12.5 C
New York
Monday, January 25, 2021
Home News You don't have to spend a lot on a NAS enclosure

You don’t have to spend a lot on a NAS enclosure

ds216j.jpg

The best cheap NAS (network-attached storage) enclosure is one that gives you all the features that you’d look for in an internet-connected storage drive for less. Ideally, it should be able to back up the data and photos on all devices on your home network, play your media collection across devices, and provide adequate storage for all your data needs. There are plenty of great NAS servers like Synology or Drobo that do just that, but our favorite is the Synology DiskStation DS220j, which is a great starter model if you’re looking to upgrade your home network.

1. Synology DiskStation DS220j: Best Overall

ds220j.jpg

If you’re looking to build a NAS for backing up data from all the phones and Windows and macOS machines in your house or storing your audio and media library, Synology is the ideal place to start. The brand sells dozens of enclosures across all price points, but if you’re looking at a budget model to get started, the DiskStation DS220j is a great option.

The DS220j has two drive bays, and each bay can accommodate hard drives up to 16TB. The NAS itself comes in at a reasonable price, but that’s just for the diskless enclosure — you will have to buy the hard drives, like Seagate’s 4TB IronWolf hard drive, separately. The IronWolf drives are designed to run in NAS enclosures, and they come with vibration protection and 24/7 reliability.

You can pick up the DS220j and a 4TB hard drive for a low price, and in doing so you’ll get a robust NAS enclosure with excellent software features. Synology’s DiskStation Manager is the gold standard in the industry, and it comes with an exhaustive list of options that make it easy to back up the data on all devices across your home network, stream audio and video seamlessly, and there’s even a utility that automatically sorts the photos that are uploaded to the NAS into albums. You have the option to set up user accounts and have family members set up their own private space for photos and other data on the NAS.

I’ve been using Synology’s NAS enclosures for six years now, and I keep coming back to them for the powerful software features. The DS220j has a lot going for it on the hardware front as well: you get a Realtek RTD1296 chipset, 512MB of RAM, Gigabit Ethernet connectivity, and two USB 3.0 ports. It works well as a Plex server, and for what you’re paying here, you’re getting outstanding value.

Pros:

  • Exhaustive software features
  • Outstanding value
  • Gigabit Ethernet connectivity
  • Holds up to 32TB of storage
  • Runs quiet

Cons:

  • Limited memory

Best Overall

Synology DiskStation DS220j

ds220j_0.jpg

  • $170 at Amazon
  • $171 at Newegg
  • $170 at B&H Photo

A fantastic overall choice

The DS220j offers everything you need from a budget NAS enclosure, and the software on offer makes it a standout option.

2. Western Digital My Cloud Home 3TB: Best for Beginners

wd-my-cloud-home_2.jpg

If you’re looking for an integrated NAS enclosure that comes with a hard drive built-in, Western Digital’s My Cloud Home is a solid choice. The enclosure is aimed at first-time NAS buyers, and it lets you easily back up photos from your phone and data from Windows and macOS machines in your house. There’s also a USB 3.0 port at the back for slotting in an external drive and transferring its contents over to the NAS.

You also get the option to stream locally-stored content on devices in your home network, and with individual user accounts, your family members will be able to save content from their devices to the NAS directly. WD also has a My Cloud Home app that gives you access to the NAS on the go.

The software features are limited here, but if you’re just looking to get a NAS to backup data and stream media locally on your home network, the My Cloud Home is a decent choice. Considering you’re getting the enclosure and a 3TB drive for a low price, it’s a great value.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Integrated hard drive
  • Great value
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • One USB 3.0 port

Cons:

  • Limited software features
  • Not upgradeable

Best for Beginners

Western Digital My Cloud Home 3TB

wd-my-cloud-home.jpg

  • $160 at Amazon
  • $160 at Best Buy
  • $195 at B&H Photo

A great all-in-one option

WD’s My Cloud Home is aimed at first-time buyers, and it makes backing up data from devices a breeze.

3. Synology DiskStation DS120j: Best Value

ds120j.jpg

If you’re looking for a more affordable option that lets you get started with Synology’s excellent DiskStation Manager software, the DiskStation DS120j is a great choice. The NAS is available for less than any other pick on this list, and you can pick up a 4TB IronWolf hard drive and have a 4TB media server for just a little more. That makes the DS120j marginally costlier than WD’s My Cloud series, but you get much more robust software.

DiskStation Manager’s standout feature is that you get apps for Android and iOS that let you stream audio, video, and access photos that are stored on the DS120j. The best part is that you can access the NAS from outside your home network, making the NAS your own private music and video streaming service.

The DS120j is a one-bay model, and that means you can slot in a single hard drive. A 4TB drive would be the ideal choice here, but if you think you’ll need more storage, you can always get an 8TB IronWolf drive, giving you the option to double the storage. The extensibility combined with the robust software is what gives Synology an edge over the likes of Western Digital and Buffalo in this segment.

On the hardware side of things, the DS120j comes with a Marvell Armada 3700 chipset, 512MB of RAM, Gigabit Ethernet connectivity, two USB 2.0 ports, and a 60mm fan at the back. Overall, the DS120j is a fantastic choice if you want to get started with what Synology has to offer without spending too much money.

