The best NAS 2021 for home and office: buying guide

Who I am
Joel Fulleda
@joelfulleda
Author and references

In this guide I will reveal you the best NAS for home and office with strengths and weaknesses or pros and cons, to secure photos, videos, documents and share them between PCs, tablets, Smart TVs and consoles. Not only that, I will also explain how a NAS works and everything you need to understand which NAS security features are useful for blocking unwanted visitors.

Read on and you will find out the best NAS for home and office for secure data storage and which NAS to buy.



Index

  • How to choose a NAS
    • What is a NAS
    • Technical features
    • Connections and functionality
  • Best NAS for home and office
  • Best cheap NAS (less than 150 €)
    • WD My Cloud EX2 Ultra
    • Synology DiskStation DS120j
    • Western Digital WD My Book
  • Best mid-range NAS (under $ 300)
    • TerraMaster F2-210
    • Synology DiskStation DS220j
    • QNAP SM-131
    • Zyxel NAS540
  • Best high-end NAS (over $ 300)
    • Synology DS220
    • Synology DS720 +
    • WD My Cloud EX2 Ultra da 4TB
    • QNAP TS-251A
    • WD My Cloud Mirror
    • Western Digital DL4100
    • Synology DiskStation DS1517

How to choose a NAS

I NAS (Network Attached Storage) become indispensable when the hard disk of your computer, the memory of your tablet or smartphone are full of videos, photos and much more. Furthermore, storing your data on multiple devices risks making you lose what you need or are looking for, as it could be scattered here and there in the folders of your devices.

Therefore, the best solution in these cases is to have a NAS for backup, also called a network disk or network-connected storage device.



What is a NAS

A NAS is a device that is always connected to the local network and designed to allow immediate availability of all the data stored on it via PC, smartphone and tablet and, if necessary, even the Internet.

The best home NAS are those that allow the secure storage of data and therefore allow encrypted transfers (especially when accessed via the Internet), safe saves in encrypted form, creation of administrator password and eventual reset and finally creation of separate accounts for each user.

Technical features

Another important feature when choosing a NAS is the number of disk bays. NAS are usually supplied without drives, you will then have to purchase the necessary hard drives yourself (among the many I recommend the excellent WD Red da 3TB). In addition to the housings you will also need to pay attention to the grouping technique, called RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) useful for managing drives and replicating their data. RADs can be of different types:

  • RAID 0, the data is split across the hard drives present. This increases the speed as it can read or write to all drives at the same time. Unfortunately, if one of the disks fails, the data is lost. It is divided into two modes: striping and spanning. In the first case the disks are seen by the system as a single unit even if the full capacity of the disks is not used. In the second case, all the capacity of the disks is used but performance is compromised in the sequential read transfer of data.
  • JBO (Just a Bunch of Disks) data is written to both discs separately. So if one drive breaks, you can access the saved data from the other.
  • RAID 1, the data is duplicated on both disks of the NAS. This halves the available space, but allows data to be recovered if a disk fails. It is definitely the best choice.
  • RAID 5, the data is saved together with particular control data on even three disks. When a hard drive fails, it is precisely this control data that allows all files to be rebuilt.
  • RAID 6, manages four or more disks and is similar to RAID 5.
  • RAID Levels Nested, used in a professional environment, are present when a NAS has four or more disks. Many disk controllers can nest some RAID levels. That is, one RAID system can use another as a basic element.
  • Proprietary RAID levels, some firms have developed completely proprietary systems that are very different from all others. They allow you to manage disks in a simplified way and minimize data loss.

Connections and functionality

NAS are real computers, for this reason you will also have to consider other important elements, such as: the speed in the transfer of data, the equipment hardware (RAM, CPU, etc.), the dimensions, and the years of warranty.



In addition to the graphic interface, I would also take into account the number and type of ports available (USB, Fast Ethernet/Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI).

Read also: Which internal hard drive to buy

Best NAS for home and office

If you want to buy a NAS you have to consider, in addition to the safety, Also dimensions speed of transfer give, the years of warranty equipment hardware and uses that the NAS supports. Then consider the presence of USB ports, HDMI for connecting to the TV and Ethernet ports for connecting to the local network. Having said that also take a look at: How to install a NAS.

Now that you have a complete picture of everything, then let's find out together the best NAS for home and we hope you can find the one that suits your needs.

Best cheap NAS (less than 150 €)

WD My Cloud EX2 Ultra

Capacity: Diskless | Interface: Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0 | Features: remote file access, RAID functionality.

