Compare Brands and Review Your Choices
NAS systems are file-level computer data storage devices connected to a computer network that provides data access to heterogeneous clients. They are networked appliances that contain one or more hard drives which are often arranged into redundant storage containers or RAID arrays.
There are pros and cons to every NAS brand, educate yourself before you buy!
NAS systems are becoming more popular as a convenient method of sharing files among multiple computers. Compared to file servers, they have faster data access and easier administration. NAS networks typically provide access to files using network file sharing protocols such as NFS, SMB/CIFS and AFP.
There are many companies that manufacture NAS systems and consumers have a wide field to choose from, below is a comprehensive list of brands to compare for your online shopping needs.
HP: Founded in 1939, the Hewlett-Packard is one of the world leaders in information technology. They are recognized as the symbolic founders of Silicon Valley and one of their earliest customers was the Disney Corporation. Today they have revenue of $126.033 billion. They produce such NAS devices as the HP X500 Data Vault; which can provide automated back-ups for up to 10 PC clients. With options it can expand from 7 TB to 15 TB of memory. The HP X1000 G2 Network Storage Systems; which are a great way to add Windows-powered unified shared storage to a small or medium IT environment. Storage-specific tools and features are available such as Windows Active Directory and DFS Replication.
NetApp: This Californian Company specializes in propriety computer storage and data management. They are a member of the NASDAQ-100 and Fortune Magazine voted them the fifth best place to work. Their line of NetApp Fliers is their flagship products and they also make NAS protocols, Network File System. NetApp can help you cut costs up to 40% with consolidation, higher utilization and reduced downtime. This protocol can also help you reduce your administrative overhead by up to 60% while delivering scalable and reliable file storage.
Dell: This famed multinational information technology corporation is based out of Texas and they employ over 103,300 worldwide. They are listed at 41 on the Forbes 500 list. They had notable acquisitions in 2006 (Alienware) and in 2009 (Perot Systems). They are also well-known for their early 2000s “Dude, you’re getting’ a Dell!” commercials. Dell also manufactures a number of network-attached storage devices. Like the PowerVault NX3100; this is a capacity-dense, dedicated network device. It supports up to 24TB in a compact 2U chassis and has twelve data drives. Dell also produces the NX4; which can save time and lower costs in mixed Windows and Linux/UNIX environments. It has optional 10Gb connectivity for NAS and Internet SCSI.
Cisco Systems: This San Francisco Company had revenue of $40.0 billion in 2010. Cisco designs and sells consumer electronics, networking, voice and communication technology/services. They have more than 70,000 employees and were founded in 1984. They manufacture NAS products like the Cisco NSS300 Series. Their class-leading performances reduce backup time and allow multiple users to use the device simultaneously. It safeguards information and reduces downtime with RAID 0, 1, 5, 6 and 10. It has 5 USB 2.0 and 2 eSATA expansion ports. It comes in three different models, the NSS322, the NSS324 and the NSS326.
Netgear: Since 1996 this company has manufactured computer networking equipment and other computer hardware. They sale their products primarily through a sales channel network and in 2004 they won a Good Design Award from the Chicago Athenaeum for the Netgear Platinum II Exposure. One of their upcoming products is the RNDP6310; it has up to 12TB of storage, data protection with RAID management and online volume expansion. It is iSCSI compatible for Microsoft Exchange and database servers. The RNDP6620 works with Windows, Mac and Linux clients across any network. It has Dual Ethernet failover design for high availability and has Setup Wizard for easy browser-based interface.
Sun Microsystems: Sun products include computer servers and workstation based on its own SPARC processors and whole host of software products like the Solaris operating system, web infrastructure software and identity management applications. In 2010 they completed a $7.4 billion merger with the Oracle Corporation to form Oracle America, Inc. This union makes such products as the Sun ZFS Storage 7120; which has such features as Enterprise data services and 96GB of Flash-based write-cache for optimal performance. It has DTrace storage analytics and up to 120 TB of raw capacity. The Sun ZFS Storage 7420 consolidates virtual environments and has an industry leading performance. It scales up to 1.15 PB raw capacities and has Flash hybrid storage pools to improve response times.
