Best Home & Small Office Local File Servers
A File Server In Your Office
If you want to back up several computers and share files with other people within the same office then you will need a file server. I would recommend taking a close look at a web based file store solution – see this review for more details, but this may not be for you if you want files quickly accessible within one location but without storing them all on your local machine. Perhaps you just want a tonne of extra storage space, if so a Network Attached Storage (NAS) is for you.
What to look for?
Basically its is a hard disc (or 2) connected to the network and showing up as a network drive. Its pretty much like an external USB drive apart from it can access your local network. Many NAS devices have multiple disks and the NAS automatically syncs one disk with the other. Its usually referred to as a RAID configuration and means if one disk fails you don’t loose anything. Many NAS devices are sold as enclosures for the hard disks and you have to buy the hard disks separately. It’s usually best to go with the hard disks recommended buy the supplier, so do your homework. You’ll also be likely pay extra for a wireless attachment if you really can’t have it connected via a cable to your network. Most NAS devices offer web access but this has many disdvantages with a NAS. For starters you are accessing it via your own broadband upload link which for most of us is an extremely slow ADSL uplink speed. Also you have to be super careful configuring your router etc to make this possible. If web access is crucial for you and you don’t want to spend time and money getting it setup then again I would recommend a web based file server.
The Experts Choice
If you can afford it I recommend you buy a decent NAS enclosure made by Synology or QNAP. You’ll get a quality piece of kit but you will need to buy the hard drives to go with it, ideally 2 drives so you get the automatic RAID backup. We recommend this Samsung hard drive for your QNAP or Synology NAS as Samsung do some hard disks and the price beats most of the Western Digital and Seagate stuff. If your budget doesn’t stretch to the £250+ price tag for this setup you can try a closed unit NAS where the disks are included, but not so easily swapped when faulty. You can save even more by opting for a closed 1 disk unit which doesn’t offer any RAID backup protection. We’ve opted for Buffalo devices for both our recommended closed units as they offer a quality product that consumers love at a really competitive price.
Synology DS210j DiskStation 2 Bay Enclosure
RAID, Cool & Quiet, windows backup software. Mac Time Machine compatible. Print server & music center.Not that easy to set up. Doesn’t include any disks so grab a couple of these Samsung hard drives.
Buffalo Linkstation Duo 2TB
RAID, easy setup, great price, printer server, includes 2 x 1TB disksHas a fan so can be slightly noisy. Hard to replace disks.
Buffalo Linkstation Live 1TB
Easy setup, great price, quiet, print server.Transfer speed not great. 1 disk means no RAID and so no automatic backup across multiple disks.