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What is NAS and why do I need it?

Direct Attached Storage (DAS) has had its day! More and more photos, videos, and documents are produced every day and sharing access to files is becoming more and more common.

External Drives are going out of fashion!
External hard drives were considered convenient… last century! They were a simple way to store files—plug in the external caddy and, as long as the disc was the right format, not too full, or failing, it was ready to go. However, the overly simple and traditional storage solution no longer satisfies the needs of modern life. Imagine that you are at a meeting and the USB is at home or worse, it simply stops working. You have to remember where the presentation is stored because there is no quick way to search the external disk. You want to share a large folder of great holiday pictures with your friends, but they’re too big for email. These situations happen every day. There is a better way:

Network Attached Storage - NAS

Advantages of NAS The most obvious reason to get an NAS device over an external hard drive is how many things can access it. While a USB based drive is limited to just the device it is attached to, an NAS can have any computer potentially access the files on it. This can be extremely useful if you have multiple computers within a household that need to share or store data externally. For instance, it can be used as a central backup location for each of the computers. Many NAS devices also have the ability to be used as a media center storage. All of your music and video can be stored on it and then accessed through network attached devices like computers, tablets, streaming boxes, TVs and home theater systems.

While cloud storage can be extremely useful for having access to files from just about anywhere, they have a major problem in that they are extremely slow and generally restricted to a single account or users. This is a problem particularly if you have a large amount of data that you are frequently accessing or updating.

Did you know you might be able to quickly add NAS features to your network using just a USB drive? Many home networking products including wireless routers come with a USB port for use with printers and hard drives. By adding a standard USB based external hard drive to the network router, you can often provide a low cost option of basic network file sharing without an NAS specific device.

So why do you need one?

There are many reasons why network attached storage (NAS) makes a great addition to your home or small office. Maybe you're sick of paying monthly cloud service fees, or maybe you need a lot more storage space than you currently have. An NAS allows for centralized file management, and, in some cases, adds a layer of security over your files. We'll help get you headed in the right direction when it comes to ditching the cloud and getting serious about network attached storage.

  1. Ease of use

    Setting up an NAS is relatively easy — you don't need to have much more technological savvy than it took to set up Windows and navigate to this webpage. Fill the NAS with drives, plug it in, and attach it to your network either wirelessly or with an Ethernet cable. Although NAS units have their own processor, motherboard, and RAM, most are controlled through an internet browser using a simple interface designed to be suitable for all users.

  2. Peace of mind

    A NAS can ultimately help you to avoid these scenarios. Files are saved on the NAS and accessed by your PC, meaning you won't lose any data if your PC hard drive or OS fails. A RAID 5 NAS setup using four drives allows for a drive to fail completely without losing any data. Replace the faulty drive and get back to work; the volume will be rebuilt in a few hours and you can still access your data, albeit it slowly, during the process.

  3. Storage space

    A common problem among PC users is lack of storage space. Imagine: your desktop has three hard drives already, and you need to add more for all the 4K movies you just bought. Instead of transferring your files from one hard drive to another, larger hard drive, invest in NAS.

  4. File sharing

    Small businesses and offices will benefit from multiple people being able to manage, store, version, and backup files from a single location instead of spread out across all the machines in the office. Conversely it is much easier for one person to access multiple files belonging to one project when they're kept on a centralized hub rather than multiple computers.

  5. Transfer speeds

    Transfer speeds between computers and an NAS using a Gigabit Ethernet connection can technically get up to 125MB/s, but most hard drives can only reach transfer speeds of about 70MB/s. Compare this with a cloud service where your transfer speeds are limited by your internet plan, bandwidth usage, and even the cloud service itself.

  6. No access outages

    Because the NAS is in-home and connected with Wi-Fi or Gigabit Ethernet, you won't experience any access outages if your ISP fails or if your cloud service goes down.

  7. Organization software

    Most NAS units will include sync software, but these options will change depending on which NAS unit you buy.

  8. Security

    Most NAS units feature some type of encryption for disk volumes. This adds another level of security on top of the fact that your drives can be, if you wish, kept off the public internet. If your laptop is stolen, it won't have your files on it — they're kept secure and separate on your NAS.

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