3PAR: This Company is a manufacturer of systems and software for data storage and information management. Founded in 1999, it has 657 employees and has been recognized by Forbes Magazine as the fourth fastest growing company on its Tech25 list. In 2010 it was acquired by Hewlett-Packard for $2.35 billion. The HP P10000 3PAR Storage System is designed to deliver enterprise IT simply and efficiently. It has a new version of HP 3PAR InFormOS and up to 50% increased performance over the HP 3PAR T-Class. It has adaptive optimization software and secure multi-tenancy.
Aberdeen: Founded in 1991, Aberdeen is a leader in the field of servers and storage. They recently expanded into the Israeli market. This company produces NAS products like the AberNAS 160 LX-Series; this system can be deployed from the smallest business to the largest IT environment. It utilizes four RAID optimized SATA 3Gb/s drives and the SAS expansion port which allows for connection to many different Aberdeen XDAS units. The AberNAS N80L Series features a 3rd generation Linux OS and has a system memory that can support increases from 4GB to 1TB. It also can handle up to 48 RAID optimized hard drives. Two external SAS ports allow for expansion with one of Aberdeen’s new 3U 28-Bay or 4U 45-Bay JBOD enclosures.
Avere Systems: This Company is dedicated to accelerating NAS performances. It was founded in 2008 and has found success in demand-driven storage solutions. The FTX Series hardware platforms provide high-performance storage media. They contain DRAM and NVRAM to accelerate the performance of their active data. Write performance is protected by 1GB of NVRAM per application and is available in FXT 2750, FXT 2550 and FXT 2300 models. Their A-3 Architecture is one of the futures of NAS evolution. It works on a tiered filed system and has scaled-out clustering with GNS functionality. It provides unmatched visibility into your NAS environment.
Fujitsu: With the slogan, “Shaping tomorrow with you” this multinational information technology company is the third largest IT services provider in the world. Its 2010 revenue was $50.482 billion and they focus on IT-driven business solutions. Their Fujitsu CELVIN NAS Servers are tremendous products. The Q700 satisfies the need for data management for any state-of-the-art business network; it has three years of parts supply guarantee and multiple options for file management, remote access and database usage. It also has iSCSI target and initiator for simple and platform independent IP-capacity provision. The Q600 has excellent download features for BitTorrent, iTunes and Twonky media servers. It also has encrypted remote replication and powerful PC-client backup software with multiple backup modes: instant/schedule/auto-sync.
Hitachi: As of 2009, this Japanese company was, by revenue, the third largest technological company in the world. They produce a wide variety of devices from nuclear plants to ATMs. Hitachi also produces NAS storage devices like the Hitachi NAS Platform. This product has high performance of up to 1.6GB/sec and 200,000 IOPS per node. It is highly scalable with up to 16PB of capacity. It features intelligent file tiers that enable policy-based hierarchical storage management and it has rolling upgrades and faster failover times that reduce planned and unplanned downtime. The NAS Platform 3080 has massive computing parallelism and hardware accelerated network storage that supports up to 1,100 MB/sec throughout sequential workloads and up to 73,000 IOPS per node. It has a 256TB file system and its CNS enables can cluster up to four nodes in a single namespace.
Iomega: This American company has been producing consumer external, portable and networking storage hardware since 1980. In 2008 it was acquired by the EMC Corporation and Iomega became the SOHO/SMB arm of the world’s largest storage company. Their Iomega StorCenter ix2-200 offers content sharing with advanced media features. It has RAID support with automatic RAID rebuild and Gigabit Ethernet connectivity. The network protocols CIFS/SMB/Rally, NFS, AFP/Bonjour, FTP, HTTP, HTTPS and SNMP are supported. The Iomega StorCenter ix2-300r is ideal for small to medium-sized businesses. It’s four-drive disk packs can be expanded into right or twelve disk configurations and it can access files from any networked Windows, Mac or Linux workstation/server for easy file sharing, data backup and print serving.
LaCie: Originally two companies, LaCie in Oregon and electronique d2 in France, they focus on external hard drives, RAID arrays, optical drives, flash drive and computer monitors. They have 450 employees and a 2010 revenue of 351.8 million Euros. They are pioneers in computer aesthetics. The LaCie d2 Network 2 offers professional, reliable and central storage for any PC or Mac. Thanks to its 19” rackmount capability, it is perfect for any professional IT server. With the UPnP-IGD/NAT-PMP compatible routers you can access it remotely. The LaCie Network Space 2 is ideal because it is easy to set up and easy to use. It has Gigabit Ethernet and two-year limited warranty. It is UPnP-IGD/DLNA certified and its USB moves at 30MB/sec.
