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Caleb Cox
Caleb Cox

Buy Nas



In this age of high-resolution photos and near-constant video capture, the storage space in your PCs and mobile devices fills up faster than ever. While you can certainly use an external hard drive for offloading and backing up files from your PC (and by extension, from your phone), if you disconnect the hard drive and leave it in your office, you won't be able to get to those files from another location, and neither will anyone else. There are ways to allow other users to share and access the files on your hard drive, but they can be challenging to set up and carry security risks.




buy nas



Instead, consider a good network-attached storage (NAS) device. As its name implies, a NAS is high-capacity storage that connects to your home or office network so that you and other users you designate can access your files from mobile devices and PCs without plugging in to the drive. Read on for a breakdown of the top NAS devices we've tested, followed by a detailed buying guide that will walk you through how to find the best one for your needs.


The TS-233 packs some nice features into its stylish white enclosure, including two hot-swappable drive bays, a quad-core CPU, and a pair of USB ports for connecting external drives. Installation was easy, and the NAS turned in very respectable file transfer scores in testing. Moreover, it offers a nice selection of QNAP-branded and third-party apps that turn the TS-233 into a multifunction server.


For many businesses, scalability is the name of the game when it comes to network storage. The DS1522+ delivers scalability in spades. It's also a great choice for homes and businesses with cutting-edge networking components, since you can outfit it with a 10Gbps LAN adapter for high-speed network connectivity.


The F5-422 is a well appointed five-bay NAS device that delivered relatively fast file transfer scores in testing. It comes with a 10Gbps LAN port that lets you reap the full benefits of a high-speed network, and has two 1Gbps LAN ports that provide failover support and can be linked for 2Gbps connectivity. The chassis is not tool-free, but the drive sleds are easily removed by hand for quick hot-swapping.


The F5-422 is best for owners of small to medium businesses (or home power users) that require lots of storage and a reliable RAID configuration. It offers a user-friendly, web-based management console and a decent catalog of apps for tasks like creating and synchronizing cloud drives, building a web server, transcoding 4K video, serving multimedia content, creating VPN and proxy servers, and backing up large blocks of data.


For example, a typical business scenario might be sharing access to Office files, like spreadsheets and Word documents, with your coworkers and perhaps backing up select office devices on a regular basis. All of that is relatively simple for a NAS. Additional layers of data security and serving files to a relatively large number of users is typically where businesses need to be careful about NAS storage.


Home users may not need to worry about large numbers of users; these days it's the number of simultaneous devices that makes the difference. If you're using the NAS to back up your laptops overnight, that's pretty straightforward. But if you're serving HD videos over your home network to two tablets, a laptop, and your smart TV, all at the same time, you'll want a NAS with higher specifications for memory, processor, and network capabilities. You'll also need a more powerful NAS if you want to store big media libraries, like a collection of 100,000 stock photos for your graphic arts studio, for example.


Since a NAS device is, at the simplest level, just a container for a hard drive or drives (with some added intelligence), the number-one spec for any NAS unit is its maximum potential storage capacity. That's determined by the number of drive bays it includes and to a lesser extent what kinds of drives it can carry. Most consumer-grade and home-office NAS units have one or two bays, while models designed for the office have four or more. But that's not an absolute guideline, especially now that newer NAS devices are showing up with support for 2.5-inch laptop-style drives, both platter-based and solid state. These drives will allow NAS makers to fit more drives into their chassis, which means more long-term storage capacity.


We don't generally recommend NAS drives with just a single bay, unless they are to be used strictly for backing up data that will also reside on computers on the network. That's because of the lack of redundancy out-of-the-box. (Some single-bay NAS drives will allow you to attach a second NAS device or an external hard drive, to that end.) You don't want the only copy of your data residing on just one drive on the network.


The beauty of a NAS device is that it can use some version of a technology called Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID). This tech allows the software that manages the NAS devices to distribute and duplicate the data it stores across multiple hard disks. That means even if one of the drives fails completely, the RAID system can simply take in a new, completely empty drive and repopulate it with the data the failed drive was carrying. There are different levels of RAID that perform this function in different ways depending on exactly what users need. Check out our RAID explainer for more information.


