The need for storage space used to house digital media files is constantly increasing. Some people assume that even an average household wants to store up to one terabyte of data. This mass of information mainly consists of large MP3 collections, broadcast content preserved via digital video recorders (DVRs), and pictures/movies recorded with digital video cameras. Although you might not yet need 1 TB yourself, it always makes sense to future-proof anything you buy.
More Storage Space for Beginners and Enthusiasts
The question is what to do with all that data. Putting one or even several large hard drives into your own computer is simple a simple task for professionals, but less advanced users may be scared of this. And if you’re productivity-minded, then you already know that centralizing information is much smarter than spreading critical files all over your home network. If you want to access your data from different devices in a network—think of a Home Theater PC (HTPC) or a game console—there is only one alternative for many users, whether they be pros or beginners: using a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device.
NAS devices are, at a most basic level, simple computers without graphics cards equipped with one or more storage interfaces that to connect hard drives. The operating system, usually a version of Linux, is stored on a built-in flash module. Accessing the data stored on a NAS device, as well as configuring the hard drives and setting up the NAS device, can be done over the network.
Most NAS appliances sport different RAID modes, which guarantee a certain level of data security if one hard drive fails. Another feature of NAS hardware is generally lower power consumption compared to average desktop PCs, creating a case for buying purpose-built hardware instead of using an old machine as a storage server. Depending on the model you’re looking at, expect to see consumption numbers between 20 and 70 watts.
Many Functions, Easy To Use
Although the main performance-defining criteria of NAS storage is usually it data transfer rate on the network, many manufacturers also focus on simple and transparent ease of use. This is because an increasingly long list of value-added capabilities, like integrated FTP serving, database storage, and media streaming, are being integrated into NAS devices.
All of these services need to be configured and customized. Even if the data transfer rate of a NAS device is very good, a complicated and confusing configuration can scare off potential buyers. We’re finding that Synology’s Disk Station DS408 is a good example of a device that combines high data transfer rate and functionality with an outstanding configuration interface.