The best NAS drives 2022: backup, store and access your data from anywhere

The best NAS (Network Attached Storage) drives enable you to get your files and media from any computer, wherever you are

Best NAS drives. Apple MacBook Laptop on desk with Synology NAS drive
(Image credit: Alex Cheung Unsplash.com)

Investing in one of the best NAS drives 2022 has to offer will mean you can keep all of your files safe and secure, as well as access them from anywhere.

NAS drives work as backup devices and, also, as an easy way to create your own personal server and share files with those you trust.

The best part about NAS drives is that this can be done offline when your computer is switched off, so you can access files even when you don’t have your device to hand. That's a game-changer.

Whether you’re looking for storage for the best laptops, best 2-in-1 laptops or best lightweight laptops, a NAS drive is a reliable option that will keep all of your files safe and secure. Having a NAS drive is just like having one of the best SSDs connected to all your devices, all of the time.

Check out this guide to find out which NAS drive is suited to you. Or if you’re a Mac user, we also have a guide to the best external hard drives for Mac.

Oh, and lastly, be sure to consider waiting a bit right now to ring up your NAS drive upgrade. This is because the Black Friday sales are almost here and, each year, NAS drives are among the best Black Friday deals, with serious money cut off their cost. 

Seriously, during past Black Friday sales we've seen NAS drives from WD, QNAP, Synology and more discounted, so consider holding fire for now and then buying at the optimal time to keep your wallet happy.

The best NAS drives you can buy today in 2022

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QNAP TS-231P3 NAS drive on a white backgroundT3 Best Buy Award badge

(Image credit: QNAP)

1. QNAP TS-231P3

The best NAS drive for most people

Specifications

Bays: 2
CPU: Quad-core 1.7GHz
RAM: 4GB

Reasons to buy

+
Plenty of features for the price 
+
Variety of connection options 

Reasons to avoid

-
Software could be more intuitive

There's a whole lot to like about the TS-231P3 from QNAP, which makes some of the best NAS drives in the business: if you're wanting to get started with a NAS drive without spending too much money, then this is definitely up there among the top picks. You get plenty of features and versatility, and it looks pretty stylish too.

The drive has two Ethernet ports and three USB ports, giving you a better-than-usual range of connectivity options, and there's built-in support for AES 256-bit encryption as well as many of the most popular cloud storage options. As with any QNAP drive, the software support is excellent, and the NAS isn't difficult to set up at all.

From snapshots of the system state to the easy photo management features, the QNAP TS-231P3 is a more capable device than you might think from the price. Another useful feature here is the ability to hot-swap lower capacity drives for larger capacity drives as and when needed, making upgrades a breeze.

Synology DiskStation DS920+ NAS drive in blackT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Synology)

2. Synology DiskStation DS920+

The best premium NAS drive

Specifications

Bays: 4
CPU: Quad-core 2.0GHz
RAM: 4GB

Reasons to buy

+
Lots of space and power
+
Smooth, quiet performance

Reasons to avoid

-
It'll cost you

The DiskStation DS920+ from Synology is going to set you back a significant amount of money, but it's a premium-level NAS drive that justifies its price and its packed with features that power users can take advantage of – there's even a dedicated expansion unit (the DX517) for this NAS if you need one.

With 225 MB/s encrypted sequential reading and writing performance, this is a piece of hardware that isn't messing about, and there are two built-in M.2 SSD slots you can take advantage of too. You don't get these sorts of features on cheaper models, and they can make a significant difference to performance.

From backing up your computer(s) to having a media streaming library that the whole family can share, the Synology DiskStation DS920+ is capable of doing it all, and you can mix together up to a whopping 108TB of storage here as well. You've also got two USB ports and an eSATA port to make use of besides Wi-Fi and Ethernet.

TerraMaster F2-210 NAS drive in silverT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: TerraMaster)

3. TerraMaster F2-210

The best budget NAS drive

Specifications

Bays: 2
CPU: Quad-core 1.4GHz
RAM: 1GB

Reasons to buy

+
Appealingly affordable price
+
Covers all the NAS basics

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the most stylish

Here's a 2-bay NAS drive for not very much money at all from TerraMaster, a brand that's worth a look if you want something a little different from the norm (and want to save yourself some cash too). While its specs can't match more premium models, it covers all the NAS basics nicely, which will be fine for most people.

You do get read and write speeds up to 114 MB/s thanks to the quad-core 1.4GHz processor and 1GB of on-board RAM, and the drive also supports 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch disks (HDD and SSD). It's possible to pack the TerraMaster F2-210 with as much as 16TB of storage, which the majority of users should be happy with.

Add in support for Emby and Plex media servers, and this is a perfect NAS drive for beginners or for those who won't be placing too many demands on their hardware while it's in operation. If someone tells you that getting started with a NAS drive is expensive, then show them this.

QNAP TS-431X NAS drive on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: QNAP)

4. QNAP TS-431X

The best NAS drive upgrade

Specifications

Bays: 4
CPU: Dual-core 1.7GHz
RAM: 2GB

Reasons to buy

+
Plenty of capacity
+
High-level performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Overkill for some users

If you've already done a bit of dabbling in the world of NAS drives – maybe you're looking for a second one, or you want to replace and upgrade your current one – then may we suggest the QNAP TS-431X? A 4-bay, high-performance NAS enclosure that's going to be able to take care of a multitude of tasks at the centre of your home (or office) network.

With encrypted read and write speeds of up to 312 MB/s, the TS-431X gives you a serious amount of speed to play around with, as well as a serious amount of security (there's also built-in fast disaster recovery). There are three USB ports, two Ethernet ports, and even a 10GbE SFP+ port for the fastest network needs.

