Community-attached storage (NAS) is simply the ticket for storing and streaming your personal movies, music, and digital pictures round the home and even internationally. It may be similar to Spotify, YouTube, or Netflix, besides with your personal media.
NAS can be immensely useful for backing up and synchronizing the information in your computer systems and cellular gadgets. Backing as much as native storage is way sooner than counting on a cloud service equivalent to DropBox or OneDrive, and the identical goes for restoring an by accident deleted file or recovering from a crashed system.
It’s additionally straightforward to arrange a NAS field to perform similar to these cloud providers, enabling entry from wherever on the planet. Actually, NAS field builders have taken to calling their merchandise “non-public clouds” in an effort to make the idea extra acquainted to shoppers.
To get the perfect of each worlds, most bins will sync with cloud storage providers, offering one other layer of knowledge redundancy and disaster-recovery choices. If you happen to expertise a catastrophe at residence—a flood, hearth, or earthquake—you’ll at the least have the peace of thoughts that comes with figuring out your knowledge is safely backed up at one other bodily location.
A phrase on pricing: Not all NAS field producers additionally construct arduous drives, so a lot of them promote these bins “unpopulated;” i.e., with none arduous drives put in. If you’re evaluating costs, be sure you know whether or not or not the drivers are included. If you happen to’re not accustomed to formatting a tough drive or organising an array of drives, you may discover it extra handy to purchase a NAS field that’s populated and able to go proper out of the field.
This story was up to date on October 6, 2017 so as to add our opinions of the Netgear ReadyNAS 422 (which we discovered to be effectively constructed and really quick, however dear) and the WD My Cloud Home Duo (which we discovered to be too gradual to advocate.)
Greatest NAS field for media streaming and backup
The WD My Cloud EX2 Extremely is likely one of the least-expensive two-bay NAS bins you’ll discover, nevertheless it’s nonetheless very quick; in actual fact, it was practically as quick because the business-oriented Netgear ReadyNAS 212, which prices twice as a lot. That’s a mix that’s arduous to beat. We’ve picked the unpopulated model right here, however you should buy one with the drives already put in and configured as RAID 1 for knowledge redundancy (a 4TB configuration costs $349 on Amazon).
The entire bins within the My Cloud sequence function the identical easy-to-use interface, and this mannequin comes with a wholesome assortment of apps, together with an onboard DLNA media server. You may even plug a Z-Wave dongle into its USB port and use it as a smart-home management heart. WD’s consumer-oriented My Cloud Mirror (Gen 2) is actually the identical product with fewer business-oriented options. Populated My Cloud Mirrors are barely cheaper than populated EX2 fashions ($299 for a 4TB model on Amazon), however you may’t purchase one unpopulated.
Synology’s DS216play is the least-expensive NAS field we’ve seen that helps hardware-assisted 4K video transcoding. Synolog sells this NAS field unpopulated, so that you’ll want to supply and set up your personal drives, a course of that’s rendered somewhat harder than most as a result of the drives mount immediately into the bays, versus on trays that slide into the bays. Comparatively gradual write occasions means shopper backups will take longer than with a number of competing bins, together with the WD My Cloud Mirror EX2, however there’s a lot else to love, together with the power to host residence safety cameras.
Greatest bang-for-the-buck NAS field
The Seagate Private Cloud stands out from the gang as a result of it’s tremendous low-cost (simply $139.99 with a 3TB drive at Amazon) and extremely succesful. Yowser! Bang for the buck it’s received, nevertheless it’s a single-bay field, which places your knowledge in danger from drive failure should you don’t connect an equal-sized USB drive to again it up often. Seagate additionally gives its Private Cloud in dual-bay configurations, however they aren’t fairly the identical eye-catching bargains (the populated 2-bay/4TB mannequin STCS4000100 costs $299.99 at Staples).
The NAS field market is uber aggressive proper now, so the opposite 4 bins we reviewed listed below are positively price a glance. The QNAP TS-251A ($319 at Amazon, unpopulated) gives a boatload multimedia options, and might truly function your leisure heart reasonably than merely increase it. Its 4K transcoding didn’t fare effectively in our testing, but when that’s not a function you want…. The TerraMaster F2-220 ($190 at Amazon, unpopulated) and the Zyxel NAS520 ($199.99 at Amazon, unpopulated) in the meantime, embody that will double their value tags if their logos had been extra acquainted, and the tremendous rugged Netgear ReadyNAS RN212 ($299.99 at Amazon, unpopulated) runs the acclaimed BTRFS file system and was the quickest NAS field we examined.
How we examined
Talking of testing, right here’s how we benchmarked them. Every bins was mapped below Home windows 10 on a sooner Core i7-3770 system with NVMe SSDs after which benchmarked with CrystalDiskMark 5. Moreover, backups of 40GB of knowledge had been carried out to test real-life throughput in opposition to the benchmark. We streamed 1080p—and the place potential, 2160p—video recordsdata to a number of shopper gadgets, together with two second-generation iPads, the check PC, two Android telephones, and a Home windows Telephone. A DLNA media server was used every time potential; when it wasn’t, we used Plex Media server and the related shopper app.
Every of the bins reviewed right here proved able to delivering knowledge quick sufficient to stream 10-bit colour, 2160p (4K UHD) video at 60 frames per second. A field that may do this, can simply stream 720p and 1080p video to a number of gadgets. That signifies that streaming efficiency was principally a non-issue for these drives, although we’ve famous the place a specific field was excellent.
