Take the 2-minute tour ×
Ask Different is a question and answer site for power users of Apple hardware and software. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Please share your experiences and reviews about NAS (Network-Attached Storage) below. In particular, rate their compatibility with Macs, OS X, iTunes, Time Machine, AppleTV, and other Apple-specific tools. The goal is for future users to be able to easily find the best Mac-compatible NAS appliance.

Rules:

  • Use a single answer for each NAS (no duplicates, please).
  • Vote (up or down) on any NAS you have experience with.

Also welcome: useful reference links, such as this one from xlr8yourmac.com.

share|improve this question
2  
+1 - Just what I needed. –  boehj Jul 10 '11 at 0:25
add comment

13 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Drobo FS

The Drobo FS is my new favourite NAS. I've run a Netgear ReadyNAS and a PC-based NAS in the past and neither touch the Drobo FS for simplicity, speed and reliability. The ReadyNAS suffered from poor RAID performance, especially on reboots when volumes needed to be scanned. And the power supply in it was really lame. And the PC-based NAS was just a pain to maintain and costly to keep up.

The Drobo FS is super simple to set up. Has very, very good volume build and scanning speeds on startup. Has what has to be the best hot-swapping of any multi-disk unit I've ever seen that was in the sub-$10k range. And performs like a champ while drawing very little power.

I now run an FS for home sharing and an old Drobo hangs off my iMac for audio project data. They are teh awesome.

share|improve this answer
    
Very nice but also very pricey! If only I could afford one... –  massimogentilini Dec 22 '10 at 11:40
    
@massimogentilini -- you will get back your investment in time spent not performing upkeep and maintenance on your NAS. –  Ian C. Dec 22 '10 at 14:45
1  
unless it's business purpose, it's pricey ! For home users $400 - 500 is the ideal limit IMHO. –  garikapati Dec 22 '10 at 16:59
    
Although it’s pricey, I’ve been using one for a while and it’s fantastic. The “pricey” also comes with advantages. From out of the box to running in literally 5 minutes, shares and users created. Uses little power when idle, and little noise (other than the HDs). It is pricey, but price is subjective. Time is money, this little thing saves time. I replaced a linux fileserver with one. –  Martín Marconcini Dec 22 '10 at 18:33
1  
@garikapati: The question isn't "what's the best NAS under $X" -- the DroboFS is still cheaper than "a Mac and some drives" and that one currently has more up votes. –  Ian C. Dec 23 '10 at 14:07
show 2 more comments

Synology DiskStation

The Synology DSM software has built-in support for Macs including Apple Fileshare Protocol (afp) and Time Machine support. It has an iTunes server in addition to a regular DLNA Media server. As it is Linux based it is easy to configure the NAS to do rsync backups (ssh login).

It has a great web-based desktop-style interface that is very easy to understand and use. The DSM software is constantly being updated and improved.

They have solutions from 2-disk on up to 15-disk. You can find the 4-disk DS411j without drives for less than $400.

share|improve this answer
add comment

A Mac

My NAS of choice is an old Mac. In my case, I had an old MacBook that wouldn't hold a charge anymore so I rigged up an eSATA connection to my 2TB external drive. The advantages to using an actual Mac:

  • Uses first-party AFP on HFS for better compatibility
  • Can serve as a Time Machine backup volume
  • Works great as an iTunes master library, connected to my Apple TV and my other Macs via Home Sharing
  • Can run a BitTorrent client to download Linux ISOs and Stack Overflow data dumps.
  • Use built-in screen sharing to control
share|improve this answer
    
I'll second the old Mac post as that's what I use too. In my case I have an old Mac Mini (1.4GHz G4) with 2 x 1TB 2.5" external USB drives. It runs iTunes as the data source for my AppleTV in the living room and NFSd for dishing out ISO files for my ESX server in my home lab. –  Ausmith1 Dec 22 '10 at 0:59
    
Should this really be considered a NAS? See this definition –  Johan Karlsson Nov 26 '13 at 20:32
    
@JohanKarlsson Well, "NAS" means "Network-attached storage", so in my book any device that can provide storage accessible to the network qualifies. –  Kyle Cronin Nov 28 '13 at 4:11
    
@KyleCronin IMHO a NAS is a dedicated unit that you buy with as a NAS. No keyboard and screen. But still, putting up a server is useful, as it can do so much more than a NAS. –  Johan Karlsson Dec 16 '13 at 7:20
add comment

Time Capsule

The Time Capsule can be used as a shared drive.

