Unveiling Network Attached Storage (NAS) & Its Functions

A network-attached storage (NAS) device serves as a dedicated computer that is always on. It is designed primarily for backing up computers and sharing files within a local network, whether at your business or home. This network can be hard-wired via Ethernet or Wi-Fi-enabled. NAS devices are configured for access through user permissions on an internal network, and they can usually be set up for internet access if desired.

NAS devices typically feature multiple hard drive (HD) or solid-state drive (SSD) bays and run a Linux-based operating system. This OS allows them to run applications and provide the necessary intelligence for easy file sharing among authorized users. Despite their compact size, NAS devices have sufficient CPU power and RAM to perform efficiently, consuming significantly less power compared to repurposed old computers.

Unlike portable SSDs or external hard drives, NAS devices with multiple hard drives offer data redundancy by automatically duplicating data from one drive to another.

Ideal for managing extensive media collections, a NAS centralizes file storage and enables seamless streaming to various devices within and beyond the business or household. It is indispensable for individuals dealing with large volumes of raw photo and video files or digital music libraries.

For small businesses or homes with multiple computers, a NAS provides a practical solution for centralized backup management, archiving, and file sharing, eliminating the need for individual external backup drives. Moreover, it enhances data security by facilitating direct file uploads to cloud backup services, safeguarding against theft and natural disasters.

A NAS is invaluable for those with substantial data volumes beyond what platforms like Dropbox or Google Drive can accommodate, or for those wary of entrusting their data to cloud storage providers.

Beyond storage and backup functions, most NAS devices double as email, database, and VPN servers, offering versatility for various applications. They can support BitTorrent downloads, host content management systems (CMS), customer relationship management (CRM) software, or serve as DVRs for networked security cameras. With inherent computing capabilities, a NAS can undertake tasks akin to a Linux-based computer.


Not All NAS Devices Are Created Equal

Some NAS devices are designed for regular consumers or small businesses, while others are intended for medium and large enterprises. Some are best suited for media streaming rather than comprehensive data management. It’s important to consider your specific needs before choosing a NAS device.

A small business might find a certain type of NAS suitable for a small office, but it may not be appropriate for a large company’s main data center.

Large organizations typically store various kinds of data, choosing storage based on data size, retrieval speed, and importance. Thus, they often use a mix of storage types.

Two main types of data center storage are Storage Area Network (SAN) and NAS. SAN connects servers and storage using specialized network hardware, ideal for structured data like databases, requiring special networks like Fibre Channel or iSCSI. NAS, on the other hand, accesses files using a protocol and works best for serving files remotely. NAS functions as its own server with centralized data management, making it ideal for handling unstructured data. Enterprise-grade NAS systems offer robust data security and some are tailored for law enforcement, forensics, and government needs. These systems may include:

  • Analyzing storage configuration (including data usage, file types, organization, and predictions).
  • Auditing permissions and data access.
  • Proactively monitoring file activities to address malicious behavior (such as stopping ransomware and insider threats).
  • Implementing advanced encryption.
  • Supporting Instant Secure Erase (ISE).
  • A Write Blocker that prevents data tampering and safeguards the chain of custody.
  • A USB Blocker.
  • High-speed data transfers with RSYNC.
  • Allowing multiple field agents to connect simultaneously.
  • A metal locking door that prevents unauthorized access to drives and the control panel.
  • The ability to build a private, secure cloud to store, access, back up, and share files securely.

Additionally, some NAS systems are engineered with portability and ruggedness in mind, suitable for demanding environments like military operations or scientific research on aircraft or nautical vessels. These devices are built to withstand harsh conditions, including extreme temperatures, vibrations, and moisture, ensuring reliable performance even in challenging circumstances. They offer ample data storage, sometimes up to 480TB, and their compact, durable construction allows them to be easily transported and deployed in remote settings where traditional NAS infrastructure may be impractical. These portable and rugged NAS solutions are crucial for supporting critical operations and research endeavors.

