Network Storage Tips

Which Home NAS Is Right For Me?

synology-two-drive-home-nasLots of people with growing data files are asking which home NAS is right for me? There is a lot of information out there about the various network storage devices for sale but little that really describes what they do.

Let’s start out by finding out if you are in the category of most first time network attached storage buyers.

Often people will start out with a computer whose hard drive fills up with lots of photos, music and some video, so they buy an external hard drive.

Then, one of two things happens.

  • The get tired of moving that external hard drive from computer to computer and wish they could easily access that data from any computer in their home over the wireless network already in the house.
  • Or, they find out the hard way that keeping your only copy of an important file on a single external hard drive is a good way to suffer data loss when that hard drive crashes. That’s when they find out about RAID data protection – which is offered on most home NAS devices.

The 2 Drive NAS

A natural step up from the external hard drive is the 2 drive NAS device. Strictly speaking, the 2 drive NAS, configured in RAID1 where both hard drives are simultaneous copies of the same data for redundancy, is just an external hard drive with network access and protection against a single hard drive failure.

Certainly these home network storage devices do a lot more than that, but usually those are features that the NAS owner comes to appreciate later on.

Considering the increased cost of a home NAS over a cheap external hard drive, this is and important first step for anyone serious about their data to take.

Which Home NAS To Buy?

Naturally our personal preference is to buy the best home NAS, which arguably is the Netgear ReadyNAS Ultra 2 Plus, but we realize that this is not in everyones budget (especially these days) and may be more than some people need.

So if you want to get a decent home storage device that meets your needs now but won’t break the bank, take a look at a 2 drive home NAS that:

  • Is made by a reputable manufacturer like Netgear, DLink, Synology, Buffalo, QNAP, Thecus, etc.
  • Has a warranty that you are comfortable with (1 year goes by quickly, so look for longer – 3 year will probably be max for consumer NAS)
  • Has at least 2 hard drives (or diskless that you can put 2 or more drives in)
  • Gets 4 star or above user reviews based on lots of reviews. (The Synology pictured above is 4.5 stars at Amazon.com)
  • Has a gigabit (10/100/1000) network connection, not just 10/100.
  • Offers good support options

Don’t Forget RAID

Many of these home NAS units will come with just 1 hard drive or will offer JBOD (just a bunch of disks) configuration. Unless you know exactly what you are doing, don’t do that!

Choose RAID1 for two drives or RAID5 for 3 or more drives (RAID6 is great but only on larger, more expensive units).

RAID0 is touted as being fast, so some people choose it. Please DON’T! RAID0 does NOT protect your data against drive failure.

You are going to want to make sure that your new home NAS is properly configured for RAID1 (or above) before you start copying any data to it. Contact tech support if you have any doubts.

Here Are Some Highly Rated 2 Drive Home NAS Devices To Choose From

These less expensive home NAS devices (not “cheap”, don’t want that!) are rated well by most people who own them. We have not tried out each and every one ourselves, but would be comfortable having our “mom” buy one.

There are other great 2 Drive NAS’s but we want to show you some of the more affordable ones. And certainly, you can buy a  4 Drive Bay NAS and start with only 2 drives in it.

Understand, though, that some Network Attached Storage vendors make it easier to add disks or migrate arrays than others. That’s another reason we really like the Netgear ReadyNAS devices with X-RAID2 technology and array migration ability.



2 Comments

  1. Michelle Murray
    Posted September 20, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    I am thinking of buying the Netgear ReadyNAS Duo RND2220
    (2 x 2TB) as I am looking for a home media streamer I can connect to from the NET do you know if I can add webpages to the streamer and use flash to control the lay out and look of the server

    I would like to use it as a website server for my private use would I have more control on how the content looked and can I use other software to create custom video and mp3 players I would like to use it like windows server 2008 with media streaming
    also can I upgrade the ram to 1gb
    I think you site is great full of useful help well done thanks
    Michelle Murray

  2. admin
    Posted September 29, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    Customizing the web server is probably possible, but not supported by Netgear.

    Also, for streaming I would recommend a newer, Intel powered, faster Ultra or even Ultra Plus