Pros:

  • Easiest way to access Synology’s excellent software
  • Great value
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • Holds up to 16TB of storage
  • runs quiet

Cons:

  • Single hard drive bay
  • Not ideal for Plex streaming

Best Value

Synology DiskStation DS120j

ds120j_0.jpg

  • $100 at Amazon
  • $102 at Newegg
  • $100 at B&H Photo

Everything you need — for less

The DS120j lets you access Synology’s excellent software features for not a whole lot of money.

4. Synology DiskStation DS220+: Upgrade Pick

ds220-plus.jpg

Need more power than the DS220j or the DS120j? You’ll want to take a look at the DiskStation DS220+. The NAS features Intel’s powerful Celeron J4025 chipset and comes with 2GB of DDR4 RAM, making it a fantastic choice as a NAS for Plex. You get two drive bays that can accommodate a total of 32TB of storage and two Gigabit Ethernet ports that can be linked together.

One of the standout features of the DS220+ is that it can easily handle 4K transcoding. You’ll come across this term often enough in the NAS world, and what it means is that the DS220+ can essentially convert a video file from one format to another on the fly, allowing it to play on any device. So if you have a video with an .MKV file extension and it doesn’t play on your TV, the NAS converts the file into a playable format, giving you the option to stream it on your TV. This is all done automatically, so you don’t need to worry about manually selecting file formats.

I’ve been using the DS220+ for just over two months now, and one of the features I like the most is Synology’s Android and iOS apps. I can monitor the status of the NAS or access files, images, and videos directly from my OnePlus 8T. The DS220+ is exciting as a media server thanks to its robust hardware, and you get the same great set of software features in DiskStation Manager as other Synology products. You’ll need to pick up at least one hard drive, so if you’re getting a 4TB IronWolf drive, you’ll be spending quite a bit. However, that’s still decent considering the hardware on offer here will last you several years.

Pros:

  • Powerful hardware
  • Works great with Plex and over DLNA
  • 4K transcoding on the fly
  • Holds up to 32TB of storage
  • Two Gigabit Ethernet ports

Cons:

  • No M.2 SSD slots for caching
  • Expensive

Upgrade Pick

Synology DiskStation DS220+

ds220-plus_0.jpg

  • $300 at Amazon
  • $300 at Newegg
  • $300 at B&H Photo

The best two-bay NAS for Plex

If you’re looking to build a robust media server with 4K transcoding, the DS220+ is the best two-bay option.

5. Buffalo LinkStation 210 4TB: Best Integrated Solution

buffalo-linkstation-210.jpg

The LinkStation 210 is an interesting choice if you’re looking for an integrated solution that comes with hard drives built-in. Like the WD My Cloud Home, the LinkStation 210 comes with an internal hard drive out of the box, and this time you get a 4TB option. Considering it costs less than a lot of options on this list, it’s a great value.

Like other enclosures on this list, you get the ability to automatically back up the data from all the devices on your home network, and the LinkStation 210 works great as a media server, letting you stream content over DLNA. The integrated solution makes it a particularly decent choice for users looking to get set up without having to manually add a hard drive.

There’s also Gigabit Ethernet connectivity and a USB 2.0 port that lets you transfer data from a USB drive or external hard drive easily.

Pros:

  • Incredible value
  • Integrated solution with 4TB hard drives built-in
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • Automatically backs up data

Cons:

  • Limited software features
  • USB 2.0 port

Best Integrated Solution

Buffalo LinkStation 210 4TB

buffalo-linkstation.jpg

  • $176 at Amazon
  • $176 at Best Buy
  • $176 at Newegg

Standout value in this segment

With the LinkStation 210, you’re getting an easy-to-use NAS enclosure with hard drives included out of the box.

6. Synology DiskStation DS418: Best Four-Bay Option

ds418.jpg

The DiskStation DS418 is one of the best options if you want a budget four-bay NAS enclosure from Synology. With each drive bay accommodating 16TB hard drives, you get a total of 64TB of storage. With a Realtek RTD1296 chipset, 2GB of RAM, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, and two USB 3.0 ports, the DS418 has all the hardware features you could ask for in a robust media server.

DiskStation Manager lets you stream content to all devices on your home network, back up files and photos, and you get a lot of extras that make the NAS stand out. If you’re looking to build a home media server and feel that two drive bays won’t be enough, the DS418 is an ideal choice.

The NAS enclosure on its own costs a lot, and you’ll have to pick up hard drives additionally. My recommendation would be the 4TB IronWolf drive.

Pros:

  • Holds up to 64TB of storage
  • Reliable in day-to-day use
  • Dual Gigabit Ethernet connectivity
  • Outstanding software features
  • Great for Plex

Cons:

  • Misses a few advanced features

Best Four-Bay Option

Synology DiskStation DS418

ds418-1.jpg

  • $370 at Amazon
  • $370 at Newegg
  • $370 at B&H Photo

The best budget four-bay NAS

If you want a powerful NAS with four drive bays that can hold more storage than you’ll end up using, the DS418 is the choice.

