If you are running a small business, you probably are not enjoying the luxury of a dedicated in-house IT team.
However, there is nothing to worry about. Important tasks such as how to backup information and manage data storage can now be done with Network Attached Storage or NAS.
That’s right. Most companies today are using NAS for revamping their data backup plan. Here we shall look at what NAS is and how it is beneficial for your business.
You have two choices when you are running low on storage space in your office server. You can either upgrade your existing server or invest in network storage that doesn’t connect directly to your server. If you add space to your existing disk, it is less hassle than replacing your data storage.
Small business owners are more interested in network-attached storage. However, before we look at NAS in detail, let’s figure out why you need data storage in the first place.
Majority of small business owners do not back up their files the way they should. This way they expose themselves to serious financial harm if something happens to their data. Sadly, you just cannot predict when disasters can strike so it’s always better to have backup storage.
Individual storage devices are good for personal use, however, as the size of your company grows; these individual products no longer work for company data. Before you select a backup system, you need to determine that the system is:
Why should you invest in automatic data backups? Well, you cannot trust your employees to backup their own data no matter how much you request them. Some employees in fact don’t even bother about data backup at all.
Sensitive data must be stored off-site because the last thing you want is to lose your data servers with the original data when the disaster strikes.
You can never have enough data storage on your network and at the same time, you have to keep pace with the changing demands of your storage needs. While there are plenty of hard disk choices around, putting them into use inside a network server can be anything, but the simplest operation.
You just want something that can help you manage data storage without hassle and this is where NAS or network attached storage devices come to your rescue.
NAS is commonly used to describe devices that can fit into network server racks and large cabinet system. There’s another category of products you would come across – storage area networks or SANs. SANs and NAS interestingly can work together to help you meet a wide variety of application needs.
Now coming back to network attached storage or NAS. Well, the idea behind NAS is simple. The device usually without any support (keyboard, mouse and even monitor) should be able to attach to your network and of course, the electric power supply. You can access the configuration screen through your web browser and set up user accounts with an IP address.
Within a few minutes, NAS can give you GBs and TBs of additional storage capacity – something you want to achieve. Perhaps the most incredible thing about NAS devices is that they can mimic the action of Windows, UNIX and Macintosh servers. Your employees won’t have to do anything differently if they want to access these servers.
NAS devices connect to your network directly rather than your servers. The stand-alone boxes you get include a network operating system and the users can access data anytime they want to.
You would find three basic kinds of NAS servers.
The simplest ones can hold about 20 to 80 GB of data. These simple devices as you can guess are designed for small offices or workplaces that have minimal setup. The device can be configured easily and you can share them between 12 employees.
Next up are devices that are specially designed for medium sized workplaces or offices. These products are either used to replace existing network servers or you can use them to enhance your network storage abilities.
Because these devices are built for medium sized offices, they have more sophisticated features such as backup software and power supply. Needless to say, these models have higher reliability.
Last, you will find NAS units that are designed for enterprises. In fact, these devices are the models you will find stacked in 19-inch high racks. There are dozens of removable drives and hundreds of users can make use of the TBs of storage that is available.
So you would know probably be familiar with what NAS is all about. It is a dedicated storage device with its own IP address. Over the past years, network attached storage devices have emerged as a quick and affordable solution to store data between a number of computers.
As a small business owner, you will be pleased to know that most NAS are simple to install and maintain. This means you don’t need to spend money to hire a dedicated IT professional.
“The Cloud” is a term that gets used a lot these days. Phrases like hybrid cloud and cloud storage are the talk of the town and it seems everyone is running behind cloud storage. What is the difference between NAS and cloud storage? This looks like alien talk, but rest assured that the explanation would be quite simple. Keep reading and you’ll see it for yourself.
Cloud computing basically is very much a necessity now. Remember when people were tired of maintaining huge server rooms with dedicated computer mainframes. Now you can store your business data on a cloud server without having to look at the complex, awful hardware at your site.
Given what cloud technology can do for you, it’s amazing to see how much we depend on it now. Interestingly without cloud applications, you won’t be able to use more than half of the web applications that are available to you today.
Now that the benefits of cloud storage are well known, is it the best and most efficient way of being able to access all your files on your computing devices? Interestingly Network Attached Storage can provide you with the benefits of both a local hard drive as well as cloud storage.
As stated earlier, a typical NAS setup would include a processor, memory and of course, space for hard drive storage. The device will be connected to your local network and can be accessed through wireless devices, laptops and connected computers.
Perhaps the best thing about NAS is that it gives you the additional security of owning the physical system on which your data is stored. Moreover, at the same time, you can access the data from any place you want and even share the information with multiple users.
NAs devices are especially useful for small businesses. On the other hand, if you own a laptop and want to access all your important data and entertainment content in one place, then you may be an ideal candidate for NAS.
If you look at consumer end of the market, Network Attached Storage are available as personal cloud solutions. In fact, they have slowly become more than just a place to store your important data. There are several important areas that you need to consider when it comes to NAS vs. Cloud. The first major concern of course, is the security of the system.
The question you should ask yourself at this stage is whether you want to keep your data in your own hands or you want it stored by a reliable third party. Remember that the answer to this question will also depend on what kind of files you want to store.
If you decide to go for a cloud provider, you should know exactly what they will do or might do with your personal information and files. Another security feature you need to address at this stage is how safe will your data be when you access it online.
Some NAS manufacturers like Synology are now offering two-factor authentication. This basically is a method that requires you to prove your identity in two different ways.
The security of your NAS system also depends whether or not your data is accessible over the public internet. If you want to maximize the security of your data, you should restrict NAS to your network.
