What is Network Attached Storage (NAS)?

When you start creating content as a team member or freelancer, data backup is the first thing you should focus on. The simplest solution is to use an external hard disk drive(HDD) that comes in different shapes and sizes.

These drives are typically fast, affordable, and very convenient for storing and backing up your work. An HDD directly connects to your computer via USB or a C-Type.

For redundancy, you may use two drives so that if one is lost or damaged, you have a backup of your work in another drive.

But what will happen when your work keeps growing, and you occasionally add more professionals to your team? The backup space requirements will keep increasing. With hard disks sharing data is not so easy now, mainly if team members are located at far distances; it is almost impossible.

What is NAS?

With a Network Attached Storage (NAS), you can get redundancy, security, and data-sharing solutions. You can think of NAS as your personnel storage cloud, where you need to pay initially for a server, and later if you want to scale up, you need to invest in buying more drives.

What is Network Attached Storage(NAS)
What is Network Attached Storage(NAS)

This tutorial will describe the NAS server, its advantages,  disadvantages, and other technical stuff in simple terms.

What is a NAS Server?

The NAS works on a client-server model. Centralized storage is a server, and the computer or any other device accessing data is a client. You can imagine a NAS as a bunch of connected hard drives with the operating system and ethernet cards. So it is like a computer, not just storage.

NAS Server
NAS Server with multiple HDD slots

The server can support different RAID configurations for backup and uninterrupted work. You can add, remove, or change hard drives at any time.

There are multiple devices in it. You can set up numerous RAID configurations as per your requirements. A RAID links hard drives together. They can work faster by writing together on multiple drives or can mirror the data. Eventually, you can have two copies of the same data at any given time.

What are backup and redundancy? The backup means the same data at two or more places. It looks like it is redundant, but not exactly.   A genuine redundancy is when the backup and actual data are at two or more distant locations. So that in case of a natural disaster, you have your data securely.

What advantages does NAS have over using external Hard Disks (HDD)?

Accessibility – With a hard disk, sharing your work among multiple computing devices is more complex. Once you finish work on your laptop and maybe on a home computer, you have to unplug from one computer and plug it into another for data sharing. At the same time, NAS is accessible from different computers over the network.

Redundancy – The external hard drive can be lost, dropped, or stolen. Ultimately, your data is vulnerable. Can not recover data if the hard drive stops working. If the drive fails, you will lose your data. If we talk about NAS, it creates redundancy using multiple hard drives. Data is much safer, even if there is a single failure.

Data sharing is much easier with NAS. Suppose you get multiple devices in your office, desktop, or laptop. Maybe you also have a gaming system and a security camera for office safety all the time. You may want to store all your data in one central place accessible from anywhere connected to the network. With NAS, it is possible.

Scalability – NAS is scalable, suppose you have bought a NAS server with a six drives option, but maybe you start with only two hard drives and add more later.

Up Time – With NAS, the drive is still available after you switch off your laptop. While with an external HDD, you need a connected and running PC.

Remote Access – You can also access a NAS server from a remote, but not the hard drive. If you have left the office, getting a file from another location is a hassle. With Network Attached Storage, you can access a file with a web client after login in with an active Internet connection. Or you can connect to the VPN and access the server.

 Cross-platform access- For  – With NAS it is easy to collaborate and work with different computing platforms, e.g., Windows PC and a MacBook. If an HDD is formatted with the MAC is difficult to access from a PC or vice versa. The advantage of this is that no matter what device is accessing data, everybody can collarbone on it.

Alerts – When any drive starts being faulty, the server starts giving an indication. So that you can replace the faulty drive with a newer one. While with HDD, if there is a problem, you can not know before it stops working.

Advantages of using hard disks over a NAS:

Initial Cost – When someone is starting a job or business. The initial setup cost matters a lot. Obviously, a NAS server needs much more initial cost than using HDD. It requires buying at least two hard disks and a server. For beginners, the HDD is a better option.

Technical Competency – Most content developers do not have a technical background. Using an HDD is easier. You need to plug in and plug out. While setting up a NAS server is a little tedious task. The vendors provide a user manual along with the server, but technical terms are still involved.

Access Speed –  The major disadvantage of using Network Attached Storage. The speed of network cables, routers, switches, etc., limits the speed. Even if they are at the best speed, still a drive connected to a PC is much faster. When someone connects the server remotely, the speed becomes poorer.

How to configure a NAS server?

The exact configuration depends on the vendor. For example, you can look at the video by Synology at the end of this section. But here are a few general steps.

  • Install the Operating system.
  • Add The hard drives.
  • Create a username and password for the server.
  • Configure the ethernet cards with the IPs in the range of LAN
  • Create Disk space after formatting.
  • Try to connect storage from a PC.

How to access NAS from a computer?

There could be various ways. It may be using a specific client or just mapping the network storage using the mapped drive to  Windows. The access will be via the IP network using an IP address.