The best NAS (or network attached storage) will be a godsend if you’re looking for the best way to store all of your essential files for your office, or even a home media library. But what is the best NAS? Well, that’s precisely the question we aim to answer with this exhaustive list of the best NAS devices you can buy in 2018 – which includes our expert advice on what to look for when shopping for a NAS.
If you’re not entirely sure what a NAS actually is, well, unlike the best SSDs, they’re essentially hard drives that are integrated into your network through Ethernet. They act as shared storage devices between any and all devices on your network – some NAS devices will even let you access remotely via internet, essentially creating your own cloud storage. Cloud storage that you control.
The best thing about NAS devices is that you don’t need all of your devices to use the same platform to access them. They will support basically any operating system you can think of. However, finding the one you need can be a challenge.
And that’s why we’ve created this list of the best NAS devices that we have personally tested and/or reviewed in-house at TechRadar. You can be confident that every device listed here will not only be worth the money, but also perform in exactly the way you need them to.
1. WD My Cloud Personal
Capacity: 2TB, 3TB or 4TB | Interface: USB 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet | Features: Remote file access, DLNA, iTunes Server
Easy to set up
Setup can be fiddly
Apps not great
WD has achieved quite considerable success with its unashamedly consumer-friendly My Cloud products, which can stream to any DLNA-compliant device and can be accessed via mobile apps for iOS and Android.
Labeled as a ‘personal cloud,’ it’s a NAS box by any other measure and starts at 2TB of storage (you can also get it in 3 or 4TB). As it’s a one-bay unit, it can’t back itself up to a drive inside the unit, but it can back up to an external hard drive via a USB port on the back.
2. Seagate Personal Cloud 2-Bay
Convenient network storage
Capacity: 4TB, 6TB or 8TB | Interface: Gigabit Ethernet | Features: Remote file access, media server software, RAID support
Easy to use
Not that fast
Not that flexible
Picking up on the ‘personal cloud’ theme, this unit from Seagate takes its lead from My Cloud, but it offers 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 on one hard drive to a second one, giving you protection in case one of those drives fails.
We also like the no-fuss appearance of this unit, meaning it can sit nicely under a router or on a shelf. It works with cloud accounts, including Dropbox and Google Drive, and you can also use an app to share content to streamers, including Chromecast and Roku.
3. QNAP TS-251A
Capacity: N/A | Interface: 2 x Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0 | Features: Remote file access, HDMI out, 4K media transcoding, DLNA
Loads of features
Does not come with hard drives installed
The QNAP TS-251A is an awesome NAS device that comes with more features than you can shake the included remote control at. You’ve got dual Ethernet ports, a HDMI out for connecting it up to a TV and beefy hardware including a dual-core 1.6GHz Intel Celeron CPU and 4GB of RAM (that can be expanded to 8GB) for hardware transcoding media files.
The QTS operating system allows you to easily install a range of apps, from Plex Media Server, file sharing apps and even a karaoke app, as well as run Ubuntu Linux for even more flexibility.
In short – this is a fantastic NAS device, though you’ll need to buy the hard drives separately, so factor that in to the overall cost.
4. Buffalo LinkStation LS220D
A decent dual-bay NAS with built-in BitTorrent
Capacity: 2TB, 4TB, 6TB, 8TB | Interface: Gigabit Ethernet, USB 2.0 | Features: Dual bay, WebAccess apps, Apple Time Machine support
Good security features
Smartphone apps for easy configuration
Lacks some advanced features
This 2TB dual-bay NAS (it’s also available in 4, 6, and 8TB capacities) comes from Buffalo, the company that also makes the TeraStation line of advanced NAS units.
The key selling point of this model is that it can integrate directly with BitTorrent, meaning it can download stuff for you even when your PC is turned off. Like many of the other devices here, you can also stream to it via various devices, it’s platform agnostic and you can use it as an iTunes server.
