If you're looking to seriously improve your home office setup, one of the best things to start with is storage. We've spent hours finding the best NAS drives to help you access files, big and small, quickly and simply from anywhere. Today, we're comparing the QNAP TS-332X and Buffalo LinkStation 520.
NAS, which stands for Network Attached Storage, can do a lot more than just store files, although that is a big part of it. Due to their networked nature, you can create your own servers using NAS, whether for cloud services or media streaming.
Unlike normal hard drive storage, NAS can be used when your computer is off because it plugs directly into your router. This means that NAS is perfect for storing big media files – think movies or seasons of TV – and accessing them on smart TVs and other internet connected devices.
While NAS systems are quite expensive, their power and flexibility is a massive bonus for anyone who wants to spend a bit of time setting up a system for their house or office (or both). Let's jump into the guide.
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Best NAS drives: Features
The QNAP TS-332X and Buffalo LinkStation 520, henceforth known as the QNAP and Buffalo, are fairly well-matched when it comes to features. As you would imagine, the basics are covered: both of these NAS drives support multiple terabytes of storage, connect to all networks, and are incredibly fast.
Of the two, the QNAP can support the most storage, with a mighty 12TB limit, compared to the Buffalo's respectable 8TB tap-out. The QNAP achieves this by having space for three hard drives, compared to Buffalo's two, all of which can transfer data up to 6GB/s, compared to 3GB/s on the Buffalo.
Both make connecting to devices – from desktops to TVs to smartphones – really quick and simple. We had no problems with setup with either of them. A huge variety of browsers, operating systems, and services (like BitTorrent) are supported.
As we said in our roundup of the best NAS drives, the Buffalo is ideal for people who are first getting into networked storage while the QNAP is ideal for people that want a powerful, flexible system.
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Best NAS drives: Design
While the design of your NAS drive might not be at the top of the agenda, especially if you plan on hiding it away in a cupboard or under a desk, it's worth considering how these two devices look.
As you can see from the two product images above, the QNAP is a more minimal, subtle product with attractive white design, grey buttons, and light array on the front. The Buffalo is a more Star Wars-esque black box with a detachable front section that houses the drives.
We personally prefer the Buffalo's design, but there's something to be said for the brighter QNAP, especially if you plan on having the NAS drive somewhere visible.
Best NAS drives: QNAP or Buffalo?
The choice between the QNAP TS-332X and the Buffalo LinkStation 520 comes down to how many gadgets and gizmos you need with your NAS drive. The LinkStation 520 is the more budget, entry-level of the two and if this is your first rodeo should be the obvious choice.
For the more experienced NAS drive connoisseur, QNAP's is the real deal: up to 12TB, extremely fast connections, versatile and easy to use with other devices, and so on. If you have the money, we recommend QNAP's, but the Buffalo isn't half bad.