NAS hard drives: network storage in the test – COMPUTER BILD


Network socket instead of USB

The most important difference to a USB hard drive: A NAS hard drive delivers the data via network to the user. It therefore docks not directly to a computer, tablet or smartphone, but to the home WLAN router. This is also used for access, either via WLAN or, depending on the device, via network cable. Advantage: All devices with a connection to the router can access the data on the NAS.

More protection for the data

In addition, a NAS offers more options than a USB hard drive for protecting data. Because with the NAS you can determine exactly who can access which data. As with a server, you can simply set up users and grant them access rights so that children can only read certain folders – for example, they can view videos and photos from their own collection, but cannot delete or edit the films and pictures . NAS hard drives can also prevent possible data loss, because two hard drives fit into the tested NAS systems. They can be configured using RAID 1 technology so that the data is written to both disks in parallel. If one of the two plates fails, the other can restore it. Three of the four test candidates (Qnap TS-230, Synology DS218 + and WD Mycloud EX2 Ultra) can also encrypt the data on the NAS. This protects the stored data in the event of theft or if the NAS is reset. Only the Terramaster F2-210 cannot do that.

The pace is right

Older NAS models still had big speed differences, but those days are over. At least when it comes to transferring large files such as longer videos to the NAS or loading them from there. Then the data flow with it around 110 megabytes per second – The network jacks do not provide more. Only with smaller files such as photos or music tracks did the NAS processors notice differences in tempo in the test. The models from Qnap and Terramaster with the weaker Realtek processor are a bit slower than the competition. The Synology gained the greatest lead as the fastest disk with the most powerful processor for small files such as texts or smaller tables. There she was up to 15 times faster than the slowest Competitor.

A place for the NAS hard drive

A NAS does not have to stand on the desk, it can also easily be moved to a closet or storage room. It is only important that one Connection via network cable to the router is possible. It doesn’t matter whether it is 10 or 20 meters away. Network cables enable full speed even over long distances.

TS-230

Connections for data transfer at high speed: 1 x Gigabit LAN, 2 x USB 3.1 Data backup functions: very extensive access while on the move / Apps for iOS and Android: very extensive / very high reading speed (large / medium / small files): 108/69 / 3 MB / sec. Write speed (large / medium / small files): 110/91/10 MB / sec. Commissioning: cumbersome, many queries Operation and configuration: extensive settings Exchange of a hard disk: easy (open housing necessary) Data can be stored in encrypted form (type): yes (AES-256) Password security (protective functions): many recovery functions: extensive power consumption (idle / in operation with 1 x HDD): 6.94 / 10.53 watts Operating noise (idle / with intensive use): 0.4 / 1.2 sone

  • Versatile in use
  • Fast pace
  • Very secure data protection
  • Very economical and quiet
  • Installation cumbersome

Setting up must be

The NAS specialists from Qnap, Synology and Terramaster only build Empty Case and assume that the user installs the hard drives. It’s quite easy, with Synology even without tools. Some dealers also offer the NAS already equipped with hard drives. It is important in any case: Hard drives that are designed for continuous operation, e.g. from Seagate’s Iron Wolf series or from the Red series from WD, belong in a NAS. If NAS cases and hard drives come from the same manufacturer, on the other hand, it is often a whole lot cheaper. The WD My Cloud EX2 with two 4 terabyte hard drives costs only about 330 euros, which is just 180 euros more than the empty housing. In contrast, the competitors add around 240 euros for two 4 terabyte hard drives (as of August 2020). Regardless of whether it is a pre-purchased or a self-assembled NAS – No NAS user can avoid setting it up. Sometimes it’s easier, like with Synology (see photo gallery) and WD, sometimes more cumbersome, like with Qnap and Terramaster. The annoying with many questions (Qnap) or security warnings from Windows. The Terramaster in turn forces the user to install software that has not been certified for Windows Defender and requires exceptions to the Windows firewall. For this, the commissioning was downgraded to “poor”.

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To the picture gallery

More speed without shingled recording

One technique to achieve even more storage space on hard disks is shingled recording, the one special high data density enables. Always have to do this when writing multiple data tracks because the read / write heads of the hard disk are wider than a track – the more complex writing technology, however, pushes the writing speed down. No disadvantage if the NAS mainly reads data, but it does if a lot of data is to be written. If you do that, you should install hard drives without shingled recording in your NAS, for example with WD Plates from the Red Plus series.

My Cloud EX2 Ultra

Connections for data transfer at high speed: 1 x Gigabit LAN, 2 x USB 3.1 Data backup functions: somewhat restricted access when out and about / Apps for iOS and Android: very extensive / slightly less reading speed (large / medium / small files): 112/87 / 6 MB / sec. Writing speed (large / medium / small files): 110/90/2 MB / sec. Commissioning: very easy Operation and configuration: few setting options Exchange of a hard disk: very easy (removable frame) Data can be stored in encrypted form (type): yes (AES-256) Password security (protective functions): few recovery functions: extensive power consumption (idle / in operation with 1 x HDD): 4.95 / 9.80 watts Operating noise (idle / during intensive use): 0.6 / 0.9 sone

  • Cheap price
  • Fast pace
  • Secure data protection
  • Very economical and quiet
  • No cloud backup

Apps and functionality

A NAS hard drive can do much more than just store data. There are separate ones for all models in the test App stores, from which apps can be installed on the NAS – for example, to record directly to the NAS with a network surveillance camera. If you want to access the NAS with a smartphone or tablet, it is best to use Qnap or Synology – this is where the selection of suitable apps and their range of functions is greatest. Accessing the NAS while on the move also works with all test candidates, but requires additional setup steps. A DNS service such as QuickConnect is required for this, which can securely forward the current Internet address of the NAS to activated devices – photo gallery.

Quiet and economical

Pleasing: The test candidates do not annoy with fan noise and do not drive up the electricity bill unnecessarily. If you set up the NAS a little apart, you will hardly hear it. The Qnap is particularly quiet when idling 0.4 sone. In operation, the WD and Terramaster were slightly quieter than the competition with 0.9 sone. The power consumption is also low. The idle measurement is particularly important, after all, a NAS must always be accessible for access. The WD was there too modest 5 watts front. In operation in the minimum configuration with only one hard drive, the Terramaster performed best with 10 watts.

F2-210

Connections for data transfer at high speed: 1 x Gigabit LAN, 2 x USB 3.1 Data backup functions: very extensive access while on the move / apps for iOS and Android: extensive / very low reading speed (large / medium / small files): 112/73/4 MB / sec. Writing speed (large / medium / small files): 110/87/1 MB / sec. Commissioning: triggers a firewall alarm Operation and configuration: not always self-explanatory Exchange of a hard disk: simple (opening the housing necessary) Data can be stored in encrypted form (type): no Password security (protective functions): very few recovery functions: very extensive power consumption (idle / im Operation with 1 x HDD): 8.69 / 9.81 watts Operating noise (idle / during intensive use): 0.9 / 0.9 sone

  • High speed with larger files
  • Very extensive data backup functions
  • Very economical and quiet
  • No data encryption
  • Installation triggers firewall alarm

NAS in the test – conclusion

The most expensive device in the test is also the best: The Synology DS218 + wins the test by a clear margin. It is very fast, offers a lot of functions and scores with a very clear user interface. If you are looking for the cheapest NAS possible, go with it WD My Cloud EX2 Ultra preferably. For this, WD users have to cut back on the equipment.

* The cheapest price may now be higher.


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