Network Attached Storage Round-Up (Part 3) - Novice User, Feature Rich Single Disk NAS

5/25/2012 5:48:55 PM

Buyers Guide

In this section we will recommend our favourite products for different categories of user. Not everyone needs blistering performance or every feature under the sun, while for others speed and capacity are everything. Hopefully you'll find the right NAS for you with the help of our recommendations.

Novice User

Description: MyDitto

Although setting up most NAS boxes is not difficult, k it still requires a degree of knowledge and technical acumen. Manufacturer Dane Elec has identified the need for a truly plug-and-play NAS box and has satisfied that demand with its MyDitto products. Available in a number of capacities, the MyDitto provides an ease of access we have not seen matched by competing products, as it is facilitated by a unique 'key' based method for installing and accessing the product. Simply attach your My Ditto to a router, power up the device and plug in the included USB key device. An application will autolaunch from the key and it will automatically log into your server without need for further configuration. The MyDitto software is displayed in an FTP-style configuration, with one window pane reserved for your local files and the other showing files on your server. You can then simply drag and drop the files you want to use into your desired folder on the local drive.

Despite its position as a product clearly designed for novice users, the MyDitto still offers a wealth of features. An iTunes server is included, as is the UPnP and DLNA functionality necessary to stream media to Xbox 360, PS3 and other dedicated media centre systems. The MyDitto also houses a BitTorrent client, which will please serial downloaders. There's even an application for iOS and Windows Phone users that allows you to remotely access the information stored on your MyDitto.

Description: USB Pen Drive

The MyDitto is designed to facilitate additional users by use of extra keys. These can either be purchased separately (two are included as standard) or you can turn any USB pen drive into a MyDitto key by plugging it into the box's USB port and pressing a button.

You can't have everything, however. Even when connected to a gigabit network the MyDitto isn't the speediest of NAS boxes around. The 13MB/s write speed and 24MB/s read speed are slow compared to speedsters such as the Synology range of products, and at $297.6 it’s pretty expensive for a 1TB variant. Nevertheless, if you're looking for a NAS solution and don't want the bother of complicated administration, this is a great choice.

Feature Rich Single Disk NAS

Description: SYNOLOGY Disk Station DS111 NAS enclosure

SYNOLOGY Disk Station DS111 NAS enclosure

If you don't need to serve more than the 3TB of data and redundancy is not important to you, then you can get a number of affordable yet feature-packed NAS enclosures. One such device we were very impressed with was the QNAP TS-112. At $192 without a drive, this box is affordable and accommodates any standard 3.5" desktop hard drive. In terms of performance, it delivers a read speed in excess of 70MB/s over a gigabit network, and a write speed of around 65MB/S. If you're still struggling with a NAS from a couple of years ago, this QNAP product is likely to deliver five times the speed, because the performance of processors and the amount of RAM installed within contemporary NAS devices has been greatly improved.

As is usual with QNAP products, the TS-112 is brimming over with features. The usual music and video streaming functionality is handled with aplomb, while print serving and FTP features are joined by support for BitTorrent and Emule P2P clients.

QNAP even provides a Dynamic DNS service that will allow you to connect to your box over the internet using a proper web URL, in the format of As your home IP address changes, the NAS pings this change up to the DDNS server at MycloudNas, updating the link. An application called 'QMobile' can be downloaded onto iOS or Android devices and be used to play photos, music, and video files that are stored on the NAS. There's also a handy feature called 'Multimedia Station', which presents all the video, music and photo files stored on your NAS in an easy to browse web-based format. This makes sharing photo albums and music effortless, whether you're accessing them locally or remotely over the internet.

A competing product to the QNAP TS-112 is the Synology DS112J. At $182.4, it's competitively priced against the QNAP and provides almost all the same features, including the DDNS server. In our testing, it too was extremely rapid, offering read speeds of around 70MB/s and write speeds of a little over 50MB/s. It's therefore marginally slower than the QNAP, but the included software is arguably more intuitive.

Regardless of which of these exceptional products you choose, we are confident that you'll be delighted with the performance and features they offer.

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