So you want to buy a NAS device – what should you look for when comparing models and vendors? The following points help you make your decision.
2 or more disks.
This as you want at least 2 disks that are “mirrored”/RAID-1. With only one disk, you don’t get any data redundancy. If you don’t need data redundancy – check your current router at home, many of them do support to attach a USB disk drive. Therefore, it can be accessed over the local network as a file server. This doesn’t make it a full fledge NAS device with all functionality – but might just be enough for you if you are ready to compromise on performance and efficiency of a NAS.
Network and Internet connected.
Obviously a NAS Device is network connected – else it would just be an external disk or external RAID drive. Hence, make sure that you get a NAS that has network port. Personal recommendation would be on Gigabit Ethernet. Secondly, make sure that your future NAS can be accessed over the Internet – making it your “private cloud”. This allows you to access your data over the internet.
A brand that has a good selection of “add-on” software/applications
The major brands like Synology, QNAP & Drobo have their own linux based operating system. Most of these brands have additional applications that you can install on them, which allow you to use the NAS for more than just data storage. This includes survelience, media server, VPN and etc (varies accordingly to the brands).
Good backup / restore functionality
Commonly for Mac/Windows users, you can directly backup to an external disk or NAS device. However, what you want to check for when you have a NAS device if your backup software would automatically backs up your system and does its versioning.
If your NAS device allows you to attach external USB disks – make sure you can backup them, or backup to them.
Media Library / Server functionality
Major brands like Synology, Qnap, Drobo, all have functionality that allows you to stream video from your NAS device to your television, or play music from your NAS device on your mobile device.
Multiple user support
With more people at home – you might want to keep data separated. Each individual would be given its own space within the NAS drives upon logging in. Multiple user support allows you to setup permissions to manage access and data separately for these individual.
When you have chosen the NAS device of your choice, you will need to decide on how many and the size of the hard drives you want to use.
We advise to use WD RED drives – these have been specifically designed for home/small office NAS devices and have by default 3 year warranty.
For the size, it’s as simple of adding up all data that you want to store on your NAS device and then add extra for future. The bigger hard drives you want, the more expensive they will be. Currently the 3TB and 4TB hard disk drives are the best price-volume effective. Above 4TB the disks become a lot more expensive.
Also remember that if you have a 2 bay NAS device and want data redundancy, you will need 2 drives of the same size – but that only gives you single disk drive capacity. This is as the data will be mirrored over the 2 drives. When going to a 4/5bay NAS and by using 3 disks, this calculation becomes a bit more difficult. With 3 drives of same size you end up with double disk drive size. Synology has a nice calculator to show how much data will be available: Synology RAID calculator