What is a NAS?
What is a NAS?

Network-Attached Storage can be Convenient for Home and Business

nas-with-connectionsWhat is a NAS?  NAS stands for Networked-Attached Storage.  This is a networked device used for storing and serving files on a computer network.  NAS devices can be connected to a network, providing storage space for files, folders and other data.  They allow for easy file sharing and function much in the same way as traditional file servers.

What Does a NAS Do?

Network-attached storage is a device that connects to your computer network, providing you with data storage space.  NAS devices work in much the same way as traditional file servers.  They allow files and folders to be stored and shared across a computer network.  NAS devices can be configured to allow file access based on user authentication.  In certain cases, user access can be integrated with Active Directory.  A NAS can also offer protection against data loss.  Most NAS devices have multiple drives that can be configured as a RAID.  This allows for some disks to completely fail without data loss.

Who Uses a NAS?

NAS can be used by anyone looking to add storage space to their network.  In a business settings, it can be an easy way to add additional storage to a network.  Further, it can separate storage from other server operations.  At home, NAS can be used to store and share files; such as photos, movies and music.

Pros of Using a NAS

Network-attached storage can be a inexpensive and easy-to-manage alternative to traditional file storage.  Here are some on the pros of using a NAS:

  • Easy way to add storage – These devices are not hard to set up.  In most cases, they find themselves on the network leaving, only a couple configuration chores.  Instructions are provided and easy to follow.
  • Data Redundancy – Most NAS devices include RAID configuration options which allow for data to be saved on multiple drives.  This means that is one drive fails, the data is still intact.
  • Centralized File Storage – Whether at home or at work, having centralized file storage makes things a lot easier.  If all your files are in one place, they are easier to access, share and backup.
  • Faster I/O When Compared to Cloud – When compared to cloud storage, NAS is faster, both on read and write.  Internal storage devices can transmit data on gigabit connections, and do not need to rely on internet connections.
  • Build-in GUI and Management Features – NAS devices have their own operating systems that allow them to be configured easily and contain many different options for organizing and managing data.
  • Cost Effectiveness – NAS devices can be thousands of dollars less than traditional file servers.  They are relatively easy to set up, so they don’t have the large installation bill that servers do.  Further, they don’t have the monthly fees associated with cloud storage.

Cons of Using a NAS

The main disadvantage of using NAS is the potential for system failure.  It is a physical device, and physical devices can get stolen, broken, and otherwise messed up.  Compared to a cloud-based storage solution, there is a higher potential for system failure and potentials down time.  Additionally, NAS have their own operating systems, which adds another layer of complexity to your IT stack.  This could lead to more IT administration tasks in your environment.

NAS Security Concerns

In general, a NAS will have the same security concerns as any other device connected to your network.  Ransomware, viruses, snooping and sniffing are all possibilities if the correct safety precautions are not taken.

For concerns related directly to a NAS, the biggest is its size.  Most NAS devices are compact and light.  This makes them easy to conceal and steal.  Take great care to ensure that they are locked up tight.  Additionally, data access control can become an issue in large environments.  This is particularly true with devices that don’t use LDAP to communicate with Active Directory.  Users could find themselves without access to important, mission critical data.  On the other hand, they might also find themselves with too much access; being able to view folders they know they should not.

Conclusion

NAS can offer home computer users and businesses affordable, easy to install network storage.  It can be easily shared and backed up, with administrative headaches.  It’s the perfect solution to local data storage issues.

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