The Best NAS (Network-attached Storage) in 2021
NAS can give you great network-supported storage. This has a lot of uses, it can be helpful as a media server, encrypting and backing up files, or even as a catch-all solution for a home business.
A NAS can do great things, and there are a lot of options on the market. Some NASs are built for one specific purpose over another. While one device might be great at creating automatic backups, it might not allow access to media from any device.
If you want a NAS that is specifically suited to your needs, you’ve got to find the right one for you. Among the market, there are some clear standouts. The Best NAS can fulfill any storage and access needs you have for your files or media, and do so in a secure way.
High-quality photos, videos, 3D files, or any other demanding file formats can be a bit much. Even with external SSDs and external hard drives, storing, working on them, and sharing between multiple people gets complicated. A NAS solves all of these problems.
When you use a NAS, you can unshackle yourself from the constant dongles and cables that come with further storage. No matter searching out a cable for an old hard drive an important file is stuck on.
A NAS is effectively your own cloud storage. There are lots of advantages of this, but a big one is knowing your files will always be there, irrelevant of if Dropbox stays in business or if Google doesn’t ramp up their pricing.
With your own NAS, you also have the peace of mind of knowing everything is backed up locally. No outages or changes to user agreements are going to leave you forfeiting your data, or have your prices jacked up to maintain access.
The best home NAS can do a lot of different things. You can have instant access to files and share with others, creating automatic back-ups, store things safely, and even set-up a media server. Finding the right one can be tricky though.
These are some of the best picks on the market at the moment, for any purpose:
Synology 2 Bay NAS DiskStation DS220+
The Best Basic NAS
- Up To 32GB Of Storage
- Intel Celeron J4205 Dual-Core CPU
- 2GB Of RAM
The Synology 2 Bay NAS DiskStation DS220+ is an excellent entry-level NAS for your home. It comes with two bays and thanks to high capacity NAS hard drives it can store up to 32 TB of data. This is more than enough for home use and thanks to the upgraded Intel Celeron J4205 CPU the NAS can transcode 4K video while allowing other users to access stored files at the same time.
The included 2 GB of memory can be expanded up to 6 gigs, which can be handy if you plan on using this NAS for a Plex server setup. Performance-wise you get a max sequential read speed of 225 MB/s and max sequential write speed of 192MB/s, which is an excellent result for a budget NAS. The device is equipped with dual 1Gb LAN ports as well as two USB 3.2 ports.
While the NAS comes with dual gigabit LAN ports it’s a shame there isn’t any 2.5Gb or 10Gb ports, which would make this NAS better suited for high-speed home networks. Also, the lack of M.2 ports means there’s no way to install cache so you’re limited to HD-like transfer speeds. But considering its price, this is an excellent NAS for home use and a solid buy for people who need a basic NAS that can fit lots of storage.
- Very Simple To Set Up
- Solid Specs For The Price
- Dual Gigabit LAN Ports
- RAM Can Be Expanded Up To 6GB
- Suitable As A Base For Plex Server
- Doesn’t Have 2.5Gb Or 10Gb LAN Ports
- Doesn’t Support SSD Cache
The Best NAS for Backups
- 4 Bays
- Supports Dual Channel 4K Real-Time Transcoding
- 4K Media Playback with HDMI Output
- Snapshot Records and Safety stores files
This QNAP TS-453Be NAS is a solid device to use for backing up files and accessing them anywhere, especially if you don’t have much experience. It is simple to set-up and uses, even offering easy hardware encryption to keep things safe.
While easy to set up and use, this is an outstanding NAS if you want to be a bit more hands-on with your backups. Snapshots are created very regularly. This allows you to restore files that get accidentally deleted, or even browse previous versions of all of your files to find the version of it that you’re searching for, vital if you’re working on a group project.
On top of these features, it comes with the usual hardware. It can do 4K video, has 4 Bays and stocks 2GB of RAM, it can even output simply by an HDMI if you need to keep things simple.
