NETWORK-ATTACHED-STORAGE: how to choose one!

What is a NAS?

Network-attached storage (NAS): as its name implies, a NAS is high-capacity storage that connects to your network so that you and other users you designate can access your files from mobile devices and workstations without plugging in to the drive.  A NAS usually contains several drives designed to hold databases, system images, and backup files in a central location. The stored data is always available to multiple users, who can then access it at the same time. 

It runs independent of the network server, NAS allows users to access data uninterrupted even when the server goes down. It also enhances the speed of file sharing since it is only responsible for file storage and retrieval, it helps to free up server storage space, leaving them to run more efficiently. 

What is Unique about a NAS?

A key benefit of most NAS units is the redundancy option, so in two- and four-drive configurations the extra disks can simply “mirror” the contents of the other drive.  

 Conventionally, NAS devices are configured to support RAID technology, which allows multiple hard drives to fit into a single storage. This technology allows the software that manages the NAS devices to distribute and duplicate the data it stores across multiple hard disks.

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Six Factors to Look For

There are different hardware and software-based vulnerabilities that can impact your NAS.  Many things can go wrong with a NAS. Sometimes, one of the drives fails completely, that is where a RAID system simply take in a new, completely empty drive and repopulate it with the data the failed drive was carrying. Therefore, a properly configured RAID that performs this function is key. A team of experts usually is the best option. At all times you need to consider the following six factors:

1. Capacity

2. Performance 

3. Configuration 

4. Security  

5. Ecosystem integration 

6. Ownership model.

1. Capacity

When choosing your network-attached storage, you must consider the number of drives it can hold. Some may only have one disk bay, while others may have as many as 16 slots. The RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) system is a good indicator of the supported storage capacity.  

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2. Performance

The main function of a NAS unit are data storage and file access. Even with that, you need a powerful processor to help it run efficiently.  Like conventional computers, the devices vary in terms of the processor models and their number of cores. Speed is essential when you have more people connecting to the network. If we are dealing with a small office, processor choice could be insignificant, since the number of connections is so small.

3. Configuration

Network storage management can seem daunting, and it is. A complex system requires a dedicated IT professional to oversee it. You can configure an access point through which other devices can connect. Such functions can allow client devices to download and stream multimedia format, protect your sensitive data from unauthorized access.  

 

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4. Security

Most NAS systems have in-built defenses, there are certain critical threats that NAS users should be aware of, such as, authentication procedures, Leakage from other network devices, possible exposure to malware and viruses, command injection (hackers taking control of the NAS drives).  Your IT team should take care of safety precautions such as enabling denial-of-service (DoS) attack protection, using a VPN to connect to your NAS (quite useful for remote access), updating the NAS firmware, among others. 

 

5. Ecosystem Integration

If your existing storage and network infrastructure is already dominated by a brand of products, it is usually easier to stick within that ecosystem, as products are designed for that very purpose. 

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