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Network Attached Storage Explained

Network Attached Storage Explained

A business’ data is one of its biggest assets. For the smaller business, large portions of an IT budget can be spent storing data. One way to keep costs down and maintain control over all this data is by utilizing Network Attached Storage (NAS). 

What Exactly is Network Attached Storage?

It is a device that houses removable hard drives for easy data storage, and since the NAS is part of your network, any data stored on the drives are accessible over the network and many of them will provide offsite access to data. Most NAS devices are also configured to connect to cloud applications and storage. This delivers quick and secure access to data on most devices over any Internet connection. 

NAS devices are also a practical addition to an individual’s computing infrastructure as they are typically inexpensive and over a lot of different scalability options. This allows users to replace less secure and reliable external storage options. One example you often see users leverage NAS devices for is as a media server. Many of the more affordable NAS devices aren’t really solid options for a business, however. 

How to Choose the Right NAS Device?

There are a lot of variables to consider when choosing the right NAS device for your needs. Consumer-grade NAS systems don’t come with a lot of the powerful options that enterprise-grade options have. Many times, these devices are manufactured for very specific functions. For example, some may be built solely for storing surveillance footage, while others are built with file sharing and document management in mind.

Many times businesses will use their NAS device for several different purposes. Most of the time they are deployed to store important data and are configured to provide people access to data they wouldn’t typically have access to. As a result the NAS options that are built with high-end networking features are deployed by small businesses. They provide these organizations with superior access and ease of use without putting too much strain on the IT budget.

Most NAS platforms offer support for several hard drives, letting a business dictate how they are to be used. The ability to store several hard drives on one network attached device gives businesses and individuals alike a lot of options on how to most effectively use one.

Here are some other considerations you are going to want to make when choosing a NAS device:

  • Connectivity: NAS devices connect to the network, usually through a standard ethernet connection. Some feature wireless connections, but these don’t provide the speedy access to data that you are probably looking for when deploying this technology. 
  • Hard Drives: Sometimes these devices will come with hard drives installed, but most of the time you will need to find hard drives that are compatible with the device you purchase. You’ll want to consider that if this is the first place you are storing your data, you’ll want redundancy on the device. This means getting twice the storage you need and RAIDing the drives together.
  • Software: Every NAS device has its own OS. This OS is typically some type of scaled-down Linux or Unix OS and may need to be configured. Most superior units take users through a simple setup process and come with some settings already defined. Depending on how your organization plans to use the device you may need to alter this configuration.
  • Security: Of course, security is essential on any place data is stored. It’s important that you purchase a unit that is capable of system-level encryption, access controls and monitoring; and allows for third-party security support. If your business needs to meet any specific types of compliance, you’ll need to account for that too.
  • Uninterruptible Power Supply: Like any critical piece of infrastructure, you will want to protect your NAS with an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). Your UPS should be designed for NAS devices. Typically a NAS device will have a list of compatible UPS devices that enable the NAS device to safely shut down if an outage were to occur.

When (And When Not) to Use a NAS Device

NAS devices are great tools, but there are times when they may not be appropriate. If you already have servers that can do the same (or a superior) job, they may just not be practical.

Most time office networks already have hardware that controls network policies and hosts business-critical applications. In fact, many businesses might have several servers performing different tasks. Storing files is a relatively low-resource task for a server. All you need is the hard drive space. A NAS device might be a good continuity plan for times when your servers are running at high capacity, and you are in the process of figuring out your next move. 

Ultimately, the NAS device might just be the perfect solution for your data storage and dissemination problems. They are perfect for a security system or to use for a project that requires shared storage. 

If you would like more information about network attached storage and how they could be a benefit for you or your business, call our expert technicians today at 703-880-6683.

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Monday, July 06 2020

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