Best Cheap NAS of the year for those on a Budget
Network attached storage, although not a new concept, is still relatively new to many users and understandably can be an investment that many will choose to enter into cautiously. It is for this reason that big NAS brands such as Synology, QNAP, WD, Auster and more choose to release much more affordable and modest powered versions of the existing NAS range. These devices, though a little underwhelming in traditional PC terms are designed to give the user an entry-level access to the software and hardware advantages of network attached storage. Throughout 2018 we have seen hundreds of different NAS server devices enter the market and it can get confusing. Luckily we have gone through them all throughout the year and below I can tell you the top 3 Cheap/Budget NAS drives for 2018.
All three of the NAS drives below are supported by both Mac and Windows systems, as well as arrive with multiple iOS and Android applications for unparalleled access. All three can be used for Apple Time Machine backups, DLNA media streaming, basic file-level access from the network or over the internet, feature multi-user account controls and encryption. Finally, to keep things affordable, all three NAS drives in our best budget NAS of 2018 final list feature just one hard drive (or SSD) bay, so functionality such as hot swapping or RAID is not available. However, all three can be synchronised with a third party cloud providers such as Google Drive or Dropbox for off-site backups, as well as supporting USB external drive connection.
1st Place – WD My Cloud Home
2-8TB, Realtek RTD1295PB-CG 1.4Ghz A53 Quad Core, 1GB DDR4 Memory, 2-3 year Warranty, USB 3.0 and 1 LAN – £140+ ex.VAT
For sheer ease of setup and complete package, it is tough to beat the WD My cloud range of devices. Over the years we have seen Western Digital release several different versions of their popular home NAS device for many uses, but it was not until the release of the newest My Cloud home this year that they seemed to really cater for the budget Plex NAS user. At this time of writing, the WD My Cloud Home NAS is the only device that arrives with a Realtek ARM 64bit CPU with a FULL version of the Plex media server application. Although there are other ARM-based NAS devices this year that support the Beta version of plex, this incredibly affordable NAS is the only one that arrives with a fully compatible version included. This almost completely justifies the price, but there is more.
Add to this the fact that the WD My Cloud Home arrives pre-populated with WD Red hard drives. With the drives included (sold at less than retail cost each) and you will genuinely struggle to find a lower price Plex media server in 2018. Also, it is worth remembering that this NAS device arrives with a great warranty from WD and support Apple Time Machine DLNA and more. What more could you want?! It lacks some of the shiny apps from brands like Synology and QNAP, but this can be forgiven if you want a NAS that is designed for affordable and compact NAS for traditional file access.
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2nd Place – QNAP TS-128A NAS
0-14TB, Realtek RTD1295 Quad Core 1.4 GHz, 1GB DDR4, 2yr Warranty, 2x USB 2.0 and 1 LAN – £100+ ex.VAT
QNAP hahas long history in network attached storage and unsurprisingly feature in our top 3 cost-effective NAS devices. The TS-128A was released early in 2018 and arrived with an impressive ARM Quad-Core based CPU that is great for handling HD multimedia. You won’t be seeing any 4K abilities from this NAS, but at just £100 without tax and hard drive media, this frees up a lot of your budget towards storage. It is worth mentioning that the Plex media server application for the TS-128A QNAP NAS is still in beta, so there may be much better NAS for a Plex media Server in 2018. The TS-128A is still an excellent NAS in most other regards though (especially at that price) and arrives with the QTS operating system.
With the TS-128A QNAP NAS you are able to set up a surveillance camera network in your home or business, back up multiple Apple Time Machine images, host internet access and network drives to you and other users, as well as attach multiple external devices via USB and make them network supported. In terms of other QNAP NAS, the TS-128A hardware is modest indeed, BUT if you are looking for a great NAS without spending much, this is the best QNAP NAS you can buy on a budget in 2018.
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3rd Place – Synology DS119j NAS
0-14TB, Marvell Armada 3700 88F3720 Dual Core 800MHz, 256MB Memory, 2 year warranty, 2x USB 2.0 and 1x LAN – £85+ ex.VAT
Synology NAS is arguably the most popular brand in home network attached storage and with the advantages made available with the diskstation manager software (DSM), you will generally find that a NAS from the guys at Synology will cost more than other likewise brands. In an effort to combat this, Synology released their cost-effective DS119j 1 bay NAS in late summer of 2018 and although compared with such beasts as the DS918+ and DS218+, it comes across a bit puny, the DS119j NAS is an excellent beginner NAS or network backup, and still manages to give you a taste of the Synology software available.
Although it arrives unpopulated, the Synology DS119j one bay NAS is by far the lowest priced NAS on this list and is almost worth buying for the software alone. The internal hardware specs are twice those of the previous DS115j and with a host of mobile applications for iOS and Android, many client apps for Mac and Windows, and Easy Access from a web browser on any device on the network or internet, this NAS drive is a steal at under 100 pounds.
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