NAS buying guide

It’s no secret that we can’t all be real geniuses building anatomically correct robots in our garages, some of us might need help in figuring out what to look for in a new piece of technology. Whether you are looking to improve your data storage or accidentally endow a machine with sentience, you might need some help learning the lingo in order to walk boldly into the electronics store and get the thing you want. The new NAS server for home or small office, not the humanoid robot.

If you are looking for a new way of expanding the storage space for your home network or for your small business, a NAS server is probably what you are going to want whether you know it yet or not. But, if you are not an especially tech savvy person navigating all the options and features can be and extremely intimidating venture.

Fortunately for you, that is exactly what I am here for. Today, I would like to take you on a tour of the wide world of NAS servers and walk you through the kinds of things you should look for when you want to get the best NAS server.

 

Benefits of Buying the Best NAS Server

best nas for home users

Well, quite frankly the benefits are about as vast as the field of technology. If you want to update your home entertainment system for streaming movies and holding your entire music collection you can. You can even set up a karaoke system if you want to, or a surveillance system for your home or business. Or simply protect important data. You can do anything with a NAS server as you can do with a computer, depending on which one you get. But before we get into the list of NAS servers you might be interested in, let’s go over some basic benefits first.

 

[icons icon=”info-circled” color=”#1e73be”]What is a NAS Anyway?

Well, to start from the beginning a NAS is a Network-Attached Storage Server, not to be confused with the more advanced SAN (Storage Area Network). Keeping things as simple as possible, a NAS is a server designed for file storage. This means that it attached to your network in order to store more data. It is a device designed to hold information in the form of files that can be accessed by other devices.

Think of the NAS like the host of a swanky computer party where all of your other devices are invited. The NAS is the one central unifying factor for all other devices to communicate with one another and give and receive information.

For example, if you have a lot of legal documents that you want to share with your employees you can move those files to your NAS to allow everyone to access them whenever they want without bogging down your computer’s memory. Using a NAS in your home or office is an effective way to backup all your media files, documents, pictures, and more. It keeps your information secure while allowing you devices to work at higher speeds.

 

[icons icon=”info-circled” color=”#1e73be”]Backup Your Data Quickly and Easily

The biggest advantage to setting up a NAS server or computer in your home or office is the ability to backup all your information. There is no better way of protecting your data. Sure, I suppose you could email yourself everything but what if your email becomes compromised or your provider suffers a catastrophic loss of data?

Whether you are concerned about backing up irreplaceable pictures of loved ones or just want to move some files from your computer a NAS can backup your entire hard drive if you get one with enough storage. And it doesn’t stop there. Depending on how much storage you get for your NAS you can backup multiple computers, which is great to ensure there is no data loss for your business.

 

[icons icon=”info-circled” color=”#1e73be”]Centralized Operating System

At its most basic, a NAS Server is just a simple PC that allows your home or office to have a centralized operating system that all other computers can connect to and share information. If you run a business and want everyone to be able to access files and documents then which one sounds easier, installing all of them on each computer or having an interconnected system everyone can access for whatever they need.

The best thing about getting a NAS is that you don’t need a lot of technical know-how in order to set one up. It is usually only a few steps of plugging it in and reading the instructions. Though the NAS functions headless (without a keyboard or monitor) you will need these for the installation process.

 

[icons icon=”info-circled” color=”#1e73be”]Lower Security Risks

Since the idea that your information is stored in a separate drive from that of your computer, only the people you give access to will be able to get into your files. This reduces the risk of security breaches and the stealing of sensitive information since there are fewer access points for people to try to break into it without permission. Many NAS servers also are enabled with file encryption, meaning those without approved access will have to decode the encrypted files, making it more difficult for intruders to steal private information or private documents.

 

[icons icon=”info-circled” color=”#1e73be”]What Can You do with a NAS?

The question isn’t what you can do but what can’t you do. Yes, they are primarily storage devices but they are also functional computers. They can do whatever you program them to do. The NAS is only limited by your technical know-how. It can be a storage facility for your files, it can automatically backup your computers, it can work as a security measure to prevent intruders from accessing private information, and it can protect you against data loss in the event of hardware failure. Your choice.

 

Things to Consider Before Purchasing a NAS Server

Just like buying a new computer it is extremely important to research what you want so you know exactly what you are getting. Here are some things that could vary in your search based on finances or personal preference.

Budget: This should be your first place to start before you begin looking. How much can you spend on a NAS server? Like any piece of technology there are ranges from the very simple to the extravagant and the more storage and features the device has the higher the cost is going to be.

Storage: Basically, when it comes to storage capacity the question you need to ask yourself is “How much stuff do I want to be able to store?” If your storage needs are pretty simple you will likely only need one drive (though it would be riskier for data recovery, we’ll go over that later). However, the greater your storage need the more drives you may need. How big you want to go is up to your needs and your wallet. You can get a single drive or a 10-Bay NAS. The choice is yours. If all you want to do is back up a few PCs than a terabyte or two should be enough to back everything up. If you are looking to transform your entertainment system with hundreds of digital videos then you are definitely going to want something bigger.

If you are upgrading the system at your office for efficient file sharing then you will likely want something that can handle ten or even twenty terabytes of data.

 

What Kind of Processor Do You Want?:

Remember earlier when I told you that a NAS was basically a PC designed for file storage? Well, we were right and you should have listened to us then. Since it’s basically like any other computer it’s going to need a processor in order to work. The speed and quality of the processor will affect the speed and quality of your NAS.

 

What does Disks and Drives mean?: Great question, and the answer is not far from simple.

This could be quite confusing if you have heard the word NAS for the first time. Basically, it depends on the context. While talking about Disks and Drives people can be meaning both – the NAS server itself and the internal hard drives you put inside them. It’s because we have many words for hard drive – hard disk, hard disk drive, hard drive, HDD and all of them mean the same thing. The same thing applies to NAS, someone says NAS server, someone NAS drive.

But with NAS disks we usually mean internal hard drives. So if someone tells you that he have just bought a 4 NAS disks, it’s 99% that he means internal hard drives not 4 NAS servers.

