Save money and get extra features from these Time Capsule alternatives
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