And there is only one data backup. You can also use the NAS to access that data on other devices, making these drives the best choice for your media library. However, NAS drives do a little more work than regular external hard drives, so they aren’t that cheap. Therefore, you need to choose carefully. We have selected NAS drives that are likely to provide the best experience and performance for a variety of use cases, so you can find the one that suits your needs.
TL; DR – These are the best networked storage solutions:
1. Synology DiskStation DS220 +
Best network connection storage
Synology DiskStation DS220 +
If you don’t want to be fooled by overly complex software or settle for simple hardware, Synology DiskStation DS220 + will not let you down with a high-performance yet easy NAS. DiskStation DS220 + has two drive bays and you can choose a RAID1 configuration that can protect your data through increased storage or redundancy. The NAS also has the option of connecting thanks to two Gigabit LAN ports, which can be accelerated with support for link aggregation or network failover.
Thanks to Synology’s apps and software, this NAS is easy to use. You can configure your NAS to store surveillance camera footage, create a media server, and keep your files and photos securely accessible. With a 2.0GHz dual-core processor and 2GB of DDR4 RAM, DiskStation DS220 + also runs fast, allowing you to manage files and stream videos smoothly.
2. Synology DS120j
Best budget network connection storage
If you want to start small, or if you have less needs, we recommend the Synology DS120j. First, for just $ 100, it’s the cheapest NAS device on the list. Second, it’s very easy to use and is a great choice for first-time NAS users.
Since this is a single bay device, it is more restricted than the other devices on this list. There is also no hardware-based video transcoding (that is, some files need to be converted in advance). Also, it doesn’t work with Plex. In summary, if media streaming is a priority, there are much better options. But for more basic usage, the DS120j works well.
3. Asustor AS5202T
Optimal network connection storage for power users
Two drive bays. Two 2.5Gb LAN ports. 1.0GHz Intel Celeron J4005 CPU. And yes, it’s a big price tag – but the Asustor AS5202T is perfect for heavy users because of its pure power. 2GB of DDR4 RAM can be expanded up to 8GB and can be played with 4GB of flash memory. In addition, the LAN port also has the option of 5Gb Ethernet link aggregation.
I also like the Asustor DataMaster operating system, which has tons of apps for media and productivity. What are the drawbacks? It’s very expensive and doesn’t include a drive.
4. Synology DiskStation DS1821 +
Best multi-bay network connection storage
Synology DiskStation DS1821 +
If you’re considering getting a NAS, it’s probably not because you need a little extra storage that’s conveniently available on multiple devices. Therefore, you may be able to solve the problem by connecting a USB thumb drive to your router. So if you’re looking for a reasonably chunky storage solution, Synology DiskStation DS1821 + is for you. It’s expensive, but it prepares for a scalable future.
The DiskStation DS1821 + features eight drive bays for 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch hard drives or SSDs and can store a significant amount of storage. The drive is also hot swappable. If you need more storage, the DS1821 + supports expansion units that bump into a total of 18 drive bays. The system features a quad-core AMD Ryzen CPU with 4GB of DDR4 ECC memory that can be expanded to 32GB. It also has two M.2 2280 NVMe slots for fast caching. If you need more network speeds in the future, you can upgrade the unit to support 10 Gigabit Ethernet.
5. QNAP TS-251D
Optimal network connection storage for media streaming
If the media is everything, you need to make sure that the NAS plays properly with video, music, and images. The QNAP TS-251D is just such a unit. There is space for two 3.5-inch drives, and no tools are required to install the drives. Once the drive is loaded, you can fill it with a large amount of content. The NAS itself can run a variety of apps, supports hardware decoding and transcoding, and provides Plex integration, making it a great option to set up as a Plex server. There is also an HDMI port on the back of the drive that supports 4K video output.
You can leave the NAS out of the box (with additional storage) and enjoy or customize the fast Intel Celeron processor with 4GB of DDR4 RAM and Gigabit Ethernet speeds. You can add RAM and upgrade your storage and network with a PCIe expansion card that adds M.2 SSD caching and 10 Gigabit connectivity.
6. Synology DiskStation DS920 +
Optimal network connection storage for RAID configurations
Synology DiskStation DS920 +
An important benefit of having a NAS is the ability to back up your data. If you want to be more secure, it makes sense to consider using a RAID configuration. Synology DiskStation DS920 + is a great option for both. With four drive bays, it not only has storage, but can also be run redundantly.
However, DiskStation DS920 + isn’t just built for 3.5-inch hard drives. Although these may be the primary storage media, the NAS also includes two M.2 2280 NVMe SSD slots. This allows you to incorporate ultra-fast storage that can act as a cache into your NAS. This additional speed may also be required because the NAS has two 1 Gigabit Ethernet ports to support link aggregation or failover.
What to look for in networked storage
Not everyone needs Network-Attached-Storage, but it can be used to solve specific network problems. Do you and your family / housemates all share the same network? NAS devices allow you to share files with all these computers from one central unit. Want to back up all your family’s computers individually? NAS devices provide a way to do everything in one drive.
What are you using it for?
If any of the above scenarios resonate with you, your NAS device may be worth considering. If you find yourself in a situation where multiple devices at home need access to the same tools and files, your NAS device can do that. In other words, it’s not just about storing things, it’s about accessing them.
Another reason for NAS devices is that they have a huge media library that they want to be accessible from multiple computers / TVs / tablets, etc. You can turn your NAS into a Plex server, giving everyone in your house quick access to the same movies, TV shows, and music.
Will it be diskless? How many bays are there?
Most NAS devices do not come with a disk drive and must be purchased separately. However, there are exceptions to this. For example, WD My Cloud personal network connection storage makes a little more sense given that it’s made by Western Digital.
However, NAS manufacturers often do not manufacture hard drives, so they sell devices that do not contain disks. You may already own some disk drives. In that case, diskless systems will have fewer problems, but some brands of discs may work better than others, so check the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Bays are where disk drives go, so the more bays you have on your NAS, the more potential capacity you have. Two or more bays are usually best. Multimedia systems often have more.
Summary of more specialized technologies
Hugh Langley is a technology journalist who is fascinated by wearables, health tech, smart homes and more.You can find him tweeting (often nonsense) @hughlangley..