Modern computing consumes more hard drive space than ever before. In some cases, today's users create and store more data than what experts could have imagined only 10 or 20 years ago. Between AAA video games, next-gen video editing software, and vast archives of digital images or MP3s, it's relatively easy to fill the average hard drive to its fullest extent.
As a result, consumers are starting to look elsewhere for their data storage needs. One such solution, the network attached storage (NAS) device, has been used by enterprises and businesses for years – but it's useful in nearly any application that requires additional storage capacity.
What is a NAS?
Today's NAS devices offer consumers and businesses alike the luxury of centralized data storage that can accommodate multiple user accounts. Often connected to a local area network (LAN) through a standard Ethernet connection, NAS devices generally lack a dedicated keyboard or display. Instead, they're configured and controlled through a browser-based utility across the LAN.
Generally speaking, modern NAS devices offer several benefits:
Depending on the configuration, your NAS device might even serve as the foundation for a personal or private cloud environment. In fact, this is often the case when using a NAS device for enterprise-level computing.
As such, there are NAS devices that are designed specifically for use in small, medium-sized, and large businesses. Conversely, there are also personal NAS devices that are meant for home use. In either case, you can expect to find multiple drive bays and an Ethernet port. Other features are dependent on the manufacturer.
Common Use Cases
NAS devices are beneficial to many different environments. In an office setting, they're often used to share spreadsheets or digital documents amongst co-workers. They're also used to backup and archive critical data.
When used as part of an enterprise, NAS arrays are usually used as a means of data backup and disaster recovery. They're also frequently used as servers to handle email, database systems, printing jobs, and more.
Some of the more advanced NAS devices even support RAID, or redundant array of independent disks. Not only does this offer the accessibility perks of a standard NAS, but it also offers the data redundancy and protection seen in modern RAID setups.
As you can see, NAS devices are used wherever there is a need to centralize, collate, and manage data – whether that's in the office, around the home, or in the boardroom.
You may read more about NAS devices in Wikipedia: Network access server.