7 guidelines to secure network storage Consider the advantages and disadvantages of NAS

4 NAS devices for enterprises in 2024 and buying factors

If you're considering a NAS device for your organization, discover the factors to evaluate and some vendor offerings to add to your NAS shopping list.

With data growing exponentially from one year to the next, the need for enterprise storage shows no signs of slowing down. Numerous vendors offer enterprise NAS devices with various models available.

While figuring out what storage to buy can be a daunting process, the following considerations and examples of NAS devices should guide enterprises in the buying process.

NAS buying considerations

Users should consider several factors when evaluating NAS devices.

Type of usage

Not all NAS appliances are suitable for enterprise use, as many are designed specifically for consumers or small businesses. Similarly, some systems are designed more for media streaming than for general use. Consider your specific needs when selecting an appliance. A small business NAS may be fine for a remote or branch office, but it's probably not appropriate for an enterprise data center.


You can get a basic idea of the amount of storage space NAS systems provide by counting the number of drive bays. Consider other factors, however. For example, some appliances place limits on single drive capacity, meaning you can only install drives up to a certain size.

Some appliances contain additional storage options. For example, many appliances contain M.2 slots that can accommodate NVMe drives. These slots are rarely included in the drive bay count.

Some manufacturers reserve drive bays for data caching. For example, if a NAS appliance is designed primarily to work with HDD storage, the manufacturer may intend for a small number of drive bays to be used as an SSD cache. Cache storage isn't usually included in an appliance's usable capacity. Reserving drive bays for cache storage reduces the number of bays that could be used for normal data storage.


In some ways, NAS performance is like PC performance. Faster processors and large amounts of memory generally equate to better overall performance. It's important to ensure the appliance can use error correction code (ECC) memory, which helps to reduce data integrity errors.

CPU and memory resources aren't the only factors that affect an appliance's performance. The types of disks supported also play a big role. SSDs are faster than HDDs, but there's more to it than that. Some NAS appliances use SSDs to cache reads and writes to improve overall performance. From a performance standpoint, it's important to spread the cache across multiple SSDs because it enables the NAS to benefit from the combined performance of all the cache drives.

NAS features sought by users
These are the top features users should evaluate when comparing NAS devices.


Network connectivity plays a huge role in overall NAS performance. Often, it's network connectivity -- not the NAS itself -- that limits overall performance. Simply put, a slow network connection can become a major bottleneck that limits appliance performance.

Nearly any NAS includes Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) ports. In some cases, these ports can be aggregated to enable them to collectively act as a multi-GbE port. Use true high-speed connectivity rather than create a fast link out of several slow links. Having one or more 10 GbE ports is a good starting point, but some appliances support even faster links.

Nearly every NAS appliance contains USB ports. These ports can sometimes connect a keyboard and mouse, but they usually attach external storage.

Form factor

Most enterprise-grade appliances are designed to be rackmounted and adhere to 1U, 2U or 4U standards. Some NAS appliances aren't meant for rack use, however. Even so, most rack manufacturers offer rackmounted shelves that can accommodate nonrackmountable hardware. That hardware must not exceed the rack's dimensions or the shelf's rated weight capacity.

Ease of use

NAS appliances use a built-in OS and a collection of integrated management tools. These resources are almost always proprietary, and some vendors' OSes and management tools are easier to use than others. Ensure the appliance isn't excessively difficult to set up, manage and maintain.


NAS appliances almost always contain sensitive data. At a minimum, use a strong encryption algorithm, such as 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard, to prevent data leakage if NAS drives are stolen. You should also look for other basic security standards, such as HTTPS and multifactor authentication.


NAS reliability often comes down to the way NAS disks are configured, using, for example, RAID 5, RAID 6 and hot spares.

Other factors that improve overall NAS reliability include the use of redundant hardware, such as redundant power supplies and network ports. Some NAS appliances also replicate data from one appliance to another to enable the secondary appliance to take over if the primary appliance fails. If you replicate data between appliances, have a dedicated, high-speed link between the two appliances.

Remote access

Most enterprise NAS appliances support remote management by way of an HTTPS interface. This typically means reserving one of the appliance's network adapters for management use and connecting it to your management network. This approach prevents management traffic from adversely affecting performance. It also improves security, since you aren't mixing management traffic and storage traffic on the same network.

Drive compatibility

Finally, before you select a NAS appliance, check what types of drives it supports. Specifically, consider the following:

  • Form factor, such as 2.5-inch, 3.5-inch and M.2.
  • Type, such as SATA and SAS.
  • Media type, such as SSD and HDD.

Beyond that, consider capacity limits and support requirements. Some vendors only allow a certain capacity drive, for example, 10 TB or smaller. Similarly, a vendor may only support certain makes or models of drives. You might, for instance, be required to use Western Digital drives or risk voiding the appliance's warranty.

