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NAS vs Server: Which Is Right for You?

Updated on May 5, 2022
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Data storage is a vital part of any enterprise because it’s imperative to distribute data quickly and safely backup the vital information of the business. NAS (Network-attached Storage) and storage server are two main storage options for data access, storage and sharing. NAS vs server, what's the difference and which is right for you?

NAS – the Hard Drive That Is Connected to a Network

NAS is a file-level access storage architecture connected to a network which enables multiple users and heterogeneous client devices to retrieve data from centralized disk capacity. It connects directly to an Ethernet switch linked to the servers. Therefore, users on a local area network (LAN) can access the shared storage from the NAS via a standard Ethernet connection.

Unlike traditional external hard drives, NAS devices generally have some kind of built-in operating system which adds software functions like native media streaming, printer streaming, or remote access.network attached storage

Server – Security-enhanced Hardware with Built-in Firewall

A server is a high-performance hardware designed to process requests and deliver data to other computers over a local network or Internet. The Internet server is normally configured with additional processing memory and storage capacity to handle massive users and requests.

Servers can be classified into different types according to four different standards, including server form factor, instruction set architecture, processor quantity and application types. For instance, by server form factor, servers can be divided into rack servers, tower servers, blade servers and cabinet servers.types of servers

NAS vs Server: What Is the Difference?

Although NAS and server share some similarities in sharing files across devices on a network, they do differ from each other in some respects.

  • Functionality: A server can be configured to perform a variety of functions, such as working as file servers, print servers, application database servers, web server, etc. Some servers can even integrate multiple functions. However, as a data storage server, NAS does not provide several functions like a server, the main function of which is data storage.

  • Price: Compared with NAS, servers require more power and are more expensive. Besides, server operating systems often require companies to purchase a server license, which is also an expense.

  • Configuration: Due to the versatility, servers are configuration-demanding, requiring fast processor chips, more server RAM, and sufficient internal disk space. In that way, servers can better meet end users' requirements for application provisioning. In contrast, the NAS functions are relatively simple, which don't have a high demand for configuration.

  • Connection: Different from servers that are always connected to disk arrays, NAS usually works stand-alone and rarely connected to other machines.

  • Efficiency: When it comes to storage efficiency, NAS works better than servers since it optimizes the hardware and software architecture of the system. With NAS, data can be directly transmitted between the client and the storage device rather than through server RAM, which realizes faster response speed and bandwidth.

NAS vs Server: Which Is Right for You?

NAS vs server topic has been discussed many times in forums. Both NAS devices and servers provide a great way to share files across devices on a network. When selecting between NAS vs server, you’re supposed to consider the following aspects to decide which one is more suitable for your needs.

Cost

Your budget is the most fundamental factor to consider because, as mentioned above, a server would be much pricier than a NAS device. Apart from the price of the equipment itself, the server expense may also cover higher power consumption, more cooling fees, as well as the server license charge.

Space

A server is much larger than a NAS device thus the server is not suitable for office applications which are limited in space. In contrast, the NAS devices are portable and easy to move around so that they can be connected to a router or switch in small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

Security

NAS processes file-based data and may operate with a global namespace to share data in LANs, thus lacking security over the clouds. Besides, NAS devices are susceptible to environmental factors and can be easily picked up and stolen. On the contrary, the servers have higher security-enhanced infrastructure with built-in firewalls to protect your business data.

Scalability

Scalability is a major driver when making your data storage options between NAS vs server. NAS devices are not highly scalable because you're limited to the drive cage of the NAS. In contrast, the server’ network architecture enables admins to scale the network capacity in scale-up or scale-out configurations. Therefore, if you plan to install a bunch of applications and customize almost everything, servers would be a better choice.

Summary

NAS vs server: which is right for you? Whether to store and backup your data using a server or a NAS device will come down to the amount of space you have available, the outlay you wish make for securing your information, and how expandable you wish the storage to be. All in all, it is important to consider both your current and potential future needs when assessing what option to use between NAS vs server.

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