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Last updated: 15 April 2016

A NAS (network attached storage) drive attaches to your home network as an independent device that can be accessed by all users on the network. This provides file access to all networked devices, including wireless gadgets, without having to plug and unplug USB sticks or external hard drives. We lab test and review the latest models to help you find the best NAS drive for you. Our buying guide will help you decide which features you need, and you can also read about how we test storage drives.

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This test covers NAS units with built-in hard drives and NAS units with one or two empty drive bays into which you can install drives of various capacities. Our expert testers give every drive a thorough workout to help find the models that:

  • offer the best local and remote access
  • have the best user interface.

Our interactive comparison tool helps you find out which NAS drives come with inbuilt web browsers and support for media streaming and other apps. Our Recommended list will help you quickly see the models that come out on top.

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Brand

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List of brands we tested in this review.

Price

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Price paid as of February 2016.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 101 and 559

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DLNA support

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DLNA support is whether the NAS supports the Digital Living Network Alliance standard for connectivity via wireless technology, similar to Wi-Fi. This allows you to share digital media between multimedia devices, such as transmitting music or videos from your phone to your speakers or TV.

Apple AirPlay support

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Whether the iOS app includes AirPlay wireless connectivity.

Chromecast support

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Chromecast support is whether the relevant Android app handles wireless streaming to Chromecast devices.

Plex Media server support

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Whether the Plex media server app can be installed on the NAS.

Specifications

USB 2.0 ports

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The number of USB 2.0 ports included. All devices tested have SATA connections and use 3.5in hard drives; all two-bay drives support RAID modes 0 (striping) and 1 (mirroring). All units support backup from Windows-based computers and also support Apple OS X’s built-in Time Machine backup software.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 0 and 2

USB 3.0 ports

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The number of USB 3.0 ports included. All devices tested have SATA connections and use 3.5in hard drives; all two-bay drives support RAID modes 0 (striping) and 1 (mirroring). All units support backup from Windows-based computers and also support Apple OS X’s built-in Time Machine backup software.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 0 and 3

Usable capacity (TB)

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Usable capacity is the actual storage space available for user data after drive formatting and software. RAID 1 (mirroring) halves the overall usable capacity (e.g. two 4TB hard drives gives usable space of 4TB, not 8TB).

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 1.9 and 3.9

Largest drive capacity supported (TB)

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Largest drive capacity supported is the largest drive size installed (for pre-built models) or able to be installed (diskless models) at time of testing.

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 4 and 16

RAM (MB)

enter value/s in increments of 1 between 256 and 2000

Disks included

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Disks included denotes whether hard drives are supplied installed. For testing we fitted all diskless NAS units with two 4TB Seagate NAS hard drives formatted as RAID 1 (mirrored); the drives cost $239 each in February 2016.

Included in this review

Members-only access
  • Recommended
  • Overall score
  • Ease of use score (%)
  • Cloud access score
  • Read speed (large files, MBps)
  • Read speed (small files, MBps)
  • Write speed (large files, MBps)
  • Write speed (small files, MBps)
  • Disks included
  • Bays
  • Mirrored by default
  • Web browser cloud access
  • PC application cloud access
  • Additional apps supported
  • Website
  • Good points
  • Bad points
  • Brand
  • Model
  • Price
  • Yearly running cost
  • Advertised capacity (TB)
  • Usable capacity (TB)
  • Largest drive capacity supported (TB)
  • Processor speed (MHz)
  • Processor cores
  • RAM (MB)
  • Gigabit ethernet ports
  • USB 3.0 ports
  • USB 2.0 ports
  • DLNA support
  • Apple AirPlay support
  • Chromecast support
  • Plex Media server support
  • Size (W x D x H, mm)
  • Weight (g)
  • Warranty (years)
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