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Best Network Attached Storage 2021 • 6 Network Attached Storages Reviews

There are many reasons to mount a network-attached storage (NAS) at home or in your office. Whether you need a file server or want to have a multimedia center, this equipment is very useful. You can even use it as a personal server, a virtual private network (VPN), or a private cloud.

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What is network-attached storage and how does it work?

A network-attached storage server is a large capacity storage system that connects to your home or professional network. It allows you to conveniently access all the files and documents found on any of the devices of the network, without the need to directly connect to the unit in which they are located.

What types of network-attached storage are there?

There are different types of network-attached storage. Read on for a comparison summary.

Consumer-level network-attached storage

They are best if you don’t need a lot of features. For sharing data within a small company.

Small-medium business-level network-attached storage

For sharing larger files in an environment with up to 20 users.

Enterprise network-attached storage

Many extra features, such as a second power source.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Network-Attached Storage

Network Attached Storage is intended to provide storage capacity in the network without high effort.

In our opinion, having your own network-attached storage offers a series of perks. It will help make all office documents and files accessible to your employees. Just test it. You can use it as a media server. It also gives you the possibility to have your own network cloud without Google being able to access your files.

Advantages

  • They allow you to have the best quality shared storage space.
  • You can access all your data, files, and documents from anywhere in the world through a mobile phone application or through a specific web page.
  • You can create a media center to store movies, music, or photos. The network-attached storage server will send them to any device from which you can play them.
  • If you use it as a private cloud, you will have all your documents available on the network without Google or any other company being able to access them.
  • Installing and configuring network-attached storage is quite a simple task. Many feature their own configuration wizard to help you.

Disadvantages

  • Purchasing network-attached storage and the required hard drives is a fair investment if you don’t have them.

Shopping Criteria for Network-Attached Storage

As you know, there are a number of critical factors that you will need to take into consideration when you’re shopping for a network-attached storage server best fitted for your needs. In the following section, we’ve tested these criteria to help you get the best network-attached storage. We’re confident that this information will guide you during your decision-making process, and that you’ll be fully satisfied when you test your new purchase.

  • NAS operating system
  • Processor
  • RAM
  • Maximum storage capacity
  • Connections
  • RAID
  • Manufacturer

Network-Attached Storage Operating System

Network-attached storage devices, unfortunately, don’t work with Windows. Large manufacturers have developed their own Linux-based operating systems, such as Synology DiskStation Manager, Qnap QTS, or WD My Cloud. That being said, you also have access to a series of free systems such as FreeNAS, NASlite, or Openfiler.

All of these systems tend to be quite easy to use. You can even manage some of them from a smartphone, such as QNAP, Asustor, or Synology. In addition, we strongly encourage you to consider the applications that each system features, to handle mail servers, file transfer protocol (FTP), and back-ups, etc.

Processor

In our opinion, a dual-core processor at 1 GHz should prove more than adequate if your network-attached storage is planned for use in a family environment. However, you shouldn’t settle for less than a quad-core processor for office use. Nowadays, mid-range products generally feature Intel Celeron processors, in comparison to professional models that use Intel i3 or Xeon.

“We’re not in the Information Age anymore. We’re in the Information Management Age.” – Chris Hardwick

RAM

Network Attached Storage provides an effective, scalable and cost-efficient solution for data storage.

Again, the amount of RAM you need will depend on the use you’ll make of your network-attached storage server. In that sense, don’t worry too much about this criterion if you only need it to retain your data backups. For home use, 512 MB should be enough. On the other hand, you are advised to have up to 8 GB of RAM memory for office use.

In comparison, if you want to use your network-attached storage as a multimedia center to play HD content, you’ll need at least 1 GB of RAM. Finally, tests have shown that a minimum of 2 GB will be necessary if you plan on frequently using your network-attached storage as a media player in HD or 4K quality.

Maximum Storage Capacity

Before you buy your own network-attached storage server, test the storage capacity you need and what type of hard drives you want to use with it. The simplest devices can only hold one hard drive. Some will allow you to store between 1 and 2 TB, which won’t be enough for certain tasks.

In our opinion, you should buy a capacity of at least 6 TB if you’ll be storing large media files on your network-attached storage. If your device will be set up for office work, consider models with a capacity of up to 20 TB. You should also know that some network-attached storage also allows you to install SSDs, but they cannot fully use the advantages of these storage devices.

