NAS Versus FSS: Which Is Right For You?

NAS Versus FSS: Which Is Right For You?

By Andrew Burton

There is confusion today about whether file sync and share is a replacement for network attached storage. Both offer network-accessible file storage, but there are some key differences between the two. As such, some companies choose one over the other, while others may have a need for both.

Network attached storage (NAS) has been a preferred file storage target since the mid-1990s. Unlike traditional direct attached storage (DAS) multiple systems can access NAS across a local network. NAS systems are designed to provide high-capacity file storage and fast data access to servers and desktop computers. In recent years, cloud storage has emerged as an alternative to NAS for file storage. Cloud-based file sync and share (FSS) services offer a central storage repository that allows multiple users to store and share files.

One important distinction between the two has to do with file access. FSS allows users to access files from anywhere on any device. They also allow users to synchronize all or some local files with copies in the cloud. Users can make changes to the local copy while offline, and the cloud copy is automatically updated when the user logs back into the network. NAS does not offer this capability natively. Users must be on the local network for NAS connectivity or log into a virtual private network (VPN) for remote file access. NAS does not provide file synchronization, however it does offer file locking or “read-only” access, to prevent multiple users from making changes at once. For ease of use and collaboration, cloud FSS comes out on top.

Another difference has to do with cost. Cloud-based FSS requires little to no up-front investment. NAS, on the other hand, comes along with high up-front costs. However, while up-front costs are high, the ongoing costs of cloud-based FSS is likely to be higher over time. Ongoing subscription costs can be quite expensive depending on the service you choose—especially if you have high capacity demands and/or a large number of users. For high capacity, NAS is your jam.

Finally, you need to consider performance. FSS offers adequate performance for general purpose file storage access needs. Microsoft Word or Excel files, for example, do not require high-performance storage. On the other hand, if you are working with large, resource intensive files or high IO applications. NAS is more suitable for your needs. It all comes down to your storage demands.

When deciding between the two, weigh these benefits and drawbacks against your specific needs. Many businesses use both—FSS for collaboration and NAS for bulk file storage, for example. For a more information on use cases for each, check out NAS vs FSS: Five factors to decide which is right for you.

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