NAS, short for Network Attached Storage, is first a storage device connected to your network that facilitates the attachment of a hard drive, or multiple hard drives, in such a way that provides centralized, shared storage of digital files, simultaneously accessible to everyone on the network. Many NAS units have an expandable capacity so you can add additional storage devices as needed, attaching them via USB ports. A NAS device is simple to operate, and provides an efficient, reliable storage solution, as well as a dependable method of backing up system data on a regular basis. Beyond that, benefits of a dedicated NAS drive include a simpler configuration and faster data access than with many other storage options, and an always accessible database which makes it easy for users to collaborate with each other on the network. Additionally, if your NAS unit has a server mode, it can be configured as a File Transfer Protocol (FTP), Web, e-mail and print server.
A NAS system not only provides easy access to any device on the local network, but also, depending on which NAS you choose, can give you remote access to your data from anywhere in the world over the Internet.
Which Network Storage System Should You Select?
When choosing the NAS that's best for you, start by determining exactly what you want it to do. Since primary tasks include centralized network data storage, and providing an ample streaming media storage solution, you'll want to determine how much capacity you need, ranging from 250GB to over 12TB. You'll also want to determine the connectivity option that's optimal for you. While you can find a wireless NAS hard drive, many people prefer the dependability of a wired-capable, high speed Ethernet router, attached with an Ethernet cable. The wireless router you already have may work fine, since most have four ports in the back that will work in a wired network. Plus, you may very well still want the wireless capability for browsing on your iPad, phone and laptop.
Other Considerations for Selecting the Best NAS Device
Once your home network is in place, you may want to start thinking like a network administrator, which means recognizing that power outages and brownouts, power spikes and surges, data corruption or a failed hard drive, are inevitable and are likely to wreak havoc on your storage area network…if you don't take precautions. Consider investing in a power surge protector for instance, for protection against electrical spikes. And, if you want to be sure your home network stays up and running during a blackout, an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) is a good idea for providing the power you need during a computer emergency when the main or input power fails. Many UPS devices include surge protection.