Home Backup Made Easy
The importance of backing up your data is relatively mainstream these days. People either do it or don’t do it, but it’s common knowledge that there are two distinct ways to back up your data. You can do it online, using a service like Carbonite, or you can buy an external hard drive and set up a program to run regular back-ups. Online backup services are great and very reliable, but what do you do when you have hundreds of GBs to back up? Online backup is still a viable option, but it’s expensive and depending on your broadband connection, the initial backup could take months. Also, if you have multiple computers, you will quickly reach the limits of online backup.
What Is a NAS Server?
A NAS server is similar to an external hard drive but instead of connecting to a computer using a peripheral connection (USB, FireWire, Thunderbolt, etc.), it connects to your router (or switch) using a network cable and makes the storage space available to every computer on the network. Apart from acting as a backup destination (what I’m focusing on in this blog post), a NAS server can also work as a streaming server, file sharing server, and even a personal cloud server, as well as many other functions you can’t find in external hard drives.
Top Five Affordable NAS Servers
1. Synology Disk Station DS214se
Synology is the most well-known vendor of NAS servers. Thanks to the DiskStation Manger (DSM) operating system, Synology NAS servers are easily the best on the market in terms of performance, functionality, and reliability. The Synology DS214se is the latest in this crowd. It runs DSM 5.0, and is designed as a budget NAS server for a small home. The server can house two internal hard drives to offer up to 4TB of protected storage space (in RAID 1) and it supports Time Machine natively. It also comes with Data Replicator software for backing up your Windows computer. At the current price of just $160 (diskless) or $340 (4TB included), the Synology DS214se is a really good bargain.
2. WD My Cloud EX2
The My Cloud EX2 is a dual-bay NAS server from WD and is one of the most affordable among dual-bay servers on the market costing just $390 for 4TB (6TB and 8TB servers also exist). While it doesn’t offer as many features as the Synology above, the server is very easy to use and will make a great backup server for both Windows and Macs. It also has a very user-friendly personal cloud features for you to access and share data on the go.
3. WD My Cloud
The WD My Cloud is very similar to the WD My Cloud EX2 with one exception – it’s a single bay NAS server. This means that it only houses one data drive and there’s no way to protect this data if the lone drive fails. For this reason, I would only recommend this as a backup drive and not a drive that holds a single copy of your data. This is a significant drawback, made up slightly be a very competitive price. The WD My Cloud currently costs just $150 for 2TB of space.
4. Seagate Central
The Seagate Central is also a single bay NAS server. The server supports Time Machine backup natively and comes with backup software for Windows. It’s not as easy to use or as fast as any of the above servers but it’s definitely the most affordable with a current price of just less than $130 for 2TB.
5. Apple Airport Time Capsule
Obviously this is not an option for PC users, but the Time Capsule is a great backup server. As a storage device, it can’t do much else other than act as the backup destination for Time Machine and share files between multiple computers, so its utility is extremely limited. The one unique thing the Airport Time Capsule includes is a wifi router, so if you only have apple devices and you need a wifi router with 2TB backup capability, the Airport Time Capsule is a good deal at $280.