Using an External Hard Drive or a Network-Attached Storage (NAS) are two of the best ways to expand your computer’s storage space in order to meet your increasing data needs. Both come in handy, especially when the storage space on your computer is completely filled up or is running low.

But, which storage medium is better for you – NAS or External Hard Drive? In this post, we’ll find out.

So, let’s get started.


NAS vs External Hard Drive

NAS (or Network-Attached Storage) is a system where multiple computers are connected to a network that allows the storage and retrieval of data from a centralized location. Earlier, setting up NAS used to be a task that only someone with relevant technical expertise could do. However, today, it is relatively easy to set up and get started with. NAS is more flexible and offers more features when compared to an external drive.


An external hard drive, on the other hand, is a small, mobile, and easy-to-use device that lets you store your documents, videos, and other types of data. Most external hard drives are compact and portable – you can readily take them with you anywhere you want. They are highly convenient to set up and use, even for newbies.



Here’s the feature-wise comparison between NAS vs External Hard Drive:

#1. Number of Computers

This is the most important factor to consider before thinking about whether you should go for NAS or an external hard drive. If you own just a single computer, then you’re definitely better off with an external hard drive.

However, if you own two or more computers, NAS is the better choice for you. That’s because NAS connects all of your computers with a central system so that you can have simultaneous access to data on any device. This isn’t possible with an external hard drive.

#2. Convenience

NAS lets you access your data remotely. You just need an active internet connection, provided that you have an NAS account already set up on your device. What’s more, you can even let other people access your data.

But, with an external hard drive, things are different. You’ll need to have the drive physically with you in order to access the data stored in it. The external hard drive needs to be plugged into a compatible port on your computer or another device. One plus of an external hard drive is that you don’t need an active internet connection to access your data in it. So, it’s especially good for those who have no/poor internet most of the time.

#3. Size

External hard drives are usually compact and are built to be easily carried around, whether it’s in your backpack or even in your pocket.

NAS, however, is a system that comes in the form of boxes that are placed in a permanent position, plugged into a power source and router.

#4. Capacity & Expandability

An external Hard drive gives you fixed storage capacity. There’s no scope for expansion if you’re running out of data and you need more space. The only option for you is to delete some data. Or, buy a new drive to meet your increasing storage needs.

With NAS, you get different models that are designed on the basis of ‘bays’. A bay actually means some extra space if you need to expand the storage capacity of your system. You can add up to 8 bays in one NAS. Therefore, whenever you’re running out of storage, you can fix this issue by adding up a bay.

#5. Flexibility

An external hard drive is a simple device that holds your files, media, and other documents. It’s built just for this purpose and you can’t expect any other function from an external hard drive.

But, NAS does a whole lot more. It’s highly flexible, which is why it is also referred to as a hard drive with a brain. NAS features a fully functional operating system, RAM, and support for third-party applications.


NAS vs External Hard Drive: Verdict

Both the devices discussed in this post have their own pros and cons. The better option for you depends upon your specific use case. If you need some additional storage space for your single PC or Mac, then you should buy an external hard drive. It is a cheaper device that’s portable, easier to use, and one that will fulfill all your storage requirements. Just make sure that you buy an external hard drive with sufficient storage capacity for your need.

Coming to NAS, it is more expensive – both in terms of its upfront cost and maintenance costs. But, it is best for a setup of multiple users and computer systems with the need for extra storage and the ability to share files among each other. The ideal use cases for NAS include small businesses or homes with multiple computers.


Recommended NAS in 2022:

Synology 4 bay NAS DiskStation...
  • Two built-in M.2 2280 NVMe SSD slots permit cache acceleration without occupying...
  • Intel quad-core processor with AES-NI hardware encryption engine, over 225 MB/s...
  • 4 GB DDR4 memory (expandable up to 8 GB); Scalable up to 9 drives with Synology DX517


Recommended External Hard Drive in 2022:

SanDisk 4TB Extreme Portable SSD -...
  • Get NVMe solid state performance featuring up to 1050MB/s read and up to 1000MB/s...
  • Up to two-meter drop protection and IP55 water and dust resistance(3) mean this tough...
  • Travel worry-free with a 5-year limited manufacturer warranty (1) and a durable...


Thanks for reading! 🙏

I hope this guide helped you learn about all the differences between NAS vs External Hard Drive. 🙂


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