NAS for Students – A Guide to Buying it Right the First Time

NAS Drive for University and College

To ensure that your documents, dissertation and degree worthy content is safe from loss, these days having your own private cloud storage is both attractive and hugely necessary. When confronted with issues such as fire, theft, viruses or file loss, having a constant backup of all your data is massively important. Everyone has a horror story of losing the data, but imagine losing 3 years of data in a simple hard drive failure (worryingly common), spilling a drink on your laptop thereby losing your dissertation, or simply leaving your iPad on the train and saying goodbye to your entire project files – SERIOUSLY, take a moment and imagine just how bad losing those files without a backup would be….
Luckily, these days you are able to buy very cost-effective Cloud storage for temporary access-anywhere backups. However, these are always a short-term solution and if you are looking for data security and reliable backups for 3 to 5 years, then it is recommended that you invest in a Network Attached Storage (NAS) server. NAS devices from companies such as Synology and QNAP can be purchased for as little as £100 and are incredibly user-friendly, can be set up within 15 minutes and will provide you with years of peace of mind for your files.
Additionally, NAS arrives in various sizes and there are numerous protection methods in place for backups and hard drive failure to give you safety nets in the future:
  • Backup the NAS to third-party cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive and more with dedicated Apps that are free on the NAS
  • Backup to connected USB external hard drives (or visaversa for portable drives) at the click of a single button
  • Backup to another NAS on the network or internet with real-time remote replication (RTRR) or Rsync
  • Finally, use RAID (redundant array of independent disks) to protect the data on multiple drives, if one develops a fault – them ALL DATA or ALL DISKS is safe!

NAS and Multimedia, Cameras and Making Extra Money for College and University Students

Equally a NAS for university and college is more than just for backups, all NAS devices provide functionality and support for multimedia use and security too (encryption, 2-step verification, login credentials, etc). Here are a number of the ways in which students at university and college can use a NAS.
  • Backing up multiple mobile devices over the internet and network
  • Stream movies music and other media to your TV and mobile devices anywhere. NAS supports everything from Plex and Kodi, to iTunes and DLNA devices.
  • Attach IP cameras (starting at as little at £30) to your network and use the dedicated free surveillance software with the NAS to alert you to intruders and theft in your room/dorm

Best Home and Office IP Cameras for NAS

  • Use as a download server for your files for sharing between group/team members, securely and with encryption. Additionally set up manual or automatic downloading schedules for HTTP, FTP, BT and NZB tasks.
  • Use a NAS as an email server to exchange confidential information and exchange larger files

  • Run a VPN through your NAS, them access the internet on your devices (even through WiFi) so you can then connect to the university/college internet connection, whilst still maintaining anonymity and privacy.
  • Many, many mobile phone apps are available for iOS and Android, meaning that you can access and backup files directly from mobile devices FAST and regularly (either automatically or manually).
  • MAKE MONEY – you can even make money on the side, providing online storage space to other users. Just create multiple accounts for other users (takes less than a minute) and you can create a quota of space that they can use for their own backups (again, using all of the features above, to whatever we extent you chose – user credentials and level of access can be adjusted anytime).

Below are the best NAS devices that I recommend for each kind of student, from the poor to the rich, and from the IT literate to the Techno Noob. Let’s get to business!

Best Budget NAS for College and University

For those on an especially tight budget, you will be pleased to know that there are numerous NAS solutions that will cost you as little as £100-300, depending on the level of access you want. If you just give up the university bar for just a few nights, you can guarantee your data security for the rest of college or university. These network attached storage devices will provide full backups to at least 5-10 devices (depending on complexity) as well as light multimedia use, a download server, an email server and multiple user support for cloud storage.
1st Place – Synology DS119J

2nd Place – QNAP TS-228A

3rd Place – WD My Cloud

Best Reliable NAS for College and University

If you are looking for a NAS for college or university that is both fast AND reliable, then you will need to spend somewhere between £300-600, not including teh hard drive media. These NAS devices provide much faster internal hardware, meaning files move much quicker in the device. This means you can backup considerably more devices, considerably faster and considerably more versions of different backups if you need your backups to cover a specific timeline with different versions of a file being created, known as snapshots and versioning. Equally, each one will provide excellent multimedia support all the way up to 4K resolution media and also enable considerably more support to larger user numbers and applications. They do cost more, but you do get more for your money and if you are taking your college or university degree seriously then perhaps spend a little more. Needless to say, these NAS do everything the budget NAS provide, only many more times over!
1st Place – Synology DS918+

2nd Place – QNAP TS-453Be

3rd Place – WD My Cloud Pro

Best Powerful NAS for College and University

If you are looking for a NAS device that will provide you with much more advanced hardware and software options, then you will need to spend uto and around  £1,000. I know that seems like a staggering sum of money after discussing several devices at a fraction of the price, that seems to tick all the boxes, but these are the NAS servers that are designed to Never Let You Down. Alongside letting you backup practically limitless numbers of devices and hundreds of different versions of each individual backup, these devices will let you run multiple cameras in your room or dorm for security.
Alongside this, you are able to host cloud storage to hundreds of users if need be (for profit or free) on your campus.Finally these powerful NAS provide features such as virtual machines, that are very useful for those that want to centralise their work rather than running multiple desktops in different locations. A virtual machine is a computer that is accessible anywhere over the internet or network. Whilst at college and uni, this would mean that whether you are in your dorm, on a bus to class, sat in a lecture, sat in a bar or coffee shop or even in another country, you can still access the same desktop computer and the same files. Virtual Machines (VMs) are available with Windows operating systems, Android, Linux OS and even Mac OS, that one takes a little more work though.
1st PlaceQNAP TVS-682

2nd Place – Synology DS3018xs

3rd PlaceSynology DS1517+

Best NAS for Photography Students at College and University

For those pursuing University for Qualifications in Photography, Videography and the Arts, it is recommended you buy a moderately powerful NAS. This is due to larger rendering tasks being required by the storage. Tasks such as rendering large images over the internet, creating and cataloguing thousands of thumbnails for internet access, allowing editing of files over the internet and network live on the NAS and being able to playback dense and high bitrate media without difficulty. All of these NAS below, though much more expensive) will provide all the important backup and access options as those previously discussed (to a much higher degree), but are chiefly designed for more graphically intensive files. Take a look:
1st PlaceQNAP TS-877

2nd Place – Synology DS3617xs

3rd PlaceQNAP TVS-673e

Still confused and not sure which NAS you need for university or college? Don’t worry, I provide a Free Advice helpline below, just click the help button and provide a little information about what you need. From there I will give you unbiased, free advice and you can sleep easy knowing your data is safe. Thanks for reading.