I recently started relying on NAS (Network Attached Storage) for my work and pretty much whole life. I can’t say how much easy and streamlined and also economical my life has became. I wanted to make a list of 5 reasons to use NAS.
Now, I am what you would call a heavy user. I do music, CG graphics, photography and movies digitally. I own several computers. Having my media stored in one central location is a huge organizational benefit, but also this streamlines my workflow and also backup. I use nothing but SSDs in my work machines. My Lightroom photo library is now living on NAS; setting this up was way more straightforward than I expected.
I can also now keep all other computers turned off or in sleep mode, and only use the one that’s turned on as the work files are no longer scattered on the disks of workstations.
Here is my list of 5 reasons to use NAS
Most of us have more than one device nowadays. The data we store can become quite huge. Having all your data in one place is a big organizational plus and makes managing and backing it up more simple.
Increased reliability via RAID1
I am big fan of RAID1. I have had my share of broken hard disks over the years. But luckily no data loss since I always had current backup. It’s truth that hard disks, like all mechanical devices, break eventually. I always start with the presumption that hard disks are going to die, and I hope to minimize the downtime this will cause.
RAID1 is a mirroring scheme where content is being copied simultaneously on two or more disks. If a disk dies, no problem. My QNAP supports hot swapping; there would necessarily be no down time at all; files would still be accessible at all times as long as the remaining drives work. It’s important however to remember that RAID1 is not a backup. There are still plenty of reasons why RAID1 stack could go bad, so it’s still important to have the data backed up somewhere else, preferably using offline device that is not connected all the time. With NAS this is very easy to do. My QNAP 231+ has automated backup features that allow the whole machine to be backed up on external USB 3 disk or other NAS automatically. This can be basically set-up and forget kind of deal and quite fantastic in my opinion.
Absolutely definitely, please do use NAS hard drives in your NAS, not desktop hard drives. The dedicated NAS hard drives are designed for 24/7 operation and are more reliable for this purpose.
Time Machine & Wireless Backup station
We don’t need to buy Apple’s Time Capsule. NAS often supports Time Machine by default. If you have a wifi it’s possible to enable wireless time machine backups. And of course you can also backup windows machines to it. It’s great and it really works well. For advanced users there are also services such as RSYNC and some support incremental backups and versioning.
My QNAP NAS came with a QNAPCLOUD service which allows me to access the files on the device over internet. This is huge feature. I can basically access any file now from anywhere if I need to. I have almost 3TB data now. Cost effective personal cloud service.
Extra features in same package
NAS servers also offer several other features, such as media servers, email servers, web servers and such. Some of these can be quite handy even for home user. My NAS even has a virus scanning built in. If you consider investing into what’s just basically a backup solution, these all come as a free bonus. I would say that NAS is a very worthwhile investment.
Whether you are a home user who has a lot of data or SOHO, I really recommend NAS for data management. This is one investment you will not regret. Getting used to using NAS can take a little time but most of the consumer type NASes have graphic user interfaces accessible via webpage.