What's the best NAS drive for a Mac user?

A truism of computing is that you can never have enough storage space, and several well established solutions are available if you find yourself running short. The quickest is to attach an external hard disk to their computer via USB, Firewire or Thunderbolt but an increasingly popular alternative is to invest in network attached storage, or NAS (pronounced "naz").

Read next: Best Mac hard drive | Best SSD for Mac

Best NAS for Mac: What's a NAS drive?

One terrific thing about NAS is that its name entirely describes what it is: storage that's attached to your network, rather than to individual computers. The NAS is usually an enclosure with one or more hard disks in it that attaches via an Ethernet cable to your broadband router or network switch/hub. Despite containing several hard disks, the NAS typically appears to computers as just one large shared folder - essentially, you could say all the drives are combined into one.

NAS is intended to be as quick and dirty as USB or Thunderbolt storage - just plug it in and you're usually ready to start transferring files immediately. At the very least most NAS devices allow "guest" access, which doesn't require a password or username, although substantial additional configuration is possible, such as creating individual user or group accounts that can have private storage areas and permissions.

Read next: How to set up a NAS drive

Best NAS for Mac: Sharing technologies

Because the storage is available via the network, every computer also using that network can access it, often simultaneously, usually via an SMB file share. This is the core technology behind Microsoft Windows file sharing and nowadays the default option network file sharing option for Macs too, although you can still use Apple's older AFP, and often the ages-old NFS used by Unix/Linux too.

Many NAS devices are also compatible with Time Machine, allowing backup across the network just like with Apple's own Time Capsules.

You might already have guessed that the data transfer speeds for NAS won't be as good as a direct USB or Thunderbolt connection but if you utilise 1Gbit networking technology you won't be complaining very much - with the latest operating systems (i.e. macOS Sierra or Windows 10), you'll be looking at around 8-10 megabytes of data transferred every second although a lot depends on your individual setup (even the length of the Ethernet cables you use can degrade speeds). However, it's easily fast enough to stream 1080p or 4K video without stuttering, for example.

Apple's AirPort routers have supported 1Gbit network speeds for years, and you'll have to travel back a very long way to find a Mac that doesn't support 1Gbit too (although the latest MacBook and MacBook Pro models require a USB or Thunderbolt network adapter dongle).

If your router has wireless capabilities then there's no reason why you can't transfer data over WiFi although the speed will be pretty poor even if you have the hottest 5GHz 802.11ac setup. This is one area of computing where old-fashioned cables are essential.

Best NAS for Mac: RAID

Most NAS utilise a technology called RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) to combine the separate hard disks into what appears to be a single disk (referred to as a logical volume).

There are several RAID modes but the ones offered on smaller NAS devices are RAID1, which essentially places a copy of the data on each disk - useful in case one of them dies - but at the obvious expense of halving the amount of storage (so two 1GB disks only allow 1GB of overall storage); and RAID0, which not only allows access to all the space on the disks but is built for speed because the data is "striped" across the various disks so that it can be written and read more quickly. Some NAS devices also offer JBOD (Just a Bunch of Disks), which is an elementary way of combining often disparate disks into a single volume without data striping.

Notably, several devices in our test over the following pages use their own hybrid RAID systems to attempt to get the best of both worlds - data protection while also maximising available space across the disks.

Read next: How to back up a Mac

Best NAS for Mac: Categories of devices

There are three brackets of NAS devices. The bottom category, home NAS, are devices that usually feature a single hard disk, and are designed to act as a media server and backup destination for the household computers or media devices like games consoles and smart TVs. At the other end of the spectrum enterprise-class NAS devices are intended to serve data to hundreds of users and can be used either individually or in bulk as part of a cluster of devices, with the idea that more than be attached when needed.

In this group test we're looking at five NAS devices aimed at the more serious home user or small office. As such, all involve two or more bays into which you can fit your own choice of hard disks - and an important note is that NAS devices in this bracket usually don't come with storage built in. You must buy your own, with most manufacturers advising the use of drives of identical make, model and capacity.

