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The 5 Best NAS Systems for Mac Users in 2023

Backing up your important files is critical, and a network-attached storage (NAS) device is the ideal solution for Mac users. A NAS gives you a private cloud alternative with more security and control than public services like Dropbox. I‘ve tested top NAS devices firsthand and will compare the best options for overall features, affordability, expandability, security, and performance.

What is a NAS?

A NAS is essentially an external hard drive that connects to your home network rather than directly to your computer. This allows all devices on your network to wirelessly access the storage. NAS units contain one or more internal hard disk drives for capacity, along with a processor, memory, and network connectivity. Leading brands like Synology, QNAP, and WD My Cloud sell NAS enclosures you can populate with drives yourself, or pre-populated options.

Benefits of a NAS for Mac Users

Compared to a directly attached hard drive or public cloud service, a NAS offers Mac users several advantages:

  • Access files from any device on home network
  • More security than public cloud with encryption options
  • Faster speeds than cloud thanks to local connectivity
  • Redundancy/backup features with RAID configurations
  • Media server and Time Machine support
  • Remote access from outside home when needed

With those benefits in mind, let‘s dive into the top NAS recommendations for Mac power users and families.

WD My Cloud EX2 Ultra – Best Overall NAS for Mac

  • Capacity: 8TB
  • Drive Bays: 2
  • CPU: 1.3Ghz Dual-Core
  • Memory: 1GB
  • RAID: 0, 1
  • Connectivity: 1GbE, USB 3.0

The WD My Cloud EX2 Ultra strikes the ideal balance of affordability and powerful capability for Mac users. It comes pre-configured with 8TB of reliable Western Digital Red HDD storage, but leaves the second drive bay open for upgrading later. The 1.3Ghz processor and 1GB of DDR3 memory deliver smooth 4K video streaming and multitasking support. This NAS supports RAID 0/1 for flexibility and includes excellent backup software for Mac Time Machine and Windows PCs. Integrated media serving, robust mobile apps, and simplicity make this our #1 pick.

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Synology DS220j – Best Budget NAS for Mac

  • Capacity: Scalable
  • Drive Bays: 2
  • CPU: Dual-Core 800Mhz
  • Memory: 512MB
  • RAID: 0, 1, JBOD
  • Connectivity: 1GbE

If you‘re looking for an affordable NAS to handle basic storage and backups, grab the Synology DS220j. The ARM-based processor and 512MB of RAM provide enough horsepower for small workloads. You add your own drives, with support for up to 32TB of capacity. The flexible Drive Manager allows RAID 0/1 configurations plus JBOD modes to maximize usable space. While transfer speeds are limited to 100MB/s, the DS220j makes efficient use of your drives for cost-savings. Strong DSM software with Time Machine backups make this a great choice for price-conscious Mac users.

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QNAP TS-h886XU-RP – Best High-Performance NAS for Mac

  • Capacity: Scalable
  • Drive Bays: 8
  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 2700 8-Core 3.2Ghz
  • Memory: 32GB DDR4
  • RAID: 0,1,5,6,10 + JBOD
  • Connectivity: 10GbE SFP+, 2.5GbE RJ45,USB 3.2

If ultimate power is the name of your NAS game for high-res media libraries and massive storage pools, this beastly QNAP fits the bill beautifully. It provides an AMD Ryzen 7 processor that dominates multi-threaded workloads, plus a generous 32GB of DDR4 memory to support the most demanding environments. Install up to eight 3.5-inch or 2.5-inch SATA drives with automatic RAID protection and mind-boggling capacity potential. Connections like 10Gbit Ethernet or USB 3.2 ensure speedy access for Macs and PCs alike. Robust backup, collaboration tools, and storage flexibility make this NAS a media pro‘s dream. Just be prepared to pay for premium performance at this level.

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TerraMaster F4-422 – Best 4-Bay NAS for Mac

  • Capacity: Scalable
  • Drive Bays: 4
  • CPU: Intel Celeron J4125 Quad-Core 2.0Ghz
  • Memory: 4GB DDR4
  • RAID: 0, 1, 5, 6, 10, JBOD
  • Connectivity: 2 x 1GbE

TerraMaster‘s F4-422 NAS provides the right blend of value and quality for discerning Mac users. The Intel Celeron J4125 quad-core CPU hits 2.0Ghz burst speeds for snappy response times, while 4 gigs of DDR4 RAM allow for dozens of connected clients. Dual gigabit ethernet ports enable link aggregation for doubling your network bandwidth when using a managed switch. Top-notch Btrfs file system support and comprehensive RAID modes provide rock-solid reliability. Add your choice of mass storage across four drive bays in a compact, noise-free chassis.

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Buffalo TeraStation 5400DN – Best Secure NAS for Mac

  • Capacity: 16TB
  • Drive Bays: 4 x 4TB
  • CPU: Intel Celeron J3455 Quad-Core 1.5Ghz
  • Memory: 4GB DDR3
  • RAID: 0, 1, 5, 6
  • Connectivity: 2 x 1GbE

The Buffalo TeraStation 5400DN comes with four pre-installed 4TB hard drives for a total of 16TB protected storage capacity. Its quad-core Intel J3455 runs at 1.5Ghz base clock speed for solid speed during data transfers, while 4 gigs of DDR3 memory keep things running smoothly as performance demands scale up. Dual gigabit LAN provides connectivity redundancy, link aggregation, and failover. Robust commercial-grade RAID modes protect your critical data, while 256-bit AES ensures rock-solid confidentiality at rest and during transport. If security is your top concern with a NAS system, Buffalo‘s got you covered.

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What to Consider in a NAS for Your Mac

With so many great NAS options on the market in 2023, it pays to carefully evaluate your needs before pulling the trigger on a new network storage upgrade. Keep these top criteria in mind while shopping:

Total capacity – Consider both your current storage requirements and likely future growth plans. Most NAS enclosures support adding additional drives down the road.

Processor performance – Faster CPUs speed up transfer times and support more simultaneous user connections. Plan processor power based on your workload.

Memory – At least 2GB, but more RAM improves multitasking support as client counts and application demands mount.

Drive bays – More bays provide easy future expansion. Can populate bays incrementally over time as budget permits.

RAID capabilities – Options like RAID 1, 5, or 10 provide data redundancy and faster speeds compared to single disks.

Backup software – Mac Time Machine support ideal, along with ability to backup NAS remotely.

Connectivity – Gigabit ethernet standard; 10GbE, Thunderbolt or USB 3.2 offer faster potential speeds.

Remote access – Convenient for retrieving files while away from home network when needed.

By balancing those elements based on your family or business needs, you‘ll enjoy a powerful and reliable networked storage solution in your Mac environment.

Transform Your Mac Backups & Accessibility with NAS

Network-attached storage unlocks new backup flexibility alongside centralized file access. Once configured, Mac users can backup critical data on a schedule automatically, rather than manually copying files onto external drives. Some NAS appliances even replicate stored data remotely to other locations automatically for protection against disasters like floods and fires destroying onsite hardware. And NAS units serve stored files, photos and home videos easily to phones, media streamers, smart TVs and gaming consoles thanks to DNLA and UPnP media server standards.

If your family or business depends on irreplaceable data being preserved and protected, a NAS is worth the investment. Whether built new or reused from an old desktop PC, quality network storage beats external drives for convenience, automation and accessibility every time. Rely on a purpose-built NAS appliance for the easiest plug-and-play experience.