While popular among storage-hungry PC enthusiasts, network-attached storage has proven to be particularly useful in office environments, where sharing large amounts of data between several desktop PCs can become quite problematic. Having followed its development for some time, the move to NAS just made sense in my own workplace and today provides a central point to share and store data on a daily basis.
With the availability of 2 terabyte hard drives, a majority of users will be satisfied with a 2 or 4-bay NAS solution. However, as data accumulates over time there are those who might require even more than that -- people in the graphic design, photography or video editing business, for example.
Performance and feature set are two things you'll definitely want to keep in mind. From our experience in testing a range of devices we can assure you there can be huge differences from one offering to another.
Typically these devices require less CPU and I/O power than your average computer as they are specifically designed for the task of file sharing. Some will provide you with transfer speeds of around 10-20MB/s, while the more serious models will deliver considerably better performance. Still, even the most recent high-end products from the likes of Synology struggle to max out a Gigabit Ethernet connection.
This is a justified concern when you consider that a budget DIY build based on a Core 2 Duo system running Windows is able to provide better throughput speeds. In fact, in our Synology Disk Station DS-409+ NAS review, when it came to file transfer performance, a Core 2 Duo E7400 system loaded with a single hard drive shared using the OS tools was faster than the Synology DS409+ loaded with four hard drives in a RAID0 configuration.
Our quest for a bigger and better alternative led us to one place: the QNAP TS-809 Pro Turbo NAS. Not only can this product accommodate more hard drives than we've seen before, supporting a total of eight, but it possesses power that is unmatched by any NAS device we have come across to date.