Can anyone recommend a good NAS for use in a home-server environment? I would request at least 2, preferably 4 disks, and I am most interested in good to excellent throughput for file-server and backup purposes - don't need any of the fancy media-streaming or -sharing features, that's not of interest to me.

For a 4 or more disk solution, support for the various RAID levels (0, 1, 1+0, 5) would be a plus - especially if supported in hardware (rather than just a software emulation).

I just need a place to put my collection of data, ISO images, and so forth - and since several external disks (self-built and off-the-shelf) have failed so far, I'm looking into a more reliable solution.



8 Answers 8


I bought a Readynas 4 years ago and I have been nothing but happy with it. Their current home/office products (the NV+ abd NVX) meet all your requirements, and then quite a bit more. Some features include:

  • SSH access
  • built-in bittorent client
  • hot swappable drives
  • file-services: CIFS, NFS, HTTP(S), FTP(S), AFP, rsync
  • DHCP and printer server
  • RAID 0, 1, 5 (and their proprietry X-Raid)
  • USB ports
  • a bunch of useful backup features
  • simple or advanced user modes

Quite a large community has built up around their online forums, and I have been blown away by the level of support that their staff provide over the forums. They also release somewhat regular updates to the OS, which still apply to my old Readynas X6.

  • Well that settles it for me, I'm getting one May 29, 2010 at 16:00

I have a Thecus N4100PRO at home.

  • It has 4 bays.
  • It supports RAID 0/1/5/6/10 and JBOD.
  • It has 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports ==> It can be configured as a router.
  • Also has USB ports on which you can connect
    • extra HD's (e.g. for backup purposes).
    • a printer (which then can be used as a network printer).
    • a Wi-Fi USB stick (with which you can use the NAS also as a Wireless Access Point).
    • a WebCam (with wich you can use the NAS as an IP CAM server).
  • Its firmware is released under the GPL.
  • There are some nice forums on which to ask questions.
  • The functionality can be extended with other modules (there's even an IP CAM Module for extra security ;-) ==> see the point about USB above).
  • Thanks for your thoughts - wish I could have accepted all the good answers!
    – marc_s
    Jul 21, 2009 at 15:19

I personally have a QNAP on my network (4-bay model), and although mine had a relatively low-powered processor, there are models ranging all the way up to 2.4GHz.

Their support is excellent, and their forums are very helpful for doing non-standard things (hackers that set up SVN servers, media streamers, etc. on their NAS are not uncommon on there).

  • Would that be a TS-409 or a TS-439 ?
    – marc_s
    Jul 21, 2009 at 5:00
  • I got the TS-409 ... there is actually a newer model with a higher powered processor, but that'd use a bit more power too... if you care about that ;) ... other than that, it's proven a very reliable and versatile device.
    – jerryjvl
    Jul 21, 2009 at 9:18
  • Thanks for your thoughts - wish I could have accepted all the good answers!
    – marc_s
    Jul 21, 2009 at 15:19

I'd highly recommend a Windows Home Server (WHS) machine, particularly the one of the HP MediaSmart Servers. Advantages include:

  • Excellent drive management, including disk mix-and-matching, adding/upgrading drives on the fly, configurable data duplication
  • Excellent backup support for PC's on your LAN (including Time Machine support for OSX machines if you go with a MediaSmart Server)
  • Great performance (in my experience)
  • An active add-on community for WHS customization
  • In addition to add-ons, you have a highly-flexible OS (Windows Home Server is basically a lightweight version of Windows Server 2003). You can just remote login into the WHS machine and install apps as if it were a normal PC (keeping in mind memory and processor restrictions). (Also note that this is not supported by any of the WHS hardware vendors, AFAIK.)

And all this for a great value. In addition to the HP WHS machines, Acer has also recently come out with an WHS offering as well (Acer EasyStore Aspire AH340), so be sure and check them out as well.

