Published under Category : Network Attached Storage

Choosing your Nas

Earlier restricted only to corporate environment, the Network attached storage are now becoming staple among consumers too.  The boundary between consumer and professional NAS is blurring as affordabl

Earlier restricted only to corporate environment, the Network attached storage are now becoming staple among consumers too.  The boundary between consumer and professional NAS is blurring as affordable NAS with enterprise features are accessible to consumers. With your Network attached storage, you can not only centrally store your data but you can stream movies, download torrents directly, host your website and access your data over the internet through personal cloud.

With so many vendors offering network attached storage devices, it may become difficult to choose a NAS. Here is a quick guide to help you choose a NAS. But first a quick overview of what a NAS offers.

Use NAS for Storing data and DAS for carrying and transporting Data

We have all used Direct Attached Storage ( DAS), these are external hard drives and USB flash drives that connect directly to your Computer via a port ( mostly USB).

In Contrast Network Attached Storage ( NAS) Connects to your Network and all the systems on the network can access it. It also makes it possible to access your NAS from the internet when your PC is switched off. 

NAS gives you many additional features that DAS can't, some of the features are

  • You can put in multiple hard drives in your NAS and they behave like a single big hard drive with RAID. You can even configure RAID in such a way that it keeps some data redundant so if 1 hard drive fails, your data is still safe.
  • It connects to Network so multiple computers can connect to it.
  • NAS is always on. It can keep downloading for you while your PC is off, you can run your website from NAS, and you can even access your data from the internet while your PC is off.
  • DATA is safe, you can always provision for a hard drive failure. With RAID configuration your data can still be accessible after a hard drive has failed.
  • Most of the NAS devices come with enterprise applications like MySQL server, FTP server, Web Server and iScsi backup options.

You would almost always want to have a network attached storage for centrally storing your important data. Today the Tech Savvy users store all their important data on the NAS, which is accessible to them on their PCs, smartphones and tablets over the internet. For large data files they need to carry with them , they use DAS like external hard drives and USB flash.

Using a DAS like external hard drive to Store your data is not very safe as RAID protection is not built in a DAS. If you have data that you want safely stored in a central location, use NAS.

How to choose a Network attached storage (NAS) device appropriate to your needs

There are 3 things you need to decide on (apart from the features and brand) - Number of Bays, Grade of Hard drives and Operating system There are some other minor factors like Noise, power efficiency and transfer rates etc that you may want to research before buying.

1. Number of Bays of a Network attached storage ( and hardware specifications)

Network attached storage is like a small PC. It has a processor, memory and operating system. The total capacity of NAS depends on the number of hard drives it can accommodate.  For example a 4 bay system can accommodate 4 hard drives. 

All NAS devices support major RAID levels. so If you go for a 4 bay NAS box, and 3TB hard drives , you can calculate total capacity as follows

Raid 0 : 4 Bays x 3 TB Each = 12 TB
Raid 5 : 3 Bays x 3 TB each = 9 TB ( + 3 TB kept for Redundant Data)

With Raid 5, you sacrifice 1 hard drive capacity but if any 1 of your hard drive fails, you will still be able to access all your data. The NAS device will notify you that one hard drive has failed, and you should replace it for protection, but your data is still safe.

4 bays are enough for most of the consumer and SMBs . you don't have to fill all 4 bays at the same time, you can start by filling 2 bays in the beginning and later add more as your storage needs grow.

Look for CPU power and total memory available, more processing power and memory means better performance.

2. Grade and number of Hard drives 

Most of the NAS devices (like QNAP) are shipped diskless so unlike DAS, you can choose the grade of the hard drive you wish to use. Others like Western Digital Sentinel ship with highest grade Enterprise hard drives available. 

There are 3 drives to choose from - Regular Desktop hard drives ( Like WD Green, Blue, Black), NAS grade hard drives ( Like WD RED) and Enterprise Grade hard drives ( Like WD RE).

I would never suggest to go with Regular Desktop hard drives. You should choose between NAS drive and Enterprise hard drive. WD Red is a great NAS grade hard drive that's not very expensive and give great performance.  If you need even more reliability, go for Enterprise hard drives.

3. Operating System

As I mentioned earlier, a NAS box is like a small PC itself and it needs an operating system to work. Most of the NAS boxes use embedded Linux ( don't let that scare you, you will never have to use command prompt, everything is managed thought a user friendly web interface). Then there are NAS like WD Sentinel DX4000 that user Windows Storage Server .

NAS based on Windows storage server will be a little more expensive, but you can install many windows based programs on such a NAS. There are limited number of clients that get full disaster recovery support too with WSS, though unlimited number of clients can connect through network share.

On the other hand NAS based on Linux will have a lot more flexibility and power users can make them into anything.  They tend to be a little cheaper too.

Managing both WSS and Linux based NAS are equally easy through User friendly web admins.

Other Features to Look for.

Look at how much power your Network Attached storage takes. QNAP has as low power consumption as 7 Watts

File transfer rates would mostly depend on the processor and memory. If you are transferring very large files, go for something with good transfer rates

Most of the NAS will give you torrent client, UPNP DLNA client, itnues server and utilities for smartphones and tablets. Research all the features before you decide.

Network Attached storage Brands we offer in Dubai, UAE

QNAP turbo station with WD NAS red hard drives make a great NAS. QNAP 4 Bay have been extremely popular with the consumers and small businesses. On the enterprise levels, we have seen great demand for QNAP 8-12 bay systems.

Western Digital Sentinel is a robust NAS with enterprise grade hard drives running on windows storage server.

Buffalo has both Linux and Windows Based NAS devices.

Drobo uses a specific kind of Raid that lets you mix the capacities of hard drives without losing capacity , a feature that conventional RAIDs don't allow.

If you are still undecided on which Network attached storage is right for you, call us and let us help you with a Network attached storage that's right for you.


About Author : Akash Jain

I have worked in Data Storage Industry since 1998. I loves Technology and write often about NAS, Hard drives, Tapes and Flash technologies

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