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With the convenience of multiple devices to handle your workload, and access your multimedia library, comes a dilemma: how do you best organize and share all those files? If you want to avoid constantly transferring content between your desktop computer, laptop, tablet, and smartphone, then network attached storage may be the best solution to keep your files organized in one place and accessible to all your devices.
Network attached storage (NAS) is a digital storage solution that connects to a network. Its content and available storage space is therefore accessible to all devices that can link to the network. This includes NAS-enabled routers with built-in storage, USB ports, or a bay to host a hard drive. But most commonly it's in the form of an external hard drive or rack with a series of internal drives that connect to a network via a router or switch. With NAS, you can backup, manage, and stream all your digital content in one location.
NAS doesn't need to be connected to a running computer to share its contents. It also offers remote access, so you can use it from any computer with an internet connection. And unlike third-party cloud storage services, you have complete control over the location and security of your data, without paying a service fee.
To find the best NAS solution for your needs, keep some key features in mind:
Desktop NAS drives have a fixed amount of storage, while rack-mount NAS offers multiple bays so you can add or replace hard drives. The former is often a low-cost, easy-setup solution for personal home use. The latter may be ideal for a home office or small business, especially since having more than one internal drive gives you the option to use RAID, or redundant array of independent discs. This configuration combines the storage space of multiple drives into one location, and can offer faster speeds, obviously more storage, and additional data security in the form of redundancy should a drive fail.
When it comes to connectivity, you can get wireless, wired, and devices that offer both. A wired Ethernet connection offers the best security and reliability. For desktop NAS, consider additional connections such as USB ports, so you can expand by connecting additional storage.
Speed and security
Look for a rack-mount NAS with a decent processor and RAM to support multiple file sharing with minimal performance degradation. You may also want to consider automatic backup, encryption, and firewall protection.
Compatibility and setup requirements
Most NAS devices are compatible with both PC and Mac, and most operating systems. In terms of hardware, all you'll need to set up NAS is a router or network switch and an internet connection, along with a computer or network-enabled device to interface with the NAS.
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