Servers vs NAS Drives – what are they and does my business require one?
Think back 10 years, and most businesses with more than a few computers had a server. The server was paramount to a business, and if it went down, all work ground to a halt.
The humble server controlled the network, allowed staff to access shared data and was generally blamed for anything that went wrong. Yet it sat in a corner and this black box was revered as the backbone of the company IT systems.
Unfortunately, alongside this reverence came a large monthly or annual invoice for service and maintenance. Server support was expensive, and still is to this day, due to the extensive knowledge of server operating systems and complicated setups for staff and networks. Hence us providing this article on Servers vs NAS Drives as a Plain English guide to help you understand the options.
With the advance of technology, the humble server has been largely side-lined owing to the entrance of a new solution, the NAS drive. NAS stands for Network Attached Storage and effectively is a hard drive that connects directly to your network. In reality, the latest NAS drives are small computers with a large hard drive attached. As these computers do not run heavy Microsoft operating systems, they do not need to be as powerful as their predecessor, the server (power equals expense).
A NAS drive is ideally suited for small business from 1 to 50 staff. The benefits are enormous, with the primary benefit being their initial affordable cost and low ongoing maintenance. The purchase price for a quality NAS drive (Synology being the best in our opinion) depends on the storage capacity needed but starts from £500. When compared to a server, where the starting price is £2500, the reason for the NAS’s rapid popularity is clear to see.
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The features on a NAS drive are provided by the built-in operating system. These can include:
- Hierarchical data sharing
- Remote access
- Offsite / local backup
- Real-time hard drive monitoring
- CCTV feed
- …And much more
The most useful of these tools is the hierarchical permissions application. In layman’s terms, this means that each of your staff is allocated a profile on the NAS. They are then given permissions on which folders they can access, whether they are allowed a remote connection and what features they may or may not use.
Another feature which is often overlooked is the RAID setup of the NAS hard drives. A NAS drive usually has 2 hard drives that are “mirrored” using RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks). Stripping away the usual IT acronyms, this simply means the 2 hard drives are copying each other. Therefore, if one hard drive fails, the NAS still works. The NAS will send an email to the IT engineer and the faulty hard drive can be changed within a couple of minutes. The benefit of this technology is the prevention of data loss and minimal downtime. There are, of course, many more protective RAID options that enhance this protection even further.
Servers vs NAS Drives – What are the cost benefits?
The running costs of a NAS are far more cost effective than for a server. A good computer engineer can set up and maintain the equipment for much less than a Microsoft server skilled engineer. In some cases, the client can even maintain the NAS themselves. Ongoing costs are normally offsite backup and the pro-active replacement of the drives every 2 years.
There are now various ways to data share, but for both on and off-site the NAS ticks all boxes for versatility, security and reliability.
If you are still using a server and paying for monthly maintenance, then maybe it’s time for you to switch to a NAS drive system. Simple and quick to set up, a NAS drive makes a great addition to your business IT structure.
As well as preventing GDPR breaches, your new modern-day server solution will resolve issues you never even knew you had.
Seek out professional advice on all IT related matters from someone who can use Plain English and common sense in their solutions – sometimes technical solutions are not in YOUR best interest!
Straight advice from Yorkshire Powerhouse
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