NAS, or Network Attached Storage, is a cost-effective way for small businesses to back up their data. With data loss being a prime concern and a major reason some businesses fail, it makes sense to ensure all your data is backed up and kept safe. To that end, our computer support team in New Jersey have put together this quick buying guide to help.
Installing NAS systems is a common task for New Jersey Computer Help. Many smaller enterprises in New Jersey are well aware of the risk of data loss and NAS can help prevent it. On their own, NAS go a long way to preventing data loss but it isn’t all you need. An effective backup will also require an offsite copy as well as an onsite one but cloud backups are a guide for another day.
We would be more than happy to help you with specifying and installing your Network Attached Storage solution but knowing more about the system and what it can and cannot do helps you make much more informed decisions.
What is Network Attached Storage?
Network Attached Storage has been a primary backup solution for decades. It is essentially a standalone rack of hard drives with a simple operating system and network card. It attaches to your network and your systems can back up to it on a schedule. It will usually be placed outside your main office or place of work in a server room or safe place.
If something happens to your systems or individual computer, you can restore it within minutes from your most recent copy. It all happens within your own network and within your own control. If you have offices elsewhere, you can also allow remote access to your NAS with the appropriate security.
What NAS do you need?
The first step in any hardware purchase is to assess your needs. How much data storage do you need? Are you just backing up files or do you want to copy entire images? How many images or computers will you be backing up? How often will you run backups? Do you want to store incremental backups or whole ones?
All these questions will need to be answered before you buy anything. Our computer support team in New Jersey can help with this should you need us.
Begin by counting the number of computers you have. Then assessing what files or images you want to back up and how large they might be. If you’re just backing up documents, these could be as small as a couple of megabytes each. An entire disk image could be anything up to 20GB. Multiply these figures by the number of computers and you get a better idea of your needs.
Incremental storage means you just back up the changes from the previous backup. This is space efficient but not the only way to do things. You can also take complete copies of backups which is more space intensive but give you multiple versions of a disk to choose from.
What to look for in your NAS
As with any technical purchase, there are things you need to look for in a NAS solution. Even though it’s a simple premise, you want to get the best value for money and the most suitable NAS for your needs.
You need to consider these things when shopping for NAS.
- Storage capacity.
- Apps and features.
- Remote access.
Price will obviously come into the equation somewhere but for the purposes of this guide, that’s a secondary criteria.
The primary role of NAS is to store data. Therefore the capacity the NAS is capable of is your primary concern. Network Attached Storage comes either as populated or diskless. Populated means it already has disk drives installed and is ready to go. Diskless just means you get the chassis and hardware and can add your own disks.
Capacity can mean two things, the number of disks it can hold and the maximum capacity of those populated disks. There is no best answer here. It comes down to which solution delivers the storage capacity you need for the best possible price. It’s a balancing act and depends entirely on the prices of disk drives at the time.
Apps and features
Some NAS come with apps that will automatically take backups or a simple ‘Backup’ button on the front of the chassis that will take copies of remote drives. For most small businesses, an app that will automatically take a copy of attached drives would work best. You have enough going on without having to remember to back up every day.
Some NAS will also have phone or tablet backup features that will help you backup files from remote devices. Some will provide streaming apps or other features.
Connectivity is another prime concern for Network Attached Storage. Some will be wireless, some 10/100 Ethernet, some gigabit Ethernet. Essentially you want to select the fastest connection your network can or will be able to support in the near future. Gigabit Ethernet is now very accessible so we would regard that as a practical minimum.
Some NAS may have two Ethernet ports for redundancy or channel bonding. Bonding is where you pair two Ethernet connections together to double their speed. We can help you with this if it’s an option.
I wouldn’t recommend wireless unless you plan to back up phones or tablets. If you plan to use NAS for streaming, an HDMI port might come in handy too.
Being able to remotely back up computers may be useful for some businesses but not so much for others. If you have multiple locations, this is an option. If you don’t, it should be avoided or disabled if your NAS has it. You need to secure that remote access either way with strong passwords and a firewall.
You can allow access to your NAS through a web link or via direct access. Some manufacturers refer to it directly using remote access, others obliquely with terms like ‘personal cloud’.
Every business should use backups to prevent data loss. NAS is a very cost-effective way of doing that and our computer support team in New Jersey will be happy to assist. Contact New Jersey Computer Help to learn more.