Another important comparison feature is the ease of use. Of course, NAS devices have become user friendly and require minimal effort from your part, but it is time before they can surpass the ease of use of a cloud service.
Traditionally NAS were used to share and backup files, but these days NAS devices are getting more advanced. For example, NAS can now function as print servers and email servers.
High-quality network attached storage will be easy to set up and offers solid performance. From sharing files to backing up data, NAs delivers a variety of features and the cost of the system is appropriate for most system.
Surprisingly the cost of a NAS device that’s suitable for most small businesses can vary from $500 to $1,000 depending on the specific features and storage demands of your business. Synology is one of the most well known NAS manufacturers.
You also need to keep in mind that you will be required to pay for the additional NAS hard drives if you need more storage. This means you should have a good idea about your storage needs or you will end up wasting money by buying more storage than what is required.
NAS gives you data protection options along with data encryption and user access controls. Because you know that you are hosting your files on your own network, you will have a peace of mind. It is also seen that businesses prefer NAS for the fact that they offer complete control over data security.
Interestingly a number of NAS vendors have now partnered with cloud service providers to give you the option of backing up your information to the Cloud. The cloud backup in this case offers added redundancy and protection.
On a separate note, the cloud service provider is responsible for keeping your data secure when you decide to use the cloud service.
Of course, cloud service providers back up your data across multiple locations across the country for added protection and use the latest security methods, but the fact is that you are giving the control of your data to another party. This means your information is at risk of getting leaked if your account is hacked.
There are two basic types of NAS device configurations – fixed storage and multiple hard drive bays. The NAS device with fixed storage can store up to 4 TB of information. If your storage needs exceed the capacity of your fixed storage device, you can add more device as need or use a NAS hard drive with multiple bays.
With cloud storage, you will only have to upgrade your plan with the cloud service provider when you are running out of storage space.
Which NAS is right for you? Well, the answer to this question depends on the requirements of your application.
If you are tired of your file servers being scattered around your company or they are difficult to track, you can consider some kind of server consolidation. Remember that server consolidation can reduce management issues and at the same time, increase the availability and reliability of data storage.
High-demand engineering applications such as CAD and software development can benefit from NAS. These applications as you can guess typically have to use and manage huge files, which place a heavy demand on the traditional storage servers.
Sometimes application availability is a critical issue and this is especially true for apps involved with customer care of business management. NAS can help you in this regard, as you get more than a simple collection of disk drives and storage system.
The good thing is that NAS devices can help you keep track of your data when you need to and you can easily meet your increasing data needs.
NAS applications are a good match for you if you are involved with online applications such as ecommerce portals.
NAS are slowly gaining popularity as one of the most efficient and convenient ways of file sharing. Most small businesses have limited budgets and they are in need of a reliable system that can protect their information against loss.
Remember that even though small business don’t have large volumes of data to store, their storage and backup needs are as important as those of any multinational or corporate giant. Another thing to keep in mind is that small businesses don’t have the luxury of maintaining an onsite IT support.
NAS or network attached storage products are excellent for the fact that they can help small business back up all their important files to one location. Needless to say, there’s nothing better than having the freedom to access your data from anywhere, anytime.
Some of the most obvious benefits of NAS include:
Some small business owners suggest that having a NAS system is the best way to get more value for your money. Simply put, network attached storage can function as all in one backup and storage solution for your business.
There are a number of best practices you need to keep in mind before successfully implementing NAS in your company. Most NAS applications today come with data backup, cloning and replication along with high reliability software. All you have to do is select the right NAS system depending on your needs.
For example, if you want to take care of disaster recovery, you need NAS to replicate data to a remote location. Similarly, you should be able to clone data so that it readily available to other users as well as applications.
Buying NAS for your company looks like a simple affair. However, here are a few questions you should ask yourself to make sure you get what you need.
If you want to manage several file servers or look forward to consolidating DNS and web services, you can consider buying a NAS device with both Common Internet File System and Network File System.
Similarly, if your office tasks involve hosting CAD applications, then it is better to invest in a powerful-clustered NAS system.
NAS applications can also be used for storing videos, mp3s and other simple digital files. If this is the case, then it is always a smart choice to use an application that is easy to install and configure.
The capacity of your NAS devices is important. After all, it doesn’t make sense to buy storage devices that have lower capacity than what you will need. Take a look at your data and estimate your storage requirements for the next few years. You can then easily decide the size of NAS device you will need.
Will you need high-speed connections to support NAS devices? Do you need multiple connections to the Ethernet network in order to support high availability and performance?
Potential users of NAS applications ask, “What are the developing trends in NAS devices?” Manufacturers of NAS applications are now looking to incorporate advanced features such as replication, cloning and migration. These features allow IT administrators automatically transfer data from one appliance to another.
A network attached storage device connected to a network allows convenient storage and retrieval of data for authorized users. It’s faster, cheaper and provides all the benefits you would get from a cloud service.
NAS devices have evolved as perfect additions for small businesses because they are simple to operation and are excellent at centralizing data storage in a safe and reliable way. You don’t require a dedicated IT professional to install NAS hard drives or maintain them.
If you want a convenient data storage system that can hold all your information in one place, NAS is what you need. The most obvious way to search for dedicated NAs devices on Amazon and grab the box that best suits you needs. Generally dedicated NAs devices can be controlled via a web interface with ease.
If you don’t want to buy a dedicated NAS device, you can go for routers with built in hard drives or routers with USB ports. We have compiled a buying guide to help you with that decision. If you buy a router, all you have to do is enable the server from your web interface and set up everything.