Read next: Best Mac buying guide

Best NAS for Mac: How we tested

We used a MacBook Pro 15in (mid-2015; i7 2.8GHz, 16GB RAM) for testing, running macOS Sierra 10.12.0. To test data transfer we used amongst other things a 10GB file containing random data (generated by piping output from /dev/random into a file). When being tested each NAS device and the MacBook Pro were connected to an Apple Time Capsule, whose AirPort component offered 1Gbit networking speeds.

Best NAS for Mac: Drobo 5N

RRP: £479.99
Buy now: Amazon | Scan
More information: Drobo

Speak to any Mac user working in design or video editing and many will recommend Drobo. The small Californian company built a reputation by taking a sheet from Apple's playbook and offering idiot-proof ease-of-use along with innovative design. For example, when initially configuring the system there's no need to learn about RAID, or even know what it is. Drobo's built-in BeyondRaid software takes care of it all for you. You just slide a selection of bare SATA disks within the drive bay slots (no caddies required) and wait a few moments for the share to become available to your computers.

Best NAS for Mac | Best Mac NAS drive: Drobo 5N

Unlike some NAS manufacturers that rely upon a web browser-based interface for configuration, Drobo's Dashboard app lives in the menu bar of the Mac desktop and offers full configuration as well as info about what the Drobo 5N is up to at the present time. It also pumps out alert notifications if something goes wrong, such as a drive dying. While you'll want to install the Dashboard on at least one Mac in your home or work environment, it doesn't have to be running on a computer for it to access the Drobo 5N.

Maintenance and monitoring is massively helped by the extremely clever traffic light system on the front of the Drobo 5N that gives instant status readouts. Each of the five drive bays has its own large LED. As you might expect, green means the drive is working correctly - and also that it can removed without data loss (of which more in a moment). Red means there's a failure, while amber means a drive is needed in that slot - if you're running out of storage space, for example. A diagram explaining all this is on the back of the drive bay panel that clips to the front of the device, so even somebody who stumbles upon a troubled setup without having previously encountered a Drobo can attempt a solution.

There's also a row of blue LEDs running along the bottom of the device that indicates visually how full it is. Incidentally, all the lights can be dimmed via the Dashboard software.

Best NAS for Mac | Best Mac NAS drive: Drobo 5N

As with most NAS devices the Drobo 5N defaults to SMB (Windows) network sharing but when creating shares via the dashboard you can configure it so Time Machine on individual Macs can use it for backup. Once the Time Machine-compatible share is created you just open System Preferences on each Mac, click the Time Machine icon, and then select to add a new disk. The Drobo 5N will be found automatically.

Drobo talks much of the 5N's BeyondRAID and Thin Provisioning features, and not without reason. These mean that data is intelligently "striped" across the various disks, with the result that - depending on how much storage is used-up - a drive can die without you losing data. In fact you can manually pull-out a drive from its slot at any time, even when the Drobo 5N is turned on, and data is being transferred. Provided you configure Dual Disk Redundancy within the Settings pane of the Dashboard app, you can remove up to two drives in this fashion, or prepare for the unlikely prospect of two drives simultaneously dying - all without data loss.

Why would you pull an otherwise healthy drive? Well, if you're running low on storage space then you can pull a 500GB drive and put a 2TB drive in its place, for example. Nonetheless, pulling a drive out while the unit is powered on feels sinful and if you have important data stored on the Drobo 5N your palms may well become sweaty. However, it's quite simple: if the light alongside the drive is a steady green colour then you're OK to pull that drive. Have faith in the lights!

As with all RAID technologies, this clever redundancy comes at the expense of some disk space being reserved for protection purposes. How much will depend on what capacity drives you insert but in our test setup, in which all five bays were filled with 2TB disks making for a theoretical maximum of 10TB of storage, 2TB was reserved by the system for protection purposes. We can live with this if it means bacon will be saved at some point. With dual disk redundancy enabled this just about doubled to 3.84TB.

