I'm on the front line, talking to people about their tech needs everyday. When it comes to storage, something I hear often goes like this:
"Why spend $800 on a 2TB NAS when I can spend $200 on a 2TB USB hard drive? I just want to store files!"
This is a fair question, but do you really want to “just store files”? NAS and hard drives (HDDs) have a couple of different purposes and definitely different features.
External HDDs are great portable devices and have a purpose; I definitely have a handful of these floating around the place. They are great if you just want to store files on, so that they aren’t clogging up your PC, or if you want to back up your files. However they are really designed for a single user, and to be an extension of the machine it is connected to. If you want to access the data, you have to make sure the computer is switched on that you’ve plugged the drive into and if you want to share the files, then you need to share the drive on top of that, which is just difficult.
Also, these drives are not really designed to run 24x7, and unless you have purchased a rugged portable drive, you are at risk of damaging the platters when you start transporting it. If you do have a failure due to any of these reasons or many more, you will lose all the data on the drive, unless you have purchased two drives and have another copy (PS if you have followed me this far, you have now just spent $400 to back up your back up).
So, enter NAS or Network Attached Storage. A NAS is not as portable as a USB Drive, especially if you have a 4 bay or larger; (a bay refers to the slot that you put the HDD in). These guys are smarter, designed to do more than just store files, and are designed to protect your data. They come in many flavours, where you can have 2 HDDs, 4 HDDs or more, one network port or two, even USB back up abilities. Also, typically when you buy a NAS, you get to chose which HDDs you put in the unit, sometimes there are bundles like these that are already populated for you.
Some of the NAS devices we have on special this month on the famous BES Online home page! Click to check out the models we have available.
The reason for having 2 or more drives is to ensure your data is protected. They will be configured in a RAID set up so that the data is copied across the drives, so if (and most likely when) one of the HDDs fail, your data is still safe on the other drive. This is really important if you are relying on the NAS to back up your precious family photos, your music collection, or your accounting system database.
NAS is also great when you want to share data, or have a common area to store information. A NAS differs from the USB drive by having one or two network ports built into it. This means you can connect it directly to your ADSL router at home, a switch on your network in the office, or even to your Smart TV. As a NAS is really like a little computer in many ways with the smarts inside it, you are not relying on a certain PC to be switched on with file sharing enabled. The computers and devices on your network can simply attach to the NAS as a network drive. You can all share the data, or use the same target to do your back ups.
With the trend of doing “disk to disk” back ups, we are installing NAS devices daily on networks for server and PC back ups. From there you have the option of using an Managed Data Service or the old USB drive to get a copy of the back up offsite.
Ok, I have given you a lot of information here, but really what I want is for you to think about the real reason you need the extra storage, how do you plan to use it, and how important is the data you are storing?
If you have any questions, hit contact us and we will be more than happy to help!