The 10 best NAS devices

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The best NAS devices, or network attached storage, can be a godsend for anyone looking for a way to optimize their data storage in the home or office. There's simply no better way to store your essential files. However, you may be wondering how to pick out the best NAS. Fortunately we here at TechRadar have put our storage expertise to use and created this list of the best NAS devices you can buy today.

If you don’t know what a NAS is, they’re network-connected storage devices that can be accessed by any device on your network. Now, while they won’t have the sheer speed of the best SSDs, they’re indispensable if you need to share data between several computers. Some NAS devices will even all remote access via internet. It’s clear then, that the best NAS devices are essential hardware for any small business where efficiently sharing files between devices is a necessity.

One of the coolest aspects of the best NAS devices is that they’re usually platform-agnostic – meaning they’ll work with pretty much any device. It doesn’t matter if you’re running macOS, Windows or Linux – the best NAS devices will work for you no matter what device you’re working on.

Still, just like any kind of enterprise computer hardware, the market for NAS devices can be tricky to navigate – that’s why we’ve created this list of the best NAS devices on the market in 2018. And because we’ve tested them all in-house here at TechRadar, you can be confident that each device on this list is absolutely worth your time and money.

Top: Best NAS drives

1. WD My Cloud Personal

Simple, yet fast

Capacity: 2TB, 3TB or 4TB | Interface: USB 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet | Features: Remote file access, DLNA, iTunes Server

Easy to set up
Good price
Setup can be fiddly
Apps not great

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

Labeled as a 'personal cloud,' it's a NAS box by any other measure and starts at 2TB of storage (you can also get it in 3 or 4TB). As it's a one-bay unit, it can't back itself up to a drive inside the unit, but it can back up to an external hard drive via a USB port on the back.

Top 10: Best NAS drives

2. Seagate Personal Cloud 2-Bay

Convenient network storage

Capacity: 4TB, 6TB or 8TB | Interface: Gigabit Ethernet | Features: Remote file access, media server software, RAID support

Easy to use
Good looking
Not that fast
Not that flexible

Picking up on the 'personal cloud' theme, this unit from Seagate takes its lead from My Cloud, but it offers far larger capacities, along with dual bays for two hard drives. This allows the Seagate Personal Cloud 2-Bay NAS device to mirror the files on one hard drive to a second one, giving you protection in case one of those drives fails.

We also like the no-fuss appearance of this unit, meaning it can sit nicely under a router or on a shelf. It works with cloud accounts, including Dropbox and Google Drive, and you can also use an app to share content to streamers, including Chromecast and Roku.

3. QNAP TS-251A

Feature-packed media NAS

Capacity: N/A | Interface: 2 x Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0 | Features: Remote file access, HDMI out, 4K media transcoding, DLNA

Powerful hardware
Loads of features
Expensive
Does not come with hard drives installed

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

The QTS OS lets you easily install a variety of apps, from Plex Media Server, file sharing apps and even a karaoke app, as well as run Ubuntu Linux for even more flexibility.

In short - this is a fantastic NAS device, though you'll need to buy the hard drives separately, so factor that in to the overall cost.

Top 10: Best NAS drives

4. Buffalo LinkStation LS220D

A decent dual-bay NAS with built-in BitTorrent

Capacity: 2TB, 4TB, 6TB, 8TB | Interface: Gigabit Ethernet, USB 2.0 | Features: Dual bay, WebAccess apps, Apple Time Machine support

Good security features
Smartphone apps for easy configuration
Lacks some advanced features

This 2TB dual-bay NAS (it's also available in 4, 6, and 8TB capacities) comes from Buffalo, the company that also makes the TeraStation line of advanced NAS units.

The key selling point of this model is that it can integrate directly with BitTorrent, meaning it can download stuff for you even when your PC is turned off. Like many of the other devices here, you can also stream to it via various devices, it's platform agnostic and you can use it as an iTunes server.

  • 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 
Seagate Personal Cloud 2-Bay NAS
TRD
$1055
Shipping from
Free

5. Synology DiskStation DS1817

A beginner NAS with room for expansion

Capacity: : N/A | Interface: : 2 x 1GbE LAN, 2 x 10GbE LAN, 2 x USB 3.0, 2 x eSATA | Features: : Quad-Core CPU, Compatibility with up to 18 drives, 1,577 MB/s sequential read

Performance over 10GbE
Expandable
Not enough USB 3.0 ports
External drives use eSATA

Once in a while, a product comes around that challenges the conventions of their product category. The DS1817 is one such product. Most NAS devices that occupy the ‘value’ space tend to be underpowered and have little to no room for expansion. The DS1817 flies in the face of those conventions, and allows users to fill the included eight drive bays with whatever they choose, so that you can get as much (or as little) storage as you’d like. Plus, on top of this heaping expandability, the 10GbE LAN and Quad-Core CPU mean that you’ll never be left wanting for performance.