There's so much more we could mention here but we simply don't have space. For example, you can add a solid state disk (SSD) to add a kind of ultra-fast data cache to maximise transfer speeds. There's the battery backup (automatically recharged), which means in the event of power failure the Drobo 5N will ensure all data writes are completed before turning off (although in our tests any in-progress file transfers were nixed). And then there are the apps for iPhone and iPad that let you magically access the Drobo 5N's data while out and about, creating a DIY cloud.

We only have two criticisms. Despite Drobo claiming the 5N is "the quietest Drobo ever", we felt the combined noise of the drives plus the cooling fan gave it the equivalent volume of a noisy, whirry PC. In a typical office the noise simply will blend in unnoticeably with the background hum of photocopiers, singing colleagues and so on.

Additionally, the Drobo Dashboard software was a little buggy. Sometimes it couldn't find the Drobo 5N, despite the fact the computer was connected as its network share and could transfer files just fine. Sometimes the Dashboard app became graphically corrupted, forcing us to quit and then reopen it. Because our test Mac was running macOS Sierra, which at the time of writing hasn't yet received any updates, we're prepared to give Drobo the benefit of the doubt and blame all this on Apple.

Verdict

For general everyday use the Drobo 5N is easily the best NAS in this group test but such luxury comes with a marginally higher price tag: at time of writing the bare enclosure is £464.82 on Amazon, including VAT, and that price is before you add in the cost for disks to fill its slots. However, you do get five bays for that price, and for a NAS experience that doesn't feel like you're flying by the seat of your pants, we just can't recommend the 5N enough.

Best NAS for Mac: Synology DiskStation DS216+II

RRP: £272.99
Buy now: Amazon
More information: Synology

If the designers and video editors you speak to about NAS don't mention Drobo then they will almost certainly mention Synology, which has an equal reputation amongst professionals. The company's DiskStation DS216+II, reviewed here, is a modest two-bay unit designed to offer up to 20TB of storage via two disks up to 10TB each, but versions of this unit with five, eight and more bays are also available.

Best NAS for Mac | Best Mac NAS drive: Synology DiskStation DS216+II

However, the two USB 2.0 sockets on the case, plus one USB 3.0 and a single eSATA port means you can easily expand storage beyond the drive bay limitation with off-the-shelf external storage devices. USB 2.0 might sound slow but don't forget that the bottleneck with all NAS devices is the network connection. For what it's worth you can also use the USB ports to attach a printer, Wi-Fi adapter, or even a compatible webcam.

In fact, extensibility is the name of the game with the DiskStation DS216+II because its operating system can also be expanded with add-in apps, called packages, that add new functions: everything from running servers (web, email and so on) to antivirus.

On the box and in marketing materials Synology makes much of the hardware specification of the DiskStation DS216+II, which features a 64-bit dual-core Celeron N3060 chip, coupled to 1GB of DDR3 RAM. In common with all Synology devices, and also the iOSafe NAS reviewed later, the DiskStation DS216+II runs a special operating system called DSM.

Initial setting-up of the unit involves clipping the disks into caddies and sliding them into the drive bays until they click into place. The caddies fit both 2.5in laptop/SSD drives as well as the standard 3.5in desktop drives, although supplied screws are required to hold the smaller drives in place within the caddies.

Best NAS for Mac | Best Mac NAS drive: Synology DiskStation DS216+II

Once the disks have been inserted a glance at the Quick Start leaflet - the only documentation in the box - points you towards downloading the Synology Assistant app. Rather ridiculously, all this does is detect the device's IP address, and then kicks you out to a web browser-based configuration app running on the device itself. This is the only way to configure the device. After updating system software, downloading a handful of suggested additional app packages onto the device, and creating a user account, you're ready to go.