Adequately quick backup and synchronization was one other baseline that every of the bins met, although some had been significantly sooner than others. The WD My Cloud EX2 Extremely, Netgear ReadyNAS 212, ZyXel NAS520, and TerraMaster F2-220 all topped 100MBps writing knowledge sequentially. The QNAP TS0251a, Seagate Private Cloud, and Synology DS216play didn’t. The Seagate, at such a low value, was no shock, however QNAP and Synology have a rep for velocity. These will not be the corporate’s quickest bins.
Regardless, solely preliminary backups or synchronization are typically time consuming, so subsequent partial backups might be comparatively fast even on the slower bins. Every of them ought to deal with backups for 4 or 5 PCs and all of the cellular gadgets you may throw at them.
Options to search for when searching for a NAS field
There are generic options you’ll discover on something desirous to name itself a NAS field lately, together with: assist for an administrator and a number of customers, assist for SMB (Home windows) and AFP (Apple) community protocols, and a configuration interface accessed through a Internet browser. Almost all NAS bins are based mostly on some type of Linux and most provide a plug-in, or app structure so as to add much less frequent options.
However there’s an array of options that adjust in high quality and abundance that it is best to examine earlier than you make your determination.
Backup You may all the time map your NAS field as native drive and again as much as it the way in which you’ll a USB drive, however most NAS bins have options which are significantly extra highly effective and automatic. Search for FTP for easy backups, TimeMachine assist for backing up Macs, and Rsync for syncing with different NAS bins. Some producers provide their very own proprietary server/shopper app options, equivalent to QNAP’s QSync.
Card reader An SDHC or related card card reader on the entrance of the NAS field will be useful for copying media recordsdata to the field from cameras or recorders.
Cloud service connectivity Like backup, having the ability to sync your recordsdata with on-line providers equivalent to DropBox, OneDrive, Google Drive, et al is tremendous useful and permits entry to your recordsdata while you don’t have an web connection.
DLNA media server Almost all PCs and most multimedia gadgets can play media streamed out of your NAS field through DLNA, though they may require a shopper app to take action. Almost each NAS field comes with a DLNA server lately, however test the one you’re shopping for to make certain.
Twin ethernet ports A NAS field that helps port aggregation (i.e., utilizing a number of ethernet ports to ship and obtain knowledge) will ship considerably larger throughput over your community—however provided that they’re linked to a router that helps the identical function, and people are uncommon within the shopper market (Netgear’s Nighthawk X10 is likely one of the few). Aggregating ports utilizing a router that’s not able to it’ll diminish throughput.
Gigabit ethernet You may again up and stream 1080p to a few gadgets over 10/100 ethernet with no drawback. Gigabit ethernet will assist extra and it’ll guarantee clean streaming of 4K UHD (2160p) video, to not point out sooner backups. However ever part in your community should be gigabit succesful—the NAS field, the router, the computer systems, and any switches within the knowledge path—should additionally assist gigabit ethernet, too. Make sure you use CAT5e or larger ethernet cable, too.
A number of drive bays Two bays assist you to mirror two drives (RAID 1) to guard your knowledge through redundancy (RAID is an acronym for Redundant Array of Impartial Discs). Alternatively, you may connect a USB drive to maintain the field backed up. How vital this function is depends upon how vital the information you retailer on the drive is. A NAS field with 4 or extra bays will allow you to run extra subtle arrays, equivalent to RAID 5.
Plex Media Server As a result of sure corporations equivalent to Apple don’t assist DLNA, Plex has stepped in with its personal streaming answer and shopper apps for each cellular system and working system within the universe ((effectively, it definitely appears that approach). These purchasers it doesn’t assist can nonetheless play media from inside a browser. Plex is slick and practically common, nevertheless it’s not as clear as DLNA.
Populated or unpopulated Client-oriented NAS bins from Seagate and WD typically embody drives; manufacturers concentrating on lovers, small companies, and the enterprise sometimes don’t. Populated bins are largely a comfort for individuals who aren’t snug mounting and formatting drives (it’s a snap, actually). The NAS field that saves you cash when bought with drives—equivalent to Seagate’s Personal Cloud 3TB—is uncommon.
Fast-copy button A button on the entrance of the NAS field that rapidly copies media recordsdata from USB or a card slot will be useful should you’re consistently off-loading pictures and video from you digital camera or recorder—supplied you allow your field in an simply accessible location.
Distant entry All NAS bins permit distant entry to your recordsdata, however some make it simpler by permitting you to attach by way of the corporate’s net portal, and/or mechanically configuring your router with the suitable port-forwarding info.
USB You’ll be hard-pressed to discover a NAS field and not using a USB port for loading or saving/backing up recordsdata. However USB three.zero is quicker, and a number of ports permits including gadgets equivalent to printers, webcams, and even the TV tuners that some bins assist.
Video transcoding Many NAS bins make use of CPUs that supply hardware-assisted video transcoding; that’s, altering the size and bit charges of the unique video earlier than streaming it. This could reduce the pressure on vacation spot gadgets equivalent to telephones that don’t have the horsepower to do it on their very own. Word that transcoding could not work through DLNA, however solely with the playback apps that some NAS distributors provide.
Editor’s notice: This efficiency chart on this story has been corrected.