Synology DS218+

Best NAS for the Home Windows Central 2019

Network-attached storage (known simply as NAS) is a handy addition to any home packed full of technology. Whether you need to store some files, music, backups, configure surveillance cameras, stream movies or other media, you'll want to consider installing a NAS. Something like the excellent DS218+ from Synology would be a great place to start.

Best Overall: Synology DS218+

Synology DS218+

Powered by a competent dual-core Intel Celeron J3355 (2.0GHz) and 2GB DDR3L (6GB max) RAM, the DS216+ by Synology is not only a well-designed black box, but it is also a capable streaming machine for the home. The system supports H.264 (AVC), H.265 (HEVC), MPEG-2 and VC-1 at a maximum resolution of 4K (4096x2160, 30 frames per second). This device will certainly put that shiny new 50-inch 4K TV to good use.

Its hot-swappable drive tray design allows for easy installation and maintenance, destroying the requirement for a screwdriver to remove or install a hard drive. Simply pull out, swap, re-insert, and you're good to go. Two hard drive bays are joined by USB 3.0 and eSATA ports. This product does not come with any hard drives, but there are some great NAS drives available. Throw two of these into the NAS to enjoy massive amounts of storage using RAID for redundancy.

Overall, this is a great, well-rounded package. You should purchase the Synology DS218+ if you're looking for an affordable NAS that can scale to cope with a large family or small office. Not only will you be able to keep backups and important documents safe, but also enjoy some media thanks to Plex support. It can handle movie and music streaming, surveillance recording and much more.

Pros:

  • DSM is excellent
  • Sleek and compact chassis
  • Great software support
  • Quick eject bays

Cons:

  • Only one Ethernet port
  • Limited storage with RAID

Best Overall

Synology DS218+

A superb mid-range NAS

Synology's DS218+ is a NAS best suited to small homes and offices. You can even set up your own media server with Plex, using the excellent DSM OS.

Runner-up: QNAP TS-251B

QNAP TS-251B

The QNAP TS-251B is similar to Synology's DS218+ in multiple ways. It houses a similarly powered CPU, RAM, number of drive bays, and support for third-party services. Like Synology, QNAP has its own NAS OS, which is user-friendly and powerful, allowing you to configure the server to do a whole host of tasks.

While the NAS isn't powerful enough to transcode and stream 4K content, it's more than capable of handling most tasks you'd likely perform on the server. Support is offered for external services and platforms, and QNAP also makes it possible for multiple isolated Linux systems to run.

Pros:

  • Great OS
  • Silent operation
  • Good software support
  • Plenty of rear ports
  • Compact chassis

Cons:

  • Only one Ethernet port
  • Limited storage with RAID

Runner-up

QNAP TS-251B

A feature-rich NAS solution

The TS-251B is a similar NAS to the Synology DS218+ in many ways, including the Intel processor, available RAM, drive bays, and support for popular services.

Mass Storage: Synology DS1618+

Synology DS1618+

You could think of the Synology DS1618+ being the DS218+ but with an additional four bays. That's a total of six drive bays for up to 96TB worth of storage, making it perfect for households with large offline media collections and plenty of connected devices.

Powered by a capable quad-core Intel Atom C3538 CPU, it's possible to stream a movie while other members of the household do other tasks on the NAS — just don't expect this server to be able to transcode 4K content if your receiving device doesn't support the same format.

If you need a NAS with plenty of storage, this is a great option should your budget be able to cover the price. The only downside could be the rather flimsy drive bays themselves, which could break if you're not too careful.

Pros:

  • DSM is excellent
  • Silent operation
  • Great software support
  • Quick eject bays
  • Six drive bays

Cons:

  • Drive bays could break
  • Pricey

Mass Storage

Synology DS1618+

The Synology NAS you need for mass storage

The DS1618+ is a serious NAS that allows you to install up to six hard drives for ridiculous amounts of storage space. It's also backed by Synology's excellent DSM OS.

Budget-friendly: Synology DS119j

Synology DS119j

Instead of including a more expensive Intel processor, Synology opted for the Marvell Armada 3700 88F3720 CPU, which is perfectly fine for efficient NAS operation, but may struggle when you want to do more demanding tasks. In fact, as of right now, Plex isn't supported, but what the DS119j does well is offering exceptional value.

