Best NAS drives 2020: Which network storage appliance is right for you?

The perfect NAS drive for every use case, from a home office all the way to the enterprise

Network Attached Storage (NAS) drives have been around for decades, allowing homes and businesses to create their very own storage solution, without having to hook up hefty hard drives by cable to their laptops and desktops. They are commonly used for multiple people to access - whether that's an entire organisation or just a few people in a shared residence.

What's so flexible with NAS drives is that the data stored on them can be accessed by anyone at any time, from any place around the world. Commonly though, the power of NAS drives is underestimated. The applications that accompany NAS drives are hugely powerful for helping to manage huge reams of data, whatever their role. For example, they can be used to boost collaboration across an organisation, to make backups of your data, or allowing you to save space on your computer by removing files in an automated fashion from your computer.

NAS drives are similar in concept to cloud storage services like Dropbox or Google Drive. They allow multiple people to add to change or create new shared files that can be accessed in real time. However, because NAS drives are not hosted on the cloud, but on a physical device, meaning you maintain ownership of the information stored on them, you can decide who else has access and you can choose exactly where to store the data.

NAS drives can also boast a huge storage capacity versus similar cloud services - usually terabytes worth of storage against modest upper capacities with the latter - and they tend to be more affordable in the long-term, despite a sizeable initial cost; the subscription fees of cloud services add up when looking at the bigger picture.

We've picked out the latest NAS drives you should consider - regardless of whether you're an SMB, large organisation, or even running a home office - if you're looking to bolster your IT infrastructure with a network storage device. 

Best personal NAS appliances

Not everyone needs the mammoth storage capacity and advanced management features of business-grade NAS devices. If you're self-employed or have a micro-office, chances are one of the more consumer-friendly appliances will be perfectly sufficient for your needs.

Synology DS218

If you're facing your first foray into NAS drives, then for around 200 you can get your hands on Synology's DS218 which is one of the best budget NAS drives around. The setup and configuration process is a doddle, supports a decent range of business apps and while it doesn't have the performance of a powerhouse NAS, the power of this machine will amaze you.

CPU2.1GHz Intel Atom C3538
RAM4GB DDR4 (max 32GB)
Drive bays12 x hot-swap SATA drive bays
RAID options 0, 1, 5, 6, 10, SHR, JBOD

Price when reviewed: 203 (exc VAT)

Read our full Synology DS218 review for more information.

WD My Cloud Pro PR2100 

Reliable, and simple to set up and use, the WD My Cloud Pro PR2100 lacks the bells and whistles of its competitors but does exactly what it says on the tin. It may not be the fanciest, or flashiest, NAS drive around but if you want something solid, with a host of essential features, then it's a fantastic option at a fairly reasonable price.   

CPU1.6GHz Intel Pentium N3710
RAM4GB DDR3 
Drive bays2
RAID options0, 1, JBOD

Price when reviewed: 324, diskless (exc VAT)

Read our full WD My Cloud Pro PR2100 review for more information.

Best SMB NAS drives

Once a business grows above a certain size, its IT needs demand more specialised equipment and the same is true of storage. Carrying more drive bays than a typical consumer NAS appliance, these units offer more sophisticated capabilities along with greater raw power.

Synology DVA3219

This four-bay desktop system makes it onto the list, but comes with one substantial caveat. It’s an absolutely outstanding NAS drive for those who want to use it as the basis for a surveillance system, thanks to the clever video analytics tools bundled into Synology’s Surveillance Station app. If you’re looking for more general-purpose network storage, however, you may find better value elsewhere.

CPU

2.1GHz quad-core Intel Atom C3538

RAM

4GB DDR4 (max 32GB)

Drive bays

4

RAID options

RAID0, 1, 10, 5, 6, SHR

Price when reviewed: £1,294 exc VAT (diskless)

Read our full Synology DVA3219 review for more information

Buffalo Technology TeraStation TS5810DN

Not only does Buffalo's 8-bay TeraStation TS5810DN boast a battery of clever security and data protection features to help customers stay ahead of GDPR, it's also superb value for budget-conscious SMBs, offering a huge 32TB capacity and a 10GbE port for less than GBP1,800. It's lacking some of the more advanced and esoteric capabilities offered by rival devices from the likes of Synology and WD, but the security pedigree and keen price are enough to make up for it.

CPU1.7GHz quad-core Annapurna Alpine AL-314
RAM4GB ECC DDR3
Drive bays8
RAID options0, 1, 10, 5, 6

Price when reviewed: 1,799.99 (ex VAT)

Read our full Buffalo Technology TeraStation TS5810DN review for more information.

Qnap TS-1277

AMD's revamped Ryzen CPUs have done wonders for PC performance and based on the Qnap TS-1277, they're set to do the same for NAS drives too. Transfer and backup speeds are exceptional, and Qnap's excellent suite of software tools offers all the capability that SMBs could ask for. To top it all off, the design - both internal and external - is superb. 

