Cloud Backup – Most consumer and business NAS systems are adequate for serving up files, but don’t have much power for server side processes such as those required by CrashPlan and other cloud synchronization co-location backup services. Using a stand alone computer with file sharing on will allow you to have the system backed up to the cloud for extra assurance.
Ease of Use – With a NAS system, you’re restricted to what it will allow you to do through the web interface. Using a desktop computer instead will allow you to have easier control.
Expansion – A larger tower computer case can typically have four or five drives installed. In addition, it’s also possible to connect an eSATA drive tower that can hold even more drives for greater expansion. Most NAS systems can’t handle so many additional drives. Having all these drives on a single computer makes it possible to have all that data backed up using a cloud service such as CrashPlan.
Recoverability – Let’s say 5 years from now your ReadyNAS has a hardware failure. The only way to get the drives up and running would be to plug them into an identical NAS, but by that time nothing similar would be available.
Software – The NETGEAR ReadyNAS connects with an online App Store to install programs. Unfortunately, only a few programs are available. If you’re running a Linux system, you will have thousands of programs available.
Speed – The NETGEAR ReadyNAS may take more than a day to prepare four drives for RAID use. By contrast, a Linux computer can prepare the same four drives for RAID use in about 4 hours.
Temperature – Most NAS systems are contained in a small box that doesn’t allow for much airflow. Here’s a test you can perform on your own: shut down your NAS system and then remove a drive to feel how hot it is. Although temperature monitors will tell you the temperature, feeling the drive really gives you an idea of how hot the drives get when continuously running and not having adequate airflow. An NZXT brand computer case (for example) has multiple fans and plenty of airflow over all the installed drives. This ensures fewer failures due to overheating.