NAS servers are interesting if you operate a network and want to protect your content or independently provide your own storage capacity or just want to use it yourself. There are no limits to freedom – be your own server provider! When acquiring a new NAS server, make sure you have enough hard disk space, the appropriate hard disk sizes, and a sufficiently fast processor. In addition, the connections are relevant: Ethernet or USB? Some servers also use the eSATA standard, which others completely dispense with.
Purchase advice: How to find the right product in our NAS server comparison 2018
- Security of private data: With a NAS server you own your personal cloud. Sensitive data is not stored anywhere on a server, but on hard drives in your own home.
- Availability of all media content in your own network: access is easy via PC, notebook, smartphone, tablet or the smart TV with Wi-Fi or LAN connection.
- Streaming on all connected devices possible: Movies and music are available anywhere in the house at the push of a button.
What is a NAS server? How does a NAS server work and what can a NAS server do?
In a nutshell: NAS stands for “Network Attached Storage,” and a NAS server is a network server with one or more hard drives and processor and memory. The case is wired or wirelessly connected to a network via LAN cable or Wi-Fi through a router . At home and in the office, the router is the interface for connecting to the Internet.
They connect the PC, notebook, smartphone and the smart TV to the router , thus accessing content from the network. If you now connect a NAS server to the router, you can access the contents stored on it with all the connected devices. You own your private and personal cloud, and external access is protected by the router. The consequence:
- Saved pictures look at the smartphone,
- Saved music will go to the hi-fi system and
- Movies are streamed to the TV.
The NAS server is the ideal central location for all documents, media files, and other data that should be available for more than one device. He is the cheap alternative to the full server and interesting for small businesses. Now find the best NAS server for your needs in the extensive 2018 NAS server comparison.
1. Purchase advice: NAS server comparison 2018 for the private use and the office
In principle, if you want to provide data on the home network to all connected devices, you could simply connect an external hard drive to your PC and share it with the network as network storage. As long as the computer is running, the data is available. Better, however, is an autonomous NAS server, which ensures the power-saving and quiet operation with its own processor and memory. NAS servers are a file server with its own file system and many other options. The following list shows the advantages and disadvantages of a NAS server in the overview:
- Stored data is accessible to all devices connected to the network.
- are cheaper than a full server and also suitable for small businesses.
- work economically and quietly.
- Integrate Media Client Services – Stream Music & Movies.
- are suitable as a back-up solution.
- additional hardware needed.
- additional acquisition costs.
When comparing offers from different manufacturers, you will be confronted with numerous technical terms. In the following you will learn everything worth knowing.
2. Selection criteria
With a device from a brand like Synology, D-Link, Seagate or Netgear, newcomers will find an affordable solution with typically two hard drive bays . It is more expensive with four or more hard drive bays and other additional features, cheaper are the models with only one hard drive bay.
2.1. Number of slots for network hard drives
Depending on the requirements and application, there are NAS systems with slots for one, two, four or more hard disks. The following table shows the application areas.
1st Bay NS
1 NAS hard drive
2. Bay NS
2 NAS hard drives
4. Bay NS
4 NAS hard drives
6. Bay NS
6 or more NAS disks
2.2. Hard drive capacity
Are you just offering the case with empty bays or is the NAS server already equipped with hard drives? As a storage solution, storage capacity is an important component. The type with a capacity of 4 TB is frequently offered,the category of NAS servers with two inserts for hard disks usually support maximally 16 TB – thus 2 disks with 8 TB each. When choosing the type you can choose between many servers offered in NAS server tests, whether you want to buy a NAS server of 4 TB, 6 TB, 8 TB, 12 TB or a previously installed hard drive.
Attention: Be careful when buying used NAS servers. Older NAS systems can only partially address hard drives up to 1 TB. However, a 1 TB NAS server is hardly future-proof, and even NAS servers with 2 TB quickly reach their limits as media servers.
2.3. Compatible hard disk formats: 2.5 inches and 3.5 inches
The NAS enclosures fit 2.5 “or 3.5” network hard drives. For 3.5 “hard drives, the price per TB is cheaper. Some models take both types. The form factor also plays a role if you want to use existing hard disks.