[alert variation=”alert-danger”]So the next thing you need to understand is that you can buy a NAS with pre-installed HDD or a Diskless version, so you need to buy hard drives separately.[/alert]

 

About Diskless NAS and Pre-Installed Storage

This could certainly be a judgment call based on a variety of factors from budget to personal preference. But, for starters let’s talk about the differences between the two.

  • NAS Server with pre-installed internal hard drives (HDD): This is a type of pre-installed NAS that comes with everything you could want. These types are the easiest to set up as you basically just plug it in and it’s ready to go. We highly recommend this for beginners as it is a wonderful way to introduce yourself to how these great devices work. The downside is that you will often pay for the convenience and it can end up costing even more money if you realize later on you underestimated your storage needs and need to expand.
  • Diskless NAS Servers: This type of NAS is also referred to as a “bay” and is a frame where you install internal hard drives (HDD) on your own. For example, NAS with two changeable internal drives would be called as a 2-Bay NAS. But NAS server with 4 internal hard drives (HDD) would be called 4-Bay NAS Server. It is a little bit more complicated to set up, but costs less and is very easy to upgrade / change storage. You can choose which internal drives to use (buy them separately). You can have a 2-Bay NAS and 4 hard drives (HDD), when the first two are full just pull them out and install the other two. This style allows for a higher level of customization but may take more time to install and get it running. But still, it shouldn’t be too hard even for beginners.

[alert variation=”alert-warning”]Notice that now you can easily change internal drives almost on all NAS servers. Internal drives aren’t meant to be switched only on few products.[/alert]

 

RAID Options Explained

RAID Level Options: Now this is when things can start getting really technical, but I will try to keep it as simple as possible.

RAID stands for “Redundant Array of Independent Disks.” I know, that’s super helpful. At its most basic this means your information is protected if anything within your system was to fail. If your NAS is RAID enabled it means that there will be a degree of fault tolerance. So, if there is a component of the hard drive that is for some reason malfunctioning it won’t destroy the entire system. RAID options will keep your equipment working even if there is a problem, and minimize the risk of data loss.

Think of it like a string of holiday lights. If they were RAID enabled one going out would decrease the chances of them all going out. There would be a degree of protection against that one bulb taking down the whole system. The problem would remain isolated, ideally with minimal loss of light (data) until it could be fixed. That is a lot how RAID options work. They allow the system to keep going even if there is a small malfunction, allowing the data to remain intact until the problem is fixed, which increases computing productivity. This decreases the likelihood of you losing any data in the event that there is a hardware problem.

[alert variation=”alert-success”]RAID levels range from RAID0 to RAID10, each level has different configuration[/alert]

Ok, the aforementioned abundance of information is a lot to take in, and we are about to go a little deeper into RAID Level Options. The RAID level is dependent on the way you configure the fault tolerance and the number of disks/drives you have in your system. The level of the RAID is the specific fault tolerance configuration, and the more drives you have the lower the fault tolerance can be without affecting the system’s performance. Basically, the more drives you have the more information can be shared across them, ensuring less data loss if something were to happen. There are several RAID options to choose from depending on your needs. The levels range from RAID 0 – RAID 10 and each one has a variation in configuration types. To save some time, I will only be discussing those that I would deem relevant to cover. In this case RAIDs 0, 1, 5, 6, and 10.

  • RAID 0: This level is designed specifically with performance in mind and is often referred to as “disk striping.” In order to have this level you will need multiple disks / drives as it spreads the information across multiple disks rather than keeping everything in one place. Unfortunately, with this choice you don’t get any of the failure tolerance benefits. If something in the hardware malfunctions or one of your disks fail, then all of your data can be compromised. Again, RAID at this level is designed for performance and nothing else.
  • RAID 1: This is the next stage up has fault tolerance and is often called “disk mirroring”. It is called this because the data is copied from one disk to another simultaneously, meaning that the data is mirrored between two disks / drives. It is a cost-effective way to enable a device with fault tolerance, as if one disk goes down the other can keep working. However, you will suffer a little in the performance department as it increases drag time and cuts storage in half (since all information is doubled).
  • RAID 5: This is highly recommended for business use and is the most popular RAID used. It uses at least three disks to stripe data across all disks. The use of three disks increase the performance rate and diminished the loss of data in the event that one of the disks should completely fail. NASes at this level also can have their drivers switched out without any loss of performance or data, meaning if one does fail it is easy to replace. The only downside is if one of the disks fail in there might be a noticeable decrease in productivity if a lot of employees need to access the server at the same time.
  • RAID 6: The RAID 6 is another popular option for businesses. It is very similar to RAID 5, except it can have two disks fail and still remain secure.
  • RAID 10: This is a hybrid of disk striping and mirroring. It provides the best performance there is in the market, though you will be paying a hefty price for it as well. It requires a minimum of four disks to work and you won’t be able to use it without multiple bays.

 

Operating System.: It is important to note that not every NAS runs off of Windows, rather many run off of Linux. If you are unfamiliar with Linux as an operating system, don’t worry. Its very user friendly, however I know this can be a big deal breaker for some who prefer Windows. Just keep your eyes peeled and make sure you are getting the operating system you prefer to use.

Speed: This one is pretty basic. How fast can it connect, transfer, read, and write information? Usually what you are going to want to look for is how many megabytes of data per second the device can transfer. This is will be labeled as #MB/s. What this means is how much information the server can read / write in a single second. The bigger the speed the more megabits are being read and written, meaning if your server uses RAID 1 to mirror and copy your data it will be doing so instantaneously. This is also important for streaming videos or running apps like Netflix or Amazon Prime through your home entertainment system.

Another important thing to consider when looking into a NAS server is to check out the system’s processing power, as this will largely determine the MB/s the system can transfer. Again, keep in mind that the NAS server is at its most simple a computer, in need of a good processor (CPU) and memory (RAM) in order to run the operating system smoothly and quickly. The operating systems can vary between Windows and Linux and will usually be included in the description. The operating system will come preinstalled on your NAS (much the same way as buying a new laptop).

Network Connectivity: A NAS will connect to other PCs or devices via a Wi-Fi connection, LAN, or directly connect to your router with an Ethernet cable. Some have built in Wi-Fi, so you don’t even need to concern yourself with how to connect them directly.

