While looking for the best NAS drives may seem like a confusing process, it doesn’t have to be. We’ve put together this little guide to direct you to the best NAS device you can buy in 2019.
Of course, we should probably dig a little into what a NAS is and what makes for the best NAS drives. A network attached storage device (or NAS) is a must for anyone working off a network instead of just one computer. These devices are in essence an external hard drive that, instead of plugging into your PC, connects to your network.
Because of that, you can access the files stored on the NAS from just about any device. And the best NAS drives can even allow for you to access them remotely, so you don’t need to be in the office to get that one essential file. In addition, it doesn’t matter what OS you’re running as the best NAS devices are platform-agnostic. You’ll be able to gain access with whatever device you have available.
You’ll want to keep a few things in mind when figuring out which are the best NAS drives for you. Do you need a ton of storage space? Many of the devices listed here are already packed with hard drives, making it very easy to install and use. However, you’ll want to plan for how much space you’ll want. The best NAS drive will need to be able to not only hold all your most essential files but also possibly your backups.
Some of the devices require you to purchase the hard drives separately. This does allow for flexibility when choosing the size and speed most appropriate for your network. And if you’re willing to shop around for the hard drives separately, it might even save you some cash.
Also, what do you need in terms of backup and redundancy from your device? Some of the best NAS drives are capable of holding more than one hard drive and can mirror the data held on each drive. If one drive fails, that’s ok. You have a backup. Additionally, the best NAS drives make it so you can back up the data to an external drive, whether as an additional measure or because you need to take the data on the road.
We’ve rounded up the best NAS drives for the home and office here. And if you want more info about boosting the storage of your current NAS, you can do so by checking out our list of the best hard drives.
1. WD My Cloud Personal NAS drive
Capacity: 2TB, 3TB or 4TB | Interface: USB 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet | Features: Remote file access, DLNA, iTunes Server
Easy to set up
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.
2. Seagate Personal Cloud 2-Bay NAS drive
Convenient network storage
Capacity: 4TB, 6TB or 8TB | Interface: Gigabit Ethernet | Features: Remote file access, media server software, RAID support
Easy to use
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.
3. QNAP TS-251A NAS drive
Capacity: N/A | Interface: 2 x Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0 | Features: Remote file access, HDMI out, 4K media transcoding, DLNA
Loads of features
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.
4. Buffalo LinkStation LS220D NAS drive
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
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
5. Synology DiskStation DS1817 NAS drive
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
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
6. WD My Cloud Mirror NAS drive
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
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.
7. Synology DiskStation DS1517 NAS drive
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
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
8. WD My Cloud EX2 Ultra NAS drive
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
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.
9. Western Digital DL4100 NAS drive
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 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