Note: The much faster 2.5 “SSDs offer no benefits in the NAS because the network interfaces can not take advantage of the higher performance.
2.4. Connections: USB; eSATA ports and WLAN modules
USB interfaces are standard and should support USB 3.0 for fast transfer speeds. Also eSATA ports are useful. In addition, large amounts of data can be transferred to the installed hard drives at great speed, or you can additionally expand the storage capacity by connecting external hard disks. If a WLAN module is installed, the smartphone or tablet can be connected to the NAS server with an app without going through the router. But this is not absolutely necessary, because most households already have a WLAN router in operation.
Tip: Connect your printer to the NAS server and you can use it as a network printer and start a print job from your PC, notebook or smartphone at any time.
2.5. Automatic back-up: RAID level
Can at least two hard disks be installed and used as a RAID-1 network? Then your data is very secure and the identical data is stored on both hard disks.If a hard drive fails for any reason, all photos, videos and sensitive documents are still stored on the second hard drive.
2.6. Processor and Memory: Fast to stream or slow to back up
How fast the built-in processor and RAM is, has a great impact on the potential applications and costs. If you want to use the network storage as a data dump for music and documents, a model with single-core processor and little RAM is enough. However, if you want to stream Full HD or 4K movies to the TV, you need a nimble NAS server.
2.7. Possible remote access
If you also want to access data outside the home network, you need a model with remote access. Stored documents can then be accessed over the Internet and you have a private cloud that you can access from anywhere in the world.
3. Setup Tips: How do I connect my NAS server?
Commissioning is usually completed in a few steps. You connect the device to the mains and connect the LAN cable to the router. Then switch on the NAS server and call up the configuration via the browser on the PC. For initial configuration, the IP address of the NAS must be known. This can be determined via a supplied tool. Subsequently, it makes sense to assign a fixed IP.
Practical: In the configuration can be adjusted who may access which data. This makes sense for families, shared flats and small businesses alike.
Practical is the activation of the back-up software, which is part of the equipment on most models. This automatically backs up important data to the network hard disk. The use as a remote-controlled VCR is a useful additional function.
4. FAQ: Questions & Answers about the NAS server
4.1. What does the abbreviation NAS server stand for?
NAS is the abbreviation for Network Attached Storage , which translates to network-attached storage . Compared with the hard disk (Direct Attached Storage) installed locally in the PC, the data stored on a NAS hard disk can be accessed via the network . All devices connected to the network can have access to the NAS storage.
4.2. Which NAS server is right for the home?
The models presented in comparison are all suitable for use in your own home. If you set up the device in the living room, the quietest possible operation is an important selection criterion.
4.3. Which NAS server is suitable for Apple?
Make sure that the model is compatible with Apple’s Time Machine back-up solution. You should also be able to configure an iTunes server.
4.4. How can I build a NAS server myself?
As an alternative to buying a NAS server, a DIY solution is also possible. The NAS server self-construction can be a good opportunity for a cheap NAS server with appropriate know-how. If you buy an empty enclosure and even choose hard drives, be sure to use special NAS hard drives. These hardly cost more and are designed for permanent operation. There are also wireless routers that you can use as a NAS. However, the data transfer rate drops and no additional apps can be installed.
4.5. How do I use my NAS server for backup?
In the configuration, you set up folders whose contents are automatically synchronized. If everything is set correctly, you do not have to worry about anything else. For maximum security, you should use the NAS in Raid-1 as described above.
4.6. How can I mount a NAS server as a drive?
If the model supports Webdav, web access is provided via an integrated HTTP web server. The PC can then mount a shared folder on the NAS as a local drive. For this to work, your router must allow requests to port 5005 and forward them to the IP of the NAS. An encrypted transmission takes place via port 5006.
4.7. How can I set up a NAS server as cloud?
If you set up the NAS server, you can enable access over the Internet for remote-assisted models. Then make sure that the data can be encrypted. Encryption is often not activated at the factory.