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The 5 Best NAS for Macs: Backing Up Your Mac

best nas for macs

The 5 Best NAS for Macs: Backing Up Your Mac

Key Points

  • An NAS is similar to a public cloud service like Google Drive or Dropbox, but for Mac users–it lets you access your files and keep complete control of your data.
  • With a competitive 1.3GHz processor and 1GB of RAM, the Western Digital 8TB My Cloud EX2 Ultra is an affordable NAS system, preconfigured with 8TB of storage across two drive bays.
  • Most NAS systems offer some sort of encryption. Look for an NAS with a closed operating system. This will ensure that 3rd party and unsigned applications can’t run on your NAS.

What is the best NAS for Macs? If you care about the safety and security of your data, backing up your files should be a priority. A network-attached storage device, or “NAS” for short, is the perfect solution. A NAS allows you to access your files from your Mac or any device similar to a public cloud service like Google Drive or DropBox. Unlike a public cloud, a NAS lets you keep complete control of your data.

There are several options available for backing up your Mac. You may be familiar with USB flash drives, external hard drives, and even DVDs. These are commonly used to back up data but have some limitations. With physical storage devices like this, you need access to the device to use it. Additionally, you need to be careful to avoid wear and tear.

Cloud storage services like Google Drive and DropBox exist as an alternative to direct-attached storage devices like flash drives. With cloud services, you can access your data from any device, whether your Mac or your iPhone. Apple even offers iCloud as its own cloud service for Apple devices. The main drawback to cloud services like these is that you are not in complete control of your data.

A NAS is often the perfect solution for companies that require a private cloud to store sensitive information. Even if you just want a NAS for home use, the benefits can make it worth it. Depending on your configuration, you can access your NAS from any device in the world through the internet.

We researched dozens of models from the biggest brands to find out the best NAS for Mac users. Here’s our ranking for the best overall NAS for Macs:

WD 8TB My Cloud EX2 Ultra Network Attached Storage - NAS - WDBVBZ0080JCH-NESN
$359.99
  • High-performance 1.3 GHz dual-core Processor for lag-free streaming
  • 1GB of DDR3 Memory to multitask with ease
  • Centralized network storage and access from anywhere
  • Automatic file synching across all your computers
  • Simplified file and folder sharing
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/02/2024 11:22 am GMT

The winner for best overall NAS for Macs is the Western Digital 8TB My Cloud EX2 Ultra. With a competitive 1.3GHz processor and 1GB of RAM, this NAS has relatively powerful specs compared to more expensive NAS systems. It is preconfigured with 8TB of storage across two drive bays. Additionally, if you ever want to increase your storage, you can upgrade this system to hold as much as 28TB.

This system is easy to set up with the included software and includes basic security features such as encryption. With support for RAID, you can also increase data redundancy to ensure your files remain safe. For physical connections, you have a gigabit ethernet interface and two USB 3.0 ports. Overall, the EX2 Ultra NAS is the best choice for Macs.

Check out WD 8TB My Cloud EX2 Ultra on Amazon.

Fantastic Storage
BUFFALO LinkStation 210 2TB 1-Bay Network Attached Storage (NAS)
$129.99
  • Hard drive included, and no computer needed for setup
  • Simply connect the NAS to your router for instant shared network storage for all your devices at the same time
  • Compatible with PC, macOS, Android, and iOS
  • Subscription-free personal cloud – Store and back up videos, music, and photos and access them from anywhere without paying any monthly storage charges.
  • Storage designed to keep your data safe, the NAS features a closed system to reduce vulnerabilities from 3rd party apps and SSL encryption for secure file transfers.
  • PC backup software is included and you can set up automated backups of data on your computers and mobile devices
  • Create individual access to folders to ensure your data remains private while securely sharing storage space or files with others
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02/02/2024 11:37 am GMT

Proper NAS systems don’t have to be expensive. The BUFFALO LinkStation 210 2TB 1-Bay NAS offers decent features at a reasonable price. With a gigabit ethernet port, SSL encryption, and backup software included, this NAS offers similar advantages as more expensive systems.

It is preconfigured with 2TB of storage, so you don’t need to install your own hard drives. The only thing you need to do to get started is to plug it into your router. Additionally, a free mobile app makes it easy to set up. 

At such a desirable price range, the Buffalo LinkStation 210 makes it easy to get started with your first NAS system. Additionally, this NAS is compatible with Macs out-of-the-box, so you can quickly configure it with your MacBook or iMac.

Check out BUFFALO LinkStation 210 2TB 1-Bay NAS on Amazon.