Notably, the login details you create are also used to access the initial share provided by the DiskStation DS216+II, although you're not told this anywhere and guest access to shares is deactivated by default.

By default, the drives are setup in Synology Hybrid RAID configuration, which appears similar if not identical to RAID1 - it offers data protection at the expense of halving the maximum storage space. Changing the RAID setup to combine both drives into a single large volume involves delving into the labyrinthine configuration app that, as mentioned, is accessed through a web browser. This is modelled on a Windows-like desktop environment, complete with notifications and file browser windows that can be used to transfer files.

A Control Panel applet allows additional configuration, such as adding users or more network shares, but to change RAID mode you'll need to use the Storage Manager applet to erase the existing volume, and select the advanced option to create either a JBOD or RAID0 setup.

Notably, attached USB drives can only be accessed as discrete shared folders and can't be incorporated into the main storage volume. In other words, putting two 5GB disks into the DiskStation DS216+II drive bays, and then attaching two 5GB disks via USB, can't be configured as a single, contiguous 20GB shared volume, or configured for RAID1 data protection. This is true of most NAS devices, though.

Dedicated experimentation will uncover countless other features in the configuration system but newcomers will soon feel overwhelmed by it all. A comprehensive help file is provided but you'll need to set aside several hours to work through it, and we longed for some ultra-concise and friendly step-by-step wizards covering key tasks.

The DiskStation DS216+II offers an impressive number of ways to let computers and other devices access its files. It defaults to Apple File Protocol (AFP) for sharing files with Macs, and this is useful because it means the Macs can use the DiskStation DS216+II as a Time Machine destination too. SMB is also on offer for Windows and Mac computers, as is the old but reliable Network File Sharing (NFS) favoured by Linux types. You can add FTP too, and DLNA sharing for smart TVs and games consoles is offered by the free Media Center package that you're prompted to install during installation.

Creating a Synology QuickConnect account, which you're also prompted to do during setup, turns the DiskStation DS216+II into a personal cloud accessible across the internet, with no need to configure port forwarding on your broadband router. Instead, you simply visit a unique quickconnect.to web address you're assigned, which again provides access to the browser-based configuration and file manager. Several apps are also available for Mac and iOS to allow cloud-style access to the DiskStation DS216+II in order to sync photos, videos and even notes.

The DiskStation DS216+II was impressively quiet for NAS, with its fan creating a low-key hum when the unit was secreted in the corner of a room (as most NAS devices are surely destined to be). There are options to control the fan speed to reduce the volume even more, at the expense of running the device hotter, and the lights on the front of the unit can also be dimmed.

Verdict

The DiskStation DS216+II is an impressive little unit stacked with features and at £268.91 including VAT at sites like Amazon is priced competitively, although don't forget this buys you only the enclosure. Hard disks are purchased separately.

In some ways, the DiskStation DS216+II feels entirely the opposite of the Drobo 5N, reviewed earlier, in that it's for those who want to spend time drilling down into settings to get things just right, or expand the functionality via the impressive selection of add-in packages.

Best NAS for Mac: TerraMaster F2-220

RRP: £199.95
Buy now: Amazon
More information: TerraMaster

When setting up the TerraMaster F2-220 there's a feeling of IKEA-like self-assembly. The drives must be screwed into their caddies (the device supports up to 16TB split between the two 2.5 or 3.5in disks), although TerraMaster is kind enough to provide copious screws and a neat little screwdriver. Once the drives are locked into place you must download the TNAS app from start.terra-master.com.

Best NAS for Mac | Best Mac NAS drive: TerraMaster F2-220

This app isn't digitally signed, though, so is blocked by macOS Gatekeeper. You'll need to right-click it and select Open to bypass this. As with the Synology DiskStation DS216+II, reviewed earlier, the app merely scans the network to find the TerraMaster F2-220 and then kicks you out to a web browser-based setup screen. Here you'll be prompted to scan the disks for errors, download and install the TOS operating system straight onto the device, setup a user account, and confirm your email address for use with the cloud access service.