For

  • Fast file transfers
  • Easy to set up and use

Cons

  • Not many third party apps
  • Buying with discs will not give you a discount

The model Western Digital My Cloud EX2 Ultra is a NAS offered at a very attractive price. The processor is a 1,3 GHz dual core with 1 GB of DDR3 RAM. The user can take advantage of two bays and two USB 3.0 ports with Gigabit Ethernet interface, in order to share data at maximum speed. The features offered are many: Custom backup with double data protection with RAID 1, support for third-party apps, simplified file and folder sharing with automatic file synchronization on all PCs, Centralized network storage and access available anywhere.



Discount WD My Cloud EX2 Ultra Network Attached Storage, Diskless
    EUR 146,99 −19,00 EUR 127,99 Acquista on Amazon

    Synology DiskStation DS120j

    Capacity: 512 MB | Interface: Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0 | Features: remote file access.

    For

    • Price
    • Easy to use
    • Quick setup

    Cons

    • It does not support Plex
    • Poor multitasking

    He NAS Synology Diskstation DS120j is a model aimed at users who are not looking for many features and are satisfied with single slot solutions with only one hard disk. This model is compatible with Windows / Mac, but also with Android and iOS mobile devices, and can be used via app with data transfer speeds of up to 112 MB / s for reading and 106 MB / s for writing. It supports hard drives in 2,5 and 3,5 formats.

    Synology DiskStation DS120j NAS a 1 vano
      111,90 EUR Buy on Amazon

      Western Digital WD My Book

      Capacity: 3 TB | Interface: Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0 | Features: remote file access.

      For

      • Available in a variety of large capacities
      • Three year warranty
      • Quick transfers

      Cons

      • Requires an external power adapter

      He NAS Western Digital WD My Book it is available in different variants with one or two disks already pre-installed. the first version, the one with only 1 3 TB disk, is offered at a good price and has various features: password protection and hardware encryption, automatic backup with the proprietary WD Backup software included, compatibility with Time Machine and USB 3.0 port.

      Discount Western Digital WD My Book USB 3.0 Desktop Hard Disk with Password Protection and Automatic Backup Software, Black, 3 TB
        EUR 149,99 −20,99 EUR 129,00 Acquista on Amazon

        Best mid-range NAS (under $ 300)

        TerraMaster F2-210

        Capacity: 16TB | Interface: Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0 | Features: remote file access, RAID functionality.

        For

        • Quietness during operation
        • You can select Raid 1, Raid 0 or JBOD mode
        • Perfect for home use
        • Low price
        • 4K video transcodification

        Cons

        • Only one LAN port
        • Limited app library

        TerraMaster F2-210 it is a small and inexpensive NAS, perfect for home use. It is able to host up to 2 HDs inside. You can use models up to 16TB of capacity each for a RAID 1 storage space, perfect for the needs of the most competent users. The two drawers can handle 3,5-inch but also 2,5-inch hard drives. It is based on a 1,4 GHz quad core clocked SoC with ARM v8 architecture and is supported by 1 GB of RAM. The apps that allow you to manage the specific features of this NAS are accessible from TOS, the operating system developed by TerraMaster. The panel is closed by a Gigabit Ethernet port, two USB 3.0 Type-A ports and the connector for the external power supply supplied.

        TerraMaster F2-210 2-bay NAS Quad Core 1GB DDR4 Raid Storage Media Server Personal Cloud Storage (senza disco)
          169,99 EUR Buy on Amazon TERRAMASTER F2-422 2-Bay 10GbE NAS Intel Quad-Core CPU for Network Storage Server with Hardware Encryption (Diskless)
            379,99 EUR Buy on Amazon

            Synology DiskStation DS220j

            Capacity: 32 TB | Interface: Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0 | Features: remote file access, RAID functionality.

            For

            • Cheap
            • Solid performance
            • Great software
            • Perfect for beginners

            Cons

            • Only one LAN port
            • RAM not upgradeable

            Synology DiskStation DS220j it is among the best NAS with good value for money offering excellent performance and good storage capacities. The processor is Realtek's Quad Code ARM supported by 512MB RAM with 2 disk bays that can support 32TB of storage. Not missing: two USB 3.0 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port and other protocols for managing files online. Unfortunately it doesn't work wirelessly.

            Synology DiskStation DS220j RTD1296 Collegamento ethernet LAN Mini Tower Bianco Nas DiskStation DS220j, Nas, Mini Tower, Realtek, RTD1296, Bianco
              255,80 EURAcquista on Amazon

              QNAP SM-131

              Capacity: 3 TB | Interface: Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0 | Features: remote file access.