5. Synology DiskStation DS1817
A beginner NAS with room for expansion
Capacity: : N/A | Interface: : 2 x 1GbE LAN, 2 x 10GbE LAN, 2 x USB 3.0, 2 x eSATA | Features: : Quad-Core CPU, Compatibility with up to 18 drives, 1,577 MB/s sequential read
Performance over 10GbE
Not enough USB 3.0 ports
External drives use eSATA
Once in a while, a product comes around 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 flies in the face of those conventions, and allows users to fill the included eight drive bays with whatever they choose, so that you can get as much (or as little) storage as you’d like. Plus, on top of this heaping expandability, the 10GbE LAN and Quad-Core CPU mean that you’ll never be left wanting for performance.
Read the full review: Synology DiskStation DS181
6. WD My Cloud Mirror
A unit that backs itself up
Capacity: 4TB, 6TB, 8TB, 16TB | Interface: Gigabit Ethernet | Features: Automatic backup, two hard drives, My Cloud mobile app
Easy and secure backup
RAID 1 support to protect against data loss
This two-bay unit can create a mirrored backup of your stuff (duplicating your data on both drives), using RAID configuration. That’s quite an advanced feature for a consumer box and you do pay 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 (6, 8, and 16TB units are also available). For extra peace of mind, you can also back the contents up to Dropbox.
7. Synology DiskStation DS1517
Expensive, but packs a punch
Capacity: : Up to 60TB, 180TB with expansion unit | Interface: : 4 x 1GbE LAN, 4 x USB 3.0, 2 x eSATA | Features: : Quad-Core CPU, Up to 15 drives with expansion units
PCIe slot upgrades
Add-on cards are expensive
Default 2GB RAM a bit under specced
Anyone looking at purely technical aspects 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 even breaking a sweat. When you combine that raw performance with the DS1517’s expandability, you have a recipe for a NAS that can stack up against the best NAS devices on the market. However, be aware 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 overkill.
Read the full review: Synology DiskStation DS1517
8. WD My Cloud EX2 Ultra
The small business version of the My Cloud Mirror is now even better
Capacity: 4TB, 8TB, 12TB, 16TB | Interface: Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0 | Features: Remote file access, RAID features, My Cloud OS 3 software
Dual core CPU
Dual bay for RAID setups
Operating system is simplistic
Lack of app support
As well as the RAID capabilities found in more expensive and complex NAS devices, this box is meant for small business use and supports Microsoft Active Directory. It can also act as a file server, FTP server, backup server and P2P download server.
WD’s EX series are also available in diskless variants, though this price is for the 4TB version. 8TB, 12TB and 16TB are also available. If you don’t need any of this extra stuff, then get the My Cloud Mirror.
9. Western Digital DL4100
Excellent backup for a wide variety of users.
Capacity: 8TB, 16TB, 24TB | Interface: 2x Gigabit Ethernet, 2x USB 3.0, USB 2.0 | Features: Dual LAN, 2GB RAM (expandable up to 6GB), NTP Client
Small and semi-portable
Ease of setup
No computer-to-NAS connection via USB
Difficult web interface
If you’re looking for a NAS device to help manage your backup needs, the DL4100 might be worth. taking a look at.
One of the coolest features of this device is its web dashboard that offers users options for backing up to cloud services such as Dropbox and Box. Additionally, we really liked the ability to set up SMS and email alerts in case the system failed for whatever reason.
As far as storage options are concerned, the DL4100 comes with four drive bays in your choice of four configurations. Aside from 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) performed admirably. Combine this with an easy setup and cloud connected web apps, and you have an interesting backup offering on your hands.
10. Apple AirPort Time Capsule
An expensive option any way you look at it, but it is wireless
Capacity: 2TB, 3TB | Interface: 3x Gigabit Ethernet, USB 2.0 | Features: Automatic wireless backup, easy setup, printer and hard drive sharing
Fast 802.11ac Wi-Fi
Remote access to disks
3 Ethernet ports may not be enough
While the Time Capsule offers a seamless option for Mac users, its 2 and 3TB storage options are supremely expensive compared to other alternatives.
It might be wireless itself, but the lack of wireless isn’t an issue for any of the other devices here because you will almost always wire them into a router… a wireless router. You access content in exactly the same way.
As with many of the other devices here, you can use the USB port on the rear to share a USB printer or external hard drive.
What the Time Capsule does well is make it easy to setup and configure automatic backups for Mac and iOS users. If you’re an Apple fan that doesn’t like getting into the nitty gritty of technology, this is a good choice.