Why is a NAS box (Network Attached Storage) required at home?


Did you think that a NAS (Network Attached Storage) box is only for businesses? Yes, companies do use it for centralized storage and backup of files but lately the NAS appliance has become inexpensive enough to enable centralized storage / backup/ streaming of media at houses too.

Think about it, every house has multiple users using multiple computing devices – desktops, laptops, tablets, mobiles etc. People use different devices at different times but still want to access all their favorite songs, movies, etc from any device. And each family member might have their own collection of media as well.

If you want to listen to songs stored in your desktop, from your sisters laptop (for example), you might have to copy those songs using pen-drives (for example), from the desktop to the laptop manually. This not only involves lot of (frequent) manual efforts but also creates unnecessary duplication of data.

Using a NAS box, it is possible to have a centralized storage/ back-up system for all the data stored in multiple desktops/ laptops. You just need to specify which folders you want to share, and the contents of these folders will automatically get copied to the NAS box. Even the additional data you store in your desktop/ laptop afterwards can get copied to the NAS appliance automatically.

So, even if you lose the data on your desktop/ laptop, it will still be available to be restored from the NAS box. Of course, you need to be connected to a wired/ wireless network for all this to happen.

Don’t worry, a network is as simple as buying a wireless router with RJ-45 LAN ports and connecting the NAS box to one of these LAN ports. The other computers/ laptops that connect to the NAS box can connect to it using either the (remaining) wired ports/ Cat 6 cables – RJ-45 Connectors or even over the wireless medium. If your broadband router comes with a single RJ-45 LAN port, you can always connect all the devices (including the router) to a small 5-Port Switch to create your home network.

So if you have your NAS box and the home network ready, your home central storage system is already up and running! One big advantage of using a NAS box is, it can be left ON at all times. So, if you just wake up in the middle of the night and want to hear some songs, the whole song collection can be streamed from the NAS box to your laptop!

Yes, you read it right – Streamed. It is possible to stream media from the NAS box to your computer/ laptop as there is a good amount of bandwidth available in a Local Area Network. NAS box comes with 1 Gbps interface and the router ports at-least have fast ethernet ports (100 Mbps). Practically, your home network can run at multiple of 10’s of Mbps which is sufficient to stream music/ video. This way, you don’t have to copy the files to and fro from the NAS box to your computer again and again. Makes life simple!

Some NAS appliances even allow remote access. If you are in your friends place, and want to show some photos from your recent trip to your friends, you can just access your NAS appliance from your iphone (for example) and show the photos to them. But this remote access is limited to certain devices and certain functionalities. So, do check on this before you decide to buy a NAS device.

NAS (Network Attached Storage) boxes these days come with a lot of memory – 1 TB to 3 TB, for the entry level models. Now that’s enough memory to hold tens of thousands of photos!

Some of them allow you to play the media stored in the NAS box directly to your LCD/ Plasma TV (If the TV is DLNA certified – through a digital media adapter (or) game console like Xbox/ Playstation).

Some NAS boxes even support RAID mirroring feature. These NAS boxes contain two disks (for example) and one disk stores all your data while the other backs it up. So, even if one of the disks in the NAS box fails, you still have the other disk running with all your data intact. These kind of features were earlier available only with enterprise level NAS boxes, but have come to the consumer grade boxes quite recently at affordable price points.

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