              For

              • Easy to set up
              • Affordable price
              • Extensive feature set
              • USB 2.0, 3.0 and eSATA ports

              Cons

              • RAM not upgradeable
              • USB backup problem with Startech dock

              Il QNAP SM-131 it's a perfect NAS for fully backing up your files. It has a single bay and a 9 GHz ARM Cortex-A1.7 dual core processor, 1GB of RAM and 512MB DDR3 of NAND Flash. The hard disk interface is: Serial ATA-600. There are 3 USB ports: two rear and one front, the latter is characterized by a one-touch copy function that allows you to immediately backup your data. Then we find the door Gigabit Ethernet (Atheros AR8035-A), support QmailAgent, file synchronization between device, computer, notebook and mobile device, and finally full encryption using volume-based technology and hardware acceleration.

              QNAP TS-131P Nas 1 Baia Al-212 1.7Ghz Dc 2.5 3.
                249,82 EURAcquista on Amazon

                Zyxel NAS540

                Capacity: ND | Interface: Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0 | Features: remote file access, RAID functionality.

                For

                • Dual Gigabit Ethernet ports
                • 3 3.0 USB ports
                • 1 slot per sched SD
                • Personal cloud functionality

                Cons

                • No audible alarms or front panel indication of RAID failure
                • It relies on UPnP port forwarding for remote access
                • No iSCSI support

                Zyxel NAS540 is among the best NAS with 4 x 3,5 ”HD bays. You can remotely access this NAS with the Zyxel Drive mobile app from your smartphone or directly from the dashboard to have a complete view of the installed drives. It supports RAID 1,5, 6, and 10 with data transfer speeds of up to 130MB / s read and 77MB / s write. There is no shortage of Gigabit Ethernet ports, an SD card slot and three USB 3.0 ports.

                Zyxel Personal Cloud Storage Server [4-Bay] with Remote Access and Streaming Media [NAS540]
                  209,00 EURAcquista on Amazon

                  Best high-end NAS (over $ 300)

                  Synology DS220

                  Capacity: 32 TB | Interface: Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0 | Features: remote file access, RAID functionality.

                  For

                  • Great software
                  • Easy installation and configuration
                  • 4K multimedia transcodification
                  • silent

                  Cons

                  • Limited RAM expansion
                  • No NVMe slots

                  Synology DS220 is among the best professional NAS intended for more office use. Inside you will find an integrated operating system and a 2.0 GHz dual core processor capable of up to 2,9 GHz in Turbo with 2 GB RAM. You can easily access your multimedia contents with Audio Station, Moments and Video Station thanks to an intuitive and user-friendly web interface. You can synchronize any data from Windows, macOS, Linux operating systems and even from mobile with iOS and Android, using the two Gigabit Ethernet ports. The bays are valid for 3,5-inch hard drives.

                  DS220 + 2BAY 2.0 GHz DC 2GB DDR4EXT
                    339,79 EURAcquista on Amazon

                    Synology DS720 +

                    Capacity: 32 TB | Interface: Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0 | Features: remote file access, RAID functionality.

                    For

                    • Great RAID options
                    • Great choice of apps
                    • 4K video transcodification
                    • Transcodifica Full Plex
                    • DLNA compliant
                    • Expandable

                    Cons

                    • No PCIe slots
                    • The 2GB memory is a bit low in the long run
                    • Only a single Memory Bay accessible

                    The DS720 + NAS has a Intel Celeron j4125 Quad Core 2.0 GHz processor, this is associated with a RAM Data transfers in reading are around 2 MB / s, while for writing, we are around 225 MB / s. It is possible to draw from various applications present on the store Synology taking advantage of the user-friendly web interface and also suitable for beginners. It is possible to create your own drive or cloud to store data such as: documents, photos and videos using Synology Moments and share everything with whoever you want. The maximum supported storage capacity is 32TB, while hard drives must be 3,5-inch or 2,5-inch SATA. Finally we have 2 USB 3.0 ports and an eSATA port.

                    Synology DS720 + 2Bay NAS
                      462,46 EUR Buy on Amazon

                      WD My Cloud EX2 Ultra da 4TB


                      Capacity: 4 TB, 8 TB, 12 TB, 16 TB | Interface: Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0 | Features: remote file access, RAID functionality, My Cloud OS 3 software.

                      For

                      • CPU dual core
                      • Dual bay for RAID configurations

                      Cons

                      • It is not supported by apps
                      • Easy to use operating system

                      In addition to the RAID capabilities available in more expensive and complex NAS devices, this NAS WD My Cloud EX2 Ultra da 4TB is designed for small businesses and supports Microsoft Active Directory. It can also act as a file server, FTP server, backup server, and P2P download server. WD's EX series are also available in diskless variants, although this price is for the 4TB version. Many other capabilities are also available. If you don't need these extra things, get the My Cloud Mirror.