  • Did you check on the availability of the Acer easyStore series?
    – arathorn
    Jul 20, 2009 at 14:27
  • The Acer easyStore NAS seem to be available - but that doesn't seem to be the WHS server you mentioned - unfortunately! Thanks for your thoughts - wish I could have accepted all the good answers!
    – marc_s
    Jul 21, 2009 at 15:20
  • @marc_s: It's the EasyStore Apsire -- I'll add a link to it in my answer.
    – arathorn
    Jul 21, 2009 at 15:44

I went through a month long excercise trying to pick a good NAS.

It came down to a few important factors:

How important is the size of the NAS?
How important is the cost of the NAS?
How important is the upgradeability of the NAS?

You can have any two.

I almost bought a Tranquil PC SQA5H, which looks awesome and comes in a bunch of similarly awesome configurations (Atom + 5 drive bays + SATA expansion) but at the end of the day it was just starting to cost too much for a small device.

In the end, I realised that for the same money as a Tranquil PC I could put together a full spec PC running a low power Celeron (stupidly low power on idle), in a case of my choice and passively cool it making a silent almost eternally upgradable NAS. Plus, because it's more powerful than an Atom, I could actually have it do some more heavy lifting like media serving / transcoding and running a number of different types of services for the same power footprint. I sacrificed size for power and performance.

If you want size + performance the QNAPs and the Tranquil kit are excellent.

If you want performance + cost, build a low spec PC with carefully chosen quiet / cool parts.

I'll post the full spec of the machine I built if desired (I honestly don't remember the full spec off hand, but it cost me £300-£350 from memory, with 3.5tb worth of disk space on top of the hardware.

  • 1
    ARGH - pick two of the three..... sheesh! Why can't I have it all?? :-)
    – marc_s
    Jul 21, 2009 at 5:02
  • Did you take energy consumption (e.g. sleep features) and/or (acoustic) noise into consideration? Aug 3, 2009 at 15:13
  • "To a degree". I bought the lowest end Celeron that runs at ~35w for power consumption reasons and that has the side effect of running very cool, enabling passive cooling. Noise isn't a major factor as the server has it's own room away from people. I did a little tuning of power saving profiles in Windows but nothing more extreme. I've not measured the power consumption of the box so I can't reliably answer the question with facts, but I presume it's pretty efficent. Aug 4, 2009 at 9:11

Products from Synology Inc.

  • 1
    which ones in particular? I had a bad experience with the Synology support in their early days, which kinda keeps me away from their products these days.....
    – marc_s
    Jul 21, 2009 at 5:01
  • I absolutely love my DS-209. The RAID 1 seems solid (after recovering from a hard drive failure), it has tons of networking features, a great web admin, and the ability to load third party packages. Jul 26, 2011 at 15:54

Have you looked at a drobo? I've not heard anything bad about them, I'm thinking about getting one.

  • 7
    IMO drobo's are extremely overpriced for what they offer, they seem to follow the apple adage put mediocre stuff in a shiny box and give it a big shiny price tag. Jul 20, 2009 at 13:32
  • Yep, looks pretty pricey....
    – marc_s
    Jul 20, 2009 at 14:06
  • 3
    Don't forget that to actually get network-attached storage with a Drobo, you also have to purchase a DroboShare in addition to the Drobo.
    – arathorn
    Jul 20, 2009 at 14:49

I've heard good things about the Western Digital ShareSpace. It has RAID and comes in 2,4, and 8TB capacity.

RAID differs on the version:

RAID capability - Offers multiple RAID configurations for data protection and speed -- RAID 0 (Striped), RAID 1 (Mirrored) and RAID 5. The RAID 5 mode, only available on the fully-populated 4-drive system, is the recommended mode to achieve both high-performance and data protection through redundancy.

The 4 and 8 TB WD ShareSpace systems are shipped in RAID 5 mode for maximum reliability.

The 2 TB WD ShareSpace system is shipped in Spanning Mode for maximum capacity and the flexibility to add additional drives without reformatting the system.

  • Anyone using the WD ShareSpace? Could I potentially swap out the e.g. 500GB disks later on for e.g. 2 TB disks??
    – marc_s
    Jul 20, 2009 at 11:31
  • I am not personally using it but I don't see why not...
    – Damien
    Jul 20, 2009 at 11:55

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .