Among the most important brands in the world of remote storage we find Western Digital, Synology, ZyXEL, Qnap, Orico… The ones I recommend today are the products with the best quality ratio / price according to Amazon.
A NAS is not (or it is no longer) just a habit for geeks, but a tool that can help us in case of failure. It can be used in the home or in the company and its uses, as we will see later in the article, they are the most disparate.
Perhaps the first characteristic to look for when we start evaluating alternatives is certainly the number of “bay” the “slot”. They are the physical spaces in which to house the disks. As the number of managed disks increases, the capacity of the device and its price will also increase.
Unlike a few years ago on the market today you can find everything and choosing between different devices can be distracting and frustrating. In this guide I try to summarize the qualities and defects of the devices under consideration, hoping at the end of the reading to have helped you in your choice.
What is a NAS?
NAS is the acronym for “Network Attached Storage” (memory connected to the network). It is in effect a small computer with hardware equipment / software minima, accessible from the network (LAN o WAN) which allows the saving and sharing of data securely via a wired or Wi-Fi network. Imagine the NAS as a mass storage connected to the network instead of the PC. Setup usually requires little time and general skills.
Inside there are the classic microelectronic components that we would find in a computer: CPU, network card, drive bays, flash memory for the operating system, etc..
The most interesting ones have at least two disc slots (single-disk ones are disappearing), in this way it is possible to configure them in RAID and avoid data loss. In practice, the same data will be written to both disks simultaneously allowing, in case a disk fails, recovery from the healthy drive.
We cannot fail to mention user management in modern NAS, based on UNIX permissions (often, if not always, the operating system is Linux). Multiple users can access the same files, but the administrator can decide to allow only viewing or even editing the files.
What is important for choosing a NAS
Slot and storage capacity
I've already talked about it, but I repeat it. So many more slots we will have, the greater the storage capacity and the relative cost of the device. It goes without saying that everyone has to deal with their own pockets, but I recommend choosing one with at least two slots and configuring data redundancy.
For home use or in small work environments, environments in which the NAS needs to manage 3 / 4 concurrent users I would suggest two slots, conversely, those who have to manage a large amount of data will have to choose a larger one.
It often happens that those who buy a NAS do not realize that the product that arrives at home does not have any type of storage space.. In most cases, discs must be purchased separately (this is good and we'll see why) and manually installed.
To minimize the risk of simultaneous failures (this also happens) it would be preferable to buy discs of different brands, or that they come from different production batches.
In case a manufacturing defect affects an entire batch of discs (usually all produced in the same warehouse, the same day one after the other) and you find yourself having two records from that game, most likely they would fail almost simultaneously, nullifying the RAID configuration eventually adopted.
Conversely, by choosing discs from different brands, you would have the certainty that at least they come from different factories and if one were defective there would be little chance that the other is too (if they break down together, I suggest you start playing superenalotto).
On the market today there are discs for all budgets. Don't skimp on this aspect. The disk is the physical medium that will contain your data. If it is not reliable or worse, if you buy it used, you would jeopardize the reliability of the system.
The best drives I recommend are specially designed for NAS systems (they are not recommended for installation on a PC, due to the slow read / write). They prefer safety over speed, they heat up a little, they consume little power, they are quieter and are designed to remain reliable even when turned on 24 / 7.
Today, even the manufacturers of network drives tend to add features that do not quite belong to this category. Not that there's anything wrong with that, although I personally prefer a few additional features and a greater focus on security.
In any case, NAS are usually configurable via web interface (a small server inside the NAS “serve” the pages to the user's browser), or via mobile app.
Depending on the use you will make of your NAS, you may need one or the other application. You will need to make sure that the device you have chosen does what you expect it to do. For example, some NAS allow playback of audio content / video (video surveillance), Torrent download, file management with FTP. Some, but not all… so choose it carefully.
Now let's move on to the roundup of products that Amazon has sold the most in this one 2020. As has already been said, it is not possible to draw up a ranking of the best, everyone chooses for himself, but we can say that Amazon with its sold quantities can prove to be a good one “comparator”.
It ZyXEL Personal Cloud Storage it is a particularly interesting NAS. Of all the NAS that we will examine, it is the cheapest and allows the addition of two disks. This is a NAS released in 2016, therefore not very young, but for the price it has it is one of the best choices.
Among the most valuable features I can mention:
- Immediate remote access with the dedicated app,
- Easy to use group sharing from your personal cloud even from the app,
- Processor with frequency 1,3 GHz,
- Disc interface: SATA-300 (is 3.5″ than 2.5″),
- 1 USB port 2.0 / 2 size usb 3.0,
- 1 RJ45 network port,
- Simple graphical interface (configuration and management),
- RAID 1 read/write a 105/105.8 MB/s,
- Server DLNA o zCloud integrati (streaming video 4K).
