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KitGuru Annual Awards 2012

Storage

As the 3TB hard drives drop towards £90 for normal folks like us, the price of the 4TB – presently at £159 – will soon follow it down. Combine that with a society that thinks HD video is the standard way to capture moving images and multi-mega-bit internet should be almost free – and you have a recipe for disaster.

Why so gloomy?

Simple.

Hardly any of us do enough work on back-ups. But don’t worry, the NAS brigade are here to help!

We could also include standard external drives into this category, alongside large capacity USB sticks and whopping SD cards, but the world is too interconnected – so we’re going to stay on track with clever storage that can be addressed across a network, by multiple systems/people.

We’ve decided to give two awards in this category. One for serious solutions that we’ll call business-class, but it could be any serious data creator/storer – and the second for every day use at home or in a small office.

Business Class
Without having a specific price limit in mind, there is an array of powerful options in the sub £3,000 space. While companies like Buffalo might do well in the entry level space, its high end efforts like the TeraStation Pro 8 run on slow Atom processors and come with fixed storage at 8, 16 and 24TB. Not good.

QNAP has a much better reputation in this space and products like the QNAP TS-879U-RP-E10G show why. But the really good stuff seems to happen just the wrong side of £3k.  That brings us to Netgear, a company that has the £1-6k market peppered with offers. But it’s hard to ignore the volume of complaints we received about Netgear’s other products recently. Sure, many companies will produce offers at at a variety of different price points – but while the increased revenue might be attractive – if you don’t create the right feeling of support to a larger audience, then that can impact your overall image.

Which brings us to the Synology RackStation RS3412RPxs. It’s built to survive a small nuclear explosion, can take 40TB of storage in the standard unit – with a 136TB limit if you add on RX1211/RX1211RP expansion units. In tests, we managed to comfortably beat 500MB/sec on data transfer around the network – and there’s an upgrade available which could almost double that rate. Most impressive if that this unit is now down to just over £2,500. For us, it’s an easy win.

Home/Small Office
Again, very hotly contested. With so many options available, we’ve decided to focus on offers that manage to hit under the £250 mark. That brings not only companies like Thecus into the mix, but also the hard drive manufacturer’s own solutions – like the Western Digital My Book series.

One of the KitGuru news team has a 4TB Western Digital unit on his office network and loves the way it provides a safety net for every system – PC and Mac – on the network with its scheduled evening service. That said, he may have been lucky as the majority of customer reviews we’ve seen speak about a variety of issues – including a hands-off approach from the manufacturer’s support team. Reputation is everything in this world – and nowhere is that more important than with your precious data.

Qnap products, like the TS-219P are also very impressive and performed well in our testing. That said, at just over £200 the Synology DS213 Air provides not only a great traditional NAS storage solution – but it also provides wireless capability, allowing you to set up Cloud Station for simple synchronisation with a multitude of devices in your home/workplace. Just add a pair of 4TB drives for a serious back up and streaming solution.

KitGuru isn't a business magazine that's trying to appeal to the desktop system users. We're all about solutions that you'll want to own yourself. Right now, for network storage, that means Synology. But this is a competitive market, so they'll need to stay on their toes if they want to stay ahead of Qnap, Thecus and the rest.

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