Network attached storage

What is Network Attached Storage (NAS) ?

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In IT infrastructure, Storage plays a very important role, as all the data which is created is stored on storage devices. There are many different ways a data can be shared or accessed, like Storage Area Network (SAN) which we discussed in our earlier post. Today we are going to explore about Network attached storage (NAS). And you will get answer to your question, what is network attached storage?

Network attached storage commonly called as NAS and is an IP-based file sharing device which is attached to a local area network (LAN). Common advantage of using Network Attached storage (NAS) is that, it provides the advantages of server consolidation by eliminating the need for multiple file servers.

Recommended Article: How to do Online Storage Migration in Unix/Linux

The advantage of storage consolidation is provided by file-level data access and sharing, while SAN used block level data access and sharing.  

It is a better storage solution that allows clients to share files easily with speed with minimum storage management issues like resource utilization. Network attached storage (NAS) also helps in removing bottlenecks that users face when accessing files from a general purpose server.

NAS was born to remove the disadvantages which were face by using direct-attached storage (DAS). In DAS, the storage device was directly attached to each individual server and was not shared, thus resource utilization was not proper.  

As the name suggest, Network Attached Storage (NAS) is something like a Storage device which is connected to a network and clients or users are accessing it. It uses network and file-sharing protocols to perform filing and storage functions. TCP/IP protocols are used for data transfer and the common internet file system (CIFS) and network file sharing (NFS) for remote file service. These remote file sharing techniques are widely used in IT industry for Windows and UNIX respectively.

Features of Network Attached Storage (NAS)

  • File level data access.
  • Dedicated and High Performance.
  • High speed.
  • Single purpose file serving and storage system.
  • Support multiple interfaces and networks.
  • Cross platform support.
  • Centralized storage and many more..

You will be amazed to know that Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices have their own operating system and corresponding hardware for their working and its OS is optimized for file Input/Output and, therefore, performs file I/O better than a general purpose server. As a result, a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device can provide service to more clients than normal file servers, providing the benefit of server consolidation.

Components of Network Attached Storage (NAS)

A NAS device has the below components.

  • NAS head (CPU and Memory)
  • One or more network interface cards (NICs), which provide connectivity to the network. Examples of NICs include Gigabit Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, ATM, and Fiber Distributed Data Interface (FDDI).
  • An optimized operating system for managing NAS functionality
  • NFS and CIFS protocols for file sharing
  • Industry-standard storage protocols to connect and manage physical disk resources, such as ATA, SCSI, or FC

In this article we are not going deep and discussing these components. The motive of this article was to just provide you basic information for better understanding. Advance tutorial on Network Attached Storage (NAS) will posted afterwards and we will also discuss about different network attached storage devices and their review. Let us know if you have any doubt in above tutorial, we will be happy to help.

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What is network-attached storage (NAS)? - Definition from

Network-attached storage (NAS) is dedicated file storage that enables multiple users and heterogeneous client devices to retrieve data from centralized disk capacity. Users on a local area network (LAN) access the shared storage via a standard Ethernet connection. NAS devices typically do not have a keyboard or display and are configured and managed with a browser-based utility. Each NAS resides on the LAN as an independent network node, defined by its own unique Internet Protocol (IP) address.

What most characterizes NAS is ease of access, high capacity and fairly low cost. NAS devices provide infrastructure to consolidate storage in one place and to support tasks, such as archiving and backup, and a cloud tier.

NAS and storage area networks (SANs) are the two main types of networked storage. NAS handles unstructured data, such as audio, video, websites, text files and Microsoft Office documents. SANs are designed primarily for block storage inside databases, also known as structured data.

NAS enables users to collaborate and share data more effectively, particularly work teams that are remotely located or in different time zones. A NAS connects to a wireless router, making it easy for distributed work environments to access files and folders from any device connected to the network. Organizations commonly deploy a NAS environment as the foundation for a personal or private cloud.

There are NAS products designed for use in large enterprises, as well as those for home offices or small businesses. Devices usually contain at least two drive bays, although single-bay systems are available for noncritical data. Enterprise NAS gear is designed with more high-end data features to aid storage management and usually comes with at least four drive bays.