CPU3GHz AMD Ryzen 7 1700 CPU
RAM16GB DDR4 (max 64GB)
Drive bays8
RAID options0, 1, 5, 6, 10, 50, 60

Price when reviewed: 2,514 (ex VAT)

Read our full Qnap TS-1277 review for more information.

Synology DiskStation DS418j

For those that want a NAS drive that twins strong storage performance with a host of handy extra capabilities, the Synology DiskStation DS418j is an excellent option. Clocking in at under 250 before tax, this unassuming NAS appliance offers a mammoth 48TB capacity, speedy file transfer and the ability to act as a web or email server.

CPU1.4 GHz Realtek RTD1293 
RAM1GB DDR4
Drive bays
RAID options0, 1, 5, 6, 10, JBOD

Price when reviewed: 244 (ex VAT)

Read our full Synology DiskStation DS418j review for more information.

Qsan XCubeNAS XN8008T

Qsan's XCube line appeals to the price-conscious buyer and this model, just like the one above it, delivers respectable 10GbE speeds with enterprise-grade data protection features. This line may leave you wanting, though. if money's no object, products from Synology or Qnap offer better features albeit at a higher price.

CPU2.7GHz Intel Core i5-7500T 
RAM8GB DDR4 (max 32GB)
Drive bays8 x LFF/SFF hot-swap SATA drive bays, SFF internal bay
RAID options0, 1, 5, 6, Z3, 10, JBOD

Price when reviewed: 1,539 (exc VAT)

Read our full Qsan XCubeNAS XN8008T review to find out more information.

Synology DiskStation DS1618+

Sporting a new Atom CPU and a large DDR4 RAM capacity enables this model to perform a variety of network storage functions. It has plenty of space for apps and although the 10GbE performance is fairly inconsistent, the price and other features will surely be enough to entice you.

CPU2.1GHz Intel Atom C3538 CPU
RAM4GB DDR4 (max 32GB)
Drive bays6 x LFF/SFF hot-swap SATA drive bays
RAID options0, 1, 10, 5, 6, SHR-1/2, hot-spare, JBOD

Price when reviewed: 634 (exc VAT)

Read our full Synology DiskStation DS1618+ review for more information.

Synology DiskStation DS1819+

It's not often we give out our coveted Editor's Choice award on products but the DS1819+ got full marks and for good reason. Coming in at under 800 (exc VAT), this model delivers outstanding data protection features, speedy 10GbE performance and high storage capacity. Bundle that with Synology's Active Backup Suite app collection and you've got yourself a small business backup behemoth.

CPU2.1GHz Intel Atom C3538 CPU
RAM4GB DDR4 (max 32GB)
Drive bays8 x hot-swap SATA drive bays
RAID options0, 1, 10, 5, 6, SHR-1/2, hot-spare, JBOD, SHR

Price when reviewed: 796 (exc VAT)

Read our full Synology DiskStation DS1819+ review for more information.

Synology DiskStation DS2419+

Up next is another Synology offering that received our Editor's Choice award, this fantastic machine is perfect for SMBs which are prepared to spend a little extra than the DS1819+. The outstanding VM management tools differentiate this from its cheaper counterpart along with its massive expansion potential and slick backup features.

CPU2.1GHz Intel Atom C3538 CPU
RAM4GB DDR4 (max 32GB)
Drive bays12 x hot-swap SATA drive bays
RAID options0, 1, 5, 6, 10, SHR, JBOD

Price when reviewed: 1,226 (exc VAT)

Read our full Synology DiskStation DS2419+ review for more information.

Best rack-mounted NAS appliances

If you're looking for enterprise-grade network storage, then chances are you're looking at a rack-mounted appliance. These units offer the maximum amount of capacity, with all the management options a sysadmin or IT manager could ask for.

Qsan XCubeNAS XN5012RE

Qsan’s XCube range of NAS appliances is something of a powerhouse when it comes to data protection, providing a suite of comprehensive backup, disaster recovery and replication features for maximum peace of mind. It also offers excellent performance over 10GbE - the only downside is a comparatively basic app selection.

CPU

2.9GHz dual-core Intel Celeron G3930

RAM

8GB DDR4 UDIMM (max. 64GB)

Drive bays

12 x LFF/SFF hot-swap bays

RAID options

RAID0, 1, 5, 6, 10, Z3, JBOD

Price when reviewed: £2,100 exc VAT (diskless)

Read our full Qsan XCubeNAS XN5012RE review for more information

Synology SA3400

This monster 2U appliance is certainly capable - not only does it feature 12 drive bays and two PCIe slots for further expansion, it also supports both SATA and SAS3 storage. Combined with Synology’s usual wealth of features and good throughput figures, and clocking in at less than £5,000, this unit is a bit of a bargain.