NAS Devices Are Capable of Much More Than Storage and File Sharing

    1. Turn Your NAS into Your Own Shared Cloud Storage:
      While NAS is often seen as a remote backup device, it can also function as your personal Dropbox or Google Drive for multiple users. With NAS file and space management combined with online access, you can offer users individual logins, customizable storage space, and controlled file types/sizes. Even modest NAS systems can support hundreds of users concurrently.
    2. Utilize for Scientific Advancement:
      Modern NAS devices are energy-efficient, and by installing specific apps or containers, you can contribute to various research endeavors, including genetic decoding or medical research, utilizing idle NAS resources for altruistic purposes.
    3. Leverage the NAS for Virtualization:
      NAS devices are excellent for hosting virtual machines (VMs), serving business needs, centralizing personal computing, or indulging in various activities. Many modern NAS brands offer user-friendly VM software.
    4. Peer-to-Peer File Downloads:
      NAS allows for silent background transfers of peer-to-peer file transfers via torrents, eliminating the need for PCs or laptops.
    5. Multimedia Processing and Distribution:
      NAS devices efficiently handle tasks like transcoding and converting media files, acting as media servers to stream content to various devices within a network. Whether it’s organizing extensive photo and video libraries, streaming video or music collections, or sharing multimedia content with clients or friends, a NAS provides a centralized solution for managing and distributing multimedia files effortlessly.
    6. Email Server Maintenance:
      NAS solutions often include applications for managing email systems, suitable for personal or professional use, with features like webmail access and compatibility with POP3 or IMAP clients.
    7. Business App Environments:
      NAS can host server-based apps using open-source alternatives, benefiting sectors like ERP, CRM, HRM, and accounting.
    8. Safeguard Data with Encryption:
      A NAS can be employed to encrypt data, ensuring its security from unauthorized access. The data stored on the device becomes scrambled and unreadable without the correct decryption key. This provides an added layer of protection, especially for sensitive information or confidential files. Whether it’s personal documents, business records, or multimedia content, encryption helps safeguard data against potential breaches or cyberattacks, giving users peace of mind knowing their information is secure.
    9. A Tool for Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity:
      By regularly backing up important files and data to the NAS, businesses can ensure they have a reliable copy of their information in case of unexpected events such as hardware failure, natural disasters, or cyberattacks. In the event of data loss or system downtime, having backups stored on the NAS allows for swift restoration, minimizing disruption to operations and preserving critical business functions. Additionally, NAS devices often offer features like RAID configurations and redundancy options, further enhancing data resilience and ensuring continuity of operations even in the face of adversity.
    10. Data Networking:
      NAS serves as a centralized storage hub, facilitating seamless sharing and collaboration by allowing users to store, retrieve, and exchange files across various devices within a network.
    11. Data Migration:
      A NAS facilitates the seamless transfer of files and data between different storage systems or locations. Whether upgrading to a new NAS device, transitioning to cloud storage, or consolidating data from multiple sources, NAS offers a centralized platform for organizing and transferring data efficiently. With its high-speed data transfer capabilities and flexible storage options, NAS simplifies the migration process while minimizing downtime and potential data loss. Additionally, NAS devices often feature built-in data migration tools and support for various protocols and file systems, further streamlining the migration process and ensuring data integrity throughout the transition.
    12. Archiving:
      Archiving goes beyond NAS storage because it serves as a comprehensive strategy for effective database management. It streamlines data lifecycle, retires legacy applications, and reduces redundancy, optimizing storage and expediting upgrades. It also ensures compliance with retention regulations through policy application. Features like independent access and consumption-based reporting facilitate seamless data access and allow for distinct service level definitions. By harnessing the power of archiving, organizations can not only optimize storage but also enhance application performance and mitigate risks associated with data retention and compliance.
    13. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) Integration:
      AI and ML integrated into NAS systems revolutionizes data management by employing AI algorithms for tasks such as data analytics, content indexing, and predictive storage management. With AI, NAS solutions become adept at optimizing data storage, predicting access patterns, and efficiently allocating resources. The advantages of using a NAS for AI and ML projects are manifold, including scalability, accessibility, security, and collaboration. NAS devices offer the flexibility to accommodate growing data volumes and performance needs while ensuring fast and convenient access from various platforms. With AI, NAS becomes a vital tool for efficient and secure data management in diverse industries.

Some NAS Devices Offer Versatile Media Storage

NAS devices support various types of drives, including HDDs, SSDs, and NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) drives. HDDs are suitable for storing large volumes of data, SSDs provide faster access times and improved performance, and NVMe drives offer even faster data transfer speeds and lower latency. NAS devices offer flexibility in tailoring storage solutions to specific needs.

Exploring the diverse functions of NAS systems, many manufacturers offer solutions for home and small business use. For enterprises requiring a portable, rugged, and encrypted solution, Ciphertex Data Securities SecureNAS® line stands out. These systems boast top-tier security features like FIPS 140-2 level 3 encryption and a special locking door that prevents drive and control panel access. Their NAS devices, made in the USA, support data capacities ranging from 8TB to 800TB. SecureNAS® systems are certified in a military-approved environmental test lab and support HDD, SSD, or NVMe drives, providing versatility for various storage needs. With the ability to customize devices to specific requirements, Ciphertex SecureNAS® ensures optimal protection for sensitive data. Its small footprint is ideal for space-constrained environments, while its rugged design guarantees durability in any environment. SecureNAS® systems can be the perfect solution for a variety of needs, including organizing and streaming video libraries, storing and archiving top-secret data or collecting and sharing scientific research to name a few. Ciphertex® also offers custom transport cases that are airtight, watertight, rustproof, shockproof, and crushproof. For those seeking the ultimate in data security and reliability, Ciphertex SecureNAS® is the premier choice in the network attached storage market.

Scroll to Top