Let's get NAS-ty: how network storage is catching up to the cloud

You might think cloud storage is the future, but your hard disk isn't going down without a fight

Is there a place for NAS anymore? Until recently, I wasn't sure. Five years ago, the idea of centralised backup and file storage for my home and small business was incredibly appealing. Now I use OneDrive and Dropbox as my go-to save locations, while Google Drive and iCloud Drive play a role in supporting my iOS and Android hardware.

Similarly, I once had big plans to centralise all the music, movies and recorded TV in the home and make it accessible through our Android tablets and Roku media streamers. Now, with the likes of Netflix, Now TV, Amazon Prime and Spotify, that idea seems redundant.

Unexpectedly, however, I'm beginning to change my mind. For one thing, NAS drives are becoming easier to set up and work with, so that I can get the kind of convenient, heavily automated sync and sharing I expect from Dropbox through my own personal cloud. With some of the more advanced units in particular, many of the hoops you used to have to jump through have disappeared. I can access my content through my phone or my browser, and even have my phone's photos upload automatically over Wi-Fi.

Read our article on the Best NAS Drives for more information about what NAS could suit you.

Performance is another big strength. Sure, my personal video library can't rival that of Netflix, but there's no buffering or dropped connections to spoil my entertainment. I can work on a document right from the NAS folder, and I wouldn't even know that it's not on my local drive. If I need to back up edited photos, it happens in seconds.

What's more, there's no need to worry about capacity, with 2TB or more of space. Sure, I don't think it's an option to run a library of Steam games directly from a NAS, but there's nothing to stop me syncing libraries across my two PCs. Try doing that with a cloud storage service.

Most of all, though, I'm impressed with the power and versatility of these devices. In a way, NAS has become too limiting a term; you can use them for simple backup, sync and storage, but some are now all-in-one media centres, IP camera security centres or even simple, low-cost email, web and VPN servers.

I can use one to stream Ultra HD video to my TV, but I could also use it for a small business virtualisation strategy or to service a school's intranet. It's hard to think of any other hardware that's so affordable and flexible. NAS devices mimic the advantages of cloud storage without many of the disadvantages, giving you the same "anytime, anywhere" access, but at a lower ongoing cost with more capacity and control.

In short, the NAS comeback is on.

Featured Resources

The ultimate law enforcement agency guide to going mobile

Best practices for implementing a mobile device program

Free download

The business value of Red Hat OpenShift

Platform cost savings, ROI, and the challenges and opportunities of Red Hat OpenShift

Free download

Managing security and risk across the IT supply chain: A practical approach

Best practices for IT supply chain security

Free download

Digital remote monitoring and dispatch services’ impact on edge computing and data centres

Seven trends redefining remote monitoring and field service dispatch service requirements

Free download

Recommended

High-performance persistent storage for virtualised workloads
Whitepaper

High-performance persistent storage for virtualised workloads

8 Oct 2021
Hybrid cloud for video surveillance
Whitepaper

Hybrid cloud for video surveillance

1 Oct 2021
Nutanix Cloud Platform gains new data storage capabilities
hybrid cloud

Nutanix Cloud Platform gains new data storage capabilities

23 Sep 2021
The business value of running applications on VMware Cloud on AWS in VMware Hybrid Cloud Environments
Whitepaper

The business value of running applications on VMware Cloud on AWS in VMware Hybrid Cloud Environments

20 Sep 2021

Most Popular

Best Linux distros 2021
operating systems

Best Linux distros 2021

11 Oct 2021
Apple MacBook Pro 15in vs Dell XPS 15: Clash of the titans
Laptops

Apple MacBook Pro 15in vs Dell XPS 15: Clash of the titans

11 Oct 2021
Windows 11 has problems with Oracle VirtualBox
Microsoft Windows

Windows 11 has problems with Oracle VirtualBox

5 Oct 2021