Netgear is one of several popular NAS vendors.

Prior to NAS, enterprises had to configure and manage hundreds or even thousands of discrete file servers. To expand storage capacity, NAS appliances are outfitted with more or larger disks -- known as scale-up NAS -- or clustered together for scale-out storage.

In addition, most NAS vendors partner with cloud storage providers to give customers the flexibility of redundant backup.

While collaboration is a virtue of NAS, it can also be problematic. Network-attached storage relies on hard disk drives (HDDs) to serve data. Input/output (I/O) contention can occur when too many users overwhelm the system with requests at the same time. Newer NAS systems use faster flash storage, either as a tier alongside HDDs or in all-flash configurations.

The type of HDD selected for a NAS is dictated by the applications to be handled. Sharing Microsoft Excel spreadsheets or Word documents with co-workers is a routine task, as is performing periodic data backup.

Conversely, using a NAS to handle large volumes of streaming media files requires larger capacity disks, more memory and more powerful network processing.

In the home, people often use a NAS system to store and serve multimedia files or to automate backups. Homeowners may rely on NAS to manage storage for smart TVs, security systems and other consumer-based internet of things (IoT) components.

In the enterprise, a NAS array can be a backup target for archiving and disaster recovery (DR). If a NAS device has a server mode, it can also serve email, multimedia files, databases or printing jobs.

Some higher-end NAS products accommodate enough disks to support RAID (redundant array of independent disks), a storage configuration that turns multiple hard disks into one logical unit to boost performance, high availability (HA) and redundancy.

NAS devices are grouped in three broad categories based on the number of drives, drive support, drive capacity and scalability.

High-end or enterprise NAS: The high end of the market is driven by enterprises that need to store vast quantities of file data, including virtual machine (VM) images. Enterprise NAS provides rapid access and NAS clustering capabilities. The clustering concept arose as a way to address drawbacks associated with traditional NAS.

For example, if a particular NAS device is allocated to an organization's primary storage, it creates the potential for a single point of failure. Ways of dealing with this include spreading mission-critical applications and file data across multiple boxes and strictly adhering to scheduled machine backups.

Vendors offer clustered NAS systems to combat NAS sprawl. A distributed file system (DFS) runs concurrently on multiple NAS devices to provide access to all files in the cluster, regardless of the physical node on which it resides.

Midmarket NAS: The NAS midmarket accommodates businesses that require several hundred terabytes (TB) of data. Midmarket NAS devices cannot be clustered, however, which can lead to file system siloes if multiple NAS devices are required.

Low-end or desktop NAS: The low end of the market is aimed at small businesses and home users that require local shared storage. This market is shifting toward a cloud NAS model, represented by products such as SoftNAS Cloud, Blue Chip's Virtual NAS and software-defined storage (SDS) from legacy storage vendors.

Types of NAS

Despite the growth in flash storage, NAS systems still primarily rely on spinning media. The list of NAS vendors is extensive, with most offering more than one configuration to help customers balance capacity and performance.

NAS systems can be purchased fully populated with disk, or customers may purchase a diskless chassis and add HDDs from their preferred vendor. Drive makers Seagate, Western Digital and others routinely collaborate with NAS vendors to develop and qualify network-attached storage media.

Vendors of NAS appliances or scalable file storage include the following:

Accusys Storage Ltd. supplies scalable shared flash with Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCIe)-based ExaSAN. Accusys Gamma and T-Share devices are Thunderbolt 2-designed devices with built-in RAID protection.

Apple Corp. launched the AirPort Time Capsule NAS device for Macintosh but discontinued the product line in 2017.

Asustor Inc. is a subsidiary of Taiwanese computer electronics giant Asus. The Asustor NAS family includes the AS100 personal models and business storage with the AS3202, AS6202 and AS7004.

Avere Systems Cloud-Core NAS (C2N) appliances integrate private or public object storage with a local NAS infrastructure. The storage is based on Avere's FXT Edge Filer, with a file system designed for object storage. Microsoft Corp. acquired Avere in January 2018.

Buffalo Americas Inc. uses a burn-in process to qualify the HDDs integrated in its TeraStation desktop and rackmount NAS appliances. Buffalo's LinkStation NAS devices are targeted at small business and individuals.