 

[icons icon=”alert” color=”#dd0000″] Quick Tips Before Investing in a NAS Server

Here are a few more things to keep in mind when looking for the best NAS servers. These might not be things you really need but rather are simply worth keeping in mind during your search.

  • Network Ports

Be sure to check what kind of ports the NAS you want has, as this can change the transfer speed and expandable memory (RAM). Does it use an Ethernet cable or HDMI? Sometimes they can use both with multiple USB ports for expandable memory and easy backup of portable drives.

  • Expandable Ram

Also known as expandable memory, this will affect the type of applications your NAS can be equipped with. Servers like these don’t usually come with much RAM, about 1-2 GB is normal. That is because they are primarily designed for storage. But if you want to use yours as a home entertainment system or allow your employees to interact with it on a greater level you might want to be able to expand its capabilities.

What is the Best NAS Server?

Now, that you understand some of the basics you might be able to start forming an idea of what would be the ideal storage device for your home or business. But, which one is the best? Like many things this will come down to opinion and personal needs, however, we have put together a list that encompasses a wide selection from beginner to advanced. The following storage devices are split up into two categories, NAS servers with up to three bays and those beyond. This way if you already know you want a server with six drives you can go ahead and skip to the second section. Let’s see which one is right for you!


 

Top 7 Best NAS servers for most home users

[icons icon=”star” color=”#dd0000″] 1. QNAP TS-251 2-Bay Personal Cloud NAS Review
Overall the Best NAS server for home users

Product model number: TS-251

QNAP TS-251 2-Bay Personal Cloud NAS, Intel 2.41GHz Dual Core CPU with Media Transcoding (TS-251-US)

First on our list we have a great NAS server for all home users, and don’t let the long list of features fool you. Below, we will go over them in a little more detail to help you interpret the value in each of them.

[lists style=”right-open” color=”#1e73be”]

  • Mirroring backup
  • Offline video transcoding
  • File synchronization similar to Dropbox
  • Expandable memory
  • Transfer speeds at 68MB/s for fast encryption
  • Linux operating system
[/lists]
Breakdown of QNAP TS-251 Features

It’s no secret that this little two-bay NAS has a lot to bring to the table. It is a diskless NAS and uses an Intel Quad-Core CPU (processor) as well as an Intel HD GPU (graphics card). It comes with 1GB of memory for programming applications, an HDMI port, a LAN port, and a USB port. In a world that is increasingly in need of data storage potions this NAS by the credible brand QNAP is a great place to start.

Frequently bought together

 

[icons icon=”plus” color=”#1e73be”] The Advantages of the QNAP TS-251 NAS server

Yes, we know, that list up there is a lot to take in if you don’t really know what you are looking at, so let’s start with the good stuff.

It has most of the connectivity options you are going to want in a data storage device, including HDMI, LAN, and USB. This means you can connect it to the internet with your HDMI cable and the LAN connects to the devices in your home, or to your Local Area Network, usually through your router. The USB indicated it is capable of expandable memory as well as quick backups of your portable memory devices.

It has two bays for drivers, meaning you can decide for yourself if you want it to be a RAID 0 or RAID 1. Basically, you get to choose for yourself if you want the data backup process to be either striping or mirroring. This will depend on whether or not data protection or performance is more important to you.

Another great thing about this product is its offline and cloud capabilities. The offline bit is pretty straightforward, meaning you don’t need to have internet connectivity to access the storage device as long as it is hooked up to your local network. However, if you do connect it to the internet you have cloud capabilities, meaning you can connect to it anywhere with your username and password. This way you can keep terabytes worth of information at your fingertips without having to add more data storage to your phone or laptop.

The other great thing about this particular storage device is its dual user capabilities. This device can handle multiple users with multiple login capabilities. This is great if you don’t want to share all of your information with everyone on the network. If you are running a business and don’t wish your employees to be able to access everything you can give them limited access with a different username and password. Or, if you are building a network at home with multiple users in your household you can keep all the information separate. This way you won’t get your presentation mixed up with your ten year old daughter’s just because you both named them “Presentation One.”

 

[icons icon=”minus” color=”#1e73be”] The Disadvantages of the QNAP TS-251 NAS server

It comes with one gig of RAM, but in order to use it to its full potential you will need to upgrade the memory. Fortunately, this NAS features expandable memory which means adding more to it won’t be an issue. You will also have to by your drives separately, however this will make upgrading for more storage or replacing faulty drives easier.

The only other downside to this particular model is that it doesn’t have an Ethernet cable. Ethernet cables are capable of transferring more data very fast, and without one you will be stuck using the LAN to exchange information between devices. However, for a storage device in this price range it’s not very surprising that it lacks this option, though it is worth considering if this is something you will have to update later if you want higher transfer speeds.

 

Similar Products

 


 

[icons icon=”star” color=”#dd0000″] 2. Synology Disk Station 2-Bay (DS216) NAS Review

Product model number: DS216

Synology Disk Station 2-Bay (DS216)

Next up on our list we have a two-bay Synology NAS server that comes preprogrammed and ready to install. Let’s take a closer look at some of its features.

[lists style=”right-open” color=”#1e73be”]

  • 112MB/s
  • RAID 1 disk striping
  • Windows operating system
  • Swappable drives
  • LAN/WAN port
  • Low power consumption
[/lists]
Breakdown of the Features

Ok, so to breakdown what all this means the 112MB/s is the transfer speed, indicating how much data can be moved from one place to another in a single second. The easy instillation is due to the fact that the disks come ready to plug in and will need very little on the part of the user to figure them out. It features a Windows operating system, a USB port, a LAN port, and a low level of power consumption.

Frequently bought together

 

[icons icon=”plus” color=”#1e73be”] The Advantages of the Synology Disk Station DS216 NAS server

For this one we will start with the power consumption since we didn’t talk about that in the previous entry. You have to consider how much of a benefit low power consumption is considering your NAS will be basically running 24/7. The other major benefit this server provides its users with is the incredibly easy instillation. It comes with Windows and is programmed with a RAID level 1, meaning it will perpetually mirror all your data from one disk to another to protect you against data loss.

Swappable internal hard drives mean that if there is a problem with one of them you can simply swap it out for another without having to worry about any data loss, as it has been mirrored on the other drive. You will notice that is also has a USB port and a LAN so you can easily backup your portable data devices without any hassle or fuss. The LAN cable allows your NAS server to plug directly into your router for easy connection to all of your devices. This is a great beginner device due to its easy installation and user friendly interface.