It is also a Wi-Fi router, and is automatically recognized as a backup device for Time Machine.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Freenas using generic hardware

I love the ability to grab an old computer, fill it full of cheap hard drives, and install Freenas on a CF card or USB drive. Software RAID is reliable.

A key point, if any of the hardware dies, the RAID array can be rebuilt when the software is installed on new hardware, unlike some proprietary solutions (NAS or RAID cards) where you may be tied to a particular vendor and/or model, which, after time, may not be sold/available.

Works fine with Macs and PCs -- and for this reason i use SMB shares rather than AFP. Performance is fine.

I use the SMB shares to stream to all the computers in the house, and there is no problem.

Time Machine backups are a little more complex, involving creating a Sparse Bundle (which is not the official method). For this reason, i don't do this, i use Carbon Copy Cloner to run to a disk image (dmg) every night.

I use MediaRover to sync iTunes libraries, and this works fine. Other iTunes support is available (an iTunes/DAAP server called Firefly), but i haven't used it.

It has a BitTorrent server built in, but again, i haven't used it.

Administration is very easy (web based), setup is not difficult, but there are several steps to add disks, format them, create a RAID array, create a mount point, enable the services (AFP or SMB) to access. Documentation and community support are satisfactory.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Don't want start any flamewar, but today here is only NAS solution - the ZFS based NAS.

ZFS is a filesystem, what has "copy on write" feature, so you will get a backup in every save - fully transparently. ZFS has million really cool features like raid management, snapshots etc.. too much for one post. If you interested can duckduck for ZFS.

ZFS is implemented in Solaris and in the FreeBSD. So, you can:

  • use some older (but 64bit+lots of RAM) PC with a plenty of HDDs and
    • download and install FreeNAS. You will get web-managed NAS with Samba and etc.
    • install plain FreeBSD and config it as NAS plus some your own tweaking - IMHO this is the best way.
  • you can also buy an preconfigured FreeBSD/ZFS NAS too

You should definitely check theese:

share|improve this answer
    
ZFS may be an excellent file system, but your recommendations have no relation to the criteria specified in the question. Bulletproof file server with acceptable Samba implementation is not a great turn-key solution for someone wanting the utmost in Mac compatibility. –  Kevin Peterson Jan 30 '12 at 1:50
    
huh? Freenas has nettalk protocol (read native mac's afp protocol) too - so it is usable without any problems with macs. And honestly, ZFS is the best, what todday you can get in the opensource world (read free). :) With an some additional effort is possible use it as time-machine destination too... OS X (unfortunately) hasn't nothing comparable with ZFS (yet)... –  jm666 Jan 30 '12 at 14:31
add comment

Netgear ReadyNAS

We recently joined the crowd getting their first NAS, and after taking a close look at several, settled on the Netgear ReadyNAS NV+.

The Drobo, previously mentioned, was tempting—but just way too expensive for use on a home network.

