it exists on your NAS. 

It can also be useful if your videos are a higher resolution than your TV can handle, so look out for the ability to transcode 4K to Full HD in real-time.

Ports and connections

Don’t overlook connectivity. If your priority is to use your NAS as a home video server, it might be worth picking one with an HDMI output so you can connect it directly to your TV instead of requiring the video to be streamed across your network. And if your TV can’t play video from a network source you’ll need a separate media streamer.

For the best performance, go for a model with Gigabit Ethernet, which is 10x as quick as 10/100 Ethernet. Look out for front-mounted USB ports and SD slots too.

Best NAS drives to buy in 2019

1. Synology DS218j

Synology DS218j

2. QNAP TS-231P2

QNAP TS-231P2

3. Synology DiskStation DS418j

Synology DiskStation DS418j

4. QNAP TS 251A

QNAP TS 251A

5. Synology DiskStation DS218

Synology DiskStation DS218

6. Asustor AS1004T

Asustor AS1004T

8. Drobo 5N2

Drobo 5N2

9. WD My Cloud Mirror 4TB

WD My Cloud Mirror 4TB

10. WD My Cloud Home

WD My Cloud Home





READ SOURCE

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.