All you need to know about NAS Servers

All you need to know about NAS Servers

a G-Tech (Hitachi) NAS Device


Why are NAS devices are replacing servers?

Many NAS servers have the same storage capacity as traditional server but without the administration overhead.

NAS are proving more popular than ever because of the flexibility they offer. If you have employees you are using iPads or Macbooks they can be much more easily facilitated by a NAS than a conventional server. Moreover, you do not need to buy Windows Server 2008 or client access licenses to use a NAS.

What NAS server to get?

The type of NAS you acquire will be determined by a number of factors.

  • How many users are in your office?
  • What sort of data will be stored – documents, application data, video etc?
  • What is the speed of data transfer needed?
  • What sort of network do you have in your office – wired or wireless?
  • Privacy – do you need certain files to have restricted access?
  • Will you need to access your data on the NAS remotely?

Synology Disk Manager User Interface


More specifically, you have to consider the following questions:

– Does the NAS come with standard or proprietary RAID? If your RAID does fail, proprietary RAID might be more expensive and time consuming to restore.

  • What is the user interface like? Is the user interface intuitive or  confusing to use?
  • Does your NAS integrate well with Active Directory?
  • Does the NAS have E-SATA support for fast local backups?

Other Things to Bear in Mind

Check your manufacturer approved list. Not all hard drives are accepted by NAS devices.

What software do I use to manage the NAS?

There are many different software options to manage your NAS settings and shared files. These include FreeNAS, Openfiler, Windows Storage Server or you can use the software that comes with the NAS itself.

Biggest misconception about NAS devices…?

A substantial number of people think that NAS devices are a turnkey solution for complete backup. They are not! A back-up is only valid if it is in two different locations. In addition to a NAS, it is strongly recommended that you backup your data online (the Cloud) or backup via external hard drive or DVDs. (Many NAS devices have USB ports for this very purpose)

What most I.T. vendors won’t tell you.

Many I.T. administrators of smaller businesses will actually deploy an old desktop PC or server with high capacity drives as a NAS device. This can be an inexpensive option for a simple NAS where speedy data throughput is not required.

Advantages of a NAS

– Lower power consumption than a conventional server. Some NAS servers use as little as 8 watts of power.
– Less administration needed. No active directory or domains to manage.
– Most NAS devices will support multiple operating systems. If you have a staff member with a MAC or Linux system – they will still be able to access shared files.
– A NAS is much smaller than an average-sized server. This means it can be easily tucked under a desk or put in cupboard.

Disadvantages of a NAS

– Does not give you the same level of administrative privileges as a server OS such as Windows Small Business Server. For example, for most NAS devices you can only set permissions per share and not per folder. This can make administration be more time consuming if there are some folders you want to keep private such Accounting and Management folders.
– If you’re company is using MS Exchange as an email application, it cannot be run on a NAS.


And Lastly…

Do not connect your NAS directly to mains power. Like with a conventional server, one power surge could damage your drives. To mitigate the risk of this happening, acquire a Uninteruptible Power Supply. A UPS acts as an intermediary between your mains power supply and your NAS. In the event of a power surge happening, the UPS should prevent the surge reaching your NAS and mitigating the need for data recovery.