What is the fastest (Gbit) NAS available?

What NAS has the best price/performance ratio?

This is for small servers / home usage


9 Answers 9


Building your own OpenSolaris server backed with ZFS, using iSCSI exports, frankly.

Drobos suck, and any consumer-grade NAS you get is going to cost you more than building a complete OpenSolaris box.

  • 1
    yes, and if you use the Nexenta OpenSolaris-based distro, you get a nice debian-style userland rather than ghastly solaris-like userland.
    – cas
    Jul 18, 2009 at 1:46
  • What's wrong with Drobo? Would you still build an OpenSolaris box given Oracles choices?
    – ptman
    Dec 31, 2010 at 7:40
  • 1
    According to wiki, OpenSolaris has been discontinued. Is this still a viable alternative? May 29, 2012 at 22:23

I think ZFS is a bit overkill. Considering that building a box and doing all the manual work requires extensive knowledge and time (and $$$), I wouldn't recommend it unless that's what you want/need. It sounds like you're looking for a simple consumer-level NAS device, but I can't tell from your question what your exact needs are.

If best performance is what you want in a NAS, IMO the Netgear ReadyNAS pro (6-disks) is the way to go. It's a fantastic unit and has lots of features that are ideal for either SOHO or just the house. It comes in two flavors: business and pioneer. It's pricey ($1200 for pioneer; $1500 for pro) and probably overkill, but I find that performance wise, ReadyNAS Pro line is above the rest. You can upgrade the processor and RAM as well. Google for some reviews. There are plenty that measure it's I/O and other performance metrics. Oh, and the Pro version also supports iSCSI!

Netgear has heavily marketed the ReadyNAS (rightfully so) and there's a real solid community that backs up the device so if you have questions or need help, there's someone to contact. I'm not a huge Netgear fanboy, but this product was originally built by Infrant who I really thought put a great deal of thought into the ReadyNAS device. Netgear has equally shown its commitment to the ReadyNAS.

I'd also recommend the newer Drobo Pro, but I'm not sure how well it does in terms of performance. The Drobo is pretty flexible when it comes to disks so if versatility is something you need, maybe a Drobo would be appropriate.

Price performance ratio is much tougher question to answer seeing as you really need to clarify what you intend for the NAS to do. If you're doing just simple file sharing and media streaming, there are numerous NAS devices on the market that can easily do that for cheap. Are you using the NAS for VM storage via iSCSI? Are you storing all your media on the device? Do you want to use rsync to backup data remotely? Is this for a business or just home? How many disks to you want to use? What kind of RAID level were you looking for?

You need to be more specific with your goal and perhaps a budget and I think SF can help you out.

  • Thank you for your reply! I'll have a look at the ReadyNAS. I'll use it also as a ISCSI VMware device. If solaris is no strategic goal and no knowledge is there, then might it be really cost intensive.
    – Martin K.
    Jul 18, 2009 at 10:10
  • Some of the other suggestions are also solid options. Thecus is another vendor in the NAS market with a good rep for speed and pricing. I looked into building a FreeNAS server for myself and I haven't tried it out, but the documentation and the features look good and you can't beat free! Another vendor I'd also recommend is QNAP. They have great linux based NAS devices with a wide variety of models. They aren't as upgradable as other NASes, but give them a look too. I own a QNAP TS-409 Pro and so far it's really been stable and relatively simple to manage.
    – osij2is
    Jul 20, 2009 at 21:53

Performance/Price ratio.. How about a dual core atom nettop with a couple of 1T drives in a mirror. Total cost about $400. Cheaper than a Drobo, but not as 'cool'.

You don't tell us what your desired size is or what 'fast' means to you. Without more info it's difficult to make an informed recommendation

  • An informed recommendation statisfy my needs absolutly. Default Windows on a nettop for storage issues? Maybe there is no Linux/Unix support on the most nettops.
    – Martin K.
    Jul 18, 2009 at 10:13
  • I installed CentOS 5.3 on my nettop with no issues. I even installed via PXEBoot. Jul 20, 2009 at 20:02

Dell has a NS500 for arround $3k use MS storage server.. you can add an iscsi target to it. I used one in the past for a VMWare cluster that had 150+ Vm on it. Never had a problem.

Now I run on an EMC Cx4 which is more like $30k ;)

  • 1
    Depending on the CX4 and the options it can be quite a bit more. Ours was over $200k including the software packages we bought.
    – mrdenny
    Jul 17, 2009 at 22:36
  • Nowadays, software licences have become so expensive in relation to hardware.
    – Martin K.
    Jul 18, 2009 at 10:04
  • True... 30k is basicly one DAE!!
    – Alan
    Jul 20, 2009 at 20:19

I'd look into Thecus products. We have a Thecus N5200 as our onsite backup storage target, which locally stores backups for retrieval purposes, and is blazing fast.

We're currently looking into purchasing more for use as a camera storage backup system. Either the N5200 (5 disk cube style) or an N8800 (8 disk rack mount). From what I read on the 8800, it is blazing fast as well.

The only downside to Thecus products is the interface is a little lacking in design. As far as I can tell, it was built by great people with English as their second language and more experience designing robust backend systems than easy-to-use frontends. They are very "set it and forget it" though, if you won't be messing with anything on a regular basis.

  • +1 for Thecus. As NAS, I seriously like these. I got a N5200 last week, and after 15mins I was good to go, with LDAP auth and everything.
    – Sven
    Jul 17, 2009 at 23:43
  • ++! I'll have a look at it.
    – Martin K.
    Jul 18, 2009 at 10:15

If you don't mind building the box yourself, FreeNAS is an alternative. Power of BSD with an Open Source price. FreeNAS 0.7RC1 includes ZFS support.

  • Building it myself is also an option! But I like the "blackbox" characteristics of pre-configured NAS devices.
    – Martin K.
    Jul 18, 2009 at 10:17

Like a number of people recommended build your own box, unless you have the budget to buy from a storage vendor. The problem is that most consumer grade solutions tend to have fatal flaws that will impact the end result.

Look in to OpenSolaris, or Openfiler which I find to be very good.


Anything but DLINK. I, together with many many unfortunate DNS-323 users, experience horrible data loss incidents with DNS-323.



  • Dammit! The article looks horrible. I'll never gonna buy a DNS-* I've made also bad experience with DLINK usb wlan sticks.
    – Martin K.
    Jul 18, 2009 at 13:23
  • Even worse, the issue was discovered and published for years and they never release any patch to fix it.
    – Sake
    Jul 18, 2009 at 13:51
  • I've heard nothing but good regarding the DNS-323. I have one and it works just fine. But I have heard you have to erase drive 1 to add drive 2. AFAICT, that's the only real problem if you have 1.06 firmware.
    – hyperslug
    Jul 18, 2009 at 14:44
  • Any version of firmware is reported to have the same problem to date.
    – Sake
    Jul 19, 2009 at 0:01

I've got a QNAP TS-509 Pro 5-bay NAS. Does very nicely performance-wise; dual gigabit ethernet and support for 802.3ad. Reasonably priced, too. www.qnap.com

  • Got the same NAS, too. On a GBit link i get ~85 MB/s on a CIFS transfer. There's plenty of features. Was extremely reliable for me since i bought (2,5y).
    – weeheavy
    Jan 12, 2011 at 8:52

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