 

[icons icon=”minus” color=”#1e73be”] The Disadvantages of the Synology Disk Station DS216 NAS server

Well, with this particular device some of the benefits might be looked at as cons depending on your preferences. Since it comes preprogrammed with Windows and RAID 1, the user have less control over your preferences and must go with what the Synology Disk Station 2-Bay NAS offers you. Again, this can be a good thing if you have no preference, and the RAID1 is a safe way to protect your data. However, if performance is a priority for you and the lag time is a deal breaker you may want to search for alternatives.

The other disadvantage to RAID 1 mirroring is that your data will take up twice as much space. Again, it is a very safe way to preserve your data in the event of hardware malfunction (which will happen to every drive eventually). It takes up so much space because of the redundancy of copying everything twice constantly. This is how the RAID 1 saves your data and with this system there won’t be a whole lot you can do about that.

The last disadvantage is that Synology DS216 doesn’t have an HDMI cable port or an Ethernet port, so you will be stuck with the LAN’s transfer speed. This also means you will have difficulty using video on the interface and will need to access them remotely.


 

[icons icon=”star” color=”#dd0000″] 3. WD 4TB My Cloud Mirror Gen 2 Personal Network Attached Storage Review

Product model number: WDBWVZ0040JWT-NESN

WD 4TB My Cloud Mirror Gen 2 review

Next up we have a second generation NAS server by Western Digital. By now you should be a little more familiar with following the features and knowing what they mean. Let’s see what our number three contender has to offer.

[lists style=”right-open” color=”#1e73be”]

  • RAID 1 Mirroring preinstalled (but RAID 0 is an option)
  • Cloud access
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • 4 terabytes of storage
  • GHz dual-core processor
  • 500 MB of memory
[/lists]
Breakdown of the Features

Once again, we are seeing the RAID1, which is mirroring protection, to secure your data. This RAID level comes preinstalled and is the most commonly  used among 2-Bay NAS servers, however you can alter that preference to optimize performance as well by changing it to RAID 0. This NAS comes with 4 terabytes of storage space and a GHz dual-processor for data transferring.

It features cloud access, two USB ports, and an Ethernet port. It comes with an Ethernet cable and adapter as well so you don’t need to worry about making those additional purchases. Its final feature is easy installation as this server comes ready to run once you plug it in.

Frequently bought together

 

[icons icon=”plus” color=”#1e73be”] The Advantages of WD My Cloud Mirror Gen2 NAS server

So, here we have another two bay NAS server with RAID level 1 with mirroring capabilities. This is one of the safest ways to make sure your data is always backed up. One of the benefits of WD My Cloud Mirror is that though it comes in RAID1 configuration you can change it to a RAID0. This level uses striping instead of mirroring to backup your data and typically is used when performance is a priority over data protection. This adds a little customization to your network and is a nice little perk if you have particular preferences.

Another benefit of Western Digital My Cloud Mirror is the Ethernet capabilities. Ok, so we’ve touched on this a little before but now would be the time to go into greater detail considering Ethernet is the only connectivity option for this model. At first it may seem like any other cable, and in a lot of ways it is, however the amount of data it is capable of transferring is what makes it stand out.

We are all familiar with the internet, which is a network of highly organized databases that are able to connect instantaneously (or at least pretty fast) to one another. An Ethernet cable is similar, but on a smaller scale. It is able to transfer loads of data between storage devices, VPNs, and PCs with a high degree of efficiency. The Ethernet cable controls the FTP (File Transfer Protocol) of the data being transferred, so you don’t need to worry about converting videos or images.

Just like you are connected to the internet through a single Wi-Fi signal, the Ethernet cable connects all your devices through via single cable. It is a way to ensure accurate data transfer through multiple devices. On the most basic level, it is a good way to cut down on the number of wires you have running around your home or office.

Lastly, like many standard NAS servers for home we’ve seen up until this point this server comes with a USB port to ensure you will be able to back up your portable devices. Altogether, this is another good beginner storage device with some slightly more advanced options for customization, if you were feeling froggy enough to fiddle with it.

 

[icons icon=”minus” color=”#1e73be”] The Disadvantages of the WD My Cloud Mirror Gen2 NAS server

Like some of the other NAS servers we’ve seen so far, this one comes with Windows preinstalled and a RAID1 configuration. Fortunately, you have the option to chance both of these features, though it might require a little technical know-how.


 

[icons icon=”star” color=”#dd0000″] 4. Synology (DS216j) NAS Disk Station Review
Best budget NAS server for home users

Product model number: DS216J

Synology DS216J

Here we have another storage device brought to you by Synology, only this time the DS216j has a few updates for those a little more tech savvy and looking to connect their entire home entertainment systems. Again, we see a NAS server with a long list of features, though by now you may begin to recognize some of the features. Though this device will certainly do well in a small business environment it is ideal for advanced home use and in a moment you will see why.

[lists style=”right-open” color=”#1e73be”]

  • GHz Dual-core CPU.
  • RAID level 0 or 1.
  • 112MB/s.
  • Faster processing/transfer speed.
  • Optional add-ons for home surveillance.
  • Energy efficient (outputs vary depending on use)
[/lists]
Breakdown of the Features

Let’s take a moment to absorb all of this information. Though when you started looking at this list this device may have seemed a little overwhelming, though we hope by now it is a bit easy to interpret. Here we have a two bay NAS server with optional RAID level 0-1, meaning you can choose between striping and mirroring.

You can add up to a whopping 16 terabytes of space. The two USB 3.0 ports are located on the back. It has cloud storage option so you can access your information from anywhere with nearly any device due to its wide range of device compatibility. With Synology DS216J, we see ourselves getting into some more advanced features as well, with the automated schedule for backing up information and the wide range of apps available, including additional surveillance options. It is also highly efficient energy wise, making it cost effective to run.

 

[icons icon=”plus” color=”#1e73be”] The Advantages of the Synology DS216j NAS server

So, though this device would work well in a business environment (with its additional surveillance option) it is designed for advanced home use, allowing you to connect anything from your PC to your Android phone with great transfer speeds and minimal conversion problems, as phone and tablet access would be less necessary in a professional environment it could certainly still be beneficial. Though, admittedly you will need to have a bit of technical know-how in order to install.