Connection

Connect your network-attached storage to your router with a Gigabit Ethernet connection of 1 Gbps or higher. Otherwise, its performance will probably be negatively affected. In any case, the most current network-attached storage servers already offer 10 Gbps connectors, with many also including a second LAN jack in the box.

If your network-attached storage features USB ports, you can expand its storage capacity or connect it directly to your printer. Test if there are micro SD card slots as they may also come in handy. Lastly, an HDMI output to connect to your TV will be necessary if you want to use your network-attached storage as a media center.

RAID

Always test the type of RAID that a network-attached storage server supports before buying it. RAID 0 will be your go-to option if you want to make the most of its storage capacity. On the other hand, you’ll want to opt for RAID 1 if you want to be protected against potential failures and gain speed. However, remember that with this type you will sacrifice half of the storage capacity.

Manufacturer

Whenever you buy a technical product, you should choose a reputable manufacturer that guarantees quality and good performance. In that regard, the following brands are best known: Asustor, TerraMaster, Netgear, and Western Digital. These companies all offer high-quality products, and you’ll also benefit from good customer service.

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FAQs

What is a network-attached storage used for?

Network-attached storage servers have several different applications. They are most frequently used to manage files on a network, set up your own streaming server, or give access to a local network to other users. You can also use your network-attached storage to store recordings from IP video surveillance cameras.

These devices can also be configured as internet-connected servers, allowing them to perform the same functions as online storage or hosting services. Your network-attached storage could therefore be your mail server or store your website. As we mentioned earlier, you can also transform them into VPN servers.

What are network-attached storage bays?

Located in network-attached storage servers, these spaces are where hard disks are mounted. network-attached storage designed for domestic use generally features one or two bays. However, you can find anywhere between four and twelve bays for professional users or business environments.

Remember that each bay will have a set storage capacity. This means that you cannot mount a 12-GB hard drive in a 10-GB bay. You also need to take the power consumption into consideration; more bays naturally mean a higher electricity bill. This is why, in our opinion, it is not recommended that you opt for a network-attached storage server with more bays in comparison to what you need.

Which RAID configuration best fits a network-attached storage?

A RAID is a group of hard drives that has been configured to operate as one unit. This means that they can work by joining their storage capacities or duplicating all information, allowing you to always have your data safe in case a hard drive fails. Each type of RAID presents different characteristics.

RAID 0:
All disks work as a single volume. Their total capacity is the sum of the capacities of all drives. Data is written simultaneously to the disks, improving the overall speed. The reading and writing speeds are doubled. It offers no protection against failure.

RAID 1:
This is one of the most commonly used. The data is duplicated to avoid potential loss. The total capacity of your network-attached storage is half the sum of the hard drives. The writing speed doesn’t improve, unlike the reading speed that doubles. Your data is protected against possible hard drive failures.

RAID 5:
The data is distributed over all disks, but the capacity of one of the drives is kept for parity. This is the most frequent type in companies and offices. One of the disks' capacity is lost. While you gain in reading speed, the writing speed doesn’t change. Your data is protected, but you will lose all your information if two hard drives fail.

RAID 6:
Data is distributed to all drives, with the capacity of two drives being reserved for parity. This type is frequently used in companies and offices. The capacity of two hard drives is lost. Reading speed is greatly improved, with the writing speed remaining unchanged. Your data is protected, and up to two disks can fail. If three disks fail, you lose all your information.

What hard drive do I need for my network-attached storage?

While some network-attached storage models come with built-in hard drives, it is most common that they do not. If that’s the case for yours, you’ll naturally have to buy some hard drives that offer the right features for you. Their capacity is naturally a key factor, but so are their reading and writing speeds.

American brand Western Digital specializes in network-attached storage-supported hard drives, with their network line of products being developed for this purpose only. These devices provide incredible performance. That said, you can actually also take full advantage of any spare hard drive you might have laying around by installing it on your network-attached storage.

How should I install my network-attached storage server?

This is actually a fairly straightforward task. First of all, you need to set up all the storage drives that you want to use. Once you’ve done this, connect your network-attached storage to the local network. Finally, all you need to do is configure it using the network-attached storage operating system itself.

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