Read the full review: Synology DiskStation DS181 

Top 10: Best NAS drives

6. WD My Cloud Mirror

A unit that backs itself up

Capacity: 4TB, 6TB, 8TB, 16TB | Interface: Gigabit Ethernet | Features: Automatic backup, two hard drives, My Cloud mobile app

Easy and secure backup
RAID 1 support to protect against data loss
Expensive

This two-bay unit can create a mirrored backup of your stuff (duplicating your data on both drives), using RAID configuration. That's quite an advanced feature for a consumer box and you do pay quite a lot for that capability and WD's user-friendly presentation, including an easy-to-master, browser-based control screen.

This is a 4TB unit (6, 8, and 16TB units are also available). For extra peace of mind, you can also back the contents up to Dropbox.

7. Synology DiskStation DS1517

Expensive, but packs a punch

Capacity: : Up to 60TB, 180TB with expansion unit | Interface: : 4 x 1GbE LAN, 4 x USB 3.0, 2 x eSATA | Features: : Quad-Core CPU, Up to 15 drives with expansion units

PCIe slot upgrades
High-end performance
Add-on cards are expensive
Default 2GB RAM a bit under specced

Anyone looking at purely technical aspects will instantly fall in love with the Synology DiskStation DS1517. Thanks to its quad-core CPU and up to 8GB of RAM, this NAS can reach sequential speeds of 111.4 MB/s write and 110.3 MB/s read without even breaking a sweat. When you combine that raw performance with the DS1517’s expandability, you have a recipe for a NAS that can stack up against the best NAS devices on the market. However, be aware that the DS1517 isn’t cheap, and unless you’re a creative professional, or you’re looking for a NAS for a small business, it might be overkill.

Read the full review: Synology DiskStation DS1517 

Top 10: Best NAS drives

8. WD My Cloud EX2 Ultra

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

Capacity: 4TB, 8TB, 12TB, 16TB | Interface: Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0 | Features: Remote file access, RAID features, My Cloud OS 3 software

Dual core CPU
Dual bay for RAID setups
Operating system is simplistic
Lack of app support

As well as the RAID capabilities found in more expensive and complex NAS devices, this box is meant for small business use and supports Microsoft Active Directory. It can also act as a file server, FTP server, backup server and P2P download server.

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

9. Western Digital DL4100

Excellent backup for a wide variety of users.

Capacity: 8TB, 16TB, 24TB | Interface: 2x Gigabit Ethernet, 2x USB 3.0, USB 2.0 | Features: Dual LAN, 2GB RAM (expandable up to 6GB), NTP Client

Small and semi-portable
Ease of setup
No computer-to-NAS connection via USB
Difficult web interface

If you're looking for a NAS device to help manage your backup needs, the DL4100 might be worth. taking a look at.

One of the coolest features of this device is its web dashboard that offers users options for backing up to cloud services such as Dropbox and Box. Additionally, we really liked the ability to set up SMS and email alerts in case the system failed for whatever reason.

As far as storage options are concerned, the DL4100 comes with four drive bays in your choice of four configurations. Aside from some annoying issues with wireless transfers, we found that the DL4100's 1.7GHz dual-core Atom processor and 2GB of RAM (configurable up to 6GB) performed admirably. Combine this with an easy setup and cloud connected web apps, and you have an interesting backup offering on your hands. 

  • 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 
WD My Cloud EX2 Ultra 4TB
TRD
$338.99
TRD

Top 10: Best NAS drives

10. Apple AirPort Time Capsule

An expensive option any way you look at it, but it is wireless

Capacity: 2TB, 3TB | Interface: 3x Gigabit Ethernet, USB 2.0 | Features: Automatic wireless backup, easy setup, printer and hard drive sharing

Fast 802.11ac Wi-Fi
Remote access to disks
3 Ethernet ports may not be enough
Expensive

While the Apple AirPort Time Capsule does offer a great experience for Mac users, its 2 and 3TB storage options are very expensive compared to their competition. But, then this is Apple we’re talking about. Now, while it’s entirely wireless, other NAS devices don’t really need to be wireless, because you’ll always wire them directly into a wireless router for optimal performance, so the wireless functionality here doesn’t affect the way you access your files. 

However, the Time Capsule feature does make it easy to setup and configure automatic backups for Mac and iOS users. So, if you’re an Apple fan that doesn’t like getting into the fine details of tech, this is a good buy despite all of the nagging flaws.