The Synology DS216J is highly customizable with your choice of RAID level and compatibility with a wide variety of operating systems, allowing you to connect an array of home devices.

Though it would do well in a business environment the reason we say it is designed for home use is because of the user friendly interface and various options of adding apps. One of the most impressive includes a surveillance system (though you would still have to purchase the additional cameras in order to set it up). With the app options it can link to and back up your Dropbox files, Google Docs, or any other cloud based file storage.

 

[icons icon=”minus” color=”#1e73be”] The Disadvantages of the Synology DS216j NAS server

This NAS server is a little more advanced than the ones we’ve seen previously, and will require a little technical knowledge to get it running or the willingness to embrace a bit of a learning curve. Though, if you can handle a little studying up on how to program them this one will be well worth it in the long run due to the wide range of capabilities it provides.


 

[icons icon=”star” color=”#dd0000″] 5. Asustor (AS5002T) NAS Server NAS Review

Product model number: AS5002T

AS5002T

Getting closer to the end of our list of 2-bay NAS servers for home we have the Asustor NAS Server (AS5002T). Don’t let the short list of features fool you, it may not be a Jack of all trades, like some other servers, but it is certainly a master of a few things.

[lists style=”right-open” color=”#1e73be”]

  • Intel Dual-core CPU
  • 2 bay drive
  • RAID level 1
  • 116MB/s, one of the fastest 2 bay servers.
  • Sleep mode for power conservation.
  • Cloud connectivity.
[/lists]
Breakdown of the Features

Though, the Asustor NAS Server (AS5002T) may not have as long list of features as some others we’ve seen on our list, it is no less impressive. It has a surprising degree of processing power with a whopping 116MB/s, making it one of the fastest 2-Bay NAS server. The internal hard drives come pre-installed. The Asustor is equipped with an Ethernet port, USB port, and HDMI port for a variety of connectivity options, including compatibility with cloud storage options.

Automatic backups can be scheduled, along with automatic shutdown and startup to conserve power consumption. It is also compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux making this a great addition to your business or home.

 

[icons icon=”plus” color=”#1e73be”] The Advantages of the Product

The number one thing Asustor (AS5002T) has to offer is speed. It comes configured in RAID1, but can be re-configured to RAID0. The RAID 1 is one of the most popular and safest ways to protect your data. There is also an option for memory upgrade if your needs exceed the one gigabyte RAM memory the device comes with.

Other unique benefits include the scheduling options. We have seen the ability to automatically schedule backups before, though the Asustor (AS5002T) is the first one, in our buying guide, with option to schedule the server to shut down as well. This is a great way to conserve power, as the device will not be running 24/7. It’s also a way to ensure the longevity of your server’s hardware, as it will not be running all day this will allow the device to last longer than some other NAS drives on this buying guide.

Overall, this is a great NAS for beginner with some amazing options available. It is one of the fastest we’ve seen thus far and has a wide range of compatibility with Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems. Everything comes preprogrammed so you only need plug it in to get it running (plug and play), meaning you don’t need much of a technical experience in order to enhance your home or business data storage, protection.

 

[icons icon=”minus” color=”#1e73be”] The Disadvantages of the Product

As you may have anticipated, the disadvantage to the Asustor NAS server is that it lack some of the features we have seen on other devices so far on this NAS buying guide. Again, what it does it does very well, however if you have a specific vision in mind for your home entertainment system or need a professional NAS server for your business you may want to look at something more powerful with more bays. Still, you would be hard pressed to find a two bay NAS that is faster than this one.


 

[icons icon=”star” color=”#dd0000″] 6. Seagate Personal Cloud 2-bay Home Media Storage Device 8TB NAS  STCS8000100

Product model number:

As the section for two bay servers comes closer to its close we would like you to consider the Seagate Personal Cloud 2-bay Home Media Storage Device 8TB NAS.

[lists style=”right-open” color=”#1e73be”]

  • 2 driver bay.
  • 8 terabytes.
  • Cloud access.
  • Compatible with Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android, and multiple other personal devices
  • Lots of app options for at home use
  • Highly customizable
[/lists]
Breakdown of the Features

Second to last on our list of two bay NAS servers we are getting back into some slightly more technical options. This is great for small business data storage, but its features are best fit to home use with the wide range of devices it is compatible with. It has a variety of app options as well to allow you a high degree of customization for your home network, with cloud access from anywhere with nearly any device.

 

[icons icon=”plus” color=”#1e73be”] The Advantages of the Product

Bring all of the devices in your home together has never been easier. Store everything in one place and automatically back it up while bringing able to access everything from anywhere. Due to the apps, you can put on this device you can stream movies, music, and backup all your priceless photos to one place. All and all this is a pretty average device with great at home potential.

 

[icons icon=”minus” color=”#1e73be”] The Disadvantages of the Product

This device would not be ideal for a business environment, as the particular features and customization options are geared more toward app preferences and functionality with a variety of devices that might be unnecessary for a professional environment.


 

[icons icon=”star” color=”#dd0000″] 7. WD Diskless My Cloud EX2 Ultra Network Attached Storage – NAS – WDBVBZ0000NCH-NESN

Last on our list for the two bay NAS servers we have another device brought to us by Western Digital.

[lists style=”right-open” color=”#1e73be”]

  • 2 bay server
  • Diskless
  • Marvell ARMADA dual-core processor
  • Cloud access
  • 1 GB memory
  • Automatic backups
  • Compatible with Windows and Mac
[/lists]
Breakdown of the Features

Hardly the least server on the market this Western Digital two bay NAS server has everything we have come to expect in a basic model. It has cloud access for easily getting files and data on the go, USB port in the back so you can back up all of your important information from your portable devices, and a LAN/WAN and Ethernet port so you can connect it to everything on your home or office network and will automatically backup your data as well. Additionally, it is compatible with Windows and Mac.

 

[icons icon=”plus” color=”#1e73be”] The Advantages of the Product

This storage device has all the basics, from various ports to Windows and Mac compatibility. It also has an option to automatically backup your data so you don’t have to worry about loss.

