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People buy NAS (Network Attached Storage Device) devices for a variety of reasons, but most commonly them they are used for storing large media files for later playback and streaming. They can be thought of as a powerful external hard drive for your entire home network.
It can seem difficult shopping for the best NAS devices but is made easier when you know exactly what you should be looking for. There are many different NAS devices out there so here is my buyer’s guide to help you find the best NAS home media streaming for you and your family to enjoy.
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Best NAS for Home Media Streaming: Synology 4 Bay NAS DiskStation DS418
The Comparison Table
|No. of Bays
|Backup and Redundancy Features?
|Synology 4 Bay NAS DiskStation DS418
|64-bit quad-core 1.4GHz
|QNAP 2 Bay NAS
|64-bit quad-core 2.0GHz
|64-bit quad -core 1.4GHz
|Synology 4 Bay NAS Rackstation RS819
|64-bit quad -core 1.4GHz
|Synology 12 Bay NAS Diskstation DS2419+
|64-bit quad-core 2.1GHz
Best NAS for Home Media Streaming
1. Synology 4 Bay NAS DiskStation DS418
A fantastic all-rounder NAS for home media streaming has to be the DS418 from Synology.
The DS418 is powered by a 64-bit quad-core processor which allows for excellent data transfer speeds in addition to 10-bit 4K H.265 video transcoding.
What does this mean exactly? Streaming 4k video from the DS418 will be an absolute breeze.
This NAS device also allows easy access to your files anytime, regardless of where you are in the world. There are no complicated network settings to configure as the QuickConnect feature allows you to connect via a simple customizable address which can be accessed from any device without any additional charge.
You’ll be able to access and enjoy all of your home media, even when on the go, in a nice and straightforward way.
What I particularly like about the DS418 and one of the reasons I would recommend it as an excellent choice for storing your home media is that there are 4 hard drive bays.
It will support a maximum of 48Tb of data (12Tb hard drive x 4) which is an immense amount of storage, even for the biggest movie enthusiasts.
More hard drive bays also means more flexibility when it comes to setting up redundancy. The DS418 supports Synology’s hybrid raid in addition to JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 6, and RAID 10.
If storage capability and redundancy support are what you need, the Synology DS418 NAS is an excellent choice.
2. QNAP 2 Bay NAS
If you want a NAS that you can essentially take out of the box and begin using straight away, this one by QNAP will help you do just that thanks to it coming with two 4Tb Seagate hard drives.
Other NAS devices will come with empty bays, requiring you to purchase hard drives separately if you don’t already have any.
You certainly get convenience with the QNAP, especially as the NAS is pre-configured in RAID 1. This is where the drives are mirrored so should one fail, all of your data and files are kept safe on the second drive.
As soon as you replace the faulty drive, the data will begin to mirror back to the newly installed drive.
One thing to note with the QNAP is that you are limited to playing 1080p video files, but if audio is more your thing, it does support 7.1 channel audio pass-through via HDMI.
Some people have reported the software to configure and operate the NAS to be a bit slow and clunky as well as the processing struggling when under heavy load; you may need to wait a while between issuing a command via the remote control and the NAS actually performing the task.
The fact that the NAS comes bundled with two 4Tb hard drives pre-configured in RAID 1 is definitely the biggest selling point of this product; you know any data you store on either hard drive will be safe thanks to the redundancy.
The QNAP will be more than suitable enough for anyone looking to store and stream some 1080p movies, but if you won’t settle for anything less than 4k resolution, you will need to look elsewhere.
3. TerraMaster F2-210
If you are on a bit more of a budget when shopping for a NAS to stream your home media from, the TerraMaster F2-210 NAS is a great one to consider.
There are two bays available for 3.5” and 2.5” SATA hard drives, and even 2.5 SATA SSDs. Each bay supports up to 16Tb disks, so you can have 32Tb total storage in RAID 0.
Chuck a couple of SSDs in this NAS and you’ll really notice the performance boost compared to using traditional hard drives.
TerraMaster really does pay attention to implementing security measures to protect your data. Features include T-RAID array security protection, snapshots, and a wide array of backup solutions including remote, cloud and automatic scheduled backups.
Letting the NAS take care of the security and backups means you don’t have to stress about making sure everything is set up correctly; you can just enjoy the easy, convenient access to all of your home media.
Many people have praised the F2-210 for being a great quality NAS for the price, especially considering it costs around half that of a similar competitor. It is also relatively easy to set up and start using straight away.
That being said, some people have reported that the software isn’t the best. Some menus will be displayed in English, whereas others will be in Chinese, the reliability of the drives showing as accessible can be inconsistent and finding the relevant software support, documentation and tutorials can be challenging.
