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Not too long ago, a new storage solution emerged that gives hope to small business owners looking for a cheaper way to secure their data while increasing the efficiency of information sharing within their business. NAS devices may be giving servers and cloud storage a run for their money. So what is NAS backup?

Network Attached Storage Backup

NAS (Network-attached Storage) is a file-level computer data storage connected to a computer network providing data access to different members of an organization. It is a convenient method of sharing files among multiple computers that are gaining popularity in many businesses in Kenya and globally. NAS is specialized for storing and reading files either by its hardware, software, or configuration. In simple terms, it can be defined as a purpose-built specialized computer. NAS devices are attached to the business network and contain a number of storage drivers which takes away the task of file serving from other servers.

Functions

NAS devices perform various functions in an office/organization such as;

  • Serving and storage of files (backup)
  • File sharing between multiple computers
  • Network printing

Strategies

Traditional NAS network backup

A traditional network-based backup relies on backup agents installed on all the servers that access storage on a NAS device, and the data is sent to a backup server across the network. This is essentially business as usual in terms of client-server backups, which is why it is referred to as a traditional network-based backup in this context. It is not the most convenient as it increases network traffic and in cases where a NAS device is used as a file server shared by multiple systems, the backup software on each system can create multiple backup copies of the same files.

NAS to NAS

This is where a business has two NAS devices running all the time. One acts as a live working environment while the other is an offline backup. This strategy ensures that there’s no loss of data in the event the primary NAS device fails and data on it is not backed up.

NAS to Cloud

This is where businesses choose to back up data on their NAS devices online such that the business has two independent sets of data.

NAS data replication

NAS devices also support data replication. Data replication is a unidirectional, automatic data transfer from one or more sites where the data originates to a central site. They possess a remote replication feature where the contents of a source folder on a branch office’s NAS device, for example, can be copied to a folder of the same name on the target, typically the main office’s NAS device. It should be pointed out that all data changes at the source, even inadvertent ones, like accidental file deletion, will be replicated to the target NAS device.

The Pro’s

  • Convenient for file sharing
  • Easy administration, that is, easy to use. It takes less time to store and recover data from any computer over a local area network
  • Do not make a noise like servers for example
  • They allow users to consolidate space of storage within a company’s own network which makes it faster and easier than any independent storage solution
  • NAS devices have a fully functional operating system which means companies can download additional applications to extend their functionality such as backup or disaster recovery
  • Allow companies to save on costs as they cost less than servers
  • Offers control over security as it is installed onsite

The Con’s

Unless additional software is installed, NAS devices pose the following disadvantages;

  • As it’s an onsite data backup solution, natural disaster or human error that affects your company may cause you to lose the NAS device and all the data stored in it
  • Users who want to back up their data cannot do so directly as they will need to do it through an installed operating system
  • Offer limited storage when compared to Cloud storage. NAS devices contain hard drives that in case more storage is needed, users will be required to replace the hard drives

Traditionally, NAS devices were used to store, share and backup files. These days, NAS features are getting more sophisticated. For example, some NAS devices can be used as multimedia servers, as well as iTunes and print servers. Developed specifically to meet the needs of small businesses, some NAS devices can function as email or lightweight database servers. Small business owners will also appreciate that vendors are developing software on them that allows integration with social media, such as Facebook and YouTube.

Having that in mind, what solution best fits your organization?