How to Choose the Best NAS Device
By Tobias Geisler Mesevage
Network Attached Storage, colloquially called NAS, is a physical device that is used to store and consolidate troves of data while simultaneously safeguarding the data from attacks and calamities. NAS devices often contain multiple storage drives that are usually arranged in a logical and redundant manner, also known as RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks). Attachment to this safe and reliable central data storage hub is achieved via a network connection. The NAS’ small personal network can be accessed by anyone with the right credentials and thus enables multiple people to use data at the same time regardless of their proximity to the device.
NAS can be viewed as your personal or team-centric cloud that provides insurance for your data. A NAS device can enable you to scale the storage capacity of your device on your own terms without incurring any extra or hidden monthly fees. The only restrictions placed on your data capacity will be the size of your NAS device and the upload/download limits of your Internet Service Provider. Scaling out a NAS device can be rather adaptable, as extra drives or even additional NAS devices can be added to better create a safe and reliable physical backup of your priceless personal or mission-critical business data. Deploying NAS devices for a business team enables all of the members to access, share and modify data over a secure network to better foster collaboration and boost efficiency.
A vast variety of NAS devices are currently on the market with many touting advanced capabilities and feature enhancements. To determine what type of a NAS device would be best suited to both safeguard the integrity of your data and enhance your data’s availability you should learn about the three categories of NAS devices and their major feature considerations.
Three Categories of NAS
1. Desktop or Consumer-level NAS
Desktop NAS devices are suited for small businesses and home users that desire local shared storage. These devices enable credentialed users to share files and sync data modifications while offering substantial built-in backup capabilities. Not everyone needs mammoth storage capacity, so Desktop NAS devices are best suited for personal home office use or for small business.
2. Midmarket-level NAS
NAS devices designed for the demands of midmarket companies can store hundreds of terabytes of data. One potential drawback with Midmarket NAS devices is that they cannot be clustered so file system silos may have to be implemented if multiple NAS devices are deployed.
3. Enterprise-level NAS
The high-end of the NAS market, Enterprise NAS can store vast quantities of data to service the demands of large organizations. Enterprise NAS usually have the ability to easily expand with higher capacity drives or by patching devices together with NAS clustering. They can also include more advanced features such as redundant power supply, snapshots, and compression. These high-end NAS devices can be easy to manage so they’re perfect for office locations where a lot of IT staff may not be present at most times.
NAS Features to Consider
To get the best NAS solution, you must weigh the various features and specs of NAS devices and determine their importance for your solution.
Amount of Drive Bays
The number of drive bays in a NAS solution determines not only its storage capacity but also the type of RAID level configuration you can utilize. With a greater number of drive bays, you won’t have to devote half of your storage space to mirrored data protection, like you have to with a simple two-drive NAS device. A higher amount of drive bays offers you greater data redundancy and protection from failure.
Central Processing Unit (CPU)
At the heart of it, NAS devices are computers and thus need a processor to run its software and manage its data storage. The NAS’s CPU ( can become important depending on your desired functionalities. For instance, you may need a more powerful CPU if you’re encrypting data.
The greater the RAM (Random Access Memory) of a NAS device the more capacity it will have to meet the demands you place on it. Higher RAM will empower the NAS device to better handle simultaneous tasks so you have a more enjoyable user experience.
To create the network part of NAS, you need to connect the physical device to the network via Ethernet. The type of Ethernet connection you have will determine the data transfer speed. Also, consider how many Ethernet ports the NAS device offers.
If you’re planning on storing and accessing many large movie files on your NAS Device, then it’s highly recommended that you purchase a unit that supports hardware transcoding. With hardware transcoding, the NAS device will automatically convert high-resolution videos into a version that is optimized for the device they’re being watched on.
There are many more features to consider as well such as hardware encryption, the types of file systems the NAS device supports and its performance output.
The Best NAS Device
Once you’ve determined the level of NAS device you want and prioritized your desired features, it’s advisable to purchase a NAS solution that will preserve the integrity of your important data. A great NAS device will be able to work across multiple platforms and easily empower the administration to manage access. The best NAS device will offer secure file sharing and access synchronization while having the ability to greatly expand to meet increased demand.
Discover how Datto’s NAS device can protect the integrity of your data while facilitating greater collaboration.