That aside, the TerraMaster F2-210 is still a great choice for a more budget-friendly NAS and is certainly a great bang for your buck.
4. Synology 4 Bay NAS Rackstation RS819
If you are lucky enough to have a server or network rack as part of your home network, you may want to consider getting the only rack-mounted NAS featured on this list.
The NAS is only 1U and is less than 12 inches deep, so it should fit very nicely in most racks.
I am a bit of a neat freak myself, so if I could get all of my networking gear rack mounted to keep everything looking that bit tidier, I would.
A NAS is often something that unfortunately has to be left on the shelf due to their typical boxy design, but that is certainly not the case with the Synology RS819.
This NAS features a 64-bit quad-core 1.4GHz processor which delivers performance at over 224 MB/s for reading and 152 MB/s for writing.
File Station, the web-based management tool is both fast and secure. It provides easy to use drag and drop functionality that doesn’t require any complicated software either on PC or Mac.
Included in File Station are advanced search and filtering tools that make organizing and sharing your home media incredibly easy. The RS819 supports the following protocols for fantastic compatibility: AFP, FTP, iSCSI, NFS, SMB and WebDAV.
The built-in security tools are also constantly updated by Synology to keep your data safe and protect your NAS for evolving threats.
If you are looking for a NAS to have as a home server, you may want to look for an alternative as commonly used tools like Docker and Plex either struggle to run or don’t work at all on the RS819.
The Synology RS819 is still a fantastic choice for a NAS that can store and stream your home media; you will struggle to find a rack-mounted alternative for the price and the quality that Synology delivers here.
5. Synology 12 Bay NAS Diskstation DS2419+
Looking for the ultimate NAS where money is no object? Look no further than the DS2419+ by Synology.
The DS2419+ really does have everything you would ever want in a NAS, and tons more!
The quad-core 2.1 GHz processor provides simply outstanding performance at over 1,1716 MB/s reading and 671 MB/s writing. I challenge you to find a different NAS that is as blisteringly fast as the DS2419+.
4GB of DDR4 RAM is installed, but this is expandable up to 32Gb if you really want to go all out.
Each bay will support hard disks up to 28Tb in size. This means the NAS can scale up to an eye-watering 336Tb of total storage. To put this into perspective, you can expect to store around 4,300 4k movies on the DS2419+, depending on the file size of each movie, of course.
Even the biggest movie buff would struggle to get anywhere near reaching the capacity that this NAS can offer!
Security and backups needn’t be a concern here. With 12 bays, your choice of RAID configuration options is unmatched and the advanced Btrfs file system supports 65,000 system-wide snapshots and 1,024 snapshots per shared folder.
Something gone wrong? Simply revert back to a previous snapshot and you can carry on like nothing ever happened.
As if this isn’t enough, the DS2419+ has four built-in RJ45 ports that support failover and link aggregation support. Still not good enough? Synology added support for an optional 10GbE add-on card that can provide even faster data transfer.
The elephant in the room is, of course, the price.
The DS2419+ is expensive to buy, but you would struggle to find another NAS that comes anywhere near close to matching the storage and performance that this one can offer. Some people have said that Synology’s customer support is not the best, which is disappointing as you would expect to receive exceptional support when purchasing such a premium product.
That aside, the DS2419+ by Synology is the NAS to buy if you have the budget and want the best of the best.
Choosing the right NAS for your needs can be a daunting task with the vast choice that is available. Before purchasing a new NAS, ask yourself the following questions to ensure you choose one that is suitable for your needs:
- How much storage do I need?
- Does the NAS store backups and support redundancy?
- How many hard drive bays do I need?
- Do I need hard drives to be included?
- Which hard drives should I use?
- What connections and controls do I need?
- Do I need remote access?
How Much Storage Do I Need?
The NAS devices we cover in this article will come with enough storage to fit the needs of most people, but you still want to look ahead and consider how much storage you will need not just now, but also in the future.
High-resolution photo and video files, in particular, can take up a large amount of storage, so you want to make sure you have enough available and not have to keep deleting files or moving them elsewhere in order to make space.
That defeats the object of having a NAS in the first place: having a central and secure place to store all of your data.
You may also like: Best NAS for Home Surveillance: Buyer’s Guide
Does the NAS Store Backups and Support Redundancy?
The best NAS devices should also be more than just a storage solution; they should also have the capability of storing backups and supporting redundancy should anything ever happen to your original files.
Redundancy allows you to mirror the data stored on one hard drive to another, so should one fail, the data is still kept safe on the mirrored drive.
There are many different RAID configurations you can set up on a NAS, but which ones are available to you depends on how many hard drive bays you have, and how many hard drives you have to fill them.