 

[icons icon=”minus” color=”#1e73be”] The Disadvantages of the Product

The only real downside I can see with this device is that it doesn’t seem to be compatible with Linux systems, which could prove difficult if that is the primary operating system you use

 


 

Top 7 Best 4 to 8-Bay NAS Servers

Four or More Bays

Two bay servers not enough for you, eh? Well, that’s just fine because there are more options out there!

Now, we get into some of the heavy hitters, and with them come some extra capabilities. Two bay servers simply might not be enough for your particular needs and that is why it’s time to bring out the big guns. And by guns we definitely mean more NAS servers. Fortunately for you they make bigger storage devices than that, with greater data capacity and better data protection with different RAID levels.

[icons icon=”star” color=”#dd0000″] ASUSTOR AS7004T 4-Bay INTEL 3.5G Dual-Core High-Performance NAS

Product model number:

OK, ok, we know the price jumped into the four digits but when you get higher performance rates that will typically happen and the ASUSTOR four bay NAS packs a punch in the performance department. If you are looking for something that will meet all you at home data needs this one will do the trick. Now, let’s take a look.

[lists style=”right-open” color=”#1e73be”]

  • Diskless
  • Expandable memory
  • Supports RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, and 10
  • 110MB/s (under RAID 5)
  • Front display screen
  • Runs quietly
  • Multiple app options
[/lists]
Breakdown of the Features

Here we are seeing some of the other RAID options we went over earlier for the first time. Up until now we have only seen RAID 0-1, but now you have an array of data protection options that typically come with more than two bays. We also see that this NAS server comes with a display screen as well, which we are seeing for the first time. Beyond the new things this four-bay server brings to the table we have a USB Port, HDMI port, Ethernet port, options for expandable memory and a 110MB/s transfer speed. Additionally, this machine runs fairly quiet as well, though ultimately that will depend on the type of drives you use with it.

 

[icons icon=”plus” color=”#1e73be”] The Advantages of the Product

The first big advantage we should talk about is the additional RAID’s and the transfer speed the device uses. As you may recall from earlier RAID 5 is the most common level used in business, followed closely by RAID 6 which we also see here. The reason we haven’t see this level until now is that you can’t have RAID levels that high with only two drives, as it requires at least three to spread the data across all drives. As you will recall RAID 5 requires at least three drives to stripe the data across all drives in the storage device. This greatly diminished the risk of data loss and will also keep performance rates relatively consistent should one of the drives need replacing. This makes it easy to switch out the drives without seriously creating productivity problems. Though if your company has a lot of employees logged on at the same time there will be a lag if a drive needs to be replace. RAID 6 is pretty much the same, with the exception that it can actually have two disks fail and still maintain failure tolerance. And lastly, as far as discussing the RAID options in NASes at this level we have RAID 10. This is a hybrid of sorts from RAIDs 1 and 5 and has an extremely high failure tolerance with minimal redundancies. It uses both striping and mirroring methods and stretches both across four drivers for maximum data protection and copying speeds. This is the best system you can use to protect your data and the price of the storage device will typically reflect that.

Also, this particular storage device by ASUSTOR has some of the highest speeds you can get with only four bays. As you may have noticed earlier in the features it gets a 110MB/s processing rate when working under a RAID level 5. That’s pretty darn fast, as the higher RAID levels tend to slow down processing speeds (the device is simply doing more so things start taking a little longer).

With all these things combined this storage device is great for professional use in offices, especially if you wish to install security surveillance systems. You will have the top performance in data protection as well as some of the highest speeds, and also the additional security options. This would be a great addition to any professional environment.

 

[icons icon=”minus” color=”#1e73be”] The Disadvantages of the Product

One of the downfalls that many potential buyers see is the price of the aforementioned. Yes, this is a fantastic piece of equipment, though you will have to hand over many a pretty penny in order to get top performance. Though, honestly when looking at device at this level the price is on par with its functionality. It is ideal for professional use and most likely a little excessive if you are simply looking to update your home streaming capabilities.

You will also have to purchase your drivers and cameras separately as this is a diskless four bay server, though that would also be expected for a device in this performance range. The cameras for the optional surveillance system will also be sold separately. Though, without buying a NAS specially designed and marketed as a surveillance package this is also typical.


 

[icons icon=”star” color=”#dd0000″] NETGEAR ReadyNAS 626X High Performance 6-Bay 2x10GbE + 2x1GbE Network Attached Storage, Diskless (RN626X00-100NES)

Product model number:

Coming up in the number two slot four the heavy hitting servers we have a six-bay beast ready to show off some extra-large storage power.

[lists style=”right-open” color=”#1e73be”]

  • Diskless.
  • 6 bay server.
  • Intel Xeon dual-core processor.
  • Any RAID level 0-10.
  • 60-110 terabytes of storage (depending on RAID preferences).
  • 8 GB memory.
  • Front display screen.
  • Compatible with Windows, Mac, and UNIX
[/lists]
Breakdown of the Features

Really ramping up the capabilities with this one. You may be noticing the lists of features are getting a little shorter the further we go into additional bays. This is because at this level people are looking for storage capabilities and speed, along with the highest levels of data protection out there. And let us tell you, this one has them. Coming with a total of six bays you can adjust this bad boy to any RAID level you want. Depending on what you choose you can get anywhere from sixty to one-hundred and ten terabyte storage capabilities (remember mirroring takes up twice as much space because of the redundancy of data). The digital display on the front allows you to easily read messages for quick programming.

 

[icons icon=”plus” color=”#1e73be”] The Advantages of the Product

The primary advantage this six-bay server has to offer is the level of protection you can ensure your data has. It has the highest levels of protection and with six as you can do anything from a RAID level 0 (which it would be hard to imagine why you would want to do that with a piece of equipment this advance) or RAID level 10 (which is the best you can get). Not to mention eight bays has the potential for an insane amount of storage. At maximum capacity, this device has the option for one-hundred and ten terabytes, though keep in mind that would be at a RAID 0 with great efficiency but absolutely no data protection, leaving you vulnerable to catastrophic data loss. So we don’t suggest you do that. Though even with a RAID 5 or 10 where redundancies are plentiful that still leaves you with sixty terabytes and the best data security there is.

