Which of the entry-level NAS vendors gets it right for business customers? To find out, I reviewed five- and six-bay NAS cabinets from Iomega, Netgear, QNAP, Synology, and Thecus. Filled with 10TB or 12TB of raw storage, my test systems ranged in price from $1,699 to $3,799. Despite that gap, they all had a great deal in common, from core storage services to performance. However, I found the richest sets of business features -- straightforward setup, easy remote access, plentiful backup options -- at the higher end of the scale.
NAS shoot-out: Common ground On the surface, most of the NAS boxes in the sub-$5,000 class are very similar in terms of basic functionality and use. You will find a mix of consumer and professional capabilities, and depending your business needs, you may use just a few of these features or many of them. In the five NAS boxes I tested, I found common features as well as similar performance. Yes, some boxes proved slightly faster than others, but in general, performance was close enough that most end-users would not notice the differences.
Administration of the NAS will be done primarily with your Web browser. Although the vendors often provide applications that will help you with the basic setup of the box, after this is done, you spend most of your time using the Web-based GUI. Each vendor has its own spin on the look and feel for a Web admin GUI, so it could take you some time to find out where everything is.
Setup is typically straightforward. The hardest decision you will need to make is how you want to configure the hard drives. However, you can always let the NAS box default to what the manufacturer thinks is best. If you are someone who has more technical knowledge, you might want to dig into RAID 6 or RAID 10. If you don't know what RAID means, don't worry -- it's not necessary for a basic configuration. The whole premise behind having multiple hard drives is to protect your data against drive failures, and the manufacturers take advantage of this in their default configurations.