NAS – Network Attached Storage: Is it worth it?

Network-Attached-Storage or NAS has been around for a long time, however in recent years they have become more affordable and desirable to the consumer and Small Business.  But the question is, are they worth it?

What is a NAS?  Without being repetitive or getting to in depth you can read a brief description we did in a previous post: NAS, Cloud or External Drive.  A NAS device allows you to create and control your own private cloud.

Pre-Configured or Diskless which one do I need?

There are two types of NAS devices available:

  • Pre-Configured
    Usually targeted for Home or Personal use. These are typically very easy to set-up and offer a great value to its respective market.  However if you run out of storage space you have to purchase another or one with greater capacity.
  • Disk-less
    These are generally designed for the Small Business or advanced Home user. These require a bit more skill when setting up compared to the pre-configured kind but in doing so offer a great deal more flexibility.  The hard drives have to be purchased separately and because of that you are able to choose the size you think you’ll need.  Additionally, if one of the drives gets full or starts to fail you are able to purchase a replacement drive without replacing the entire unit.

My preference leans towards a diskless device.  You can purchase the amount of storage you want and replace the drives when you want or need to.  With the price per Terabyte so cheap; hard drives can be replaced quickly and cheaply.

Why would I want a NAS Device?

Honestly…it may not be right for everyone but there are advantages that can help you decide if it’s right for you.  Here are some:

  • Streaming Media
    Before Spotify, iTunes, Netflix, etc. and even before the iPod there were these things called CDs and VHS tapes. If you’re like me you probably have quite a few of them converted to digital format on your computer.  Rather than upload them or re-purchase them from a service.  A NAS will allow you to stream them from anywhere, with the right App of course.
  • Lower Cost
    For the price of about a two (2) year subscription to a cloud service like Google Drive or iCloud you can have double or more the storage space and no annual fee.
  • Flexible Storage
    As stated above, the cost per Tera-byte compared to Cloud Services makes a NAS pretty sexy even with Pre-Configured devices.  But the real flexibility comes with Disk-less devices which offer you the ability to increase your storage quite easily.
  • Better Control
    This is your Personal Cloud.  You have control over who has access, locally or remotely, and what they have access to.  With many of the recent Cloud services having issues with security, you can have peace of mind knowing you control what happens to your device.
  • Apps
    There are several Apps available for a NAS device. Depending on the Manufacturer or Model some will be pre-installed, while others will offer them as a download.  Here is just a sample of some of the Apps available:
    • PLEX Media Server
      Plex organizes all of your videos, movies, TV shows, music, and photo collections so you can stream them to all of your screens within your Home, Office or remotely.
    • IceCast
      Media streaming app that can be modified to suit your individual needs.
    • DropBox
      Integrate with your Dropbox account to easily move and automatically sync content between your Dropbox and NAS device.
    • WordPress
      Thinking about creating your own website? Installing WordPress on your NAS can not only help you decide but also allow you to develop it before you deploy.

These are only a sampling of the Apps available.  The variety of Apps will depend on the Manufacturer.  If you’d like to learn more here are five of the more popular companies that offer affordable NAS devices:

These are only some of the benefits that come with owning a NAS device.   They offer an incredible amount of features at an affordable price.  So as we asked at the beginning; are they worth it? Absolutely.