 

[icons icon=”minus” color=”#1e73be”] The Disadvantages of the Product

Once again, we are looking at a particularly pricey piece of equipment, however that is the cost of high performance.  Also, it looks like Linux users may be out of luck if they want to keep their operating system. Although, we’re sure if you are nerd enough to be using Linux to begin with you can probably think of something.


 

[icons icon=”star” color=”#dd0000″] QNAP TVS-471-i3-4G-US 4-Bay Intel Core i3 3.5GHz Dual Core, 4GB RAM, 4LAN, 10G-ready

Product model number:

Here we are, back to a brand we have seen before with QNAP’s four bay option. Let’s check out what this NAS server is bringing to the table.

[lists style=”right-open” color=”#1e73be”]

  • 4 bay server
  • Cloud access
  • RAID level 0-10 capabilities
  • Intel dual-core processor
  • 4 GB memory
  • Expandable memory
  • Surveillance options
  • App options
[/lists]
Breakdown of the Features

Here we have another four bay NAS server, brought to us by a familiar brand. With the four bay drive we know that we can have a variety of RAID levels, from the most basic RAID 0 for high performance, or RAID 10 with the safest protection for your data without any lag time in productivity. With a RAID level 10 your data is ensured with the highest failure tolerance there is. It comes fully equipped with the LAN/WAN ports, Ethernet port, HDMI port, and Windows/Linux/Android compatibility for both home and office use with access to the cloud to grab your files on the go.

 

[icons icon=”plus” color=”#1e73be”] The Advantages of the Product

The major benefit you get with this four-bay server is the data protection that comes with this degree of storage capacity and surveillance options, these two combined make it a great addition to your home entertainment system or data storage device at the office. The wide variety of port options gives you a high MB/s as well as functionality with your choice of use for home streaming or business surveillance.

The other benefit you get with the QNAP TVS-471 is a lower than average price for a four-bay server with a wide range of adaptability and user friendly interface. This is a great product for advanced home use for connecting the entire family to the network, or for use in your business to provide the highest level of data protection available in today’s market.

 

[icons icon=”minus” color=”#1e73be”] The Disadvantages of the Product

The only downside to this device is that it is hard to get a trustworthy figure for how many MB/s this thing can handle. The QNAP website does give a figure, though that one may be under very precise conditions that the company website does not adequately specify. However, with everything else the websites accurately lists as features there shouldn’t be too drastic a difference between other four bay servers and QNAP is a leader in the industry.


 

[icons icon=”star” color=”#dd0000″] Synology Disk Station 8-Bay Network Attached Storage (DS2015xs)

Product model number:

If you are looking for a safe way to increase file sharing and data storage with your business, this Synology Disk Station 8 Bay NAS is just the thing you’ve been waiting for. And if you don’t know why already, you will very, very shortly.

[lists style=”right-open” color=”#1e73be”]

  • Diskless
  • 8 bay server
  • USB port
  • Expandable memory
  • Quad-core processor
  • 16,000 maximum local user accounts
[/lists]
Breakdown of the Features

Protecting your company’s data is not only necessary, but critical; and with this eight bay wonder you can rest easy that all of your important information is securely protected from any intruder or hardware failure. Here we see a short list of things we have come to expect, again with storage capacities at this level they usually have all the basics covered. Like USB port, LAN/WAN port, and expandable memory. It also has all the RAID levels available, as we would come to expect with this many bays and a quad-core processor for high transfer speeds. The other feature it has is a maximum of sixteen-thousand local user account availability, which is a wonderful feature for any business.

 

[icons icon=”plus” color=”#1e73be”] The Advantages of the Product

The real advantage this Synology Disk Station 8 Bay NAS brings to the table is the sheer number of individual user accounts it can handle. Remember earlier when we discussed the option to have multiple users access the network at the same time and how you could give all of them different access capabilities? Well, this is basically the same thing on a huge scale, making this device a great addition for companies that need to be file sharing and accessing data storage on a bigger scale than the average individual would have to from home.

The RAID level accessibility also ensures that your company will have top of the line in data protection and production speed. File sharing with a large number of employees has never been faster and with an eight-bay server with a RAID hybrid that does striping and mirroring across several drives you could have two drives completely fail while maintaining high productivity and experiencing little lag due to the highest failure tolerance money can buy. Overall, this unit is best put to use in a professional environment.

 

[icons icon=”minus” color=”#1e73be”] The Disadvantages of the Product

Definitely a little over kill if you are just looking to update your home entertainment system, but hey, who are we to judge your security needs or wanting to stream movies with such power they make your head explode. Keep in mind this unit is diskless, so you will need to be purchasing the additional drives.

But even if you do basically want to be streaming files in the blink of an eye just so you can watch Finding Dory in 3D on a 300” screen, this unit is going to cost you more than just a few coppers. The eight bays are diskless, which means you will be needing to invest the money to support all drivers. Though if you need a piece of equipment this serious than getting the drivers shouldn’t be too much of a stretch. Needless to say, (though we’ll say it anyway) this device is ideal for professional use.


 

[icons icon=”star” color=”#dd0000″] QNAP TS-853 Pro 8-Bay Professional-grade NAS, Intel 2.0GHz Quad Core CPU with Media Transcoding (TS-853-PRO-US)

Product model number:

Next up we have another QNAP NAS, this time with eight bays and some impressive speed capabilities. As you may be noticing this brand is one of the leaders in the field of storage technology, so let’s see what they have for us now.

[lists style=”right-open” color=”#1e73be”]

  • Diskless
  • 8 bay server
  • 430MB/s
  • Intel Celeron Quad-core processor
  • Expandable memory
  • USB port
  • Optional surveillance
[/lists]
Breakdown of the Features

Sticking with the more serious pieces of equipment we have another in the way of eight bay storage monsters with this QNAP Pro NAS. Ninety-six terabytes of raw storage, RAID 0-10 capacity, a wide range of apps to choose from to access from an easy to use interface, two GB of memory, option for expandable memory, surveillance extensions available and compatible with both Windows and Linux. Seriously, this is a boss enough storage devices. This data storage device is not for the faint of heart, or the tight wallets.

