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Best NAS hard drive of 2022: Network attached storage for home office and small business

PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

Included in this guide:

data
(Image credit: Pixabay)

Welcome to our pick of the best NAS hard drives. If you have a network attached storage device, then getting a large, fast and dependable hard drive for it is essential.

No matter how much you spend on a NAS device, if the hard drive (or more commonly now, SSD) in it isn't up to scratch, then you could be facing wasted money, and worse, lost or damaged files.

So, how do you pick the best NAS drive for your needs? First of all, you need to think about what you need. Is speed the most important thing? Or would you rather have the largest capacity you can afford to save all your documents.

How about a mega cache – or vibration protection? These are just some considerations to make when checking out the best NAS hard drives.

To help you choose, our pick of the best NAS hard drive for small business and home office environments can be found below. And with our built-in price comparison tool, you can shop safe in the knowledge that you're getting the best price as well.

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TechRadar Exclusive

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IDrive, the cloud storage veteran, delivers tons of storage online for an incredibly small outlay. 5TB for $3.98 for the first year is unmatched till now and so is the support for unlimited devices and the extensive file versioning system available.

The best NAS hard drive

(Image credit: Seagate)

Oodles of storage for the network

Specifications
Interface: SATA 6Gbps
Capacity: 6 – 12TB
Cache: 256MB
RPM: 7,200+
Reasons to buy
+
Ready for RAID
+
Faster than smaller options
Reasons to avoid
-
Pricier than non-NAS drives

Priced at the premium end of the sale, Seagate’s IronWolf’s native NAS optimization makes it worth the cost. Capable of running at a fast 7,200rpm spin rate throughout the day without risk of failure makes this one of the best options for ensuring peace of mind. It runs whisper-quiet with barely any vibration noise, all while delivering excellent file-share performance and general speeds.

(Image credit: Western Digital)

A simple hard disk focused on maximising storage space

Specifications
Interface: SATA 6Gbps
Capacity: 1TB – 12TB
Cache: 64B
RPM: 5400
Reasons to buy
+
Large capacity hard drive
+
Performs better than rival 4TB models
Reasons to avoid
-
Average multi-drive small block sequential transfer speeds

It was only a few years ago that Western Digital’s 6TB NAS was the pack leader, offering more storage space than you could get from competing models. While that’s no longer the case, it’s still a unit with capacious storage space. Designed for both business and consumers, it offers fast performance especially in multi-drive environments where it boasts strong large-block sequential read and write speeds.

(Image credit: Western Digital)

The best 12TB NAS hard drive deal around

Specifications
Interface: SATA 6Gbps
Capacity: 4TB – 12TB
Cache: 128MB
RPM: 7200
Reasons to buy
+
Excellent performance
+
Smartly priced
Reasons to avoid
-
Support is not as robust as rivals’

If your business has a requirement to storage large files (or just lots of them), WD’s Gold series stretches all the way to a massive 12TB in size. And they boast some interesting traits: not least being filled with helium to protect tiny components inside that can be come damaged by atmospheric turbulence. Its on par with any of Seagate’s 12TB offerings when it comes to read and write performance and offers many of its rival drives’ features at no extra cost.

(Image credit: Western Digital)

Comes packed with useful features

Specifications
Interface: SATA 6Gbps
Capacity: 2TB – 12TB
Cache: 256MB
RPM: 7200
Reasons to buy
+
Great performance
+
Highly reliable
Reasons to avoid
-
10TB drive is quite loud

WD’s Red Pro continues the company’s mantra of offering affordable and reliable storage that reduces total cost of ownership. It packs 3D Active Balance Plugs tech, which is said to significantly improve the over drive performance and reliability. That’s in addition to NASware tech, which is designed to improve reliability and system performance, reduce downtime and simplify the integration process while offering robust data protection.

(Image credit: Seagate)

A capable enterprise drive at a more than reasonable cost

Specifications
Interface: 6Gbps SATA
Capacity: 12TB
Cache: 128MB
RPM: 7200
Reasons to buy
+
Includes TurboBoost tech
+
Helium tech protects components
Reasons to avoid
-
Can become noisy

Designed to tackle heavy applications throughout the day with high performance, the Seagate Exos 12TB is aimed squarely at the enterprise. IT features Advanced Write Caching coupled with TurboBoost to improve performance and minimise the risk of losing data due to an unexpected power loss. Seagate is providing the drive with a five-year warranty.

(Image credit: Toshiba)

A drive optimised for reliability

Specifications
Interface: SATA 6Gbps
Capacity: 8TB
Cache: 128MB
RPM: 7200
Reasons to buy
+
Fast 7200 RPM operation
+
128MB cache is a huge boost
Reasons to avoid
-
Noisy when in operation

Toshiba’s is pitching its N300, which has a 180TB/year workload rating, at small offices seeking high reliability in a NAS hard drive. It offers high performance at 7200 RPM with a large 128GB cache, and it’s driven by integrated RV sensors internally that mitigate the impact of rotational vibrations on components.  Other features in include up to a 256MB buffer, with scalability up to eight drive bays in a multi-raid environment.


What is bits per cell?

Anthony Spence, from SSD and memory specialist Silicon Power, answers this question.

Flash memory cells are the basic building blocks of NAND Flash. Data is stored as bits in the cells, the bits represent an electrical charge contained within the cell that can be readily switched on and off by means of an electrical charge. Adding bits to the cell increases the number of states a cell can have, thereby exponentially increasing its capacity.

Additionally, the number of bits a cell contains serves as one of the primary ways to classify NAND Flash:

Single-Level Cell (SLC): They can only store one bit per cell and take up to two levels of charge. SLC NAND offers the highest performance, reliability and endurance (up to 100K P/E (program/erase) cycles). However, the memory density is the lowest among the variants and the price per GB is considerably higher than the other types. SLC is only available in 2D format and mostly used in enterprise setups.

Multi-Level Cell (MLC): MLC takes up to 2-bits per cell and four levels of charge. Available both in 2D and 3D variants, MLC offers good performance, reliability and endurance at a cheaper price than SLC. 3D NAND variants can reach P/E cycles in the range of 30K.

Triple-Level Cell (TLC): TLC stores 3-bits per cell for up to eight levels of charge. Commonly used for consumer grade products, TLC has a lower performance, reliability and endurance to the previous two. However a cheaper price and higher memory density make up for the drop in performance. The 3D variant can reach up to 3K P/E cycles.

Quadruple-Level Cell (QLC): Similarly to TLC, QLC is also commonly found in consumer grade products. QLC stores 4-bits per cell and can take up to 16 levels of charge. Among the 4 variants listed, it has the highest memory density and cheapest price. However, the lower price comes at a cost in performance, reliability and endurance (up to 1K P/E). 

Penta-Level Cell (PLC): Announced in 2019, PLC has been hailed as the logical next step in solid state storage technology. With the capacity to store 5-bits per cell and up to 32 (2^5) levels, PLC is expected to knock down HDD’s last line of defense, namely high storage capacity at affordable prices. PLC will ease the production of high capacity low cost SSDs; however the drawbacks in terms of endurance, speed and reliability found in QLC will still persist.

Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Then followed a weekly tech column in a local business magazine in Mauritius, a late night tech radio programme called Clicplus and a freelancing gig at the now-defunct, Theinquirer, with the legendary Mike Magee as mentor. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global techfests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. He has an affinity for anything hardware and staunchly refuses to stop writing reviews of obscure products or cover niche B2B software-as-a-service providers.