                      Discount WD WDBVBZ0080JCH-EESN My Cloud EX2 Ultra Network Attached Storage, 8 TB
                        499,99 EUR −179,10 EUR 320,89 EUR Acquire your Amazon

                        QNAP TS-251A


                        Capacity: N / A | Interface: 2 x Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0 | Features: remote file access, HDMI out, 4K media transcoding, DLNA.

                        For

                        • Powerful hardware
                        • Many functions

                        Cons

                        • Expensive
                        • It is sold without hard drives

                        QNAP TS-251A it is among the best NAS with many features, including an included remote control. It offers two Ethernet ports, an HDMI output for connecting to the TV, and respectable hardware that includes a 1,6 GHz dual-core Intel Celeron CPU and 4 GB of RAM for hardware transcoding media. The QTS operating system allows you to easily install a variety of apps, from Plex Media Server, file sharing apps, and even a karaoke application, as well as running Ubuntu Linux for even more flexibility.

                        In conclusion, this is a fantastic NAS device, even if you will have to buy the hard drives separately and then take into account the overall expense to be incurred.

                        QNAP TS-251A Ethernet connection LAN Tower Mint color, White NAS
                          Buy on Amazon QNAP TS-231P3-2G 2 bay Desktop Enclosure - 2GB RAM, 1,7GHz quad-core processor - with 2GbE and feature-rich applications for home and office
                            274,05 EURBuy on AmazonOffer QNAP TS-431P3-2G 4 bay Desktop Enclosure - 2GB RAM, 1,7GHz quad-core processor - with 2.5GbE and feature-rich applications for home and office
                              EUR 359,52 −15,07 EUR 344,45 Acquista on Amazon

                              WD My Cloud Mirror

                              Capacity: 4 TB, 6 TB, 8 TB, 16 TB | Interface: Gigabit Ethernet | Features: automatic backup, two hard drives, My Cloud mobile app.

                              For

                              • Secure backup
                              • RAID 1 support to protect data

                              Cons

                              • Expensive

                              Il WD My Cloud Mirror is a two-bay drive capable of creating fast and secure backups (duplicates data on both drives), using the RAID configuration. This is a pretty advanced feature for a home NAS and it also costs a lot. This device offers a 4TB hard drive (6, 8 and 16TB drives are also available). For added peace of mind, you can also back up your content to Dropbox.

                              WD WDBCTL0080HWT-EESN My Cloud Network Attached Personal Storage, Ethernet, 8 TB
                                Buy on Amazon Western Digital My Cloud Mirror NAS da 4 TB
                                  Buy on Amazon

                                  Western Digital DL4100


                                  Capacity: 8 TB, 16 TB, 24 TB | Interface: 2x Gigabit Ethernet, 2x USB 3.0, USB 2.0 | Features: Dual LAN, 2GB RAM (expandable up to 6GB), NTP client.

                                  For

                                  • Easy to configure
                                  • Compact and semi-portable

                                  Cons

                                  • Web interface not intuitive
                                  • It has no USB port to connect it to the PC

                                  If you are looking for one of the best NAS to help you manage your backup needs, the DL4100 could be for you. Among its best features we have a web dashboard that gives users options for backing up cloud services like Dropbox and Box. You can also set up SMS and email alerts in case the system has problems. As for storage options, the DL4100 is equipped with four bays per unit in the choice of four configurations. Aside from some annoying issues with wireless transfers, the DL1,7's 4100GHz dual-core Atom processor and 2GB of RAM (configurable up to 6GB) work very well. All this is combined with a simple installation and web applications connected to the cloud.

                                  WD My Cloud EX4100 Expert Series 4-Bay Network Attached Storage, 8TB
                                    863,54 EURAcquista on Amazon

                                    Synology DiskStation DS1517

                                    Capacity: up to 60TB, 180TB with expansion units | Interface: 4 x 1 GbE LAN, 4 x USB 3.0, 2 x eSATA | Features: Quad-core CPU, up to 15 units with expansion units.

                                    For

                                    • High-level performance
                                    • PCIe slot upgrades

                                    Cons

                                    • 2GB of RAM for the base device is little
                                    • Add-on cards are expensive

                                    Il Synology DiskStation DS1517 it is the best NAS for office. It offers a quad-core CPU with up to 8GB of RAM and achieves sequential speeds of 111,4MB / s write and 110,3MB / s read. When you combine that raw performance with the expandability of the DS1517, you have a recipe for a NAS that can overlap the best NAS devices on the market. However, keep in mind that the DS1517 isn't cheap, and unless you're a creative professional or if you're looking for a NAS for a small business, it might be overkill.

                                    Ds1517+ (2Gb) 5 Bay 2.4Ghz Qc
                                      Buy on Amazon Ds1517 + (8Gb) 5 Bay 2.4Ghz Qc Buy on Amazon
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