 

[icons icon=”plus” color=”#1e73be”] The Advantages of the Product

Just about everything this storage device has to offer is an advantage if you have the money to support the investment. Designed for professional use you can use it for everything from streaming video presentations to file sharing this is the top of the line for performance and data protection. As you are surely already familiar, the RAID 10 option is one of the best for the professional world in securing data from loss as well as intrusion with its complicated encryptions. This QNAP eight bay data storage device is also extremely fast, with an amazing 430MB/s you will enjoy file sharing with a wide range of user accounts and experience nearly non-existent lag should two of the drives malfunction due to the incredibly high failure tolerance of this device.

 

[icons icon=”minus” color=”#1e73be”] The Disadvantages of the Product

Like many other entries in the four bay and up server category the price is worth serious consideration and if you are looking for a device for personal this will certainly cover your needs and then some. Though, ideally this particular device really shines in a professional environment.

Additionally, you will have to foot the bill for the rest of the drives, though what’s the point of getting an eight bay NAS server if you don’t intend on getting all eight drives.


 

[icons icon=”star” color=”#dd0000″] Qnap 4-Bay, 16TB Intel Quad-Core CPU

Product model number:

You might be noticing a trend now with QNAP, it will come up quite often when investigating options for data storage. Getting ready to wrap things up with our list we have one more four bay server for you to take a peek at.

[lists style=”right-open” color=”#1e73be”]

  • 4 bay server
  • Intel Celeron quad-core processor
  • RAID 0-10 availability
  • Expandable memory
  • HDMI port
  • Compatible with Windows, Linux, UNIX, and Android
[/lists]
Breakdown of the Features

Here we have another four bay NAS server will all the features we would expect. The list of features may be getting shorter but the capabilities are not compromised. You can select your RAID preferences, anywhere from 0-10 here, as with most servers with four bays, and give your data the highest degree of protection possible with minimal performance deficiency. This is due to the high failure tolerance of servers at this level and with a RAID 10, up to two drives can fail without any data loss. With sixteen terabytes of space and Intel Celeron processor this four bay NAS server would be best for home use rather than a professional environment. Though this would be fine in your office if you are simply looking for a system to back up a little data.

 

[icons icon=”plus” color=”#1e73be”] The Advantages of the Product

The main benefit with this four bay NAS is the level of data protection you get from having four bays. Additionally, it has expandable memory so you can add all kinds of things to the interface if you so choose. This NAS server would be best for at home use to upgrade your entertainment system or backup all your music, photos, and documents due to its relatively low storage capacity. It would be a great product if you want to connect the devices to one centralized location, and with its high compatibility with multiple operating systems transfers and conversions should be a breeze.

 

[icons icon=”minus” color=”#1e73be”] The Disadvantages of the Product

The only real downside to this particular product is the relatively low storage capacity. When set to any RAID that uses mirroring to copy your data and create redundancies, you are really only looking at about eight terabytes of space. Again, this should be plenty if all you are doing is streaming movies at home and file sharing music, as you can upload a variety of apps and the operating system is compatible with a variety of devices. However, if you are looking for a NAS server for a professional environment you will likely want to look elsewhere.


 

[icons icon=”star” color=”#dd0000″] ASUSTOR AS6208T 8-Bay INTEL Quad-Core NAS

Product model number:

Finally, bringing it all home is something other than QNAP products, but still a familiar brand. The ASUSTOR AS6208T 8-Bay will be bringing our list home with a great product for your consideration. Let’s take a look at our last list of features.

[lists style=”right-open” color=”#1e73be”]

  • 8 bay server.
  • Intel quad-core processor.
  • 80 terabytes
  • Supports RAID 0-10.
  • Expandable memory
  • LAN/WAN port
  • Surveillance option
  • Up to 4000 active user accounts
[/lists]
Breakdown of the Features

Bringing up the rear we have this eight bay NAS server, brought to you by ASUSTOR. With eighty terabytes of raw storage, these devices would work well at home and in the office. The eight bays allow you to install four or more drivers and maintain a RAID level of 0-10 and a high failure tolerance. The expandable memory and cloud access gives your data a high level of protection as well as accessibility, as you will be able to file share from anywhere. Additionally, this device will automatically shut off when programmed in order to conserve power consumption. However, one of the most noticeable things about this NAS server might be the price, as it if one of the most affordable eight bay servers on our list.

 

[icons icon=”plus” color=”#1e73be”] The Advantages of the Product

We are definitely going to want to start by discussing the price, which is one of the lowest when compared to the competitors on our list. And this is achieved without sacrificing functionality. It can be programmed to shut down when and if you choose and it comes with eighty terabytes of raw data, which is comparable to other options at this level. The eight bays mean you can install four or more servers and maintain the highest level of data protection available. Altogether, this would be a great product for either your home or office.

 

[icons icon=”minus” color=”#1e73be”] The Disadvantages of the Product

The only downside here is that this device may be a little on the slow side. It’s hard to say for sure as this product doesn’t list its MB/s, though one would image if it was anything to brag about they would. However, taking the price into consideration and the list of features this device has it would be reasonable to sacrifice a little speed to save money. This device would be a good choice if finances are a priority, though you may pay for it in speed.


 

The Final Verdict

For the best NAS server… it’s a tie! Well, not exactly a tie as they are in different categories. It was hard to decide which the BEST was, simply because a four bay NAS can do so much more than a two bay, but if you are on a budget or simply don’t need that kind of space than it hardly seems fair to go with a larger one just because it has more options. So, here you go the best two bay NAS followed by the best four bay and up.

For two bays NAS, we would have to go with the Asustor NAS Server (AS5002T) for its incredible speeds and energy efficient automation options. You can add it to your home to update your entertainment system and backup all your personal data, or use it in a small office for data protection and surveillance. Either one you may choose this device can handle it.

As far as the four bays and up go we will have to choose the Synology Disk Station 8-Bay Network Attached Storage (DS2015xs) for its huge storage capacity and active user account capabilities. We would recommend this for any business to ensure data protection and high functionality.

We hope this guide was helpful to you and we wish you luck in your technological endeavors.

 

4 COMMENTS

    • I would invest in the fastest drives you could get. – Check for speed / and noise levels in the tech specifications. They differ a lot per brand. Otherwise you end up frustrated with a slow NAS …

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here