A NAS is the best option if you want to have a more personal cloud storage. Said so because you can access your files from anywhere on this planet (as long you have an internet connection), while you can physically see your storage device lies on your desk.
A NAS is great to be implemented by businesses that require team collaboration. You can turn it as a centered data storage to allow your team members to access all of the resources (files) via the network, just like you can do with the cloud storage. The difference, you don’t have to share your personal information to a third party. And, you will be having a full control over your files.
A NAS is basically just a storage medium, much like external HDD or external SSD. However, a NAS has been designed specifically for shared usage instead of personal. Physically, a NAS might looks like a group of external hard drives put together in an enclosure. But no. NAS is a system. In addition to hardware, there is also a software embedded on a system of NAS. NAS is a great solution for a teamwork because you will no longer rely on USB flash drive to exchange files. You can use your NAS to exchange files each other via network interface, be it with Wifi or Ethernet, depending on the practical implementation on your network. Simpler and more straightforward.
How does a NAS work?
As I said in the beginning of the article. You can say a NAS as a personal cloud storage since you can use it store your files and access them from anywhere via internet. If you want, you can also set your NAS to only available for your local network. Physically, chances are you can also find some USB ports on the body of NAS, which means you can connect your PC/laptop via these ports, but it would negate its main benefit: the network.
The essence of NAS is a mini-server. Commonly, the use of NAS is combined with a wireless router. You can connect your NAS system to the Ethernet port on your wireless router. This way, all of the devices within your network will be able to access the files stored on the NAS wirelessly once they are successfully connected to the NAS. The software embedded on a NAS plays a role to manage access and the network connection. See the video below to get the illustration of how a NAS system works.
Things you need to know about NAS
A NAS commonly uses hard drive as the storage medium. It can be one or more hard drives. If there are more than one hard drives on a NAS system, it usually also has RAID capabilities for data redundancy. RAID will be duplicating your data across multiple hard drives so that if there were something wrong with one drive you can replace it and your content would repopulate the new drive automatically.
A NAS system can be offered preconfigured with drives or an unpopulated enclosure with open bays where hard disk drives can be inserted to add to the total storage capacity or replace drives. Some NAS models — like WD’s My Cloud — feature USB ports to allow you attach external hard drives for more storage capacity.
The major downside of adopting a NAS system is that you have to spend more capital upfront, compared to cloud storage. The advantage, you don’t have to deal more with monthly/yearly bills. Plus, you will have a full control over your files and don’t have to worry about being spied by third party.