Streamline the way you store files and media at home with a NAS, otherwise known as a Network Attached Storage device. This intelligent storage device connects to a router on your home network allowing data access by multiple users. NAS devices are a great storage solution for large amounts of multimedia or data, whether that be your library of movies and music, your repository of digital photos and videos, important personal files, or your own digital designs. The files can be available to various users in one central and secure location so the entire family or household can have easy access to them (if you so choose). Learn more about why you might need a NAS device here.
If you're looking to move files to a storage system that can be easily accessible to the rest of the family via PCs, tablets, laptops and various mobile devices at a relatively inexpensive cost, a NAS device could be the solution for you. Another great benefit of a NAS is that is uses lot less power than a standard desktop PC configured to share files in the same way. In this article, we're going to share some key factors to consider when choosing your NAS and some of our top recommendations. If you're planning on using your NAS device as a media library, check out this article to get an idea of how you can use a Plex server to do so!
Things to Consider
Multiple Users - An extremely appealing benefit of a NAS is that a number of users are able to access the device at the same time, enabling files to be shared among different users and different devices, unlike a DAS (direct-attached storage device) where only one user at a time can use the device. Depending on the number of simultaneous users accessing the NAS and the types of files being accessed, you may need to look at devices with high performing RAID array or multiple Network Interface Controllers (NIC) to ensure it can meet your data transfer needs.
Capacity - Typical NAS devices for home use usually support 4TB drives or larger. Many NAS devices also support the installation of more than one drive. NAS devices with more than one internal drive not only increase the total storage space but also gives you the option to use RAID. RAID (redundant array of independent disks) combines several independent disks together to offer a larger capacity drive, redundancy (data protection) or increased performance (or a combination).
Performance - When it comes to assessing the performance of a NAS device, the determining factors are processor type, installed memory (RAM), NIC specs and drive type / configuration. As a general rule of thumb, the number of people accessing the device simultaneously and the amount or type of data being accessed will determine what specifications will suit your requirements.
Media Playback - The majority of NAS devices support DLNA protocols enabling them to be used as multimedia servers that can stream multimedia files to computers, TVs, gaming consoles, tablets and phones on a network. Some devices also enable on the fly media transcoding to maximise the compatibility between your stored media files and the device they are being streamed to.
NAS Device Recommendations
The two primary NAS use cases for home users tends to be data back up and multimedia/entertainment. If you merely plan to use your NAS to backup your PC, you can opt for a pretty basic NAS. It will pay to choose a NAS with two bays or more, however, so that you can have more than one copy of the same data in case of disk failure, and/or one with additional cloud storage integration.
If you plan to use your NAS to stream multimedia to various devices and your TV, or to store high-resolution photos, videos, or other large files, you’ll want a NAS with higher specifications for memory and processor. If you plan on using your NAS to store a collection of high-resolution images, photos, or design work, you’ll also need a NAS with plenty of power.
Based on these use types, we've picked out three NAS recommendations for home users.
For Data Backup - Synology DiskStation DS223 2-Bay NAS
Data Management, File Management and Surveillance for Home and Small Office
If you're looking for a NAS drive to store and manage your data and files, Synology's DiskStation DS223 2-Bay NAS Server is a great choice. It's specifically designed for that purpose and is suitable for homes and small offices. The DS223 allows you to consolidate files from various sources and users on your own secure private cloud, making your data easily accessible and easy to manage from any device. Synology DiskStation Manager (DSM), the operating system that powers the DS223, leverages the efficient Btrfs file system to protect your data against data corruption and roll back any accidental or malicious changes thanks to the snapshot technology.
If you plan on using your NAS for photos, you'll be pleased to know Synology has great photo management functions. Synology Photos offers fast and efficient photo management that intelligently organises and sorts your photos into customised or automatic albums. You'll enjoy easy and flexible browsing options, along with smart filters and viewing preferences to enhance your experience. It also has RAW file support which is perfect for creative professionals.
If you're after a NAS for surveillance purposes, this one's great for that too thanks to Synology's Surveillance Station. This lets you monitor and control your home around the clock, from wherever you are with a comprehensive suite of smart and intuitive tools at no extra cost. You can turn your NAS into a Network Video Recorder (NVR) with ease and access live feeds or recordings conveniently via various devices.
Up to 36 TB of storage is available, offering plenty of space for all of your files and data. You can even sync your files between your private cloud and public cloud services such as Google Drive, Dropbox and Microsoft OneDrive, to have an extra backup.
For Multimedia and Data - QNAP TS-251D 2-Bay NAS Server
Secure Data Storage and Multimedia Entertainment in One Device
If your primary use is multimedia, this is one to consider. QNAP’s TS-251D integrates secure data storage and multimedia entertainment into one device. Designed with multimedia in mind, this NAS supports dual-channel 4K hardware decoding and real-time transcoding, allowing you to convert videos to universal file formats that can be smoothly played across various devices. You can also watch high-quality 4K media files on an HDTV using the HDMI output or with Plex Media Server to stream media files to your devices. QNAP provides a wide range of multimedia applications which you can manage through the Multimedia Console to simplify management.
When it comes to file management, your files are centrally stored on your TS-251D as well as in the cloud. You can easily upload files from your computer, drag and drop files between folders, rename files, delete files, and configure file and folder permissions to prevent unauthorized access. When it comes to sharing sensitive or confidential files on the TS-251D, you can use File Station to enhance data security effectively by encrypting files into a .qenc file, set a password, and then have file recipients use QENC Decrypter to decrypt the sent file.
For most people, the 2GB RAM option should be easily sufficient but if you want to go all out and ensure you are future-proofed to expand your multimedia library to your heart's content, there is an 8GB option that you may want to consider too!
For Multimedia and Data - Synology DiskStation DS220+ 2-Bay NAS
A High-Performance Solution for Both Data Management and Multimedia
Another popular high-performance solution for your multimedia and file management is Synology's DiskStation DS220+ 2-Bay NAS Server. This NAS features smooth data sharing, video streaming, and photo indexing, as well as well-rounded data protection and recovery options. With a powerful 2-core 2.0 GHz (burst up to 2.9 GHz) CPU, demanding applications will be accelerated. The 2-core processor boosts photo indexing, database response times, and web PHP response efficiency. Easily categorize your photo memories, smoothly manage files across computers and mobile devices, and enjoy blazing fast web applications.
The Btrfs file system uses cutting-edge storage technologies and optimized snapshots to prevent data corruption and reduce maintenance overhead. While ensuring high-level data integrity, it also offers flexible, efficient data protection and recovery tools.