The ZyXEL NAS326 is a two slot model, appreciated for the very competitive price today and for the quality of the hardware / software. The processor – not brand new – guarantees even more than good performance, and the internal software can be integrated with some dedicated plugins.
|Gallery||Image gallery manager with web interface|
|NZBGet||Content downloader from UseNet|
|PHP / MySQL / phpMyAdmin||PHP: web programming language,|
MySQL: web database manager,
phpMyAdmin: web-based software for database management.
With these three packages it is possible to develop in PHP, or test packages locally.
|Logitech Media Server||Music streaming server|
|Transmission||Torrent content downloader|
|WordPress||News manager / blog / dynamic site for the web|
|myZyxelcloud-agent||Device management and control system after registering on the ZyXEL site|
|ownCloud||Gestore file-hosting web based|
With the exception of myZyxelcloud-agent all other software is web-based and open source.
The NAS326 also integrates some uploaders on third party services like Dropbox, Google Drive, Flickr, YouTube and others. You can also add files to the download queue and have them downloaded directly to the NAS. The internal backup utility (also incremental) allows automatic upload on the external drives mentioned and can be programmed with the logic of “cron”.
In the box, in addition to the NAS you will find a power cable, an RJ45 network cable and two sets of screws to secure the 3.5 drives to the stands″ o da 2.5″.
The Synology NAS DS120J it's a great product, despite being able to accommodate only one disk inside.
- Dedicated mobile application,
- Archiving a 1 bay easy to use for novice users,
- 112 MB / s read, 106 MB / s in writing,
- 2 USB port 2.0,
- Platform for file sharing and synchronization,
- Backup Assistant for Windows / Mac and mobile devices,
- Access to files with the app for Android and iOS,
- Compatible with 3.5 SATA drives″ the 2.5″ SATA HDD (2.5 bay″ optional) up to 16TB.
The internal software of the DS120J is, as per Synology tradition, one of the best on the market. This NAS can act as a print server (USB or network) to access a classic printer from the network, both AirPrint and Google Cloud Print are supported.
The DS120J can also be reached from outside the LAN if the router is correctly set up and if you have a fixed IP or use a DNS update service (come DyDNS).
Among the most interesting functions we find:
|Central management system||It allows you to monitor multiple NAS servers via a single interface, by changing the settings in groups|
|Chat||An IM service inside the NAS integrated into its web page, in the desktop application or mobile app|
|CloudSync||Synchronize and share internal NAS content with leading cloud services: Dropbox, Baidu Cloud, Google Drive, Box,OneDrive e hubiC|
|Download station||Download files from the internet with BT protocols, FTP, HTTP, NZB, Thunder, FlashGet, QQDL, eMule|
|Moments||Photo and video organizer inside the NAS. And’ It is possible to insert tags and assign them through face recognition|
|Note Station||It allows you to quickly share content copied from your PC (with the application “Web Clipper”) and forward them to the NAS|
|Photo Station||It allows you to quickly share photographic content and get feedback on the internet|
|Office||A very light and web-accessible office suite that integrates documents, spreadsheets and presentations|
|Surveillance Station||If correctly paired, allows you to manage the data of the IP cameras|
|Video Station||Organize and “serve” internal videos via DLNA / UNPnP|
All of these applications are specially developed for this NAS and not all of them are free.
In the package you will find its power cable in addition to the NAS, an RJ45 network cable and two sets of screws to secure the 3.5 drives to the stands″ o da 2.5″.
Overall it's a great product, but given the possibility of housing this NAS, I recommend purchasing it only if you are an inexperienced user and perhaps at your first experience with devices of this type.
The WD My Cloud EX2 is a Western Digital NAS with two slots. You will then be able to set up standard or RAID storage 1 depending on your needs. Here are the characteristics:
- Dual core processor from 1,3 GHz,
- Two USB ports 3.0,
- Automatic file synchronization on all your computers,
- Simplified sharing of files and folders,
- Compatible with 3.5 SATA drives″,
- Backup with RAID 1, simplicity of installation and management of the system,
- Third party app support
The My Cloud EX2 integrates a media server for music playback and a DLNA server / UNPnP e iTunes. It supports various protocols including FTP, AFP, NFS, WebDAV, SNMP, SSH and integrates its own dynamic DNS.
Among the available applications I can mention:
|aMule||Interface for downloading eDonkey files|
|Dropbox||Connection to remote Dropbox drive|
|iTunes Server||Allows music streaming to enabled devices|
|Joomla||Online CMS run locally within the NAS|
|phpBB||Online forum manager run locally|
|phpMyAdmin||Web interface for web database management|
|Plex Media Server||Multimedia streaming software|
|Transmission||Torrent file download manager|
|WordPress||News manager / blog / Online CMS run locally|
All the programs mentioned above are open source.
In the package you will find in addition to the NAS its power cable and an RJ45 network cable.
