There are a number of reasons to add a Network-Attached Storage (NAS) device to your home. Maybe your PC and laptop are quickly filling up and you need a lot more storage than what’s available, or maybe you’re sick of paying monthly backup or cloud service fees. NAS drives are a great solution for centralised file management, offering high-capacity storage to your home network, often with built-in features for added security and protection. Let's take a look at some of the main advantages of adding a NAS to your home.
To Increase Your Storage Space
One of the primary reasons to add a NAS device to your home network is for more storage space. PC manufacturers have widely adopted SSDs over HDDs in modern PCs and laptops, meaning that although they’re faster and more reliable, they often come with less storage. External hard drives may help solve data storage problems but it’s a physical object that you’ll need to keep connected to your laptop and PC, the files on them can’t be shared as easily, and they often don’t have features built-in to offer additional protection for your data.
A NAS drive, on the other hand, offers expanded file storage that is always on, can serve multiple devices at one time, and has built-in features to offer extra security and convenience. For expandability, NAS drives offer up to 24 bays, though most home or small business users will likely only need two to four bays. Brands like QNAP offer multiple easy and flexible solutions for increasing storage capacity, such as the ability to upgrade RAID capacity, use virtual JBOD (VJBOD) to use unused storage in another QNAP NAS, and attach expansion enclosures with their Storage & Snapshots Manager application.
For Data Back-Up and Protection
A NAS device will play an active role in protecting your data and minimising the chances of it getting lost. They often have features built-in that protect your data and provide some peace of mind in the case of natural disasters, hard drive failure, theft, and even just human error. Many NAS drives come with multiple bays or disks which you can set up with the exact same data. When you have two bays available with the same data, this is known as a RAID 1 configuration. With this in place, if one drive fails, your files are still safe on the second drive. Depending on the device you purchase and the number of bays available, other RAID configuration options may become available offering further backup and protection.
If you’re still concerned about losing data on your NAS, rest assured that with remote replication – a feature found on devices such as QNAP’s TS-251D – your NAS can also backup data to remote storage. For an added layer of protection, some NAS drives can even integrate with cloud services, ensuring your data is still safe and secure, even in the event of natural disasters or flooding.
Access Files From Various Devices
One of the key advantages of a NAS drive is that it can be accessed from anywhere on your WiFi network, meaning you can download, view, and upload files from all of your devices. Some will even let you access your files over the internet so your data is always available to you, even when you’re jet-setting or at the office – just double check that your NAS drive has a remote feature for this. Ultimately, this makes a NAS the ideal solution for households where multiple users and/or devices need easy access to the same set of files, whether they’re photos, documents, media files, or whatever else you might need.
For a Multimedia / EntertainmentWith files being easily accessible to any device on the network, NAS drives are a great home multimedia solution. In fact, streaming video and audio is one of the most common uses for a household NAS. Just connect to the NAS drive from your TV or any other devices on the home network, select what movies or music you’d like to play, and you’re good to go!
Some NAS drives, such as QNAP’s TS-251D, have been designed with multimedia in mind and support dual-channel 4K hardware decoding and real-time transcoding, allowing you to convert videos to universal file formats that can be smoothly played across various devices. You can also watch high-quality 4K media files on an HDTV using the HDMI output or with Plex Media Server to stream media files to your devices. It’s powered by Intel® Celeron® J4025 dual-core 2.0 GHz processor (burst up to 2.9 GHz) and DDR4 RAM (up to 8 GB) meaning this NAS drive is more than fit for this job.
Benefit from Snapshots and VersioningTo provide you with some additional peace of mind and protection, NAS drives take snapshots or versions of your data. Snapshots help protect your data by fully recording the system status and metadata. If files are accidentally deleted, modified, or compromised by ransomware, you can use snapshots to quickly restore previously-recorded data. Snapshots on QNAP’s TS-251D are block-based and only record modified data. This saves storage space and also reduces the time required to back up and restore data.
Choosing your NAS device
Once you decide to add a NAS drive to your home network, you’ll need to think about what NAS is best for you. There are plenty of NAS devices designed specifically with the home user in mind which already makes choosing one easier. If you merely plan to use your NAS to backup your PC, you can opt for a pretty basic NAS. If you plan to use your NAS to stream multimedia to various devices and your TV, or to store high-resolution photos, videos, or other large files, you’ll want a NAS with higher specifications for memory and processor (such as Asustor's AS3304T 4-Bay NAS). If you plan on using your NAS to store a collection of high-resolution images, photos, or design work, you’ll also need a NAS with plenty of power.