Enterprise NAS device vendors to consider

While numerous enterprise NAS devices are available from vendors such as Dell and HPE, this article focuses on options from lesser-known brands. Here are some top picks.


Like other vendors, QNAP offers a variety of enterprise-grade NAS appliances ranging from all-flash appliances to dual-controller NAS. One of the company's more capable NAS appliances is its TS-h3087XU-RP. This device is a rackmounted NAS that supports up to 128 GB of Double Data Rate 4 (DDR4) ECC memory and a mixture of HDD and SSD storage. QNAP recommends this NAS for tasks such as hosting file servers, VMs, backup repositories and VDI deployments.

QNAP offers TS-h3087XU-RP in a variety of hardware configurations. It's equipped with an eight-core, Intel Xeon E-2378 CPU running at up to 4.8 GHz. The appliance includes four slots for DDR4 ECC memory with each slot able to accommodate up to 32 GB. Other noteworthy hardware features include dual 10 GbE and dual 2.5 GbE connectivity, as well as redundant power supplies. The appliance features 24 3.5-inch SATA 6 Gbps bays for HDDs and six 2.5-inch SATA 6 Gbps SSD slots. Additionally, the appliance offers three PCIe 4.0 slots.


Synology offers several different NAS appliances, including all-flash arrays designed for scalability and those meant for general-purpose storage. One of its more noteworthy NAS appliances is RackStation RS4021xs+.

Synology RackStation RS4021xs+
Synology's RackStation RS4021xs+ can accommodate 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch drives and can expand to 40 drive bays.

RackStation RS4021xs+ delivers performance and scalability. The rackmounted appliance is equipped with an Intel Xeon D-1541, eight-core processor running at 2.1 GHz. It is natively equipped with 16 GB of DDR4 ECC RAM, but it can accommodate up to 64 GB in total. The appliance includes 16 drive bays supporting both 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch drives, but it can expand to 40 drive bays through the use of the company's RX1217RP expansion unit. Additionally, the unit's two PCIe Gen 3 x8 slots can each accommodate an NVMe M.2 SSD for additional storage.

RackStation was designed with data availability in mind. The appliance includes redundant power supplies. Two appliances can be linked together to create a Synology High Availability cluster that supports minute-level failover times. Network connectivity is supported through four 1 GbE ports and two 10 GbE ports, both of which include failover support. There are also two USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports.


Asustor offers a variety of NAS appliances, many of which are geared toward home office use. Such appliances are useful to those who wish to create a media server or personal cloud or for users who simply need additional storage capacity and want something more sophisticated than a consumer-grade external hard drive. The company also offers several appliances for small businesses and at least one NAS suitable for larger organizations.

The Asustor NAS of choice for enterprise environments is Lockerstor 16R Pro. This NAS appliance features a quad-core, ninth-generation Xeon CPU and four DDR4 slots that can be filled with ECC RAM. The NAS comes with 8 GB of ECC RAM and can accommodate up to 128 GB. The 3U chassis includes 16 drive bays, as well as two additional NVMe ports that can accommodate M.2 SSDs.

Asustor Lockerstor 16R Pro natively includes four 1 GbE ports. Users requiring greater levels of throughput can take advantage of the appliance's two Gen 3 x4 PCIe slots and one x8 slot. These ports can be used to add SAS storage support and to install 10 GbE, 25 GbE, 40 GbE or 50 GbE network adapters.


TerraMaster also tends to focus primarily on home users and small businesses. The company offers several enterprise-grade NAS appliances, however, such as U24-722-2224, a 24-bay rackmounted appliance.

TerraMaster U24-722-2224
TerraMaster's U24-722-2224 is a 24-bay rackmounted enterprise-grade NAS device.

U24-722-2224 is equipped with a quad-core, 3.5 GHz Xeon E-2224G processor. The appliance's four DDR4 slots come pre-configured with 16 GB of RAM but can accommodate up to 128 GB of ECC or non-ECC RAM.

The appliance has four 1 GbE ports, as well as a PCIe Gen 3 x8 expansion port that can install 10 GbE. The unit also features 2 USB 3.0 ports and 4 USB 2.0 ports.

TerraMaster supports link aggregation for its built-in ports to enable greater throughput than a 1 GbE port can provide. The link aggregation feature ensures the appliance can maintain network connectivity even if one port fails. In addition, reliability can be achieved through an optional redundant power supply and by combining two units into an active/passive cluster.

Check out these articles for more information on the pros and cons of NAS, deciding between a NAS or server as a storage option, and how to secure network storage.

Editor’s note: This unranked list is based on web research.

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