The My Cloud EX2 is a complete product. The price does not differ much from the previous ones and the support for installable applications is guaranteed by the community. Overall, I can only recommend the purchase.
The My Cloud Home is a Western Digital NAS with a single slot for a single drive. This is a NAS that I would define “monolithic”. In addition to not supporting the addition of additional disks, it is not possible to replace the existing disk, or at least it is not explained by the manufacturer. Officially, there is no mention of the type of filesystem supported and the user manual is written to be understood broadly even by those who have no idea what a NAS is with phrases like “setting it up is a breeze” and similar, though – as we shall see – this is not always the case.
- The My Cloud Home device can be accessed over the Internet, l’app My Cloud Mobile, l’app My Cloud Desktop o WD Discovery,
- Processor type and frequency are not declared,
- It is sold complete with record, upgrades are not possible,
- 1 USB port 3.0,
- Storage space size 4TB (for this model),
- Integrated Wi-Fi or wired RJ45 connection,
- RAID configuration not possible on a single disk,
- Configuration from your smartphone,
- Access from any location thanks to the My Cloud Home mobile or desktop app or through the MyCloud.com website,
- Automatic backup of photos and videos to your phone,
- I recommend checking on the manufacturer's website if this device is compatible with your devices (not all are supported).
Much of the functionality of this NAS is delegated to mobile applications. The NAS itself integrates an image manager and editor and a DLNA server / UNPnP. Without the applications (mobile or not) from the manufacturer this device becomes almost unusable and compatibility is only guaranteed on some operating systems:
- Windows from version 7 on,
- Mac from version 10.9,
- iOS from version 9,
- Android from version 6.0.
In the package you will find in addition to the NAS its power cable and an RJ45 network cable.
Overall, Western Digital's My Cloud Home did not convince me. My impression is that they wanted to greatly simplify the most complex operations by filling users with applications. In this way, however, I suspect that for less experienced users the management of the NAS has become even more cumbersome, not to mention that once you get used to a system like this it will be traumatic to switch to a standard NAS. Overall I don't feel like recommending it… although I must say that it is a beautiful design object.
The QNAP TS-231K it is a two slot NAS. You will then be able to set up a RAID 1 with data redundancy for greater safety in the event of disk failure. Here are the characteristics:
- Access to NAS files via myQNAPcloud mobile app,
- 1.4GHz dual core processor,
- 2 SATA slot yes 3.5″ the 2.5″ available,
- Support hot swapping (with the NAS turned on) of disks if configured in RAID 1,
- 2 ethernet port,
- 3 USB port 3.2 gen 1,
- Smart fan connected to internal thermostat,
- 400 concurrent connections supported,
- It supports encryption (proprietary technology),
- Supporta i Jumbo Frames (if supported by the router),
- Support wake-on-line to be turned on remotely,
- Possible Wi-Fi connection with adapter (optional).
This NAS is definitely a choice more voted for the professional field than for the home.
- It allows you to encrypt files with proprietary technology (available for Windows, Mac and Ubuntu),
- Easily create separate snapshots (malware protection),
- Create exportable backup copies,
- The application that catalogs the photos is equipped with a recognition software that automatically catalogs the images according to the subject portrayed,
- It allows you to create a video surveillance system with IP and USB cameras (no brand in particular, more 3.000 IP cam compatible),
- It allows you to expand the availability of data by combining it with a second NAS on the network,
- It allows the installation of an additional RAM module to increase its performance.
The application park is really rich, so rich that listing all the applications here would be too distracting. Overall, I can list some macro categories:
|Backup / Sync.||10 applications including Mega and ElephantDrive|
|Office||GRPI, Ragic Cloud, Vtiger, webERP|
|Content management (CMS)||Joomla, MediaWiki, WordPress|
|Developer tools||Node.js (various versions), Perl, Php Extensions, phpMyAdmin, Python3, Tomcat8|
|Download manager||Download Station|
|Entertainment||17 applications including Plex, Twonky Server, Photo Station e Music Station|
|Home automation||Domotz Network Monitor, Qmiix Agent|
|Security||Malware Remover, QuFirewall, Security Counselor|
|Surveillance||QUSBcam2, Surveillance Station|
|Generic tools||22 applications including a text editor, a tool to update DNS and reach the NAS remotely, un server proxy, a calendar, a contact manager, an SSL certificate manager|
QNAP leads the industry with its storage devices. They are certainly more expensive than the competitors mentioned above, but the product you take home is remarkable and you won't change it for several years. In addition, the operating system is constantly being developed and security updates can be easily installed via the device's web interface.
We saw a roundup of the best-selling NAS on Amazon in the 2020. The NAS is a small device that when the hard drive fails can save you from running to the data recovery center and spend a fortune to get your vacation photos back (if you are lucky). I can't give you a single indication for a device that works for everyone. With this article I hope I have cleared up some doubts , but as always you have to choose what is good for your needs.