In the last 8 month I have invest 9 different NAS. At first, I want to protect my files from hardware failure. Then quickly change to have both RAID 1 and version archive. Eventually, my requirement becomes a server appliance to backup and run my LAMP applications.
I review my investment and design the PSP framework which stands for Protection, Scenario, and Performance to help choosing a right NAS.
Protection – Hardware Failure and Version Archive
RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 5 + spare, and RAID 6 are popular choice to prevent data lose from hardware failure on multi-bay NAS. If you need to keep different version of your file, you need version archive.
Some NAS vendors provide agents on different platform to help you sync folders with NAS and keep the old version rather than overwrite. It consumes disk space much more quickly than sync only.
If there is no agent on your platform or you are limited to one-bay NAS, you may use scheduled backup to external device. You will have the new version on NAS and an older version on external device.
It is a good idea if you also schedule backup to external device on multi-bay NAS, don’t put your eggs in one basket.
Scenario – What do you want to do?
NAS comes with many features. Once turned on, you will be guided through installation and first-time setup by a wizard. Then the basic file sharing is available in your network. You may enable/disable features and enhanced security control within the web admin interface.
Even better, some vendors have their ecosystems to provide more applications. You may see many different 3rd party software on App Central (Asustor), Add-on Packages (Synology), App Center (QNAP). There are business software, CMS portal, development tools and environment, and etc. They are installable as a mobile app within your NAS. It makes NAS become a server appliance.
Therefore, NAS can be used as a file server shared accessed by different devices, a CRM server for sales and marketing team, a media server streaming to SmartTV at home, a download server busy working while sleeping, and etc. It’s all up to you.
Performance – Concurrent and Route
Speed is complex in a network environment. Not only concurrent running services but also routes between NAS and clients will affect performance. Especially when there is a slow device in between, it becomes the bottleneck of the whole system. Use BFNP Framework to Optimize your NAS File Transfer Performance explains everything in detail.