How Many Hard Drive Bays Do I Need?
This leads us to ask the question of how many hard drives do you need the NAS device to hold. Many NAS devices are able to hold more than one hard drive, which I consider to be essential for redundancy.
You don’t want to put all of your eggs in one basket and rely on a single hard drive. Having multiple hard drives installed in the NAS makes data management and setting up backups and redundancy much easier.
The more hard drive bays you have, the greater the flexibility you have in terms of RAID configurations. For example, having just two bays available limits you to RAID 0 or RAID 1, whereas having four bays allows you to use RAID 5, RAID 6, and RAID 10 as well.
Do I Need Hard Drives to Be Included?
Although most NAS devices come “diskless”, meaning you have to purchase the hard drives themselves separately, some will come pre-populated with disks and are often already formatted to use a particular RAID configuration.
The NAS manufacturers who also produce hard drives will favor selling NAS devices with pre-populated drives as it is a sale for both the NAS and hard drives in a single transaction.
Other manufacturers are more likely to sell their NAS devices without any included hard drives, but some will offer included disks that are pre-configured for the convenience of you, the buyer.
Before making a decision on whether to go diskless or pre-populated, I would suggest checking the difference in how much it will cost you overall.
Some people may be willing to pay more for pre-populated NAS for the convenience of knowing you can plug it in and start using it straight away, whereas others will find that purchasing the drives separately is more cost-effective in addition to getting better performance and more overall storage.
Which Hard Drives Should I Use?
If you already have a stash of hard drives you are looking to insert into a NAS, you need to first make sure they are compatible and will physically fit.
NAS manufacturers will typically recommend certain models of hard drives that have been tested and confirmed as compatible with their product, but that’s not to say your existing hard drives won’t work.
If you are buying new hard drives specifically for your NAS, I would suggest going with the manufacturer’s recommendations for peace of mind that they will be compatible, more than anything.
Some hard drives will be branded specifically for use with NAS.
This may appear as just a marketing tactic to get you to spend more money on a hard drive, but most of these have actually been tested to run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
Also, keep in mind the physical size of hard drives and whether they will fit in the NAS you are looking to purchase. Some NAS devices will accept multiple sizes of hard drives, including SSDs, whereas others will only allow the commonly found 3.5” SATA drives.
What Connections Do I Need?
Something else to consider when shopping for your next NAS is the connections and controls they have available.
Most devices will have a couple of USB ports allowing you to connect a printer or external storage device, for example. This allows you to essentially make these devices available on your home network through the NAS itself.
Any NAS device you look at will come with at least one Ethernet port in order to be connected to a network, but some of the higher-end models may have two for redundancy. Pay top dollar and you may find you even get a 10 Gigabit Ethernet port for blistering fast write and read speeds.
Some models of NAS will come with an HDMI port to allow you to connect it to an external display, but this isn’t as important when you can access the NAS through a web-based interface anyway.
In terms of physical buttons, some devices will have a “copy” button which is designed to make copying the contents of an external storage device, such as a USB flash drive, to the NAS with just the press of a button.
Do I Need Remote Access?
Most NAS devices provide the functionality to send web-based links to others, allowing them remote access to certain files and folders that are stored on your NAS.
The NAS essentially becomes your private cloud-based storage solution.
One benefit of this is that you no longer have to rely on another service such as Google Drive, DropBox or iCloud which charge you a monthly fee whilst offering less storage capacity.
It’s no surprise that NAS manufacturers make a particular point to advertise this feature when “personal” and “cloud-based” are such buzzwords these days.
In addition to being able to share files and folders over the Internet, you also have the ability to access your NAS wherever you are in the world providing you have an Internet connection. Gone are the days where you have to be on your local home network in order to access your files.
Most NAS devices nowadays will offer this feature, but definitely don’t assume they do and make a point to check before pulling the trigger. For some, a NAS isn’t worth having if they can’t access it remotely, which is the opinion I also share.
These are the best NAS devices for home media streaming I have found that provide the performance and storage necessary to store all of your movies, photos, and music without the worry that you’ll encounter issues when accessing the content.
When choosing a NAS, remember to consider how much total storage you may need, not just now but also in the future, whether it stores backups and supports redundancy, and how many hard drives you may also need to buy as most will not come with drives included.
If I were to recommend one of the NAS devices featured on this list, it would have to be the Synology 4 Bay NAS DiskStation DS418.
It is simply a fantastic all-rounder that supports a great deal of storage whilst also having the ability to stream 4k video files.
The 4 bays allow for different RAID configurations to help keep your data safe whilst not requiring many extra hard drives to be bought to get the most out of the NAS.