Seagate: While originating in Ireland in 1979, Seagate Technology calls California home. It recently released a stand-alone 3TB hard drive and has been releasing hard drives since 1980 Their line of NAS devices is called BlackArmor. The BlackArmor NAS 110 has easy desktop USB storage; it can provide centralized storage and full automatic backup to up to 10 PCs. SafetyDrill bare metal recovery provides protection for your essential data and it has 1 Gigabit Ethernet port and 2 USB ports. The BlackArmor NAS 440 can provide optimum uptime and data integrity for up to 50 workstations. It has four hot-swappable drives configurable in RAID 0, 1, 5 or 10 or JBOD. It is VMware ready and has government-grade hardware encryption technology.
Targa Systems: This Canadian company is a world leader in providing military, aerospace, avionics and ground vehicle data storage solutions. Some of their clients include; Lockheed-Martin, Eurocopter, Northrop-Grumman, The Boeing Company, the U.S. Navy, Daimler-Chrysler Aerospace and NASA. Their NAS storage line includes several lines. One is the Targa Series 4 Data Transfer Unit; it has Gigabit Ethernet and provides a compact self-contained system to store and receive data from a Serial ATA (SATA) flash disk in the most demanding environments. It is configurable for simultaneous NAS and iSCSI operations and comes in three components; the single DTD, the ground station unit and the dual DTD. There is also the Targa PC Card Data Transfer Unit; this system is built to store and retrieve data from industry standard PCMCIA/ATA cards and have been qualified to meet the most demanding MIL-STD-810 and RTCA DO-160 environments. It’s PC cards have up to 32GB ATA capacities and power fail detect with DOS FAT & directory auto-save to prevent file corruption.
Western Digital: One of the largest computer hard disk drive manufacturers in the world, it began in 1970 as an integrated circuit and storage products company. By 1975 they were the largest calculator chip manufacturer and by the 2000s they were the first mainstream company to offer ATA hard disk drive with 8MB of cache buffer. Western Digital’s My Book Live has centralized storage and wireless backup. It also has a 800 MHz CPU for maximum performance and between a 1TB and 3TB capacity. The WD VelociRaptor Enterprise Hard Drive has the fastest SATA hard drive on the planet with 10,000 RPM, 32 MB cache and a SATA 6 Gb/s interface. It has 600 GB worth of capacity and great reliability with 1.4 million hours of MTBF and a five year limited warranty.
Permabit: This American company designs, builds and sells OEM-embedded data optimization software solutions and NAS appliances targeted at enterprise archiving applications. With their Albireo High Performance Data Optimization Software, Permabit has created a powerful sub-file level deduplication solution that can be flexibly integrate a parallel, inline or post-process solution. This NAS software has block, file and unified storage integration and has an ingest performance of 140+MB/sec/core (3.0 GHz Intel Xeon) linear performance scale-out as additional CPUs are added. Their Permabit Cloud Storage solution is massively scalable storage to power cloud storage. It has self-healing data protection and storage grid architecture. It also has replication flexibility no more backups; the data is protected by advanced erasure coding algorithms designed for large capacity drives.
BlueArc Corporation: Founded in the United Kingdom in 1998 and acquired by the Hitachi Corporation in 2011 for a reported $600 million. BlueArc’s product line is differentiated by its FPGA technology. It produces a variety of NAS devices like their Titan Series Servers. Their Titan models are the next generation of intelligent platforms designed to meet the needs of today’s data servers. Their IOPS are between 100,000 and 200,000 and between 10Gbps and 20Gbps. It comes in two models, the 3100 and 3200. The Mercury Mid-Range Network Storage System has open architecture that excels across a wide variety of application environments. It enables high performance and scalability through a hardware accelerated file system. Organizations that use Mercury can replace a number of their dedicated legacy systems. It’s just that efficient.
