Group test

Save money and get ex­tra fea­tures from th­ese Time Cap­sule al­ter­na­tives

Mac Format - - CONTENTS - Nick Peers

Th­ese days Net­work At­tached Stor­age (NAS) hard drives do much more than sim­ply pro­vide a con­ve­nient cen­tral place for ev­ery­one to dump their files. They work as a form of back-up drive for all the de­vices on your net­work, plus pro­vide USB ports for plug­ging in ad­di­tional stor­age and even other pe­riph­er­als (most no­tably prin­ters). They also pro­vide au­dio and video stream­ing ser­vices, and al­low you to in­stall apps to get even more func­tion­al­ity, like host­ing a Word­Press blog or cap­tur­ing sur­veil­lance footage from a video cam­era.

The most ob­vi­ous ex­am­ple of a NAS drive is Ap­ple’s own Time Cap­sule, but it’s both ex­pen­sive and quite lim­ited in what it of­fers. In this round-up, we’ve sourced six al­ter­na­tive drives us­ing the £249 price point of the 2TB Time Cap­sule as our start­ing point. What we’ve found is that for this kind of out­lay you can ex­pect a lot more flex­i­bil­ity and pro­tec­tion for your hard‑earned cash.

First, all six drives in our test of­fer space for two drives, al­low­ing you to eas­ily swap out and up­grade them to ex­pand your stor­age. Four of the drives come with stor­age in­cluded, while two mod­els from Synol­ogy and Zyxel are ‘diskless’, which means you’ll need to sup­ply the drives your­self – the pric­ing of the drives re­flects this, leav­ing you with enough money to pur­chase two 2TB drives.

It’s worth not­ing that the ad­ver­tised ca­pac­ity of each drive in this test doesn’t tell the whole story: five of the six drives are con­fig­ured by de­fault to use each drive to back up the con­tents of the other in a RAID 1 ar­ray – this means you get half the ad­ver­tised amount of stor­age, but you are pro­tected against one of the drives fail­ing, and you can re­con­fig­ure the drives to get the full ad­ver­tised stor­age if you wish.

We tested each drive on four key as­pects: fea­tures, ease of use, per­for­mance (most no­tably file trans­fer speeds) and con­nec­tiv­ity. Read on to find out how they fared.

Th­ese days, net­work hard drives do more than sim­ply pro­vide a cen­tralised place for shar­ing files

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