Network attached storage appliances come in all shapes and sizes: in this review roundup we look at what five of the leading vendors have to offer the small to medium-sized business.
Network attached storage (NAS) appliances are proving increasingly popular with small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs), and for good reason. They're a lot less complicated and quicker to deploy than a fully fledged storage area network (SAN) and, in general, work out cheaper and easier to manage than a conventional general-purpose file server. These advantages are not lost on the storage vendors, nearly all of whom sell NAS appliances of some kind or other.
However, NAS boxes vary widely, with products available to handle everything from home data streaming to file sharing on large enterprise networks with thousands of users. Prices can also vary enormously, making choosing a suitable appliance far from easy. So we've done some of the legwork for you, collecting a set of products designed for small to medium-sized networks and putting them through their paces in ZDNet's labs.
What we tested For this group test we asked five leading storage vendors to supply us with a NAS appliance suitable for use by a medium-sized business. More specifically we asked for rack-mount products offering at least one terabyte (1000GB) of storage that could be shared on mixed Windows, Apple Mac and Linux/Unix networks.
We also asked for Gigabit Ethernet connectivity and built-in support for RAID 5 data protection. That's where data is striped across multiple disks in an array together with error correction information, enabling the array to continue functioning even if one of the disks stops working.
We made no stipulation as to the software involved, and in the event were sent three Linux-based appliances, one running Windows Storage Server 2003 and a Snap Server from Overland Storage that employs custom software called GuardianOS. All made use of SATA disks. All met our requirements, performed well in the labs and were relatively easy to set up and manage. However, they were far from equal — as you'll find out when you read the detailed reviews.
Here is our list of the NAS units ranked in descending order of Editors' Rating from best to worst. For more detailed information, click through to the full review.