What is NAS?

October 28, 2020

Easy access to your files is an important part of any business, home, or personal computer setup. For individuals and small businesses looking for a simple and intuitive way to store and access their data, NAS devices are a great investment. 

NAS devices help make sure the data you’re working with is accessible, safe, and can be easily shared between people and devices. But what exactly is a NAS device? Here’s a quick rundown on how NAS devices are a must-have for every household or small business.


What is a NAS device?


Network Attached Storage (NAS) is an external storage device that when connected to a network, allows files from multiple devices to be accessed from a centralized location. 

If you have multiple people (co-workers, family members, customers, etc.) who need access to files that live on their individual devices, they can all easily access those files through a NAS file system. 

Your computer’s built-in hard drive is a great initial data storage option if you’re only working with small amounts of data or are the only one who needs file access. If you’re working with larger data sets, have multiple people who need file access, or are looking for a simple way to organize your files, NAS devices can make life a lot easier.


How do NAS devices work?


Instead of connecting directly to a computer, a NAS hard drive creates its own small network—effectively a private cloud. It becomes a hub where every device that connects with your username and password credentials can have access. Once connected, people within the network can store and share data through the NAS instead of from each separate device. After you’ve set everything up, you can often enable automatic backup options, remote access to your network, and create individual, private spaces within the NAS for each user. 


Do I really need a NAS?


Many small businesses find that a NAS system is a must-have. But are they necessary for just one person? Even though the main reason for getting a NAS is to make sharing files between people easier, it’s just as helpful to have something that makes sharing files between your devices easier. Sharing data between your cell phone, laptop, tablet, or other devices can be stressful and waste precious time. Having a single location where all of your data is housed will make your daily workflow easier. Western Digital’s My Cloud Home is a popular personal NAS setup for households looking for the best way to connect everyone’s separate devices.

Think about this situation: you’ve started your own small business and it’s been going great. Sales are up and you’re growing so fast that you need to bring in a couple more employees. But all of your files are stuck on your personal laptop. You need a system that can make sharing files between employees easy—NAS hard drives help streamline the data sharing process and help you keep your company running smoothly.

Or maybe you’re a creative professional who uses a lot of different devices for your work. You use your DSLR camera for your photography business, your cell phone to take everyday photos, and your laptop to edit all of your content. Uploading, downloading, storing, and sharing all those files on different devices can get confusing quickly. Having a centralized location where all of that data lives is the best way to store and organize all of your files. This helps you focus on and spend time doing the work you love instead of spending all day hunting down files.


What else can I use my NAS for?


Network Attached Storage devices are made primarily for easy data sharing between multiple devices, but most NAS devices have other features that make it a helpful addition to anyone’s tech collection. A lot of people use their NAS device as part of their data backup plan by buying a device equipped with RAID. When combined with a cloud storage system like Google Drive, CrowdStorage, or Dropbox, your NAS’s data will be safe no matter what happens to your physical drives. 

Most drives today also have anti-virus software built in to keep your data safe from harmful malware. Some models also have remote access options, where you can download files from anywhere with a stable internet connection in a safe and reliable way. 


NAS vs. Server


Another data storage option small businesses can choose from is using a server to house all of their files and data. If you have more than two or three employees who need access to the same data, using either a NAS hard drive or a server can help your business operate smoothly. 

Both a NAS and a personal server are similar in that they provide a centralized location for people to store, access, edit, and share data. Depending on the model, servers can have more powerful internal hardware and more customization capabilities than a NAS. But they can cost more upfront—usually $1,000-$3,000 depending on your small business’s storage needs. Most NAS devices like Western Digital’s My Cloud Home only cost a couple of hundred dollars for 8 TB of storage. When first opening, most small businesses won’t need a dedicated server, but it can be an option to consider as you grow and are working with more data than a single NAS can hold. 


The Bottom Line


If you’re thinking about buying a NAS, you’ll want to evaluate your current and future data storage needs, as well as your current system’s possible limitations. They are an essential piece of technology for any small or medium-sized business, creative professional, or home office. 

Once you buy your NAS device, make sure your files are backed up to a cloud storage provider to ensure your data is completely secure should anything happen to your physical devices. Read more about how to backup your NAS to the cloud here. 

Have questions about how CrowdStorage can turn your NAS device into a secure data storage and backup solution?

Reach out, and we’ll get in touch!