If you simply need to store a few files and don't need to do anything with your NAS like run a media server, a surveillance system, or other demanding tasks, the DS119j will be enough — it's especially good for those new to the world of NAS, wanting an affordable device to test out.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Silent
  • Runs DSM OS and numerous apps
  • 64-bit CPU

Cons:

  • Sluggish CPU
  • Single drive bay
  • Poor multitasking

Budget-friendly

Synology DS119j

Synology's most affordable NAS with a single bay

The new DS119j is Synology's affordable budget NAS, rocking a single drive bay, energy-efficient ARM CPU, and RAM that can't be upgraded.

Value Pick: TerraMaster F2-221

TerraMaster F2-221

The F2-221 comes rocking good specifications, comprised of an Intel Apollo J3355 dual-core CPU, two Gigabit LAN ports, 2GB DDR3 RAM (expandable up to 4GB), and two USB 3.0 ports. It's not the most powerful NAS available, but at this price, you're getting a lot for your money.

Unfortunately, this TerraMaster NAS is let down by the OS, which while good simply doesn't match QNAP or Synology. The initial setup process is also a little less polished. Like other diskless NAS listed in this collection, you'll need to factor in the price of hard drives you plan to install inside the two bays.

Pros:

  • Sleek looking
  • Two LAN ports
  • Quick eject bays
  • Aluminum design
  • Supports Plex

Cons:

  • Can get expensive
  • OS isn't as good
  • Clumsy setup process

Value Pick

TerraMaster F2-221

TerraMaster takes on Synology's best-seller

The F2-221 does more things right than wrong. It's a solid, value-driven NAS but just don't expect the best experience.

Premium NAS: QNAP TVS-882BRT3-i5-16G

QNAP TVS-882BRT3-i5-16G

If you're ready to jump into the deep end with network-attached storage, it's time to go with a QNAP NAS equipped with a powerful Intel Core i5 processor. This unlocks additional performance headroom, allowing yet more family members to get online and enjoy stored content on the NAS, not to mention better transcoding support.

This NAS doesn't only have a more powerful CPU than most other servers available, but also four Gigabit ports for rock-solid connectivity, 16GB RAM (upgradable to 64GB), eight drive bays, and even a remote control. The VS-882BRT3-i5-16G would also work as a video file storage box for video editing workstations.

If you can somehow afford this NAS, it's well worth it for busy and tech-savvy households.

Pros:

  • Intel Core i5 CPU
  • Four LAN ports
  • Eight drive bays
  • Aluminum design
  • Remote control

Cons:

  • Really expensive

Premium NAS

QNAP TVS-882BRT3-i5-16G

When it's time for you to get serious about NAS

This NAS from QNAP is a beast. Sporting an 8th Gen Intel Core i5 processor, plenty of RAM, drive bays, and remote control, Plex needs to be installed.

Choosing the right NAS for your home

The Synology DS218+ is an excellent piece of kit, allowing you to effortlessly set up a home NAS, regardless as to which model you choose. You've got an Intel processor that can handle even some HD transcoding, as well as anything else you need to throw at your home server.

But it's not the best option for everyone, which is where our other options come in. Whether you need ample storage space, the most affordable NAS available, or something that isn't made by Synology, we got you covered with this collection of the best NAS for your home.

Ready to get serious with NAS? Go with the incredibly powerful QNAP TVS-882BRT3-i5-16G when you're good to move up to the next level.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Rich Edmonds is a staff reviewer at Windows Central, which means he tests out more software and hardware than he cares to remember. Joining Mobile Nations in 2010, you can usually find him inside a PC case tinkering around when not at a screen fighting with Grammarly to use British words. Hit him up on Twitter: @RichEdmonds.

Cale Hunt is a full-time writer for Windows Central, focusing mainly on PC hardware and VR. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user, and when he has some free time you can usually find him practicing guitar or reorganizing his ever-growing library. If you hear him say "Sorry!" it's only because he's Canadian.

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