This is definitely one of the best NASs on the market at the moment for those looking for an easy-to-use device, and it particularly excels at backing up files, providing many different options for recovery.
- Easy to Use
- 4 Bays Give Great Capacity
- Media Playback at a High Quality
- No Software for Out of Home Access
WD My Cloud EX2
The Best NAS for Security
- 4 Bays
- Volume Encryption and Password Protection
- Automatic Backup Options Available
WD is a big name in storage, particularly external hard drives. However, this NAS takes some of the same qualities of their best storage devices and applies it to the home network storage.
This NAS is capable of holding up to 20TB (0TB/Diskless, 4TB, 8TB, 12TB, 16TB, 20TB), more than enough for very high-quality video or games. You can extend the NAS and add more NAS hard drives, but it is nice to have a decent amount of space to get started.
On top of this, it has 1GB of memory for fast file access to enable media streaming seamlessly at a high quality.
This is a great NAS for its encryption. It enables volume encryption and password protection. With this, you have the convenience of accessible files anywhere and the protection you need to keep things safe.
There are automatic backup options available here and 1GB of memory for media playback even in high quality. This is the best NAS for security, but it also has the specs to fulfill fast media streaming wants too.
- Quickly Syncs Files and Backups Across Devices
- Fast Media Playback
- Great Security Options
- Not the Same Level of Included Software as Others
Synology 5 Bay NAS Disk Station DS1019+
The Best NAS For High Volume
- 5 Bays
- Fast Speeds with 8GB of Memory
This is another NAS from Synology, however, compared to their others on this list it is a lot more expansive. Than NAS can take up to 5 bays, which can give it a huge amount of storage when it is needed.
If you’re looking for a NAS because your file storage demands are too big to be met with simpler devices, then this is a great choice. This one can store an awful lot of files with 5 bays, and it is one of the best choices for Plex if you’re a pioneer of 8K video. On top of this, it features 225 MB/s data speeds even with encrypted data, and 8GB in memory capacity out of the box.
This makes it easy to quickly access even the biggest files. Media storage and backups won’t be a problem either since this is taken care of for you.
This is a diskless NAS, which has a few benefits. A NAS with pre-populated disks locks you into a specific NAS hard drive. A diskless NAS gives you more freedom in what you use with your device.
Along with taking any NAS hard drive, it works on any system so it is one of the best NASs for mac as well.
- Great Storage Sizes
- Dual-Channel 4K Video Supported
- Can Have as Many as 10 Drives with an Expansion
- Capacity Might be Overkill for Some
BUFFALO LinkStation SoHo
The Best Inclusive NAS
- Comes With hard Drives
- Easy to Use
- Hard Drvies Included
A bit of tech as complex as a NAS is never going to be plug-in and play, but this one is definitely the easiest to set up for those who aren’t quite sure what they’re doing.
This 2 bay NAS comes pre-installed with hard drives. This immediately gives it 2, 4, or 8 TB of storage space. It comes entirely ready to be set-up and used without much fuss. There is even a 3-year warranty included.
As one of the best NASs for home use, it can give you instant access to files right out of the box. Without much set-up, you get a personal cloud available to pretty much any device. The RAID is preconfigured so the technical work has largely been done for you.
There are some drawbacks to getting a NAS that is pre-established. However, you can expand upon this later if you need too. For anyone looking for a simple NAS, this is one of the best available.
- Very Simple to Set-up
- Good Warranty
- Easy to Use for Beginners
- Not the Best for Use as a Media Server
The Best NAS For Home Security
- 4 Free Camera Licenses
- Back-Up Software
- 4GB RAM
This NAS is particularly great if you’re looking to set-up a camera network. Licenses and devices can get expensive when doing this, so a NAS set-up for it is going to make things a lot easier.
You get 4 free camera licenses with this NAS. Between four cameras, you can easily set-up a home camera network. From here, you can record or check in on video footage from anywhere, with backs up always available.
