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NAS vs Server: Which Is Right for You?

Posted on by FS.COM

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. As your business grows, so does your need for more sophisticated storage facilities, especially when you have employees who require access to large amounts of information in the office and off-site. NAS (Network-attached Storage) and storage server are two main storage options for data access, storage and sharing. NAS vs server, 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. NAS connects directly to an Ethernet switch which is linked to the servers. Users on a local area network (LAN) can access the shared storage from the NAS via a standard Ethernet connection. NAS devices provide infrastructure to consolidate storage in one place and to support tasks, such as archiving and backup, and a cloud tier. 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.

NAS vs Server

Pros

 Smaller than servers and save more space in the office
 NAS devices are much cheaper than servers
 NAS devices can be used to host applications with ease of access
 NAS devices can also be used to automatically create locally stored backups of your business data
 NAS simplifies file sharing and collaboration among multiple users

Cons

 NAS is LAN-dependent; if the LAN goes down, so does the NAS

 With a NAS, you’re limited to applications you can download on the NAS operating system

 NAS consumes large amounts of bandwidth which may affect the speed of the computer network
 NAS device vendors require users to choose one of their own applications rather than choosing any third-party software
 NAS is lack of security over the cloud as someone could pick it up and take it

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.

storage server

Pros

 Storing large amounts of data clearing space on your PC and giving you more processing power to supercharge your network
 Not limited to the alternative applications because servers allow you to install third-party software
 More reliable and higher security-enhanced infrastructure with built-in firewall to protect your business data

Cons

 You need to do regular maintenance for the server, just in case one of the hard drives kicks the bucket
 Server operating systems often require companies to purchase a server license
 Servers require more power and are more expensive than NAS devices
 Server installations take much longer to implement and require expertise to administrate

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 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. NAS devices are susceptible to environmental factors and can be easily picked up and stolen. 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 the winner.

Best Affordable Servers for Cloud Storage and SMBs

All of the current data trends place a lot of prominence on the IT infrastructure that serves and stores it. Thus the servers implemented to store and backup the data must be capable to scale with growth and continue to provide higher levels of performance. FS provides three enterprise servers listed in the chart below. These small business servers come with high performance and storage flexibility for future growth in a 2RU form factor.

storage server
Internet server
small business server
CPU Intel® Xeon® Pocessor E3-1200 v5 2x Intel® Xeon® Silver 4112 2.6G, 4C 2x Intel® Xeon® Silver 4116 2.1G, 12C
Drives 9TB, 3x 3.5” SATA3.0 2x 240GB SSD SATA 2.5in Hot-plug Drives 2x 240GB SSD SATA 2.5in Hot-plug Drives
Memory Capacity 32GB ECC DDR4-1600/1866/2133 UDIMM 2x 32GB RDIMM, 2666MT/s, Dual Rank 2x 32GB RDIMM, 2666MT/s, Dual Rank
Chipset Intel® PCHLynx point C232 Intel® PCH server C621 series chipset Intel® PCH server C621 series chipset
RAID Support RAID0, 1, 5, 6, 10, 50, 60 RAID 0/1/5/6/10/50/60 RAID 0/1/5/6/10/50/60
IPMI 2.0 Support Support Support

Summary

NAS vs server: which is right for you? The decision on whether to store and backup your data using a server or a NAS device will come down to the amount of space that you have available, the outlay that 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.

Related Article: Understanding Network Server from Scratch

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