ClearSky Data added a scale-up NAS option as a managed service to complement its block storage and hybrid data protection.

DataDirect Networks specializes in storage systems for high-performance computing, including the parallel file system-based GRIDScaler family for analytics, cloud and file workloads.

DataON Storage certified its Scale-Out File Server to enable tunable shared clustered storage to Windows Server 2016.

Dell EMC Isilon is a scale-out NAS offered in a disk and an all-flash model. The vendor recently introduced Isilon Cloud for Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

Drobo 5N NAS is a low-end complement to the Drobo B810i and B1200i iSCSI (Internet Small Computer System Interface) midrange arrays.

Excelero Inc. jumped in the market in 2017 with NVMesh Server SAN software, which sits between block drives and logical file systems. It writes data directly to nonvolatile memory express (NVMe) devices using its patented Remote Direct Drive Access (RDDA).

Fujitsu Celvin NAS servers are suited for backup, cloud, file sharing and SAN integration cases.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) branched into NAS with StoreEasy models in varying capacities and price points.

Hitachi Vantara offers Hitachi NAS Platform, which combines Hitachi's Virtual Storage Platform (VSP) arrays and Storage Virtualization Operating System (SVOS) and is geared to large VMware environments.

Huawei OceanStor 9000 features a symmetrically distributed architecture that scales from three to 288 nodes.

IBM Spectrum NAS combines IBM Spectrum SDS with storage hardware from partner Compuverde. Spectrum NAS runs on x86 servers.

IBM Spectrum Scale handles file storage for high-performance computing. Spectrum Scale is SDS, based on IBM's General Parallel File System (GPFS).

Infinidat built the petabyte (PB)-scale InfiniBox unified NAS and SAN array predominantly with disk, with a B-tree architecture that caches data and metadata on SSDs, enabling reads directly on the nodes.

IXsystems Inc. designs consumer-oriented FreeNAS and TrueNAS for enterprises. Customers can purchase bundled iXsystems TrueOS software and TrueNAS hardware or download and install FreeOS on their preferred choice of servers.

Lenovo Smart Storage personal cloud devices scale from 2 TB to 6 TB with 2 TB of double data rate type 3 (DDR3) memory and one-button file uploads.

Netgear ReadyNAS is available in desktop and rackmount models, promoted as storage for hybrid and private clouds.

NetApp Inc. helped pioneer the use of an extensible file system with its Fabric-Attached Storage (FAS) and, more recently, All Flash FAS.

Nexenta NexentaStor is SDS that also supports Fibre Channel (FC) and NAS. The software runs on bare metal, VMware hosts or inside VMs on hyper-converged hardware.

Nexsan Unity durability-focused arrays handle SAN and NAS protocols, enabling hybrid media to support mixed workloads, especially in rugged physical locations.

Panasas ActiveStor parallel hybrid scale-out system runs the PanFS file system.

Promise Technology Inc. developed the Promise Apollo NAS to accept two 4 TB disks with Apollo Cloud software.

Pure Storage positions its all-flash FlashBlade as a highly scalable platform for big data analytics.

QNAP Systems Inc. has an extensive NAS portfolio that spans small and midsize businesses, as well as midrange and high-end enterprise use cases, along with products geared for home users.

Quantum Corp. launched Xcellis scale-out NAS to compete with Dell EMC Isilon and NetApp FAS. The keystone to Xcellis is the Quantum StorNext scalable file system.

Qumulo Inc. Core file storage was developed by several of the creators of the Isilon technology. The Core operating system (OS) runs on Qumulo C-series and P-series branded arrays, as well as commodity servers.

Rackspace enterprise services include Dedicated Network Attached Storage based on the NetApp Ontap OS for managed block- and file-level storage.

RackTop Systems integrates BrickStor unified storage with Seagate disk and StorONE enclosures and sells it as the Secure Data Protection Platform (SDP2).

Seagate BlackArmor NAS 220 enterprise arrays scale from 1 TB to 6 TB, with smaller BlackArmor models topping out at 2 TB. Seagate Personal Cloud NAS zeroes in the consumer market with capacity up to 5 TB.