Outside of cameras, this drive can work on PC and Mac. It has good speeds and comes with backup software to automatically collect the data from your PC.
This is a great NAS for anyone looking for something simple or trying to set-up a camera network.
- Automates Backups with Software
- Free Camera Licenses
- Not as Versatile as Others
The Best NAS for Personal Use
- 4GB RAM
- Includes Backup Plan to schedule Backups Automatically
The TerraMaster NAS comes in at a price point that is perfect for personal use. The addition of a NAS to a gaming set-up or other home computer network can make things substantially easier.
This is a 4BAY NAS with 4GB of ram for speedy connections. This makes accessing your files or creating backups a quick and simple process. There are 200+ free apps available for this NAS to facilitate using it for any purpose.
This is one of the best choices if you’re looking for something simple to use to augment your home equipment. You can use it for backups, with automatically created snapshots, as a media server, or even as all of these in one if you have space for all of that.
This is definitely a great choice if you’re looking for a NAS for Plex too, being compatible with the service automatically.
- Great Compatibility as a Media Server
- Simple to Use
- Quite Small and Compact
- Needs Some Set-Up
How to Chose a NAS
Those are the best NASs on the market at the moment, with one to suit a lot of different needs. However, when purchasing a NAS you’re making quite a commitment to one device for backups and a media server for quite a while. Essentially, at this price point, you want to be sure it is going to last. This guide covers everything you need to know to make the right decision.
What You Need to Know
A NAS is quite a big purchase. This is going to be a part of your set-up for a while, so you need to know what you’re getting. If you’re a little confused by the various options or just what the specs actually mean in terms what your NAS can do, this is everything you need to know:
- What is a NAS? – A NAS is network-attached storage. This is file storage that can work within a local network. Your files (and anything else you store) is stored within the NAS, this can be accessed by anyone given permission, and anywhere.
- What Can a NAS Do? – You can use a NAS for a lot of different purposes. The main ones are file storage and back-up, running a media server, creating encrypted and up to date copies of any iterations of work, and even running a security network to record cameras.
- Failure – With all of your data backed up in one bit of cloud storage, failure is a concern. This is why most of the best NASs have built-in raid configurations, this gives them great protection against any possible failure.
- They Can Scale – As your storage needs to grow, so can your NAS. NASs can be expanded upon, and their hard drives can be replaced or switched out with those of a higher capacity.
What to Consider Before the Purchase
There are plenty of great NAS options on the market, but you need the one that specifically caters to your needs. You need to consider some things before purchase to make sure you’ve found the right NAS for you:
- How Much Storage Do You Need? – Not everyone’s storage needs are the same. If you only need to store files and backups, you won’t need as many bays as you would if you were running a media server. Take this into consideration when buying a NAS.
- Are You Streaming Video? – If you’re streaming video, then you might want to look into getting a NAS that is specifically designed for that, or at least one that is compatible with video streaming in high quality.
- Do You Need Hard Drives? – The Best NASs have space for quite a few hard drives, but only some of them come with them pre-installed. Make sure you consider which hard drives are compatible and which you need to buy before deciding on a NAS to purchase.
- Camera Licenses – If you’re using a NAS to run a camera network, you can both record the cameras and watch them live with the right software. Some NASs come with camera licenses bundled in to make it easy to set-up a small network. For more cameras, you will need to purchase more.
- Speeds and Quality – The more RAM a NAS has, the faster it can go. However, speeds are also limited by the infrastructure for your local network. It will be much faster if you have faster local speeds. If you need your NAS to run at a particularly high speed, check that you’re getting the right NAS for this.
- What Do You Need to Set Up a Media Server? – If you’re looking to set up a video server with a NAS, there are some extras concerns. Deepened on what program you use for this, there are some different requirements. To be on the safe side, you will want a NAS that will be able to transcode your video at their full quality, live. The majority of NASs on this list are capable of this, so it shouldn’t be a problem.
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