For the increasing number of consumers who use notebooks at home, as well as small to medium businesses without the resources for a dedicated server farm, network-attached storage (NAS) devices are the perfect way to share, archive and backup data.
The premise of a NAS is simple — you take an external hard drive enclosure, give it network connectivity and a few expansion ports and shazam! An NAS is born.
But beyond these basic elements, NAS devices can vary in terms of their variety of network connections, case durability and number of hard drive bays.
We've simplified your life by rounding up five great NAS devices that we think are worth considering. Click on the product names to check out the full reviews.
Well-built, two-drive device:
NETGEAR ReadyNAS Duo RND2150
Featuring a solid case and a user-friendly hot-swap drive replacement system that is easier to use than most other devices, the speedy two-drive ReadyNAS Duo was only let down by NETGEAR's X-RAID technology, which forces users to make the second drive a mirror of the first, instead of allowing more choice (for example, treating the two drives as one storage volume).
Good value & great adaptability
QNAP TS-109 Pro
The QNAP TS-109 Pro is a light and easily expandable device that won't break the bank. The QNAP features eSATA and Gigabit Ethernet connectivity and has a single hard drive bay.
I spy with my little NAS
This two-drive bay device may feel fragile, but it has Gigabit Ethernet and the ability to record video footage directly to its hard drives via IP cameras before. The footage can be sent to selected email addresses.
Ditch your cables
OvisLink AirLive WMU-6500FS
As well as Gigabit Ethernet this device has wireless connectivity, meaning one less LAN cable running from a router to the NAS. BitTorrent files can be downloaded directly to the enclosed hard drive, so you don't have to leave your PC turned on for long periods of time.
NETGEAR ReadyNAS NV+ RND4000
The four-bay monster feels solid enough to survive nuclear blasts — and it has a weight to match. It's perfect for home entertainment systems thanks to its multimedia streaming capabilities. X-RAID is less of an issue with this NAS, because of the number of drive bays.