I wouldn’t describe myself as someone who is overly techy. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of the technology I have in the house and will always look for the next gadget to own, but I spend a lot of time with friends who aren’t particularly interested in motherboards, BIOS settings or the reasons to upgrade to solid state drives (here’s my blog post on this: SSHD). Therefore, I find myself trying to explain the vast amount of technology I have lying around and, more importantly, why I’m replacing a perfectly good graphics card, hard drive or [insert any type of technology, here...] with a newer technology. The most recent occurrence of this has been the inspiration for this blog post, namely, trying to explain why I have chosen to use NAS (Network Attached Storage) over a simple and perfectly functional external hard drive. So, let’s start by taking a look at the benefits of NAS:
One of the main benefits of NAS over an external HD is that it is a standalone device so it does not have to be directly attached to a computer, rather it is attached to the network and is therefore easier and quicker to access from multiple places or computers directly connected to the network. If you have multiple computers in the house (laptop, desktop or workstation, home media system in the lounge, etc) or a few flatmates that also want access, then NAS is the fastest way for all of these devices to access the data.
Most NAS drives give you the option to add more hard drives to the configuration. This has two benefits. Firstly, you can easily upgrade your storage without having to transfer everything across to a new and larger drive. You simply slot in a second drive and go from there. Most consumer NAS systems have space for up to two hard drives, so the ability to add a second can be invaluable. The second benefit comes from when you have this second drive in place, namely, setting the two drives up into a RAID configuration. I won’t get too technical here (there are scores of great sites and blogs that tell you exactly how to do this), but by having the drives set up in this configuration they can “mirror” the data stored on one drive to allow you to access each file far quicker (by downloading half the data from one drive and half from the other, at the same time) and will be protected from drive failures or data loss. If your external hard drive fries itself you’re in a lot of trouble, but if one of your NAS drives fries, the other has the data stored so you can recover your library.
If you pride yourself on your huge movie or music library, are storing large amounts of data for your home office or would like to have faster data access and a more secure place to store your digital stuff, then take a serious look at Network Attached Storage drives. We have a few great options at the moment, such as the Seagate 2TB GoFlex Home NAS (£119.98 in our sale), the very impressive LG Electronics N2R1 2x1TB NAS with DVD-RW (for £174.99), or the cost effective, entry level D-Link ShareCentre Pulse 2-bay NAS (for only £69.99).