Synology 8 Bay DiskStation DS1821+ (Diskless), 8-bay; 4gb ddr4
$1,051.79
  • Accelerated Performance - 177% higher 4K random read IOPS and 76% faster sequential write speeds compared to its predecessor
  • Maximize Performance - Turbocharge HDD arrays by 20x or more without occupying drive bays using dual built-in M.2 slots for NVMe SSD cache
  • Expansion Made Easy - Scale-up on-demand to 18 drives with two DX517 expansion units
  • Includes Everything to Protect Your Data - Back up critical data to and from public clouds, Windows PCs and servers, virtual machines, and data on the NAS with Synology Active Backup suite, Hyper...
  • Ready for 10GbE - Add in a 10GbE SFP+ or RJ-45 NIC to instantly increase network bandwidth based on your existing infrastructure
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/02/2024 08:48 am GMT

Synology is a reputable name in data storage. If you are looking for a highly customizable option, the Synology 8 Bay DiskStation DS1821 is the answer for you. With a diskless design, you are in control of adding and configuring your own hard drives. However, this approach has its pros and cons.

The freedom to configure your own drives means that you can add a massive amount of storage. Some users have reported installing up to ten 18TB hard drives in the DS1821. Although the price range is on the higher end, the expansion capabilities are worth it if you need a lot of storage.

This NAS is one of the few systems to also offer M.2 slots for NVMe solid-state drives. Additionally, you get four ethernet ports, each running at 2.5GBe, and three USB 3.0 ports for direct connection. Overall, the DiskStation DS1821 is one of the most powerful diskless NAS systems on the market.

Check out Synology 8 Bay DiskStation DS1821 on Amazon.

Large Capacity
BUFFALO TeraStation 3420DN 4-Bay Desktop NAS 8TB
$680.99
  • Optimized to organize, store, share, and back up your important files
  • RAID 5 pre-configured for out-of-the-box protection to save you time and effort
  • Features 256-bit drive encryption, a closed system, and flexible replication and backup features to keep your data safe
  • Sync with Amazon S3, Dropbox, Azure, and OneDrive to create a hybrid cloud for extra data security, cost savings, and flexible scalability
  • 4 pre-tested, NAS-grade hard drives included. Ships in RAID 5 for 6TB usable capacity, can change to RAID 6 for more redundancy or RAID 0 for full 8TB
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02/02/2024 11:38 am GMT

The BUFFALO TeraStation 3420DN 4-Bay Desktop NAS is one of the most secure NAS systems available. With 256-bit encryption and a closed operating system, this NAS is the perfect answer for those looking for a secure storage system. Threats from viruses and malware are reduced since the built-in security disables 3rd-party applications from executing.

This NAS also offers a convenient storage configuration. It is preconfigured with four 2TB hard drives in RAID 5, which gives you 6TB of usable space and data redundancy. Additionally, the included software lets you create a hybrid cloud with Amazon S3, DropBox, or OneDrive.

The TeraStation 3420DN maintains security by keeping your drive bays under lock and key. With a locking front panel, you can be sure that no one in the office will tamper with the hard drives. Overall, this NAS is an excellent choice for the security-focused user.

Check out BUFFALO TeraStation 3420DN 4-Bay Desktop NAS on Amazon.

WD 24TB My Cloud EX4100 Expert Series 4-Bay Network Attached Storage - NAS - WDBWZE0240KBK-NESN
$1,199.29
  • Centralized storage with anytime, anywhere access
  • Integrated 1.6 GHz Marvell Armada 388 dual-core processor and 2GB DDR3 memory
  • Twonky DLNA-certified media server and iTunes support
  • RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 or JBOD and spanning
  • Integrated backup software for PC users and time machine support for Mac users
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02/02/2024 11:18 am GMT

The “Expert Series” from Western Digital is a high-performance NAS for those who need the best data transfer speeds. With a 1.6GHz processor and 2GB of RAM, the EX4100 is more powerful than other NAS units on our list. Faster components will ensure that your system doesn’t slow down when you need it most.

Preconfigured with four 6TB hard drives in RAID 5, the EX4100 offers an extremely high capacity and is still upgradable even further. At 24TB of total space, this is the largest NAS on our list, and as such, it is perfect for the most demanding users. Additionally, multiple USB and ethernet ports make this system easy to set up on your network.

The only disadvantage to a high-performance NAS like this is the price. However, unlike similarly priced diskless NAS systems, this unit already includes hard drives. If you are looking for a NAS with the most ease of use, highest capacity, and highest performance, the EX4100 Expert Series from Western Digital is worth the price.

Check out WD 24TB My Cloud EX4100 Expert Series 4-Bay NAS on Amazon.

