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Are enterprise-grade NAS solutions worth the cost? Small and medium businesses can get away with using local computer storage or a dedicated PC as a file server—for a short while anyway. But there comes a point when SMBs should upgrade to a Network Attached Storage (NAS) drive. But when is that point, and what kind of NAS drive will work best? Not all NAS drives are built equally, and like most technology purchases, the best fit for your company’s needs depends on your budget and intended usage.

Pricing for a NAS solution can start as low as a few hundred and grow considerably from there. In addition to that, the number and quality of drives used with the NAS heavily influences the final price. Because of those costs, a consumer-grade NAS can present a powerful argument based on price tag alone. So why choose an enterprise-grade NAS over a consumer solution? Simply put, it comes down to feature set and business-oriented NAS devices typically include more of them.

For a company scaling up, a consumer-grade NAS may seem like a good option, but they may find themselves running up against their limitations quickly. Let’s take a closer look at some features of enterprise-grade NAS devices to see what features you should consider.

Hardware and Performance

From a hardware perspective, the line between a NAS and PC can be remarkably thin. Like a PC, a NAS features a processor, memory and mainboard. While not desktop grade, some NAS devices come with processors from the likes of AMD and Intel. These can be dual or even multi-core CPUs that have names such as Ryzen and Xeon. Meanwhile with a consumer-grade NAS, you may be looking at an ARM-based 32-bit processor with barely enough processing power to get out of its own way. In terms of a tier list for CPUs, it starts with 32-bit ARM System on a Chip (SoC), moves on up to 64-bit, then x86 64-bit CPUs without embedded graphics, and finally x86 CPUs with embedded processors.

Hardware encompasses more than just the processor though—it also includes memory, PCI expandability, network connectivity, input/output and more. Higher end NAS devices feature expandable memory slots up with even support for Error Correction Code (ECC) memory.

So what do these hardware features get you? Faster hardware can mean faster read and write speeds. But more than that, it can determine how many users can simultaneously access the NAS without noticeable slowdowns occurring. Expect to run processes on the NAS itself rather than on a local machine, thus freeing up your computer for other tasks. This can be encoding and decoding media, compressing video files, or running encryption to ensure your data is protected.

Storage and Capacity

What purpose does a NAS serve if not storage? NAS devices can support a broad spectrum of hard drives and solid state drives. If a consumer-grade hard drive isn’t enough, you can go with an enterprise-grade drive or even NAS-grade drive. For more speed, consider using solid state drives. Some enterprise-grade NAS solutions even support M.2 NVMe SSDs. As for capacity, you should aim for several TB of storage space and possibly more depending on what your intended usage is for the device.

You will also need to decide whether you want a NAS that comes with the storage drives or one that requires you to purchase your own. The primary advantage of purchasing a NAS with drives pre-installed is ease of installation. But if you and your staff have no problems installing a hard drive, then purchasing a NAS without drives can be more cost efficient (provided you have extra drives on hand), and more control over the type of storage drive (HDD or SSD) and capacity of the drives.

Network Connectivity

Network connectivity is one area where budget and enterprise-grade NAS devices can overlap. Most speedy NAS devices should have Gigabit Ethernet at a minimum, but some also include support for Wi-Fi. However, Wi-Fi may not be as desired as you might think. Unless your Wi-Fi router can reach speeds of 1000 Mbps, a Gigabit connection offers more speed. Wi-Fi may be a convenience as it doesn’t need long runs of Ethernet cabling and can be placed virtually anywhere in the office, but it doesn’t match a wired connection in terms of speed and reliability. Even the best Wi-Fi signals can be affected by interference while some NAS solutions offer support for 10 Gigabit Ethernet, which has none of those issues. So choose Wi-Fi equipped for ease of setup, but wired if you want reliability and absolute speed.

Management and Software

Most NAS manufacturers install their own proprietary operating systems onto their products for you already, but they each may come with different feature sets and capabilities. The major NAS manufacturers, such as Synology, Drobo, and QNAP, all have their or operating systems that come with their products. The software also plays an important part if you decide to expand your storage with multiple NAS devices, as a well-designed OS may make management of multiple devices easier. You should carefully consider the features and capabilities of each before choosing one for your SMB.

Alternatively, if you do not want to use a bundled operating system from the manufacturer, you may be able to install Windows, Linux, FreeNAS, or another operating system of your choice. Doing so may make it easier for some users to manage the NAS device. However, not all NAS devices support the ability to install a third party operating system. However, keep in mind that the ability to install Windows does not mean the NAS can run the operating system well. Hardware comes into play here and can determine how well a third party OS can run the NAS.


Since a NAS allows you to store so much data in one location, security becomes more important than ever. It can mean the difference between operating normally and finding out how your sensitive data got leaked on the internet. When looking at a NAS device, you will want to look at what security features it includes and whether they are enough protection. To start with, you may want to look for a NAS that SSDs

Top-rated Network Attached Storage Devices

Below, you will find some of the top user rated NAS devices currently available on NeweggBusiness.

QNAP 2-Bay Personal Cloud TS-231K-US NAS

Price: $211.99


  • 2-Bay
  • AnnapurnaLabs  Alpine AL-214, 4-core, 1.7GHz
  • 1GB DDR3 RAM
  • 2 Gigabit Ethernet Ports

Western Digital Diskless My Cloud EX4100 NAS

Price $319.99


  • 4-Bay
  • Marvell ARMADA 388 1.6 GHz dual-core CPU
  • 2GB DDR3 RAM
  • 2 Gigabit Ethernet Ports

Synology 2 bay NAS DiskStation DS720+ (Diskless)

Price: $399.99


  • 2-Bay
  • Intel Celeron J4125 4-core 2.0GHz
  • 2GB DDR4 RAM onboard, with support up to 6GB
  • 2x M.2 2280 NVMe SSD support (In addition to HDD)
  • 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports

Synology 4 bay NAS DiskStation DS920+ (Diskless)

Price: $549.99

  • 4-Bay
  • Intel Celeron J4125 4-core 2.0GHz
  • 4GB DDR4 RAM onboard, with support up to 8GB
  • 2x M.2 2280 NVMe SSD support (In addition to HDD)
  • 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports

QNAP TS-653D-4G-US System Network Storage (Diskless)

Price $699.00

  • 6-Bay
  • Intel Celeron J4125 4-core 2.0GHz
  • 4GB DDR4 RAM onboard, with support up to 8GB
  • 2 x 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet Port (2.5G/1G/100M)
  • Expandable to 10 Gigabit Ethernet or M.2 NVMe support

Wallace Chu

Author Wallace Chu

A self-professed tech hipster that loves computers and music. Uses an iPhone ironically.

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