November 2009: Network Attached Storage (NAS)
helps you back up and organize large amounts of data on a local network. The below entry-level NAS products help you set up a home network storage system.
With a few exceptions, NAS devices do not support Wi-Fi; rather, they are cabled to a router's Ethernet ports. A NAS device gets its own IP address that local computers connect to using Internet protocols for file transfers.
NAS devices with USB ports allow adding capacity with an external USB drive, or connecting a printer or other USB device.
The DNS-323 is a network storage enclosure that accepts either one or two 3.5-inch SATA hard drives, sold separately. Its USB port functions as a network print server with compatible USB printers. DNS-323 also includes built-in BitTorrent
support enabling BitTorrent P2P
downloads direct to the device. The DNS-323 provides Gigabit Ethernet connections and an optional FTP
While the base enclosure sells without any hard drives, DNS-323 kits with a pre-installed hard drive may also be available through some outlets. Owners have praised its hardware quality but some have raised serious concerns about the level of customer support for this product that was introduced back in 2006. D-Link supplies their 1-year warranty for the DNS-323.
Introduced in 2008, Network Space
is a newer alternative to the LaCie (pronounced 'Lah-see') Ethernet Disk mini NAS (see below). Boasting an attractive black enclosure designed by an award winning industrial artist, Network Space offers similar functionality to LaCie's previous home network storage products including FTP and iTunes server support for both PC and Macs, a USB port, and Gigabit Ethernet.
This product is renowned for its slick industrial design. Some owners have criticized the unit's performance. Although the 500 GB model #301387U has been discontinued, LaCie continues to sell the 1 TB model #301389U. A 2-year manufacturer's warranty accompanies these units.
LaCie's newest network storage server for home is the 2009 d2 Network
. LaCie targets this unit at small businesses as well as homeowners by providing Active Directory support and enabling file sharing for up to 15 concurrent users (compared to a maximum of 5 with Network Space). d2 Network also appeals to Mac and PC owners alike, having Time Machine support and both Windows and Mac OS backup software bundled with the product.
Lacie sells 500 GB, 1 TB and 1.5 TB versions of the d2 Network. Each includes a 3-year limited warranty. Owners have reported mixed experiences with this product. Expect to pay slightly more for LaCie d2 Network compared to its other home network storage offerings.
Apple Time Capsule was the first entry-level NAS product with wireless capability when announced in early 2008. The built-in draft 802.11n
Wi-Fi supplies all the functions of a wireless router
and in fact you can use this product as both a router and a NAS device. The unit also features a USB port for printer sharing. For network storage, Time Capsule includes software for automatic backups that can run either wirelessly or over Gigabit Ethernet links. This NAS device supports both Mac and PCs, although the backup software works best with Apple's Time Machine
application on Mac computers. Apple sells both 500 GB and 1 TB flavors (model #MB276LL/A) with a 1-year warranty standard.
Discontinued in favor of the Mini and other more expensive devices in the LinkStation family, LinkStation EZ had the most basic feature set among the various NAS products from Buffalo Technology. It shipped in both 320 GB (model #LS-L320GL) and starting in 2008 a 500 GB (model #LS-L500GL) capacities. It featured Gigabit Ethernet connections and is designed for easy setup. Although the Linkstation EZ includes bundled automatic backup software that only works with Windows PCs, the device otherwise supports Mac OS X computers.
Buffalo Technology provided its 1-year warranty for the LinkStation EZ.
LaCie produced its Home Edition NAS in both 500 GB (model #301269U) and 1 TB / 1000 GB (model #301270U) versions. Introduced in 2007, the units feature Gigabit Ethernet
connections plus one USB port. Network set up software included with the product can be run on either PC and Mac computers and supports both FTP and iTunes servers.
Some owners of this product have complained of reliability issues and also slow performance when transferring files to and from the device. LaCie supplies its 3-year warranty with these NAS devices. Note: LaCie has discontinued the cheaper 500 GB model, although remaining inventory can still be purchased through a few outlets.
In 2008, D-Link started selling DNS-321 as a lower cost alternative to the DNS-323. The DNS-321 does not feature any USB port nor does it offer the built-in BitTorrent file sharing software. Otherwise, it is functionally identical to the older DNS-323. D-Link supplies its 1-year warranty for the DNS-321.
Iomega started shipping this product in 2007 and currently offers 360 GB, 500 GB and 1 TB versions. The Home Network HD supports Windows, Mac and Linux clients and multiple network protocols including HTTP, FTP and SMB/CIFS. It ships with an automatic backup software program. However, the device features only 10/100
Ethernet speeds and therefore expect slower file transfer performance than with other NAS devices having Gigabit Ethernet capability. Iomega supplies a 1-year warranty for this product.
First released in early 2007, the NAS200 is Linksys' network storage offering for home networks. The NAS200 is an enclosure product, providing two bays for the installation of SATA drives sold separately. For even more expandability, it includes 2 USB ports. The NAS200 features a button on the unit and automated network backup software to help simplify the task of backing up data. It also has FTP support. The NAS200 supports only 10/100 Ethernet. Cisco provides a 1-year warranty for this product.