Next, you're invited to select which RAID mode is used, with the choices being 0, 1, 5, 6, 10 and JBOD. The choice is nice but it's moot because choosing 5, 6 and 10 informs you that they won't work - most likely because the device contains only two disks - so you're back with the old favourites of RAID1 for data protection but half the total storage, or RAID0/JBOD for maximum space across both disks. We opted for RAID1, which was the default choice.

Best NAS for Mac | Best Mac NAS drive: TerraMaster F2-220

We made the mistake of powering down the unit after the operating system was installed but before we'd entered an admin password. The result was the unit wouldn't reappear on the network. We also learned we shouldn't have a USB drive attached during setup (the device features one USB 3 port, and one USB 2) because this appears to stop the unit rebooting after OS installation.

The way to fix this was to remove the USB drive and to temporarily slide out the drive caddies before powering-up the unit, reinserting the drives and then connecting via the browser-based configuration in order to begin TOS installation afresh. Notably, there isn't a reset button on the case.

If we said that the Terra Master is the kind of device that rewards this kind of thinking and experimentation, we suspect you'll entirely understand. Some peripherals seem to take this kind of approach.

As with the DiskStation DS216+II reviewed earlier, the TerraMaster F2-220 uses a faux desktop environment within a browser tab for configuration and on-device file management. It too uses a Control Panel applet to create users, groups and additional shares, and has an Applications applet that lets you install a variety of additional features such as Dropbox syncing, a Plex Media Server, antivirus, and more. The range isn't as comprehensive as the DiskStation's, though.

Configuration can be hard work and favours the technically inclined. Setup a new share, for example, and you'll be asked if you want to enable oplocks. Google tells us this is about caching and access control in order to improve performance, but should only really be used if the device is to be accessed by a small number of people. A Help applet on the desktop turned out to be just an FAQ, which answers some questions although a quick start manual and in-depth manual can be downloaded.

The hardware specs of the device are perhaps the best in our group test: 2GB of RAM and a Celeron 2.41GHz dual core CPU overclocked to 2.58GHz. SMB, NFS, FTP, iSCSI and Apple's own AFP are on offer for file sharing, along with cloud access via the tcloudme.com website. It appears no cloud apps are available for either desktop or mobile devices, so cloud access on the wider Internet while you're out and about can only be done via a browser.

The TerraMaster F2-220 can act as a Time Machine destination although activating this feature requires a little extra configuration (wouldn't you know!) - you'll need to enter the Backup applet, select Time Machine, and then ensure a user is enabled. Until this happens the TerraMaster F2-220 just won't appear within as a potential Time Machine destination within System Preferences.

This was one of the quietest NAS devices in our test, with the fan barely audible and most of the noise coming from the drives themselves. Even when the fan occasional spun-up the noise was more like a breezy day beyond a window than an eardrum-drilling whirr.

Verdict

The TerraMaster F2-220 is the perhaps least refined NAS in our group test when it comes to config software, but it's also the cheapest, with a likely retail price circa £159.99 including VAT at retailers like Amazon. And in the world of computing one man's lack of refinement is another's goldmine of tweaking opportunities (just ask anybody who's into Linux). If you can live with this then this the TerraMaster F2-220 is quite the bargain.

Best NAS for Mac: Netgear ReadyNAS 212

RRP: £259.99
Buy now: Amazon
More information: Netgear

Netgear is so keen for you to use the cloud with the ReadyNAS 212 that, to set it up once you've clipped the disks into their caddies (up to 12TB across both disks), you're directed to the readycloud.netgear.com website where the site magically scans for devices on your network and walks you through setup. Offline configuration is also available that avoids the cloud completely (you can add it later if you wish), but we followed the default cloud-based option.