CPU

2.1GHz eight-core Xeon D-1541

RAM

16GB 2,400MHz ECC RDIMM DDR4 (max 128GB)

Drive bays

12 x LFF/SFF SAS3/SATA hot-swap bays

RAID options

RAID F1, 0, 1, 10, 5, 6, JBOD

Price when reviewed: £4,571 exc VAT

Read our full Synology SA3400 review for more information

Buffalo Technology TeraStation TS3420RN

Buffalo is a little bit of an outlier in the NAS market, as its NAS units don’t allow for installation of any third-party apps and don’t come is diskless configurations. However, Buffalo argues this makes them more secure, and the pre-populated drives all come with generous warranties and guarantees. This, combined with the performance and backup features on offer, makes the TeraStation TS3420RN an excellent option for businesses who want solid, no-frills storage.

CPU

Quad-core 1.4GHz Annapurna Labs Alpine AL214

RAM

1GB DDR3 (max 1GB)

Drive bays

4 x SATA hot-swap bays

RAID options

RAID0, 1, 10, 5, 6, JBOD

Price when reviewed: £723 exc VAT (8TB)

Read our full Buffalo Technology TeraStation TS3420RN review for more information

Qnap TS-883XU

Unlike most NAS appliances, this Qnap unit comes fitted with one of Intel’s Xeon E-2100 CPUs, offering spectacular performance over NAS, IP SAN and FC SAN tasks. It’s also highly expandable, thanks to two additional DIMM slots, three PCIe slots and a host of options for attaching more disk shelves - which is good, as it’s comparatively expensive for an eight-bay model.

CPU

3.3GHz quad-core Xeon E-2124 CPU

RAM

8GB DDR4 ECC (max 64GB)

Drive bays

8 x SATA LFF/SFF hot-swap bays

RAID options

RAID0, 1, 10, 5, 6, 50, 60, JBOD, hot-spare

Price when reviewed: £2,335 exc VAT (diskless)

Read our full Qnap TS-883XU review for more information

Synology RackStation RS2818RP+

Rack-mounted storage appliances don't need to break the bank, as evidenced by Synology's RackStation RS2818RP+. The removal of both 10GBase-T ports and one Infiniband expansion port has shaved the price down compared to Synology's more expensive models, but it retains the impressive storage capacity thanks to 16 hot-swap drive bays, as well as boasting heaps of cloud connectivity features.

CPU2.1GHz Intel Atom C3538
RAM4GB DDR4 (max 64GB)
Drive bays16 x LFF/SFF hot-swap SATA
RAID options0, 1, 10, 5, 6, SHR, hot-spare, JBOD

Price when reviewed: From 2,308 (exc VAT)

Read our full Synology RackStation RS2818RP+ review for more information.

Lenovo ThinkSystem DS6200

The latest in Lenovo's ThinkSystem DS line proves that all-flash storage arrays don't necessarily have to break the bank. Offering excellent performance and business-grade features for a very reasonable price, the ThinkSystem DS6200 is a perfect choice for organisations that want to make sure their storage system has room to grow alongside them.

RAM16GB (x2)
Drive bays25, hot-swappable
RAID options1, 5, 6, 10

Price when reviewed: From 9,788 (ex VAT)

Read our full Lenovo ThinkSystem DS6200 review for more information.

Infortrend EoStor GSe Pro 3016T 

The Infortrend EonStor GSe Pro may lack dual controllers, but delivers plenty of storage capabilities for its price - meaning it's a fantastic choice for SMEs. Besides the NVR app, the appliance provides an impressing array of cloud-enabled features and tools to ensure data protection, coupled with excellent NAS and IP SAN performance. 

CPU2.2GHz Intel Xeon D-1531
RAM8GB DDR4 
Drive bays16, hot-swappable 
RAID options0, 1, (0+1), 3, 5, 6, 10, 30, 50, 60 

Price when reviewed: 4,400 (exc VAT)

Read our full Infortrend EonStor GSe Pro 3016T review for more information.

Qsan XCubeNAS XN8012R

While the Qsan XCubeNAS XN8012R can't match Qnap or Synology in terms of features, it targets SMBs with a powerful storage package and a pretty good price when compared to others on the market. Its noteworthy features include the six rear SFF bays, 10GbE performance and Qsan's ZFS-based software which offers effective data protection functionality.

CPU3.3GHz Intel Xeon E3-1225 v6
RAM8GB DDR4 (max 64GB)
Drive bays12 x LFF/SFF SATA, 4 x SATA SFF, 2 x PCIe NVMe SFF
RAID options0, 1, 5, 6, Z3, 10, JBOD

Price when reviewed: 3,300 (exc VAT)

Read our full Qsan XCubeNAS XN8012R review to find out more information.

Qsan XN7012R

Like the other Qsan models in this list, the XN7012R boasts some great data security features and 10GbE speeds capable of delivering 5GB/s real-world file transfer rates. Its 18 storage bays ensure a massive storage capacity and while its app list might be shorter than most, this model has serious bang-for-buck value.

CPU3.9GHz Intel Core i3-7100 CPU
RAM8GB DDR4 (max 64GB)
Drive bays12 x LFF/SFF SATA, 4 x SATA SFF, 2 x NVMe U.2 SFF
RAID options0, 1, 5, 6, Z3, 10, JBOD

Price when reviewed: 2,469 (exc VAT)

Read our full Qsan XCubeNAS XN7012R review to find out more information.

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