Still, for most home users who aren't rabid video-file hoarders, a two-bay NAS should be sufficient, provided that you buy big enough drives from the outset if you'll be mirroring them, meaning simply making one drive an exact duplicate of the other. Err on the high side of capacity, though; it'll cost more now, but you don't want to have to rebuy two hard drives for your NAS to get a higher effective mirrored capacity. Remember: Mirroring takes two physical drives. More on redundancy below.


Some NAS drives are sold pre-populated with disks, oftentimes already formatted for use in a particular RAID configuration. Many others are purchased empty of drives, or "diskless." This was an important consideration some years ago because it used to be that the NAS vendors who also manufacture hard drives would ship their NAS units as sealed devices pre-filled with their own drives. These days this only applies to Western Digital, as the vast majority of current NAS devices are hard disk-neutral as far as disk brand is concerned. Because most of these devices at least have a diskless option, you're really only concerned with overall drive capacity, their interface technology, and how much buying them will add to the overall cost of your NAS.


If a given NAS is offered in both pre-populated and diskless form, we suggest checking out the cost difference and making sure that the drives that are provided in the populated model work out to a good value. With pre-populated-only NAS drives, the cost of the internal drives tends to be harder to distinguish from the overall cost of the NAS unit.


NAS makers that sell diskless NAS drives recommend certain drive models or families that have been tested for use with their NAS drives. Take a look at these drive-compatibility lists before you buy. If you already own a bank of hard drives you intend to install, you'll want to look for such validation. If yours are not on the list, it doesn't mean they won't work, but if you are buying drives new, it's best to stick with the NAS maker's recommendations.


Some drives from Seagate, Toshiba, and WD are tagged as specially designed for NAS use. Most of these "NAS certified" hard drives have been tested to run 24/7/365, which is a bit much for regular, consumer-level drives.


If you are looking at Seagate drives, for example, the NAS-class drives are called the IronWolf, IronWolf Pro, IronWolf SSD, and IronWolf SSD and HDD lines. Straight IronWolf drives are what you're after for outfitting a NAS drive in a home. IronWolf Pro are designed for somewhat heavier business use, while IronWolf SSD is meant for NAS units that need solid state speed to serve up data quickly for high-performance applications. The last, the IronWolf SSD and HDD drives, combine both technologies in a single drive that then has its own firmware logic to distribute data for optimal performance beyond what SSD delivers on its own.


Other drive makers will have similar products available, as far as storage and interface technologies are concerned, though they'll differ somewhat in terms of capacity and pricing. WD's NAS-oriented equivalents to the IronWolfs, for example, are dubbed WD Red.


As we mentioned earlier, a key benefit of most NAS units is the redundancy option, so in two- and four-drive configurations the extra disks can simply "mirror" the contents of the other drive. Depending on which RAID level you choose, this will impact the overall capacity of the NAS device versus the hard disks it has installed. Example: A two-bay unit with two 4TB drives that mirrors one drive onto the other would offer only 4TB of usable storage. The other drive is, in a practical sense, invisible, because it's used to make a second copy of all the files from the other drive in the background.


Usually, the user has the option to reconfigure the drives to gain the capacity of the second drive, if desired. One way you can do this is via "striping," in which the data will span both drives. Striping by itself is chancy; under some circumstances, it enhances the speed of reads and writes, since you're accessing two drives at once. But if either disk fails, it's possible that all your data will be lost, so we don't recommend this approach. With two drives, you have two points of failure.


Many NAS units also support a JBOD mode ("Just a Bunch of Disks"), which lets you address each drive as a separate drive letter and save data to discrete drives within the NAS box. This is no safer than just basic striping; any data you save to a given drive is still vulnerable to the failure of that specific mechanism. To mitigate this, some JBOD NAS management software allows users to combine disks into one or more logical volumes and even apply redundancy measures across volumes. This is usually entirely dependent upon the software used to manage the NAS, however, so be sure to understand your NAS drive's software capabilities before purchase, particularly if you're a small-business buyer. 041b061a72


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