7. Netgear's Stora MS2110
We had high hopes for Netgear's NAS drive – after all, Netgear's home networking solutions have often trumped the competition in tests like these. However, we found ourselves sorely let down.
As soon as we connected the drive, all other computers on the network lost the ability to connect. It turned out that the drive had been completely locked down to the previous user, forcing us to do a complete hardware reset. That's not hugely unusual, but we're not sure why Netgear insists on you entering a software-style product key for something that's unlikely to ever leave your home or office.
Although the drive is hefty, the build quality is below par. The front panel – which clicks off to access the hard drives – sprang off in our hands. In fact, merely placing it on the floor caused the panel to flop open. Fortunately, the drives inside feel nicely secure, with a latch at the back to eject them.
8. Synology DS411
The DiskStation feels like it's stuck between being a consumer-friendly NAS drive and a rack-mounted server. It's supplied without any hard drives, and looks like a small PC, complete with thumbscrews at the back and an array of lights at the front.
Synology recommends certain drives for the product, which are formatted on insertion. This isn't an easy process, especially compared to the more user-friendly drives we've looked at.
Hard drives must be mounted and formatted with Synology's software, and then the NAS drive itself has to be configured via a small patch located on the CD. Then any folders you want on the drive need to be added manually. These all seem like features that would be automated on other NAS drives.
This group test proved to be a perfect microcosm of the current state of the NAS market. On one hand you have devices that stick to the old ways of doing things – heaps of functionality, but with little thought of user-friendliness. The main culprits here are the Netgear ReadyNAS Ultra 4, the D-Link ShareCenter and the Synology DS411.
On the other side of the divide are the devices whose manufacturers have acknowledged that there is a growing market for centralised storage in the home, and have tailored their devices to offer easy to use interfaces for creating our very own personal clouds without a single network administrator in sight.
We believe that these devices that will excel in the future, when more homes are equipped with internet enabled devices like smart TVs, leaving the backwards-looking NAS devices in their wake.
Best NAS: Iomega StorCenter ix2-200 - £274
The StorCenter ix2-200 encapsulates everything we were looking for in a NAS device. Its advanced features are wrapped up in a user friendly package that's easy to set up and maintain. It isn't as fast as a professional NAS, but for the internet connected home, this is a great choice.
Best value NAS: Western Digital My Book Live - £147
It's not quite the cheapest NAS device on test here, but the Western Digital My Book Live wins the best value award because it has some great features, is reliable and is easy to use. If you want a relatively cheap NAS device that you can quickly set up and then just leave it to do its job without you having to check on it and tinker every now and then, go for this.
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