Dong Ngo rounds up of the five best NAS servers so far in terms of performance, features, and price.
Dong NgoSF Labs Manager, Editor / Reviews
CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews 3D printers, networking/storage devices, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.
If you don't know what an NAS server is, it's basically a storage device that connects to your network, much like an external hard drive connects to a computer. An NAS server, therefore, provides storage space for every computer in the network, not just one particular machine.
Over the years, NAS servers have become more and more sophisticated, and now all are much more than just storage space hosts. Features that used to be considered cutting-edge--like Media Server, which allows the NAS to automatically stream digital content to other devices in the network such as computers or game consoles, or remote access over the Internet--now come standard with most, if not all, NAS servers.
Some servers even function in place of other home electronics. Servers from Synology, for example, can also be used as a data recorder to work like a surveillance system. The Synonymy DS410 can support up to 12 different IP cameras and its surveillance station feature is more sophisticated than most existing systems used by homes and small businesses.
The best thing about NAS servers is that they're designed to automate most of their tasks, so unlike with other traditional servers users don't need to do much. NAS servers also use much less power than tradition computers and don't require a monitor or a mouse and keyboard.
2010 is gearing up to be a good year for NAS servers, as most of those CNET has reviewed so far have been consistently better in terms of speeds and features than the servers of 2009. They're also more affordable.