by Jim J
NAS or network attached storage are essentially an array of drives accessible for a network. Both home and business users can benefit from this; it provides a centralized location of data. You and your brother at your home can both have access to your collection of movies, or for businesses all the users within small to medium sized businesses can have access to important files. NAS range from the low hundreds to a few thousands of dollars in price depending on your needs. Most home users are fine with the most basic of NAS devices.
The categories that differentiate different types of NAS devices are storage capacity, wireless v wired, operating system support, back up capabilities, built-in software, and encryption. Currently, even the latest wireless-N technology is insufficient in providing the data rate speeds offered by gigabit wired connections. Small to medium sized businesses especially will have to stick with wired connections to ensure reliability and optimal data rates. The operating system of the systems in your network is also important, most NAS devices offer suport for Mac and Windows environments but its worth checking before purchasing the device. Other factors like security are important mainly for businesses for sensitive information. And last, some NAS devices offer built-in software like iTunes support or bittorrent support. The majority of lower end NAS are good enough for most home users; small to medium sized businesses on the other hand will need to spend more time researching different options they have available.
I think NAS devices are soon to be a more popular thing especially among home users. Many businesses today already employ these kinds of technologies. Its power lies in its ability to so easily share files among many users within the network. Thus, the more tech savvy home users can have a repository of media files share among the network. Your pictures, your siblings music, and your parents movies for example can thus all “live” in the cloud on your own NAS.
Honestly, unless you have a tech guru at home, having a NAS is not worth the hassle at least right now for the majority of users. For the majority of home networks, sharing files on external hard drives/flash drives is the main source file sharing. Its cumbersome and a hassle for most people. However, Windows 7 with their work-groups has opened a window into the power and ease of file sharing among a network. Most users do not know how to do this or do not have the need for them. In the future with the continued growth of data storage and especially media files, I believe NAS will be a part of the average user’s tech gadgets.
Samara, Lynn. (2012, May 26). How to Buy a NAS. Retrieved April 8, 2012, from http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2354173,00.asp