Over the past few months we've shown you some Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices that sell at two fairly distant prices. The 8-bay QNAP TS-809 Pro Turbo, as you may recall, offered the highest performance, but had an equally impressive starting price of $ 1,700 that rose to around $ 3,000 with eight 2TB drives. Obviously, this device is aimed at companies that have such extreme requirements.
Then we had the 4-bay Synology Disk Station 409+, priced at $ 600 excluding hard drives, which is a more reasonable choice for the home or small office while still offering good performance and compelling features.
There are a number of legitimate reasons why NAS devices are becoming so popular in work environments, but the high cost of equipment investment has made them a luxury rather than a necessity for home users.
Cheaper and cheaper products are finding their way onto the market, but you should be careful with some. One of the cheapest 4-bay NAS devices available today is the Promise NS4300N SmartStor for just $ 290. I made the terrible mistake of buying this product for its attractive price alone. The result was average performance that was degraded by a nightmarish setup process and overall poor functionality that was fraught with problems. It turned out to be not only the cheapest, but also the worst 4-bay NAS device money could buy.
Unfortunately, there isn't much else in the 4-bay space in this price range. All the usual suspects have their base models starting at over $ 400, which led me to think that with these features there might not be a decent NAS for less money.
Then, late last year, Synology apparently responded to our cries with a pair of "budget-friendly" NAS solutions. The 4-bay model, known as the DS410j, is currently retailing for $ 370. So it's not much more expensive than the Promise SmartStor, which we didn't like so much. It's also about $ 70 cheaper than the DS409 and $ 230 less than the DS409 +. But will it be able to meet the ever growing and evolving storage needs of home users? We hope we can answer that for you.