Best NAS for Mac | Best Mac NAS drive: Netgear ReadyNAS 212

Setup involves creating an ReadyCloud account, and pressing the Backup button on the device when prompted, which has the effect of encrypting the contents - a nice touch overlooked on many other devices here.

Notably, you're not asked what RAID mode you want and the unit defaults to Netgear's implementation of RAID1, with data protection enabled but only half the total available space available for data. To create a RAID0 configuration you need to turn off Netgear's clever X-system RAID within the configuration system. With X-RAID disabled you lose the ability to add a larger disk at a later stage in order to increase storage. Also notably, the ReadyNAS 212 supports hot-swapping, so with a RAID1 configuration you can replace a drive with a larger capacity model even while the unit is powered on (with a few caveats).

Best NAS for Mac | Best Mac NAS drive: Netgear ReadyNAS 212

The ReadyNAS 212 features no fewer than three USB 3 ports - two on the back, and one on the front - along with a eSATA port at the back. Curiously, attaching a USB drive only shares it via SMB unless you specifically share it in other ways (AFP, FTP, DLNA etc) by clicking the cog icon next to its entry within the configuration app.

The ReadyNAS 212 is also the only device with the usually higher-end feature of two gigabit network ports that can be bonded to form a single logical interface. As you might expect this can significantly boost speeds but you're only going to benefit if there are several users accessing the unit at any one time. Transferring a file from our test Mac was no faster that the other NAS devices here, for example, because we were still limited to the overall speed of the network with an individual transfer. However, bear in mind that in a home environment a TV streaming video via DLNA is one user, while a games console might be another. The actual computers and tablets accessing the NAS could be in the minority. There was only one Ethernet cable in the box although these are cheap enough to buy on sites like eBay (ensure you get at least a Cat-5e cable).

The cloud-based website shows status updates and provides file management, but you can connect directly to the ReadyNAS 212 via a web interface on the device itself in order to dig into technical options. This requires a username and password, which aren't specified during setup, but a quick googling reveals them to be "admin" and "password" (you might want to change those).

Thankfully Netgear doesn't use a twee desktop metaphor for its configuration panel, like some of the other NAS devices discussed here, but instead uses a traditional web-page like design of headings, menus and buttons. It's well thought-out and we didn't have trouble finding any of the features we wanted to explore or tweak. Indeed, exploring the options was a pleasure rather than a pain.

Perhaps the largest variety in our group test of network sharing technologies are supported by the ReadyNAS 212, including SMB, AFTP, NFS, FTP, iTunes, and DLNA. A nice feature is SSH support that allows SFTP connections and, in theory, should allow you to use the unit as a homemade VPN while out and about (although we didn't test this). Another nice feature was the ability to configure email alerts that notify you of any issues the drive might experience.

The device is also expandable via a range of add-in apps, many of which turn the device into various kinds of servers (including add-in PHP to create a web dev testbed), but you can also install a BitTorrent client, antivirus, Asterisk VOIP apps, and much more.

And as with all the NAS devices we looked at, the ReadyNAS 212 offers simply stacks of other features we haven't space to go into here, such as Dropbox syncing, ReadyNAS Vault online backup (for a fee), Time Machine backup and, of course, cloud access while you're out and about via a dedicated VPN-like ReadyCLOUD app for Mac plus various apps for iOS.

Verdict

The ReadyNAS 212 costs £259.99 including VAT at sites like Amazon, which considering what you're getting is very competitive. Sure, you can get the TerraMaster for £100 less but the perfect balance of ease of use, power user options, and a solid feeling of reliability, means the ReadyNAS 212 is miles ahead of nearly all the competition.

