Best NAS drive for media streaming and backup

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Best NAS drive for media streaming and backup

Network-attached storage (NAS) is just the ticket for storing and streaming your own videos, music, and digital photos around the house and even across the world. It can be just like Spotify, YouTube, or Netflix, except with your own media.

NAS is also immensely handy for backing up and synchronizing the data on your computers and mobile devices. Backing up to local storage is much faster than relying on a cloud service such as DropBox or OneDrive, and the same goes for restoring an accidentally deleted file or recovering from a crashed system.

It’s also easy to set up a NAS box to function just like those cloud services, enabling access from anywhere in the world. In fact, NAS box builders have taken to calling their products “private clouds” in an effort to make the concept more familiar to consumers.

Updated July 20, 2020 to add our Asustor AS5202T (Nimbustor) NAS box review. This incredibly power box features 2.5GbE ports that can be aggregated to achieve data rates up to 5Gbps. It also has what it takes to be a powerful media streamer, including a 2GHz Intel Celeron processor, 2GB of DDR4-2400 memory, and HDMI 2.0a, so you can connect it directly to your 4K TV. And it’s affordable enough to become our top pick in the mainstream media-streaming NAS box category.

To get the best of both worlds, most boxes will sync with cloud storage services, providing another layer of data redundancy and disaster-recovery options. If you experience a disaster at home—a flood, fire, or earthquake—you’ll at least have the peace of mind that comes with knowing your data is safely backed up at another physical location.

A word on pricing: Not all NAS box manufacturers also build hard drives, so many of them sell these boxes “unpopulated;” i.e., without any hard drives installed. When you’re comparing prices, make sure you know whether or not the drivers are included. If you’re not familiar with formatting a hard drive or setting up an array of drives, you might find it more convenient to buy a NAS box that’s populated and ready to go right out of the box.

Best NAS box for media streaming

The price tag is intimidating, but there is no better solution for streaming media, including 4K UHD video directly to a smart TV via HDMI 2.0. This box will also make an ideal Roon server, thanks to its capacity to support an SSD for the Roon Core in addition to hosting a pair of 3.5-inch hard drives for your media files. If you have the network infrastructure to take full advantage of it, you’ll be able to transfer files in a flash thanks to its support for 10-gigabit ethernet. On top of all that, the chassis is entirely passively cooled for near-silent running.

Best mainstream NAS box 

The two-bay Asustor Nimbustor 2 (model number AS5202T) knocked our socks off with its price-to-performance ratio. Selling for just $299 at the time of our review, it boasts 2GbE ports that support link aggregation, a fast Intel Celeron CPU, 2GB of DDR4 memory, and an HDMI 2.0a port, so you can connect it directly to a 4K TV and stream all your favorite archived movies. This one will be hard to beat.

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