Spectra Logic introduced the BlackPearl NAS ranging from 48 TB to 420 TB of optional hybrid flash in a 4U rack.

SoftNAS Cloud NAS software-only product enables customers to scale data migration to Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and VMware vSphere.

StorageCraft Technology Corp. doesn't technically have NAS but positions the OneBlox platform it acquired from Exablox as a scale-out alternative.

Synology Inc. offers NAS devices for business and personal uses, including DiskStation NAS, FS/XS Series, J Series, Plus Series and Value Series.

Thecus Technology Corp. markets a range of NAS appliances, highlighted by its flagship N5200 RouStor series.

Verbatim Corp. PowerBay NAS supports four hot-swappable HDD cartridges that can be configured for various RAID levels. Verbatim is a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Chemical Corp.

WekaIO VM-deployed NAS software gets installed on flash-enabled x86 servers, using its parallel file system to scale to trillions of files.

Western Digital Corp. My Cloud NAS comes in four models with branded HelioSeal helium HDDs. Portable, rugged NAS also are available through Western Digital's G-Technology subsidiary.

Zadara Storage cloud NAS provides scalable file storage as a service with the software-defined Zadara VPSA Storage Array.

The chart below describes five different ways network-attached storage can be deployed and lists the pros and cons for each approach. Each deployment can easily be managed by a single network manager.

NAS approaches: Pros and cons

Over time, the baseline functionality of NAS devices has broadened to support virtualization. High-end NAS products may also support data deduplication, flash storage, multiprotocol access and replication.

Some NAS devices run a standard OS, such as Microsoft Windows, while others may run a vendor's proprietary OS. Although IP is the most common data transport protocol, some midmarket NAS products may support Network File System (NFS), Internetwork Packet Exchange (IPX), NetBIOS Extended User Interface (NetBEUI), Server Message Block (SMB) or Common Internet File System (CIFS).

High-end NAS products may support Gigabit Ethernet (GigE) for even faster data transfer across the network.

In a network-attached storage deployment, the NAS head -- the hardware that performs the NAS control functions -- provides access to back-end storage through an internet connection. In industry jargon, this configuration is known as scale-up NAS architecture. The two-controller NAS system expands capacity with the addition of drive shelves, depending on the scalability of the controllers.

With scale-out NAS, the storage administrator installs larger heads and more hard disks to boost storage capacity. Scaling out provides the flexibility to adapt in tandem with an organization's business needs. Enterprise scale-out NAS systems can store billions of files without the performance trade-off of doing metadata searches.

Object storage is an alternative to NAS for handling unstructured data.

There is speculation that object storage gradually will overtake scale-out NAS, but it's also possible the two technologies will continue to survive side by side. Both storage methodologies deal with scale, only in different ways.

NAS files are centrally managed via the Portable Operating System Interface (POSIX), which provides data security and ensures that multiple applications can share a scale-out device without fear that one application will overwrite a file being accessed by other users.

Object storage surfaced as a new method for easily scalable storage in web-scale environments. It often encompasses unstructured data that is not easily compressible, particularly large video files.

Object storage does not use POSIX or any file system. Instead, all the objects are presented in a flat address space. Bits of metadata are added to describe each object, enabling quick identification within a flat address namespace.

Direct-attached storage (DAS) refers to a dedicated server or storage device that is not connected to a network. A computer's internal hard drive is the simplest example of DAS. To access files on direct-attached storage, the end user must have access to the physical storage.

DAS has better performance than NAS, especially for compute-intensive software programs. In its barest form, direct-attached storage may involve nothing more than purchasing the drives to be inserted in a server.

However, DAS requires the storage on each device to be separately managed, adding a layer of complexity. Unlike with NAS, DAS does not lend itself to shared storage by multiple users.

A SAN organizes storage resources on an independent, high-performance network. Network-attached storage handles I/O requests for individual files, whereas a SAN manages I/O requests for contiguous blocks of data.

While NAS traffic moves across Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP), such as Ethernet, a SAN can route network traffic over the FC protocol designed specifically for storage networks. SANs can also use the Ethernet-based iSCSI protocol instead of FC.

