I have dozens of gadgets in the house, but the one that gets the most amount of use has to be the NAS. I use a DiskStation DS1019+ for backing up all my photos and videos, and there's a DiskStation DS1522+ that serves as my Plex media server. I've been using a NAS server as centralized storage for just over a decade now, and it is one of those products that you don't really realize you need until you get one, and then you wonder how you've done things without it.
I used the DiskStation DS224+ for just over three months now, and it is terrific: it does a great job as a Plex media server, and thanks to utilities like Synology Photos, I can easily back up photos and videos from all my phones to the NAS automatically. If you just want to see what all the fuss is about with a NAS server, the DiskStation DS224+ has everything you need to get started.
If you think you'll need more than two drive bays, you should consider the DiskStation DS423+; even though the naming is a little confusing, it has the same hardware as the DS224+, but with two additional drive bays.
I used IronWolf drives extensively in dozens of NAS servers, and they've always been reliable. If you need hard drives to go with your NAS, these are my recommendation.
The DiskStation DS224+ and DS423+ have the same set of software features, and the combination of hardware along with the standout software makes these a great choice if you're just learning more about the ecosystem. Of course, you'll need a few hard drives to go along with the NAS servers — they're sold as diskless units — and there's good news on that front as well, with the best NAS hard drives currently available at huge discounts.
The basic premise of a NAS is straightforward; it's just a metal box that houses hard drives, and then you connect it via Ethernet to your router so it's accessible to all devices on your home network. What makes a NAS so great is the seamlessness with which it lets you do things — whether that's streaming locally-saved media via Plex, backing up photos, videos, and documents automatically, running your own audio server, and so on.
If you haven't already bought a NAS, Black Friday is usually the best time to get started with a server. There are plenty of deals going live very soon, and most of the best-selling NAS servers and NAS hard drives will go on sale. Having used the current slate of products, the server I'd recommend for most users is the DiskStation DS224+. It is a 2-bay NAS that has powerful hardware, dual Gigabit Ethernet connectivity, and the best set of software features in its category.
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Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.