NAS vs. SAN: which one should you go for?

By Barrie / April 9, 2020
Network Attached Storage
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Raspberry pi NAS devices offer consistent and reliable network-based storage, making it incredibly versatile. Today, users will most likely need expandable and dependable storage for high-resolution photos and regular video capture. Mobile phone and laptop or PC storage are nowhere near sufficient for the needs of one user, let alone multiple users in an enterprise or small business.

Although external hard disk drives are okay, they have a disadvantage: you can’t access the files they hold without physical access to the hard disk. There are techniques to bypass this drawback, but they all carry significant security risks, especially for non-tech savvy users. This is where Network Attached Storage devices shine. These devices feature an extremely high storage capacity with inbuilt security through encryption and disk locking. NAS devices work by utilizing the network at your office or home to enable users to access files from anywhere using any client device such as laptop, mobile phone or tablet. In this write-up, we shall focus on the differences between NAS and SAN.

Difference between NAS and SAN and DAS

Tech-savvy users may not have a problem with the many acronyms that exist in the world of I.T. However; regular users may not know how to differentiate the types of storage and backup devices that exist in the market. One of the most confusing aspects is Network Attached Storage vs. Storage Area Networks vs. Direct-Attached Storage.

A storage area network (SAN) is made up of several storage devices interconnected through a high-speed backbone network. The connection also serves to connect the storage devices to servers on the network. SAN is intended to make block-level storage accessible from applications running on network servers. There are many types of SAN storage devices, including RAID arrays, disk-based devices, and the quintessential tape libraries. SAN is most useful in simplification of management tasks, improving performance, availability, and flexibility of storage, and in backup or disaster recovery.

Direct Attached Storage (DAS) consists of digital storage devices that are attached to a computer or a large scale server. DAS is not considered to be part of a storage network; many DAS devices take the form of dedicated storage arrays attached to servers directly.

The differences between NAS and SAN include:

  • SAN is comprised of a network of storage devices, but a NAS consists of a single storage device.
  • SAN uses interconnections via a Fibre Channel to connect storage devices to enable them to share data.  NAS devices contain an embedded dedicated hardware component that can connect to a local network using Ethernet.
  • NAS storage devices run on top of an embedded operating system, mostly Linux, on minimal hardware that lacks externals like keyboards and monitors. The only way to manage a NAS device is to use a browser. Tech-savvy users may opt for a command-line connection to the NAS machine.

DIY NAS storage solutions

For more experienced users, the prospect of putting together a custom NAS server can be exciting. This is undoubtedly a better option than owning thirty different hard disks and having to remember where each one is and what it is used for. You can build your own Network Attached Storage server using custom components that you can get cheap online.

Conclusion

NAS storage devices have much to offer for the modern user with Gigabytes of data to store. It is always handy to know the difference between SAN, NAS, and DAS.

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Barrie

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