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Best NAS devices of 2021: top Network Attached Storage for the home and office

Best NAS device
Take a look at our picks for the best NAS drives for your needs. (Image credit: Future)
PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

Access your irreplaceable files from anywhere with the best NAS devices without exposing them to such things as data theft and physical damage. The beauty of NAS or Network Attached Storage devices is that they give you a centralized file storage system that’s secure but also easily accessible either locally, via the Internet, or both. 

The best NAS devices allow different devices to access its files as easily as if they’re directly installed in those devices. This means you can access your important documents anytime from the other side of the world, which is safer and more convenient than lugging around an external hard drive. And, because they are platform-agnostic, you’ll have access using whatever device you have on hand. They’re just the ticket, therefore, for things like file-sharing with your colleagues, cloud storage, and remote access.

When choosing the best NAS device for you, consider the amount of storage space you need now and in the future, as well as your backup and redundancy needs. Many of the best NAS drives are able to hold more than one hard drive and can mirror that hard drive in case of failure. So, if one hard drive does go, your files are still intact on another. Since price is also a factor, know that some hold multiple hard drives that you can buy separately. This doesn’t just give you more flexibility, but can also potentially save you money if you bargain hunt.

The best NAS devices are your ideal storage solutions if you want access to your files when you need them, wherever you are, while keeping them secure. Take a look at our picks.

Keep an extra copy of your files online with this cloud storage solution

Even with a NAS device loaded with multiple hard drives you may still want to keep an extra copy of your most important files and documents online. With a cloud storage provider like iDrive you can rest easy knowing you have multiple copies of your files stored in separate places for redundancy. 

Best NAS devices at a glance

  1. WD My Cloud Personal NAS drive
  2. Seagate Personal Cloud 2-Bay NAS drive
  3. QNAP TS-251A NAS drive
  4. Buffalo LinkStation LS220D NAS drive
  5. Synology DiskStation DS1817 NAS drive
  6. WD My Cloud Mirror NAS drive
  7. Synology DiskStation DS1517 NAS drive
  8. WD My Cloud EX2 Ultra NAS drive
  9. Western Digital DL4100 NAS drive

WD My Cloud Personal NAS drive

WD My Cloud Personal NAS drive is one of the best NAS drives and starts at 2TB of storage. (Image credit: WD)

1. WD My Cloud Personal NAS drive

Simple, yet fast

Specifications
Capacity: 2TB, 3TB or 4TB
Interface: USB 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet
Features: Remote file access, DLNA, iTunes Server
Reasons to buy
+Easy to set up+Good price
Reasons to avoid
-Setup can be fiddly-Apps not great

WD has attained quite significant success with its unashamedly consumer-friendly My Cloud products, which can stream to any DLNA-compliant device and be accessed via mobile apps for iOS and Android.

Advertised as a 'personal cloud,' this WD is one of the best NAS drives by any other name and starts at 2TB of storage (you can also get it in 3 or 4TB). Because it's a one-bay unit, it can't back itself up since there's only one drive. However, it can back up to an external hard drive thanks to a USB port on the back.

Read the full review: WD My Cloud Personal

Seagate Personal Cloud 2-Bay NAS drive

Seagate Personal Cloud 2-Bay NAS drive mirrors the files from one hard drive to a second one. (Image credit: Seagate)

2. Seagate Personal Cloud 2-Bay NAS drive

Convenient network storage

Specifications
Capacity: 4TB, 6TB or 8TB
Interface: Gigabit Ethernet
Features: Remote file access, media server software, RAID support
Reasons to buy
+Easy to use+Good looking
Reasons to avoid
-Not that fast-Not that flexible

Continuing with the 'personal cloud' theme, this unit from Seagate takes its lead from My Cloud, while offering 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 from one hard drive to a second one, securing your files in case one of those drives fails.

We also appreciate the no-fuss appearance of this unit, meaning it fits easily under a router or on a shelf. Plus, it can work with cloud accounts – like Dropbox and Google Drive – and you can also use an app to share content to streamers, such as Chromecast and Roku.

Read the full review: Seagate Personal Cloud 2-Bay

QNAP TS-251A NAS drive

The QNAP TS-251A NAS drive has more features than you can shake a stick. (Image credit: QNAP)

3. QNAP TS-251A NAS drive

Feature-packed media NAS

Specifications
Capacity: N/A
Interface: 2 x Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0
Features: Remote file access, HDMI out, 4K media transcoding, DLNA
Reasons to buy
+Powerful hardware+Loads of features
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Does not come with hard drives installed

The QNAP TS-251A is an extraordinary NAS device that has more features than you can shake a stick – or the included remote control – at. It includes dual Ethernet ports, an HDMI out for connecting it to a TV and respectable hardware like the dual-core 1.6GHz Intel Celeron CPU and 4GB of RAM for hardware transcoding media files.

The QTS OS also lets you effortlessly install a variety of apps, from the Plex Media Server and file sharing apps to, surprisingly, a karaoke app, as well as running Ubuntu Linux for added flexibility.

Long story, short: this is an incredible NAS device, even if you do have to purchase the hard drives separately. Just factor that in to the overall cost.

