The 7 Best NAS Hard Drives
Network-attached storage (NAS) drives are becoming increasingly popular. Some meet the needs of business users; others are ideal for home users.
NAS drives are a top solution for several use cases. For example, if you want to make your media files available to all the devices on your local network, have a centralized storage location for all your backups, or access your files remotely, a NAS drive should on your shopping list.
So, which are the best NAS hard drives that you can buy today? Keep reading to learn more.
What Is a NAS Drive?
NAS drives come in two forms—ones that have a storage disk built-in, and ones where you can add your own drives.
The advantage of buying a NAS drive with empty slots is clear: you can upgrade the size of your storage over time as your needs change. On the downside, buying both a drive and separate disks means a higher up-front cost.
Also, keep your eyes open for the newer quad-level cell and penta-level cell drives hitting the shops in the near-future. They’ll increase storage while driving down the price.
1. Best NAS Storage Device:
Synology NAS DiskStation DS1819+
If money (and space) is no object, go out and buy the Synology NAS DiskStation DS1819+. The unit is aimed at power users. It comes with 4GB of RAM (expandable to 32GB) and eight drive bays. If needed, the maximum capacity can hit 60TB. And with Synology’s expansion unit, that figures jump to a massive 180TB.
The huge capacity of the Synology NAS DiskStation DS1819+ means its highly suitable for freelancers and home workers who do a lot of work with video and high-quality images. Furthermore, more drive bays mean you have more RAID alternatives available to you. RAID refers to the way your NAS drive’s storage is configured for backups and data loss.
2. Best Entry-Level NAS Drive:
Synology NAS DiskStation DS218j
The Synology NAS DiskStation DS218j offers excellent features at comparatively low prices. The unit is ideal for anyone who wants to keep a few home backups or media files.
Under the hood, there’s a dual-core CPU, a 113Mb/s read and write speed, a hardware encryption engine, and apps for Windows, Android, and iOS. It’s a diskless drive, so you’ll need to pick up your own drives for the two available slots.
3. Best NAS Drive for Streaming 4K Video:
Synology NAS DiskStation DS718+
Because they can both store and stream your media, lots of people want to use a NAS drive for Plex, Kodi, Emby, and other similar apps. Those people should check out another Synology model—the Synology NAS DiskStation DS718+.
Most notably, it supports both H.265 and H.264 and can transcode 4K video on-the-fly. As many Plex users will know, transcoding 4K video on a low power device can lead to excessive buffering, so this is a vital feature.
The Synology NAS DiskStation DS718+ has a quad-core processor, AES hardware encryption, read speeds of 336Mb/s, and write speeds of 185Mb/s.
4. Best Cheap NAS Drive With Disk:
WD My Cloud Personal NAS Drive
As we mentioned at the start, many of the best NAS drives require you to buy the disks separately. With the WD My Cloud Personal NAS Drive, that’s not the case; the disks are built into the unit.
Five different sizes are available: 2TB, 3TB, 4TB, 6TB, and 8TB. Prices start at under $300 for the cheapest 2TB version. Although, the 8TB model will set you back several hundred.
The drive has an ethernet port and support for USB 3.0. It is plug-and-play-friendly. For anyone who wants to the benefits of a NAS drive without the associated setup hassle, the WD My Cloud Personal NAS drives are a smart pick.
5. Best Alternative Budget NAS Drive:
When it comes to home NAS drives, QNAP is one of Synology’s largest competitions. The company’s QNAP TS-231P model is a worthy alternative to the Synology NAS DiskStation DS218j for anyone who wants a reliable entry-level device.
It has two drive bays, 1GB of RAM, three USB ports, two GbE LAN ports, and AES 256-bit drive encryption. Streamers will be happy to learn that the unit also supports Chromecast and AirPlay. An ARM Cortex-A15 dual-core processor powers the unit.
6. Best NAS Hard Drive:
WD Red NAS Hard Drive
If you buy a diskless NAS drive, you’re going to need to purchase your own SSD to slot into it. For a long time, the market-leading drives for home NAS solutions have been the WD Red NAS Hard Drive. They have WD’s NASware 3.0 technology. It has been purpose-built by the company to improve reliability and performance when used with NAS drives.
Available sizes start at 750GB and run right through to 14TB. Depending on the model you choose, you will be able to select either a 2.5-inch or a 3.5-inch drive, and a cache size of 16MB, 64MB, 256MB, or 512MB.
7. Best Alternative NAS Drive:
Seagate IronWolf NAS Internal Hard Drive
If you’re still looking for alternative NAS hard drives, check out the Seagate IronWolf NAS Internal Hard Drive. It comes in 15 different capacities, ranging from 240GB on the low-end to 16TB at the top end.
For data hoarders, the extra 2TB of storage on the top model could be a deal-breaker when compared to the WD Red NAS Hard Drive. The cache size goes up to 256MB, depending on which version you buy. Some versions also come with data recovery tools, too.
The Best NAS Hard Drives for Your Setup
As you’ll have noticed, Synology drives dominate the slots on our list of the best NAS drives. That’s for a good reason; the company’s flexible operating system and easy-to-use app platform help to make the best home NAS systems out there.
You just need to decide which of the (many, many) Synology NAS drives best suits your needs. If you’re still unsure on the benefits of NAS devices, check out how to use your old Mac as a NAS drive or server .