Network-Attached Storage (NAS)

Network-Attached Storage

What is Network-Attached Storage?

Network-attached storage often abbreviate NAS, is a backup device that plugs in to a router. It allows multiple computers to backup and retrieve data. I offer and setup Network-attached storage devices for home users and small businesses.

In other words, it is a specialized computer that is built for dedicated file storage using centralized disk capacity. Users on a local area network (LAN) access the shared storage via a hardwired Ethernet connection or by wireless (Wifi). A NAS does not have a keyboard or monitor. They and are managed from a local or internet based browser utility.

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What is Network-Attached Storage used for?

A NAS is connected to a network and allows users backup data, and offer a centralized file sharing for documents. Flexible shared folder and user quota system provide comprehensive quota control on all user accounts and shared folders for collaborating to make sharing more effectively including remote access. On more robust units you can run applications such as Virtual Machines. Some units are setup to act as a 4K Multimedia Server.

Advantages

The key benefits of network-attached storage are:

  • A NAS offers fast backups of large data, since it is a local device. While cloud storage is extremely useful, they have a major problem in that they are slow this is a problem particularly if you have a large amount of data or if you are trying to run one or more full system images per day. A local NAS allows for faster reading and writing of data.
  • Data loss is less likely to occur with a properly configures and maintenance NAS. The goal is to have the hard drives setup in RAID to make sure that if an individual disk fails it does not result in loss of data. With the data on more than one drive on the NAS, your computer, and cloud storage you are covered using the 3-2-1 backup rule.
  • You can schedule backups. Since all computers are connected wired or by wireless Wifi and the unit is always on, you can schedule backups. Having backups not scheduled is a major reason external hard drives do not work as solid backup solutions.
  • Backing up multiple computers is simple. I frequently setup solutions for 2-20 computers all to backup and utilize the same unit.
  • Making full system images (or cloning) allows us to get a exact clone of your computer. This offers data protections and captures your operating system, all programs, software, and settings exactly as it currently exists. You have the assurance your whole computer is securely backed up in a easily recovered single file.
  • Entry level NAS systems are fairly inexpensive. Starter units can be as small as a two bay unit with two 1TB drives in a mirrored configuration.  They can be purchased for for more robust solution and larger data requirements (4TB, 8TB, 16TB, 32TB or more). This enables them to be setup for home users with multiple desktop and laptops computers or deployed on Small and Medium Business (SMB) networks easily.
  • Long-term costs are fairly low when you factor in the initial purchase cost, most units last for 4-5 years with maintenance. There is not an ongoing fee every month or year like cloud-storage.
  • Expansion is available and more storage can be added to large bay units (4-bay, 8-bay, 6-bay- 12-bay). A unit with free space can be scaled to add additional disks to increase the amount of total storage capacity. Certain units allow for storage expansion with additional compatible expansion units.
  • Software such as DiskStation Manager (DSM) which is included with Synology’s solutions is included and offers an intuitive web-based operating system designed to help you manage your digital assets.
  • They normally require less energy (than a server) and take up a smaller footprint in your home or office. For instance many 4-bay units are 8.78″ x 7.83″ x 6.54“.

Disadvantages

There are only a few real disadvantages to network-attached storage, and they are as follows:

  • Network-Attached Storage is an onsite data backup. In the case of any natural disaster, theft or fire you could have the whole unit and the drives destroyed losing all data. Certain precaution can be taken for human error or viruses such as ransomware, but overall it is a good idea to also be have data off-site.
  • They do require I.T. knowledge (data storage, data backup, computer networks, operating systems, Linux, security) to effectively setup them up and maintain.
  • Similarly, to requiring professional knowledge to implement and maintenance them – most problems (or disadvantages) come from lack of knowledge or improper implementations. In other words, the majority of issues I have found are lack of planning for future needs (selecting the wrong unit), not having maintenance performed, not diligently checking or testing backups, improper management of space, having poor infrastructure or having network issues.

Solutions

I offer NAS (Network Attached Storage) solutions from:

  • Synology which includes professional solutions for business, including DiskStation J Series, Value Series, Plus Series, FS Series and SX Series.
  • Buffalo who’s LinkStation NAS devices are targeted at small business and individuals, and TeraStation which are built to provide larger storage solutions for today’s and tomorrow’s business demands.
  • QNAP has an extensive portfolio that spans small, as well as midrange and high-end solutions. They have powerful yet easy-to-use network storage centers for backup, synchronization, remote access, and home entertainment. They also include feature-rich apps such and QTS. QTS is based on Linux, and designed to deliver high-performance applications and offering file sharing, storage management, backup, virtual environments, streaming multimedia, managing surveillance and more.
  • Western Digital (WD) My Cloud NAS Devices are available in a (Home, Pro and Expert) series.
  • Netgear offers a ReadyNAS Desktop Series and a ReadyNAS Rack Mount Series.
  • In addition, I also supply and work on other manufacturers.