NAS Servers – A Primer for Beginners

Holding a binary ball

NAS, which stands for Network Attached Storage, is a networked file storage device that allows you to easily store and share your data. Data is one of the most important technology assets in a home or company. Therefore, it is essential to have access to data and to be able to store data safely and efficiently.

The servers have their own IP address and operate as an independent network device.  The storage and retrieval of data are centralised so that heterogeneous users can access them at the same time. To allow for additional security and resilience in backing up files, many vendors also support various cloud storage integrations.

Features and Benefits of NAS Servers

The available features and benefits vary from manufacturer to manufacturer but here are a sample of the key ones most offer:

  • They can run back-up services. Back-up is essential, especially for office data. Automated back-ups using NAS server can be used for archiving and disaster recovery.
  • Many support cloud integration technology. This allows your data to be synchronized and updated on other devices, and allows you to link with cloud services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, and many more.
  • They have significantly more storage capacity than external USB drives.
  • Can be used for storage of multimedia files, which is ideal for both home and commercial purposes.  Homes can use them to serve content to smart TVs.
  • NAS servers make it possible to share large amounts of files among multiple computers. It is a central hub where multiple users can also look at a single document and edit at the same time.
  • NAS servers can encrypt data and provide redundancy to better protect from hacking, hardware malfunction, or corruption of data.

Top Vendors in the Market Today

QNAP

QNAP

QNAP is an acronym for Quality Network Appliance Provider. This Taiwanese company has an impressive array of NAS solutions that meets a wide range of needs – from work groups, to home use, or for medium to larger businesses. QNAP’s NAS servers can be built from 1 to 30 bays. QNAP is an award-winning company specialising in value add software solutions to their NAS line-up including virtualisation and IoT.

Thecus

Thecus

Thecus provides affordable and easy-to-use NAS storage servers for the home or for commercial purposes. Thecus provides a comprehensive list of solutions from redundancy, scalability, backup archiving, network capability, data security, personal cloud, file sharing, and so much more. Thecus NAS storage solutions are all cloud-ready and highly versatile for clients’ varying needs.

Synology

SynologySynology is known for DiskStation NAS that offers a variety of services such as RAID storage, storage for virtualisation, and many more.  Synology continues to push the boundaries of NAS capabilities, and their cutting-edge solutions are preferred by many business enterprises. Part of their array of NAS solutions include multi-tasking web-desktop, which helps facilitate administration efficiency; a hassle free and disk-free web installation service, a storage optimization tool called Synology Hybrid RAID, and many more.

Why you should have one

In this highly-digitised world, we are accumulating loads of content that we need to manage and store.  Digital content also comes from various sources, which we need to merge into one centralised unit. NAS is a simple and cost-effective way to do this.

It is easy to operate NAS, and after the initial installation, you don’t need a dedicated IT professional to operate and manage it for you.  It is also relatively affordable, and if you need additional storage, all you need to do is to add on to what you already have.

With data that is always accessible, users can easily retrieve information, collaborate with other team members, and even respond to clients using a single storage of information. With streamlined content from multiple computers, this high functioning storage is a much-needed device for any enterprise. A NAS is increasingly becoming an essential part of every home and business as it shifts from a product that is good-to-have into a must-have.

Storage Formats

A NAS has several storage formats, offering flexibility for its users but the 2 most common are:

  • ext – Most NAS servers recognise the ext3 and ext4 format. The latest ext4 file system is a default choice file system because it is very solid and reliable.
  • brtfs – the B-tree file system is used by businesses with very large programs and databases. It expands functionality of a filing system because it includes pooling, snapshots, and checksums. Modern systems support brtfs.

RAID

RAID means redundant array of independent disks.  RAID makes it possible to spread the data across multiple hard disks. Most NAS storage servers support the common RAID modes such:

  • RAID 0 – disk striping without parity, the total capacity will be the sum of all the drives.
  • RAID 1 – disk mirroring without parity or striping, the total capacity will be equivalent to the smallest drive
  • RAID 5 – block level striping with distributed parity, the total capacity will be the sum of n-1 drives where n is the total number of drives.
  • RAID 6 – block level striping with double distributed parity, the total capacity will be the sum of n-2 drives where n is the total number of drives.

There are many reasons why NAS storage has been adopted by many companies, organisations, and even homes. With the critical role of data in many aspects of our lives, having one brings a lot of benefits. Check out some of our reviews to see if one fits your needs.

Post Author: Noeneel Sharma

Australian born tech expert, Noeneel, is the founder of the GeekLingo. He has over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology (IT) world. As an Information Technologist, he has a Bachelor in Information Technology, MBA and a Master of Business Process Management. He has professional working experience working across reputable industries including telecommunication, legal, accounting, banking, and most recently electricity.
He spends most of his time with his gadgets as he enjoys photography, researching and runs the popular aquatic forum SKF Aquatics.
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