If you need a NAS drive for storing and sharing files on a network, you have two choices: buy a unit prestuffed with hard drives that's simple to set up and use, or get a diskless enclosure to which you must add your own storage. If you're willing to sacrifice the simplicity of a pre-built unit in return for greater configuration control, and demand strong performance and useful functions, you're exactly the type of user Zyxel had in mind when it designed the NSA325.

This two-bay diskless chassis is considerably larger than the storage it accommodates, and each disk must be rail-mounted in order to cling on to the inside. The Zyxel NSA325 is otherwise fairly good-looking, with a glossy black finish and stylish curves, but its blue activity LED is overly bright for our liking.

The Zyxel NSA325 NAS supports two 3TB hard drives, providing a total 6TB of storage. This should be enough space to store a large media library, system backups and other files. Alternatively, if you've got a couple of old hard drives lying around, the NSA325 will be a useful investment in affording them a new lease of life as  shared network storage.

A front-facing USB 3.0 port is joined by two USB 2.0 at the rear. You can use these to connect additional storage to the Zyxel NSA325 NAS drive, with each external drive appearing on the network as a shared folder, or for attaching a shared printer.

Zyxel's configuration software is clear and well designed, but novices may find the sheer number of available settings intimidating. Like other NAS devices, the Zyxel NSA325 lets you create user groups and set access permissions for individual files and folders. It can also host a web server, or act as a download manager, letting you access additional software packages from an online repository. These range from a PHP/MySQL database setup to WordPress, Logitech Squeezebox and eMule support.

As with Zyxel’s NSA310 single-bay NAS, the NSA325 supports automatic uploads to YouTube and Flickr. You simply drag-and-drop the files you wish to upload to the relevant folder on the NAS, enter your login credentials, and the Zyxel handles the upload process automatically.

Importantly, the Zyxel NSA325 NAS also offers strong performance. We fitted a pair of 750GB Samsung hard drives in a Raid 0 array, then ran it through our usual 15GB file-copy tests. We measured brisk write speeds of 64MBps, and staggeringly fast read speeds of 95MBps - the Zyxel NSA325 is significantly faster than other NAS devices we've tested.

Zxyel NSA325: Specs

  • diskless 2-bay NAS enclosure, supports up to 6TB (2x 3TB) of storage
  • 1.6GHz processor
  • 512MB memory
  • Raid 0/1/JBOD
  • 1x USB 3.0
  • 2x USB 2.0
  • gigabit ethernet
  • smartphone app for remote access
  • download manager
  • BitTorrent client
  • DLNA server
  • 108x205x147mm
  • diskless 2-bay NAS enclosure, supports up to 6TB (2x 3TB) of storage
  • 1.6GHz processor
  • 512MB memory
  • Raid 0/1/JBOD
  • 1x USB 3.0
  • 2x USB 2.0
  • gigabit ethernet
  • smartphone app for remote access
  • download manager
  • BitTorrent client
  • DLNA server
  • 108x205x147mm

OUR VERDICT

An excellent effort from Zyxel: its NSA325 diskless NAS drive offers strong performance and some genuinely usable extra features. We don't like its distracting blue activity LED, however, and we'd prefer to see tool-free drive bays. Zyxel's pricing is competitive when compared to other diskless NAS devices.

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