How To Pick The Best NAS For Macs: Step-by-Step

If you are just being introduced to the world of network-attached storage, the choices can be intimidating. You’ll be able to figure out the best NAS for your situation if you keep a few key areas in mind:

  • Capacity
  • Performance
  • Connectivity
  • Security
  • Reliability

Let’s review each one in more detail.

Capacity

Capacity is a priority in any storage device. NAS systems are capable of holding dozens of terabytes of files. The capacity of a NAS is determined by the number of hard drive bays it has and the capacity of the hard drives. Some NAS systems are sold in a diskless configuration, meaning it is up to the user to install their own hard drives.

RAID is also something to keep in mind when determining the capacity of your NAS. Different RAID configurations will leave you with different amounts of usable space. For instance, an 8TB NAS running in RAID 5 will provide you with 6TB of usable space. However, RAID offers you several advantages, including data redundancy and higher performance.

Performance

In general, NAS systems are used for storing and accessing files. The system still requires a powerful processor for efficient operation. Furthermore, having more people connected to the network requires speed. Just like regular computers, NAS devices measure performance based on processor type, core count, and speed.

A typical NAS will have a less powerful CPU than a desktop computer, but the specialized operating system makes more efficient use of the hardware. As a result, a super powerful processor is not necessary – a dual-core, low-clock speed processor is just fine.

Connectivity

Not all NAS systems offer the same connections. The one thing all NAS units have in common is ethernet. Some systems will also offer WiFi or USB connections. Determining the connections you need will help you narrow down the best NAS for you. A USB connection can come in handy if want to make a direct connection to your NAS. 

Premium NAS units will offer multiple ethernet ports for even higher bandwidth. The most basic requirement for connectivity is at least one gigabit ethernet port. This will allow you to connect the device to your network and enjoy all of the advantages of a NAS.

Security

Secure network-attached storage is essential for protecting sensitive data from unauthorized access. Most NAS systems available today offer some sort of encryption. Ideally, you should select a NAS with a closed operating system. This will ensure that 3rd party and unsigned applications can’t run on your NAS. As long as you have a closed system with built-in encryption, you won’t have to worry about the security of your files.

Reliability

Reliability is one of the most important factors when choosing a NAS. Most systems will include a warranty of some sort, but a longer warranty is obviously superior. Additionally, a system with built-in RAID functionality or data duplication will ensure that you are more protected against data loss.

What To Know Before Buying a NAS for Mac

Before settling on the perfect NAS, you should know which type of NAS is right for you. Do you want a preconfigured NAS that’s easy to set up? Or do you want to buy a diskless system? A diskless NAS will require you to research, purchase, and install your own hard drives. On the other hand, a preconfigured NAS may be simple but could limit your upgrade options down the line.

Either way, knowing how to set up your NAS is paramount. Luckily, even high-performance NAS systems are easy to set up, and almost every NAS on the market is compatible with Mac OS. Most systems even include a mobile app for installation, so you don’t even need to involve your computer. If you run into problems, most NAS providers offer technical support as well.

Using a NAS for Mac: What it’s Like

Your experience using different NAS systems will vary depending on your configuration. In our experience, the best NAS is easy to set up and easy to use daily. More complex systems may offer performance advantages but at the cost of ease of use.

A pre-configured NAS offers the best user experience. You don’t need to worry about installing your own hard drives by ordering a pre-configured NAS. Additionally, an easy network setup process makes a NAS more enjoyable to use. In our experience, the best NAS systems offer a free mobile app or downloadable program for installation.

The end result should be a NAS that is always available wherever you are. Simply load up your NAS from your computer’s file directory and back up your files on an as-needed basis. Additionally, some NAS systems provide automated backup software, so your critical system files are always backed up.

Up Next

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a NAS?

NAS stands for network-attached storage. A NAS is a storage device that you access via your network.

Does NAS work with Mac and Windows?

Yes, NAS works with both Mac and Windows. You can configure your NAS to work with any computer on your network, no matter the operating system.

Does Apple make a NAS?

Apple no longer offers a network storage device of any kind, although many units from other brands work with Apple.

Does Apple still sell Time Capsule?

Apple no longer offers the Time Capsule system, which was a unique Mac-only NAS system. There are now dozens of superior options from brands like Western Digital and Buffalo.

Is it difficult to set up a NAS?

Configuring a NAS requires only a little bit of technical knowledge, and tutorials can be found online. Different requirements and capabilities will be based on the type of NAS you choose.

What is the best way to back up my Mac? 

Depending on your preferences, an external hard drive, public cloud service, or NAS will work best.

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