What is Network Attached Storage (NAS) ?

Mark Regan ~ December 8th, 2017 ~ Technology Overview

Network Attached Storage NAS Devices

Network Attached Storage or NAS is a dedicated device for file storage that offers shared storage via LAN nodes using only standard Ethernet-based connectivity. It is a cost-effective solution to store bulk of data via computer without affecting storage given on it. Network storage as the name explains, NAS depends on the network connectivity to render access to storage, whether it is a LAN or routers.

Role of NAS Storage

The ones that connect through a router are known as NAS but Network Attached Servers instead. These types of NAS do not need to be connected with computer for serving for purpose. A heterogeneous number of user machines can be provided storage over network whether within same geographical location or not. NAS acts as great alternative to external hard drives and other mass storage devices from both security and storage perspective.

NAS

Types of NAS

NAS is classified into two categories, which are Network Attached Storage and Server respectively. The two have been defined and distinguished briefly in the following part:

Attached Server

A server attached to network acts as an external drive, which is directly connected to the network device. Not much has to be done to achieve a Network Storage Server setup. Just connect the storage server to NAS enabled route using Gigabit wire. The setup now acts exactly like normal server that hosts storage space to number of client machines. This direct circulation of storage over network is made by server to machine sharing the same network area.

Advantages and Uses: A NAS setup like this can do much more than simply offering shared storage to multiple machines connected to mutual network. This kind of configuration is suitable for acting as a streaming server within organizations for simplified interoffice file sharing, broadcasting network connected media players with digital contents, being the host storage to remotely connected client users, and more.

Supported Routers

Routers that are NAS enabled come with integral storage, USB port provision for establishing a wired connection or drive bay to offer to be host to the hard drive(s). The most powerful routers for NAS configuration that come currently are built with more than one USB ports for making the connection with external drives.
Advantages and Uses: These storage-providing routers offer shared storage as well as media streaming. NAS’s storage is featured by such a setup as one of the multiple uses it offers.

NOTE: In comparison to dedicated NAS, routers that are NAS enabled offer only a limited number of features and relatively a lot slower data transfer rates.

Pros and Cons of Establishing A NAS Setup

  1. Pros

    Digital Library: Owing a digital library means being able to storing and managing multiple data types on a unified storage. Moreover, the common storage of all your data also gives quick access to it.

  2. Free Up Computer: A Network Attached Storage is meant to keep all your data secure at a place. These free your computer from obligation of keeping up with all your data including the archives and backups too.
    Redundancy: When Network Attached Servers and Storage systems are concerned, one thing to be sure about is the high availability of data. Such setups are built to offer redundancy. Thus, despite the unavailability your data the condition will not affect you as replication constantly takes place. Therefore, recovery can be performed at any point in time the storage drive fails.
  3. Streaming Media: Data like media files; photos, videos, and movies can be streamed from a NAS to computers, tablets, or TV.
    Secure File Share: Accounts with desired privileges and security measures can be setup in order to connect with other computers for file sharing purposes.
  4. Unlimited Storage: In case of running out of storage space, drives can be replaced from a NAS setup with a new set for extended storage.

Cons

  1. Keeping track of files and managing the ones reside on which drive is difficult task, as unlike usual servers, NAS does not have display interface and can be accessed through web interface.
  2. Getting the right type of cables for establishing a NAS setup is difficult sometimes because the considerations involve achieving data transfer rates and other concerns too, which need to be fulfilled.
  3. No backup means, guaranteed data loss because the standard NAS setups have a Linux based file system. Thus, data recovery can barely be executed manually or without involving a commercial data recovery tool for help.

Final Words

The main concern during the establishment of a network storage is usage of the right cable for connectivity that determines the rate of file sharing and storage sharing. In a standard setup, you will need a Gigabit network and USB 2.0 cable as 3.0 is comparatively slower. Other consideration to make are storage according to the requirement, measures for data protection, flexibility for drive swapping, data transfer rate, usage ease to avoid the need of an IT Administrator for dedicated management of a NAS, ownership cost total, environmental suitability, along with a reliable and round the clock support provision just in case of any troubleshooting requirements.