While a NAS can be a single device, a SAN provides full block-level access to a server's disk volumes. Put another way, a client OS will view a NAS as a file system, while a SAN is presented to disk as the client OS.

Until recently, technological barriers have kept the file and block storage worlds separate, each in its own management domain and each with its own strengths and weaknesses. The prevailing view of storage managers was that block storage is first class and file storage is economy class. Giving rise to this notion was a prevalence of business-critical databases housed on SANs.

With the emergence of unified storage, vendors sought to improve large-scale file storage with SAN/NAS convergence. This consolidates block- and file-based data on one storage array. Convergence supports SAN block I/O and NAS file I/O within the same set of switches.

The concept of hyper-convergence first appeared in 2014, pioneered by market leaders Nutanix and SimpliVity Corp. (now part of HPE). Hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) bundles the computing, network, SDS and virtualization resources on a single appliance. HCI systems pool tiers of different storage media and present it to a hypervisor as a NAS mount point, even though the underlying shared resource is block-based storage. However, a drawback of HCI is that only the most basic file services are provided, meaning a data center may still need to implement a separate network with attached file storage.

Converged infrastructure (CI) packages servers, networking, storage and virtualization resources on sets of hardware prevalidated by the CI vendor. Unlike HCI, which consolidates devices in one chassis, CI consists of separate devices. This gives customers greater flexibility in building their storage architecture. Organizations looking to simplify storage management may opt for CI and HCI systems to replace a NAS or SAN environment.

In addition to NAS devices, some data centers augment or replace physical NAS with cloud-based file storage. Amazon Elastic File System (EFS) is the scalable storage in Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). Similarly, Microsoft Azure File furnishes managed file shares based on SMB and CIFS for access by local and cloud-based deployments.

Although not as common now, NAS gateways formerly enabled files to access externally attached storage -- namely, connecting to a high-performance area network over FC or just a bunch of disk in attached servers. NAS gateways are still in use but less frequently sought-after by customers, who instead might gravitate to a cloud storage gateway, object storage or scale-out NAS.

A cloud gateway sits at the edge of a company's data center network, shuttling applications between local storage and the public cloud. Nasuni Corp. created the cloud-native UniFS file system software, bundled on Dell PowerEdge servers or available as a virtual storage appliance (VSA).

Nasuni rival Panzura provides a similar service with its Panzura CloudFS file system and Freedom Filer cache appliances.

Harness Your File, Object and Unstructured Data

    • Network-attached storage (NAS) is used to provide distributed file storage to other devices on an IP network. Scale-out NAS is important because of massive growth in unstructured data and enterprise needs for increased capacity and performance.

    • Object storage is suited for storing and managing unstructured data with public cloud-like scalability and flexibility. An object storage architecture enables practically limitless scalability by managing data as objects in a flat structure.

  • Explore flexible, efficient, cloud-ready Dell EMC storage platforms to cover your distributed file and object storage needs. Scale, manage and protect unstructured data with ease.

  • Dell EMC is a leader in distributed file systems and object storage for the 3rd straight year.

    Read the Magic Quadrant report for Distributed File Systems and Object Storage for Gartner insight into both Isilon scale-out NAS storage and ECS object storage.

    Access the unstructured data report

  • See what our NAS and object storage can do. Start with these featured use case examples.

    • Learn how Dell EMC storage enables artificial intelligence (AI), algorithmic trading, deep learning (DL), Hadoop, Internet of Things (IoT), Splunk and streaming applications.

      Explore Data Analytics Solutions

Network Attached Storage (NAS)

NAS stands for network attached storage. Wikipedia defines it as computer data storage connected to a computer network providing data access to multiple clients.

Among AKiTiO's products, NAS is one of the main categories of storage related products. In comparison to network attached storage enclosures (NAS), AKiTiO also has direct attached storage enclosures (DAS). Both products are designed to house one ore more hard disk drives, allowing the user to store, backup and share their digital data. However, DAS devices are connected directly to the computer (e.g. via USB 2.0, USB 3.0, FireWire 400, FireWire 800, eSATA) and can only be accessed by one user at a time. NAS devices on the other hand are connected to the local network and can be shared among multiple users at the same time.