What’s the best cheap NAS you can buy in 2020?

ds216j-2.jpg

If you want to get into NAS and setting up a media server, you might think you have to spend a lot of money. While you should spend three figures — and extra for a hard drive along with the enclosure — you don’t have to spend towards the upper end of your budget.

The point I’m trying to make is that you don’t have to invest too much money to get your hands on a reliable NAS that excels at the basics. That’s evident with the DiskStation DS220j — it delivers everything you’re looking for in a NAS, and the software on offer makes it a standout option. You can use it for streaming 4K videos on all devices on your home network, set up your own audio and video streaming servers, and automatically back up the data across your network.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

100x100_8825393.jpg

Harish Jonnalagadda is the Asia Editor of Android Central. A reformed hardware modder, he now spends his time writing about India’s burgeoning phone market. Previously, he used to ponder the meaning of life at IBM. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.

Latest

Tronsmart’s latest Q10 wireless headphones are currently on a huge discount

Tronsmart makes some great smartphone accessories and audio devices. The company has gained more and more users as a budget alternative to the big brands over the last few years. Tronsmart’s latest offering is the Q10 wireless headphones.While we have yet to fully review these new active noise-canceling headphones, Tronsmart wants to share with our readers that the Q10 is currently deeply discounted for its big launch. (but stay tuned for more on that review in the next few weeks) Retail partner AliExpress has the Q10 headphones a whopping 53% off if you act quickly.This $52.99 cutback is good for the next two days. From January 25 thru the 27th, you can snag these over-ear headphones for more than half the price. This is a pretty great deal for headphones that pack a pretty decent spec sheet.The Tronsmart Q10 will get you Bluetooth 5.0, touch controls, active noise-cancellation, and an estimated 100 hours of playtime. The headset also has Google Voice support and USB-C charging to round out the bullet points.So, what are you waiting for? Get over to AliExpress using this link: http://bit.ly/TSQ10JANae to enjoy this limited time offer from Tronsmart.

US Mobile Buyer’s Guide (January 2021)

Most consumers are familiar with the big-name wireless carriers like Verizon and AT&T, but not nearly as many are as well-versed when it comes Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) like Consumer Cellular or FreedomPop.These MNVO brand operators license the towers and coverage from the tier-one providers and offer their own phones, rate plans, and customer service.Let’s take a look at one in particular: US MobileAboutUS Mobile is a small MVNO that utilizes T-Mobile’s 4G LTE network and Verizon’s 4G LTE network and is known for letting customers add talk, text and data on the fly, at any time.The carrier is not shy about its usage of T-Mobile, but it does appear to hide its Verizon component a bit. We’re not sure why.What are US Mobile rate plans like?US Mobile touts is affordable packages for subscribers who need wireless coverage but want some flexibility in the talk, text and time used each month.Customers can pick and choose plans, customizing as they see fit, or choose from a selection of “Unlimited” options. Don’t want or need data? That’s fine.The Unlimited Plans are as follows:$15/mo – Unlimited talk, text, and 2.5GB data$30/mo – Unlimited talk, text, and 10GB dataThe custom plans come with hotspot capabilities and 250MB of 4G LTE international roaming.A recent change to the plans sees US Mobile offering a $40 option which includes unlimited talk, text, and data. To be clear, it’s 50GB of high speed data with heavier users potentially seeing reduced speeds after hitting the threshold. Data speeds are considered “Fast” which means up to 5Mbps for video streaming.For $5 more per month subscribers can get 10GB of mobile hotspot capabilities. For $10 more per month customers can increase data speeds to “Ludicrous” up to 250Mbps, plus the hotspot feature.Family PlansUS Mobile customers can create multi-line accounts, each of which is basically the $40 plan. Things get cheaper per line as you add them to the mix.US Mobile phone selectionUS Mobile has a small selection of phones to choose from, many of which are a few years old. Moreover, they appear to be fairly expensive, too. We definitely recommend using your existing T-Mobile or Verizon phone if possible.Where can I buy an unlocked phone?Bring your own deviceUS Mobile tends to work better for people who already have a phone that they’d like to use. Whether it’s a T-Mobile or Verizon handset, or something else, you’ll probably have luck using it with US Mobile. According to the carrier, 99% of devices will work with its service.What else should I know about US Mobile?US Mobile operates entirely online and does not have any physical retail locations in the US.For every friend you refer to US Mobile, the carrier will give you both up to $10. They save up to $10 on their first plan and you get up to $10 off your next bill.You can easily add talk, text, and/or data Top Ups to your current plan to always stay connected. They roll over to next month when you use AutoPay, automatic bill payment.A US Mobile starter SIM kit can be purchased for $3.99, letting subscribers keep their existing phone number.

Omoton C3 Cell Phone Stand review: It also works for tablets?!

The Omoton C3 Cell Phone Stand might work for both smartphones and tablets, making it a great option!

Nulaxy A5 Tablet Stand review: Surprising quality for the price!

The Nulaxy A5 Tablet Stand competes in a fierce, crowded market, but it has some cool features and a very