We've only had it a month or two, but so far, so good. Like most Netgear products, it works well with Macs. There's also a solid community & support site.

share|improve this answer
    
could you please post your product page link, rather just the website. I am considering to get one for home usage, but not decided yet on any product yet ! –  garikapati Dec 28 '10 at 5:26
1  
@garikapati - better now? –  Dori Dec 28 '10 at 7:37
    
yes, thanks! This one is w/o HDD's right? How about BitTorrent support on this. I did go thru the page you linked, but didn't get that info. –  garikapati Dec 28 '10 at 7:44
    
@garikapati - we got the one without drives, but there are other versions that come with. BitTorrent-wise, you can use the ReadyNAS client or an add-on named Transmission. So far, it just works. –  Dori Dec 28 '10 at 22:24
    
Thanks. What kind of HDD's you choose to go with this NAS ? Right I was thinking of getting 'LaCie d2 Network v.2 2 TB' (goo.gl/qF9wr). What's your saying ? –  garikapati Dec 28 '10 at 22:46
show 1 more comment

Western Digital MyBook World Edition

Yesterday I installed a Western Digital MyBook World Edition, 1 TeraByte, single disk.

Pros: very simple to install and work with, includes a Media Server and a iTunes server that can be used to share music and videos across the network. It's pre configured with the common shares and if you copy the files in the proper folders it's very, very simple to use. Quite cheap compared to a similar solution from QNap or Sinology. I did not perform any single task "mac related" on it and it worked from start with my Mac.

Cons: old firmware from 2009 and no update available, the single 1 TB disk inside obviously do not support any kind of Raid, no serviceable by changing disk if needed (unless you broke your warranty), the control panel do not give you a lot of control also if you use the so called advanced version.

Definitively a good choice for a "first" NAS to work and experience with, if you need to go on a cheap model or if you do not have a lot of IT experience, suggested for simple home environment where no redundancy it's needed, I would avoid it if you need redundancy or if you like to fine tune and experiment with every possible option.

There is also a public wiki about hacking it but I've not tested any of the stuff described (yet!).

UPDATE: after some time I've found more problems, all related to the time machine interface: 1) The quota option do not work with time machine 2) The Lion update completely stopped the Time Machine usage

NOT RECOMMENDED ANYMORE!!!!

UPDATE: The Lion/Time Machine problem will hopefully be fixed soon. Apple changed some things and Western Digital is working on an update. This affects the MyBook Live and MyBook World Edition II. Read more: Error: 'The network backup disk does not support the required AFP features' is displayed using Time Machine on Mac OSX 10.7.x (Lion) to backup to a WD NAS drive

share|improve this answer
add comment

Western Digital My Book Live

  • Small footprint (same size as MyBook desktop drives)
  • Size 1-3 Tb
  • Pretty cheap
  • TimeMachine compatible over network (firmware just got updated with support for Lion)
  • Single disk, no RAID

http://wdc.com/en/products/products.aspx?id=280

share|improve this answer
add comment

Qnap 259PRO+

The Qnap TS259Pro+ which uses a 1.8Ghz Dual Core Atom CPU, would be the perfect setup for Sickbeard, and streaming to more than one TV in the house. Take the firmware for a spin with this "Live Demo"

share|improve this answer
add comment

Seagate Blackarmor NAS220

At the moment of buying, the features listed sounded great, and Mac compatible.

Once in the studio, and after 4 weeks, it is just a hard drive on the network.

These are some of the issues:

  • NOT Time Machine compatible
  • Very slow
  • Access remotely is useless, hangs everytime. So you cannot access it outside the studio. This was a main reason for buying, and tech support say they know about the issue and are to update... still waiting for it.
  • Software for mac is just a discovery tool. The name says it all, it tries to find the NAS, which it initially did, now it no longer detects it. Finder does.
  • Only a APC brand UPS is compatible. This was a total surprise, it is only stated in small letters in the manual inside the box, not outside or anywhere else visible before you buy, not even the product web page.
  • Very slow, i know i already said that, but it is terribly slow.

Stay away, not only mac users, but everybody who wants a NAS, this is not an option.

share|improve this answer
add comment

D-Link DNS-323

The D-Link DNS-323 is quite customizable, but should do everything you need out of the box.

It has a very active community behind it

share|improve this answer
add comment

QNAP is surprisingly perfect actually ;o) I use TS-419 for my home use and pretty happy with it.

share|improve this answer

We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

add comment

protected by bmike Apr 11 at 2:59

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.