IBM: This legendary company holds more patents than any other U.S. technology company. Their employees have won five Nobel Prizes, four Turing Awards, nine National Medals of Technology and five National Medals of Science. It ranks as one of the largest firms in the world. Their IBM NAS N7000 Series has many different excellent models. The IBM SONAS has a 14 PB capacity and can store up to a billion files in a single file system and can have up to 256 file systems. It has backend tape support for long-term saving and a robust, automated tiered storage and lifecycle management. The IBM RTCA Appliance STN6500 has 16 x1GbE ports and can compress data in real time up to 80% while maintaining or improving performance. It also has two physical ports for each NAS port and its link speed is 1 GbE.
Overland Storage: This Company recently acquired the SnapServer line of NAS devices; Overland was founded in 1980 and originally manufactured IBM-compatible 9 track-tape drives. Their SnapServer line is powered by Overland’s award winning GuardianOS. The SnapServer N2000 has a high performance scalable platform for storing both file and block data. It has a Java-based utility integrated with the GuardianOS and the ability to scale from 1.2TB to more than 140TB. The SnapServer 410 has up to 8TB of storage needs and SATA drives with fixed capacities ranging from 2TB to 8TB and supports RAID levels 0, 1, 5, 6 and 10. Its out-of-the-box support for multi-platform environments keeps all your security and access permissions intact.
Buffalo Technology: This subsidiary of Melco Holdings Inc was founded in 1975 and entered the computer peripheral market in 1981. They produce a large number of NAS devices including; the Linkstation Pro LS-VL which is available in 1TB, 2TB and 3TB. It is significantly faster than a USB drive and includes NovaBACKUP professional software for Windows and Time Machine support. It has DDR3 RAM and transfer speeds up to 76MB/s. The TeraStation ES TS-XEL/R5 is available in 2TB, 4TB and 8TB capacities and cost-effective RAID based storage and active directory integration. It also has front-loading hot-swap hard drive in the front panel for easy access and 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet with jumbo frame support.
Proware Technology: A Taiwanese company that was founded in 1992 and is known for its RAID storage array hardware and software. Proware is also known for its hardware storage arrays and NAS solutions. The flagship product line is the Epica series which was launched in 2006. Their NAS products are equally impressive; such as the proNAS Series DN-500 SATA NAS. It supports up to five hot-swappable SATA II hard drives and has a Linux-based OS design. It is also configured by Flex/Ruby browser based software. The EPICa Series EN-T800 SAS NAS offers RAID levels of 0, 1, 5, and 10 along with Linear (JBOD). System reliability is assured by an environmental monitoring unit which tracks the enclosure temperature and individual hard disk temperature which is good because it supports up to eight hot-swappable SAS/SATA II hard drives.
ioSafe: This company is unique for the fact that they produce lines of disaster-proof devices. It was founded in 2004 and their first product was the ioSafe S1, the first external hard drive with fire and flood protection. In July 2008 they introduced the first disaster-protected internal hard drive, the ioSafe R4 and in January 2010, they premiered the first disaster-protected external solid state drive, the ioSafe Solo SSD. IoSafe used to make a NAS backup appliance. This device is engineered to resist fire, flood, primary server or hard drive failure. Its airflow cooling ability ensured enterprise class reliability and it had a three year product warranty. With its constant technical support and optional EMC Retrospect data backup software, there was no better way to defend your data.
Synology: This Taiwanese company manufactures NAS devices for the SOHO and SMB/SME. Since 2000 their products have been distributed all over the world. They have three main product lines, for the home, for the home/small office and for the medium to large business. Synology is known for embracing the power-user/programmer community. Their DiskStation DS2411+ can scale up to 24 drives at the same time. It has average 165 MB/sec writing and 195 MB/sec reading. It can scale up to 72TB with the Synology DX1211 and 2 LAN with failover and link aggregation support. The DS411slim is green, compact and quiet. Perfect for a home or small office with its small footprint and cross platform file sharing and backup. It is designed for 2.5” hard drives and it has flexible RAID management.
A business will want to get every ounce of energy and productivity out of their NAS devices. The field is large enough so that individuals and businesses can tailor their NAS to them and not the other way around. So study, research and shop around; remember it’s your choice and your responsibility.
For more information on hard drive brands, you can read our list of comparing hard drives.