Buffalo LinkStation LS220D NAS drive

The Buffalo LinkStation LS220D NAS drive can integrate directly with BitTorrent. (Image credit: Buffalo)

4. Buffalo LinkStation LS220D NAS drive

A decent dual-bay NAS with built-in BitTorrent

Specifications
Capacity: 2TB, 4TB, 6TB, 8TB
Interface: Gigabit Ethernet, USB 2.0
Features: Dual bay, WebAccess apps, Apple Time Machine support
Reasons to buy
+Good security features+Smartphone apps for easy configuration
Reasons to avoid
-Lacks some advanced features

As one of the best NAS drives out there, this 2TB dual-bay unit (also available in 4, 6, and 8TB capacities) comes courtesy of Buffalo, the company that also produces the TeraStation line of advanced NAS units.

The key selling point of this model is that it can integrate directly with BitTorrent, which means that it can download files for you even when your PC is not on. You won’t need to worry as much about your downloads getting interrupted. Like many of the other devices listed, you can also stream to it via various devices, it's platform agnostic, and you can use it as an iTunes server.

  • This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Seagate Personal Cloud 2-Bay 

Synology DiskStation DS1817 NAS drive

The Synology DiskStation DS1817 NAS drive lets users fill the included eight drive bays with whatever they desire. (Image credit: Synology)

5. Synology DiskStation DS1817 NAS drive

A beginner NAS with room for expansion

Specifications
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
Reasons to buy
+Performance over 10GbE+Expandable
Reasons to avoid
-Not enough USB 3.0 ports-External drives use eSATA

Every now and then, a product comes along 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 breaks the norms by letting users fill the included eight drive bays with whatever they desire, so that you can get as much (or as little) storage as you want. On top of this massive expandability, which helps rank it as one of the best NAS drives available, the 10GbE LAN and Quad-Core CPU also mean that you’ll never be left wanting for performance.

Read the full review: Synology DiskStation DS181 

WD My Cloud Mirror NAS drive

The WD My Cloud Mirror NAS drive can produce a mirrored backup of your data. (Image credit: WD)

6. WD My Cloud Mirror NAS drive

A unit that backs itself up

Specifications
Capacity: 4TB, 6TB, 8TB, 16TB
Interface: Gigabit Ethernet
Features: Automatic backup, two hard drives, My Cloud mobile app
Reasons to buy
+Easy and secure backup+RAID 1 support to protect against data loss
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

This two-bay unit can produce a mirrored backup of your data, duplicating your files on both drives, using RAID configuration. That's quite an advanced feature for a consumer unit. Just keep in mind that you end up paying 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, though 6, 8 and 16TB units are also available. For extra peace of mind, you can also back up the contents to Dropbox.

Synology DiskStation DS1517 NAS drive

The Synology DiskStation DS1517 NAS drive can reach sequential speeds of 111.4 MB/s write and 110.3 MB/s read. (Image credit: Synology)

7. Synology DiskStation DS1517 NAS drive

Expensive, but packs a punch

Specifications
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
Reasons to buy
+PCIe slot upgrades+High-end performance
Reasons to avoid
-Add-on cards are expensive-Default 2GB RAM a bit under specced

Anyone looking at purely technical spec’s 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 any trouble. Combining that raw performance with the DS1517’s expandability, and you have a formula for a NAS device that has undeniably earned its spot among the best NAS drives on the market. Just know 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 a bit too much.

Read the full review: Synology DiskStation DS1517 

WD My Cloud EX2 Ultra NAS drive

WD's My Cloud EX2 Ultra NAS drive is designed for small business use. (Image credit: WD)

8. WD My Cloud EX2 Ultra NAS drive

The small business version of the My Cloud Mirror is now even better

Specifications
Capacity: 4TB, 8TB, 12TB, 16TB
Interface: Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0
Features: Remote file access, RAID features, My Cloud OS 3 software
Reasons to buy
+Dual core CPU+Dual bay for RAID setups
Reasons to avoid
-Operating system is simplistic-Lack of app support

Featuring RAID capabilities found in pricier and more intricate NAS devices, as well as offering Microsoft Active Directory support, this box is designed for small business use. That’s without mentioning that it can also act as a file server, FTP server, backup server and P2P download server.

In addition, WD's EX series is available in diskless variants, though this price is for the 4TB version. 8TB, 12TB and 16TB units are also available to purchase. If you don't need any of this extra stuff, then go with the My Cloud Mirror.

Western Digital DL4100 NAS drive

Western Digital DL4100 is one of the best NAS drives to help manage your backup needs. (Image credit: Western Digital)

9. Western Digital DL4100 NAS drive

Excellent backup for a wide variety of users.

Specifications
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
Reasons to buy
+Small and semi-portable+Ease of setup
Reasons to avoid
-No computer-to-NAS connection via USB-Difficult web interface

If you're looking for one of the best NAS drives to help manage your backup needs, the DL4100 might be worth a look. One of the coolest features of this device is its web dashboard, which provides users options for backing up to cloud services such as Dropbox and Box. Additionally, it has the ability to set up SMS and email alerts in case the system fails for whatever reason.

As far as storage options go, the DL4100 is equipped with four drive bays and comes with your choice of four configurations. Despite 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) performs admirably. Combine this with a simple setup and cloud connected web apps, and you have an interesting backup device on your hands.

Read our full review: Western Digital DL4100 review

  • This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the WD My Cloud EX2 Ultra