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What is a NAS (Network Attached Storage) Device?

A network-attached storage device (NAS), is usually smaller in size than a normal computer, can be turned on 24/7 and is most used for backing up computers and as a file server (storage device) on a local network. A NAS is a smart hard drive enclosure, it requires a minimum of one hard drive, but usually two or more is the most useful setup. A NAS usually uses a custom Linux based operating system, but don’t let that scare you, they are designed to look like a mobile phone with apps for everything you want to do to make navigating the device a simple task. While simple to use, the operating system is designed primarily for network storage with RAM and CPU being the minimum required to operate whilst minimising power consumption and noise. One of the main features of a NAS is when used with two or more hard drives is the ability to configure a RAID group, which keeps multiple copies of your data on your hard drives so that if one drive fails, you don’t lose your data, you can replace the hard drive whilst the NAS keeps functioning, then when the replacement hard drive is installed, the NAS is smart enough to copy the data back onto it.

Photographers, Editors, really anyone working with large media files often need large amounts of storage to handle their current projects and their archiving. A NAS is the perfect storage solution for large scale, cost effective storage.

Anyone with multiple computers, laptops, tablets and phones should consider backing up to a NAS. Centralising backups and storage just make managing the security and organisation of your data much easier. Synology and QNAP NAS will additionally manage backing up into the cloud, which makes your data extra secure.

Why is a NAS sometimes called Personal Cloud?

If you use a cloud storage such as Dropbox or Google Drive, or if you just don’t want your data stored online, a NAS is an alternative. A NAS keeps your data where you can access it, move it and you are in full control of it. You can even keep a copy of your cloud data on your NAS to get the best of both worlds. Cloud storage isn’t cheap, using a mix of NAS and cloud storage can give you a cost-effective storage solution that you can easily scale.

What else can my NAS do for me?

Most NAS can manage multiple email addresses as well as host databases and act a private VPN. Because they are function like a server, you can also manage things like downloads through the likes of BitTorrent as well as a variety of business software applications.

Is a NAS the best home network storage device?

It is possible that you may not need a NAS to share and store your data. There are routers that you can connect external hard drives to that may work for you however they aren’t specifically built for file sharing and backup like a Home NAS. You won’t be able to configure RAID or control access to your files like you can on a NAS, so for anything more than basic file sharing, we recommend a NAS.

Why use a NAS instead of a computer?

A NAS can communicate with Windows, MacOS, Linux and other storage devices a with ease. It has a MUCH lower power consumption than a desktop computer and doesn’t need a monitor or any other peripherals. They are easy to use with several free useful software applications that come with the device. You end up with a device that is always on, always accessible, no need to worry about it going to sleep that is secure.

I work in IT and I need more technical information

If you are a technical person and need more information, recommendations or solution assistance, DeviceDeal can assist or work with our vendor partners. We have access to Pre-Sales representatives that we can introduce to you ensuring you have the right solution. Call us on 1300800522 or chat online with our friendly sales team, we are more than happy to answer your inquiries.

I need information for using Plex on my NAS

Streaming video content from a NAS can be quite a complex task with many different options. We won’t cover media streaming in detail in this guide, however our staff can assist with your enquiry, feel free to give us a call, email or chat for assistance. We’ll also be releasing more guides in future, so keep checking back for more information.

Points to consider when looking for a NAS

- Size:
We know there are loads of NAS devices available with different numbers of hard drive slots, consider how many hard drives you want to use now and how many you want to add in the future. If you plan on using a RAID configuration, you may like to use a RAID calculator to work out how many nas hard drives you need and then decide on the NAS size from there.

A decent NAS that would suit a home user start at about $300 to $350 for a 2-bay NAS. Bear in mind that by default NAS don’t generally include hard drives, so they will need to be considered when looking to purchase. In most cases hard drives will end up costing more than the NAS, that’s the nature of bulk storage. If you are looking for a specific NAS with drives, feel free to reach out to the DeviceDeal team to request a quote.

- CPU and RAM:
What you plan on doing with your NAS will determine what level of hardware you need. Generally backup and storage is just file transfers, which won’t use much RAM or CPU power at all, however if you plan on it being a home media server or small business server, you might want to consider not going for the cheapest option. We generally recommend 2GB of RAM at minimum with 4GB or more being preferable when using the NAS for more than just backup and storage.

- NAS Software and Applications:
When you purchase a NAS, the hardware is relatively simple, sometimes you might be able to build something like it yourself, maybe even cheaper. The hidden value in a NAS is that NAS manufactures develop their own operating system, software and applications to support their NAS. The real value in a NAS for most people comes from the software, ready to go applications to manage your backups, storage, media, email, file security, surveillance cameras and much, much more.

- Media Streaming:

Most NAS will handle basic media streaming, if you are specifically purchasing a NAS as a media server, or have specific streaming requirements, you will need to determine exactly what you need the NAS to be able to do, then look at models with those capabilities. Some NAS are smart and powerful enough to handle streaming requirements themselves, others are best used as storage for a dedicated media streaming device.

- Notifications:
Whether it’s a failed hard disc or you have just run out of space, you will want your NAS to be smart enough to be able to warn you. Most NAS have software that will manage this for you which is another advantage over external hard drive storage options.

- Connection Types:
Consider what and how you will be connecting to the NAS. Most NAS will have USB ports at least, but you will want to check what type of USB connection you need as well as other connections like Thunderbolt, HDMI and Ethernet connections. Ensuring you have the right connection types to work with your existing devices.

- Third-party Software and Applications:
If you want to be able to add specific software or applications to your NAS, we recommend checking out the community of users for that NAS brand. Often the community will be the best source of information for tips, tricks and recommendations on how to use third-party software. If the third-party software is critical for your ability to use the NAS, check with the software manufacturer to ensure that their software is compatible with the NAS you are looking at purchasing.

- Hot-swappable drive bays:
Most NAS have hot-swappable drive bays, this just means that you can remove a hard drive while the NAS is still running. This is most important if you have a RAID configuration or if you are running a business where you cant afford to shut the NAS down to replace failed drives.

- Warranty and support:
For most customers warranty and support services aren’t even considered until something goes wrong, we recommend checking with the NAS manufacturer prior to purchasing to find out what their services are like. If you need help setting up your NAS, troubleshooting it or replacing it, you will need to contact and work with the manufacturer.
Consider extended warranties and even professional paid services to ensure you can use your NAS how you intend to use it and for as long as you expect to be able to use it.

- Wi-Fi support:
Most NAS are designed to be connected to your network via Ethernet cable, not via Wi-Fi, that being said, it’s worth connecting your NAS directly to your router so that your other devices on your Wi-Fi network can communicate with your NAS. If you can’t connect your NAS to a Wi-Fi router, be aware that by default, NAS don’t have wireless capability like a laptop or tablet. You would need to consider a USB Wi-Fi adapter or even an internal PCIe expansion card, but fair warning, these won’t give you the same experience that an ethernet connection will give.

- Surveillance Camera Support:
A good NAS can generally at the very least act as a storage destination for your security cameras. If the camera is supported by surveillance software that comes with the NAS, you can control your cameras, scheduling and configurations all through the NAS. We strongly suggest confirming compatibility with your cameras before purchasing if this is the reason you are looking at a NAS.

- Uninterrupted power supply (UPS):

Most NAS will have been tested for compatibility with more than one brand of UPS. To protect your data and avoid any damage to your NAS and hard drives, its recommended you use a UPS. The NAS should be smart enough that it can communicate with a UPS, usually via USB allowing the NAS to shut itself down if/when it will lose power.

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