NAS appliances: Not just raw storage anymore

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New generation of NAS boxes offers text-searching, print servers, cloud backup, antivirus, disk-failure protection and more

When we did a roundup of network-attached sstorage devices seven years ago, the products boasted an amazing (for the time) 1TB of disk space. This time around, we're testing six units that sport 8TB or larger storage capacities. While the disk space has exploded, the investment remains modest, sometimes at a lower actual dollar figure than the first batch back in 2005.

The products in this review include the Buffalo TeraStation TS5400D, Iomega StorCenter px4-300d, LaCie 5big Office+, Seagate BlackArmor NAS 440, Netgear ReadyNAS Pro 4 and the QNAP TS-569 Pro. All include at least 8TB of raw disk storage.

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These appliances share many features, such as being relatively small, running quieter than a desktop PC, and offering fairly simple installation and configuration, as befits devices sold to small businesses as well as enterprise workgroups.

All run some version of Linux, except for the LaCie, which now uses Microsoft's Storage Server Essentials operating system. All have greatly improved the ability to backup their contents across the LAN or across the Web, using one or both of their dual Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports and USB connections.

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