You can upgrade the RAM to 8GB if you need to, which is another sign of the premium level we're at with this NAS drive. Of course there's a premium price attached too – and for a lot of users this is going to be way more than they actually need – but we'd recommend it as one of the best NAS drives for those who need a substantial upgrade.

Synology DiskStation DS218 NAS drive in blackT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Synology)

5. Synology DiskStation DS218

Excellent all round performance

Specifications

Bays: 2
CPU: Quad-core 1.4GHz
RAM: 2GB

Reasons to buy

+
Easy installation and usage
+
Speedy performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the biggest capacity

If you're in the market for a reasonably priced NAS drive then Synology is absolutely one of the brands you should be checking out, and the DS218 is a model suitable for those with more modest needs and a more modest budget. If you need an affordable 2-bay device that's one of the best NAS drives around, it's worth a long look.

That 2GB of on-board RAM gives you a little bit more headroom when it comes to applications and file operations, while the 112 MB/s sequential read and write speeds are decent enough for the amount you're paying. With two USB ports here as well as Wi-Fi and Ethernet, you've got a choice of options for transferring data.

You can fit drives up to a total capacity of 16TB in capacity with the Synology DiskStation DS218, so there's a huge amount of flexibility in that regard too. As always with a Synology product, it's simple and straightforward to set up, and comes with a selection of useful software tools for managing files, streaming video files, and so on.

My Cloud Expert Series EX2 Ultra NAS drive on white backgroundT3 Approved badge


6. My Cloud Expert Series EX2 Ultra

Perfect for your first NAS

Specifications

Bays: 2
CPU: Dual-core 1.3GHz
RAM: 1GB

Reasons to buy

+
Smooth, simple operation
+
Compact and reliable case

Reasons to avoid

-
Faster options are available

Western Digital has been in the hard drive game a long time, and its NAS drives are polished, reliable, and user-friendly (especially in the case of the EX2 Ultra). In fact, user-friendliness is one of the unit's key strengths, so it's worth a look if you're just getting started with networked storage.

You get two 3.5-inch drive bays, 1GB of RAM, and a dual-core 1.3GHz processor. Around the back are two USB 3.0 ports for plugging in additional drives. Allowing access to different users is a breeze, transfer speeds are quick, and it looks quite nice too, which helps.

To see how this stacks up against top competition, then check out the T3 QNAP TS-332X vs WD My Cloud Expert EX2 comparison feature. Whatever your budget, there are going to be quite a few top-notch NAS drives to pick from.

QNAP TS-253D NAS drive on white backgroundT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: QNAP)

7. QNAP TS-253D

The best NAS drive for creative professionals

Specifications

Bays: 2
CPU: Quad-core 2.0GHz
RAM: 4GB

Reasons to buy

+
Lots of connection options
+
Stylish casing

Reasons to avoid

-
On the expensive side

Here's a stylish, compact, powerful NAS from QNAP that would suit someone who needs a drive that's comfortably above the budget end of the market without getting into the heavy duty, business models that can cost a significant amount of money. This is quite a pricey drive, but it's not that pricey in the grand scheme of NAS drives.

You get a couple of drive bays here, 4GB of RAM, a quad-core 2.0GHz processor, five USB ports, two Ethernet ports, and all the usual and excellent software that QNAP bundles with its hardware. Add all of those specs up together, throw in looks that are better than the average NAS, and you can see how the TS-253D more than justifies its price.

There's also Wi-Fi 6 here, PCIe expansion options, and 4K HDMI output and encoding, so it sets a pace that the more affordable NAS drives on the market can't keep up with. Being from QNAP, you also know the drive is going to be well put together and well supported with software updates in the future.

WD My Cloud Home NAS Drive

(Image credit: WD)

WD My Cloud Personal NAS drive

A simple and efficient solution

Specifications

Bays: 1
CPU: USB 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet
RAM: 2TB, 3TB or 4TB

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to install
+
Reasonable price 

Reasons to avoid

-
Apps not the best 
-
Only one bay 

WD My Cloud Home is very user-friendly, with access via an app for either iOS or Android, plus it comes in a variety of sizes from 2TB to 4TB. It’s very reasonably priced but only has one bay, meaning it can’t automatically back itself up, which is the only downside, but you can back it up manually to an external hard drive using the USB port. If it’s just for personal use, the WD My Cloud Home is a very reliable option.

How to choose the best NAS drive for you

The first thing to consider when picking the best NAS drive of 2021 is capacity: that's how much data your drive can hold, set by the number of bays and the maximum drive sizes you can afford, so check these details carefully.

Go for a NAS that offers as much room as you need – some units come with hard drives fitted, some don't, but all will have a maximum capacity in their specs, so make sure you check. When comparing prices, make sure you're including the cost of the drives.

Also look for RAID configuration options, which is how a NAS allows you to configure the drives you're installing. Several RAID configurations offer some kind of data redundancy, so if one disk fails, another can step up – all of this happens automatically, once you've configured it.

Of course, you’ll also want to go through the plethora of extra features available, like powerful on-board processors that can get your media files into different formats as you stream them. Take your time and use our guide to the best NAS drives of 2021 as a starting point.

Dave has over 20 years' experience in the tech journalism industry, covering hardware and software across mobile, computing, smart home, home entertainment, wearables, gaming and the web – you can find his writing online, in print, and even in the occasional scientific paper, across major tech titles like T3, TechRadar, Gizmodo and Wired. Outside of work, he enjoys long walks in the countryside, skiing down mountains, watching football matches (as long as his team is winning) and keeping up with the latest movies.