DAS (direct attached storage)
Advantages: Disadvantages:
  • Fast file transfers (speed depends on interface)
  • Plug and Play (no complicated setup)
  • Uses native file system of the Operating System
  • Only one user at a time can use the device
  • Cannot share (on its own) the data on the drive
NAS (network attached storage)
Advantages: Disadvantages:
  • Multiple users can access the drive at the same time
  • Files can be shared among users and devices
  • Remote access via Ethernet is possible
  • Web-enabled applications provide additional functionality independent of the computer
  • Additional storage can be added (depends on NAS function)
  • File transfer speed is not as fast as DAS
  • Requires at least basic network knowledge
  • Available functions depend greatly on the chip and firmware

The features and functions of a NAS will determine how and where the device will be used. AKiTiO's network attached storage solutions are all aimed at the small office and home office market (SOHO). In other words, the devices are mainly for personal use with the ability to share files among a couple of friends and colleagues. The pricing, performance and functions are therefore targeted at these kind of users.

In the last few years, these type of home network attached storage devices have become much more user friendly. It is no longer a product that requires extensive computer and network related knowledge but with the help of technology such as UPnP and DLNA, it has become almost a plug and play device. It is no longer used for data backup only but has become the central data and media server for the home network, enabling devices such as game consoles, picture frames, media players and other computers to access and share the files via network connection.

A NAS, as the name implies, is connected to the local network via Ethernet connection. It is not connected directly to the computer but to a network switch or router on the same local network as the computer that is used to access the drive.

  1. Connect the network drive to the network switch or router.
  2. Turn on the power and wait about 1-2 minutes for the system to start up.
  3. The network drive will automatically obtain an IP address from the local DHCP server.
  4. Make sure your computer is connected to the same local network.
  5. Start the network utility that comes bundled with your network drive to locate your NAS.
  6. Configure your NAS (see user manual for more details).
  7. Done.
How to login

The most basic way to login to your network drive and configure the settings is by entering the IP address of the network drive into your web browser. Most NAS come with a network utility, a software application that can be run on your computer, helping you locating the device on the network and finding its IP address.

However, the network utility is usually only necessary the first time you set up your device when the NAS is sold without hard drives. Once the drive has been installed, the system set up and the configuration set, the network drive will be much easier to locate and access even without any additional utilities.

Depending on the functions and features of your network drive, the device will automatically show up in several different locations. Following are a couple of examples:

  • UPnP icon under Network Places (Windows)
  • Folders in Workgroup (Windows)
  • Bonjour bookmarks (Mac)
  • Music in iTunes (requires iTunes server)
  • UPnP clients (requires UPnP-AV server)
Web Portal

MyCloud, the most recent NAS series from AKiTiO makes locating the device and accessing the data even easier. All you need is a web browser and the device name (MAC address) to login through our web portal. No matter where you are located, as long as you have an internet connection, you will be able to login and access your data.

How to use and access a network drive depends on the features and functions it has to offer and can therefore vary greatly. However, most NAS will have at least the basic SMB and FTP connection. The administrator can set up additional user accounts, create shares (folders that can be accessed by one or more users) and define access rights. If the NAS comes with a built-in media server, files that are stored in a certain directory can also be streamed to UPnP-AV clients such as game consoles, pictures frames, audio systems and other computers.


Server Message Block (SMB) is a network application-level protocol mainly applied to share files, printers, serial ports, and miscellaneous communications between nodes on a network. The NAS can be mounted on your computer, creating a link to the network drive. Files can be stored and accessed just like on an internal hard drive.


FTP or file transfer protocol is a commonly used protocol for exchanging files over any network that supports the TCP/IP protocol (such as the Internet or an intranet). There are two computers involved in an FTP transfer: a server (NAS) and a client (user's computer). We recommend installing and using a dedicated FTP application. Files can then be uploaded and downloaded through the FTP application but it is necessary to first download the files to the computer before they can be opened.


If the NAS comes with a built-in iTunes server, music (MP3 audio files) that is stored in a dedicated directory can be accessed and streamed from within iTunes.