Best NAS for Mac: iOSafe 216

RRP: £671
Buy now: Amazon
More information: iOSafe

Data protection is the name of the iOSafe 216's game but not just in terms of clever RAID configurations. Shaped like a small valuables safe, and nearly as heavy, the iOSafe 216 is designed to protect the two hard disks it contains from fire and water. We're not talking about perhaps spilling a glass of water over the thing, or putting a candle a bit too close. This is protection against house fire and actual floods (fresh and saltwater) - up to three days submerged in up to 10 foot of water, or fire up to 843 degrees centigrade lasting for 30 minutes, per the ASTM E-119 building construction regulations. It can even take lightning strikes.

Best NAS for Mac | Best Mac NAS drive: iOSafe 216

After these disasters have occurred the case might be blacked or a little damp, and the electronics might no longer work, but the hard disks inside will be untouched and the data therefore salvageable.

Our review unit came with hard disks already fitted but fitting your own is easy. First you must remove the fireproof outer cover, using the hex tool supplied. Then you must remove the waterproof inner cover, which reveals the drive slots surrounded by thick shielding. The drives are fixed into the caddies by small screws. Rather cleverly, the hex tool is designed to flex should you attempt to overtighten any of the screws when reassembling.

Software setup was a little tricky because the Read Me First leaflet - the only documentation in the box - tells you to visit find.synology.com, which then attempts to scan the local network to find the device. This failed in our test, so we connected direct to it using a web browser via its IP address as reported by our broadband router's DHCP table. Logging-in required a username and password, which we didn't have, but a little Googling revealed the username to be “admin” and that the password field could be left blank.

As you might've guessed from the above paragraph, the iOSafe 216 uses the exact same DSM operating system as the Synology NAS reviewed earlier. In fact, it even uses the same logic board. In other words, everything you can do with the Synology - such as install the impressive range of add-on apps - you can also do with the iOSafe 216. This includes possible RAID configurations. As such, we refer you to our earlier review if you want to know more.

Externally the iOSafe 216 features two USB 3 ports on the back of the unit, and one USB 2 port on the front. Also on the front is the small power button, a number of status lights, and a Copy button that lets you instantly clone any hard disk you attach via USB to the internal storage. A hole for a Kensington lock is provided but you can also purchase a separate floor mount kit that allows padlocking.

All iOSafe devices come with a single-use, one-year data recovery service, referred to as DRS. This offers insurance against any kind of data loss, for whatever reason. This might include forensic recovery (up to $2,500 per terabyte) but the first step is to send iOSafe the drives to see what they can do. If they can save the data in any fashion they'll put it on a new hard disk and send it back to you.

Unsurprisingly, because the hard disks are buried so deep inside the unit, and surrounded by so much shielding, you simply can't hear them whirr or click. The only noise is from the unit's fan which is reasonably quiet, although perhaps not as quiet as the Netgear and TerraMaster units.

Verdict

Bearing in mind the extraordinary build quality you might anticipate the iOSafe being expensive but, while it's the most expensive NAS in our group test, you can get it for around £768 including VAT on sites like Amazon. Considering you're genuinely buying peace of mind in terms of physical protection for your data, this ain't bad at all.

Best NAS for Mac: Summary

All of the devices we looked at had something unique to recommend them. The Drobo 5N was supremely easy to use and maintain. The TerraMaster TerraMaster F2-220 was cheap and cheerful. The tank-like iOSafe 216 was in a class of its own in terms of physical protection for your data (and we have to stress this is so incredibly important if your data is irreplaceable). The Synology DiskStation DS216+II offered impressive expansion potential with its huge range of add-in packages. And the Netgear ReadyNAS 212 provided terrific build quality with some features not usually found at this price point, such as dual gigabit Ethernet ports.

If you work on your Mac daily and want a NAS that's content to sit in the corner with minimal user input we don't hesitate to recommend the Drobo 5N. If you're a home or semi-professional user and want a little more configurability then we feel the Netgear ReadyNAS 212 is the platonic ideal of what a modern NAS should be. And if you simply don't have much money then the TerraMaster TerraMaster F2-220 is a true bargain - provided you're prepared to put in that little extra work getting it configured.