If the NAS comes with a built-in UPnP-AV media server, media files that are stored in a dedicated directory can be streamed to UPnP-AV clients such as game consoles, picture frames, and other computers. The supported file formats and how the files are presented will depend on the client but in general, files will be sorted by media type and can then be played directly from the NAS without the need to download or store them in any other location.


The Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) is using standards-based technology to make it easier for consumers to use, share and enjoy their digital photos, music and videos. For example, a DLNA compliant TV will interoperate with a DLNA compliant NAS to play music, photos or videos. All you need to get started is a network and DLNA compliant devices. These devices can then connect, discover and communicate with each other over a home network.

Printer Server

If the NAS comes with a printer server, a USB printer can be connected to the NAS and then shared among its users via network connection. This allows users on the local network to print their documents through an USB printer that would usually have to be connected directly to the computer and could only be accessed by one user.

Web-based file browser

All NAS products offer a graphical-user interface (GUI) to configure the device but only certain models also come with a web-based file browser. This web-based file browser makes it possible to manage (e.g. upload, download, modify) and view the files (e.g. picture slideshow, video playback) right in the web browser. This feature is what makes the latest NAS much more user friendly, especially for users without network knowledge.

The FTP utility on the Mac is able to read the data on the network drive but you can not write any new data to the drive. To upload files, you will need to install a dedicated FTP application.

What is the default IP address?

There is no default IP address. The DHCP client on the network drive (enabled by default) will obtain an IP address from the local network router or switch (DHCP server) automatically.

Why can I not login with a different user name?

In order to login with a different user name, the current connection has to be disconnected. For PC users, this can be done in the Explorer under Tools. Select Disconnect Network Drive and choose your current login. In case this does not solve the problem, restart both the NAS and your Operating System.

Can I use a NAS as direct attached storage (e.g. USB device)?

In order to allow the HDD to be recognized by the Operating System (e.g. Windows) in DAS mode, the device needs to use a file system such as FAT32 or NTFS. These file systems have some disadvantages particularly when supporting multiple tasks (read/write) at the same time. This is the main reason why Unix/Linux, which is often used in NAS systems, uses other file systems such as EXT3, EXT4, XFS even though Unix/Linux can support FAT32/NTFS as well.

If the device uses FAT32/NTFS as the default file system, it will have limited features but it is possible to use in DAS mode. For example, our CloudSync is both a NAS and a USB device, but this cannot be extended to a 2-bay RAID product. On the other hand, if the device uses the Linux’s file system, Windows cannot read it and it does not make as much sense to use in DAS mode.

Selecting the right type of NAS depends mostly on the way you intend to use it. AKiTiO's network attached storage enclosures are all aimed at the small home office and for personal use.

To start with, following are a couple of things to consider:

How much storage do you need?

AKiTiO's network attached storage enclosures are designed for single and multiple hard drives. If you do not need a lot of storage and prefer to keep the foot print, power consumption and noise to a minimum, go with a single-bay enclosure. If you need more storage and prefer to have the security of RAID protection, go with a multi-bay enclosure.

How important is data security?

If you have a backup of your data in a second location anyway, a single-bay enclosure might already do the trick. However, if this network drive is going to be your main backup, consider a dual-bay or even 4-bay enclosure with RAID protection. In case one drive fails, your data can still be recovered.

Do you want to share files?

It's always possible to set up additional user accounts and give these users access to certain shared folders but sharing can be made much easier with web-based file browsers and a web portal for remote login.

Do you want to stream your media?

Home entertainment products in your home may already come with the capability to connect to the network and access media files from other devices. As an example, the Playstation PS3 or Xbox 360 game console, picture frames, TVs with built-in DLNA client or other computers running iTunes or Windows 7. In order to easily share and stream your media files that are stored on the NAS, make sure it comes with a built-in UPnP-AV media server.

Who is going to use this device?

A person with basic computer and network knowledge is able to set up pretty much any kind of NAS and configure it to do what is needed. However, you might also want to share access with friends and family members that are not familiar with all this technology. If that's the case, look for a network attached storage enclosure that comes with a web-based file browser and a web portal for remote login. Files can then be accessed, managed and displayed directly in the web browser, without the need of any other software or instructions.

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