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What are NAS's used for

  1. Oct 25, 2005 #1


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    I was wondering something, what are NAS devices use for? I see this description for one NAS that says "For entry-level or mid-level applications" but the capacity was like, 14 SCSI hard drives and ive seen some up to 1.5TB that seem entry level. What applications do these huge storage devices have at the "entry level"???? I can't even imagine how anything outside of file servers would need this kinda storage. I need enlightening!
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 25, 2005 #2
    NAS - Network Attached Storage.

    It's just a way of adding additional storage without the burden of configuring a new file server box. Before NAS/SAN, if you needed extra storage, you either stuffed another drive into your computer, or set up another computer to act as a file server. Then you run into problems like running out of space in your computer, or your file server capacity becomes maxed out. Then you have to set up another computer and create another file server.

    A NAS is essentially a miniature file server with it's own built in OS. Much smaller and more compact than a regular file server and easier to setup/configure. You attach it to the network with a piece of Cat 5, connect to it with a web browser and configure it via WWW interface. Then it's just a matter of mounting the provided disk volumes to your computer. If you need more storage, just get another NAS device and attach it to the network. No more big servers to maintain. Instead of having a cluster of tall tower servers hogging up space, you have a a bunch of small boxes that aren't much larger than a traditional external hard drive enclosure.

    As far as entry level stuff, well suppose you have an extensive CD and/or DVD collection. You could stuff some jumbo sized 300 or 500 GB drives in your computer, but what if you don't have room in your case? External drives are a possibility, but they're only available to the computer they're connected on. Sure you can do the file sharing thing, but that means the computer it's attached to has to be on all the time.

    In comes NAS. It's pretty much stand-alone. Rip all your CDs/DVDs and store them on the NAS. You can set up a small computer to act as a media center wired to your TV and/or stereo and have it serve up content from the NAS. Fire up your laptop in your bedroom, mount a NAS volume and watch a movie or listen to tunes in bed over a wireless connection. Back up your computer to a NAS.

    Keep in mind that NAS can be pretty much any size you want. You can get a NAS device as just an empty case and stuff whatever drives in you want. Or get one with removable drives, so if you need to expand capacity later on just add additional drives or replace existing ones.

    Bottom line: easy to configure storage, no big file servers to maintain.
  4. Oct 25, 2005 #3
    Can also mean Network Access Server. For example an AAA server running TACACS+ or RADIUS, which you can authenticate network users from the ground up, before they can even grab an IP address.

    What you are talking about is what imabug rightly said, Network Attached Storage, which are usually RAID5 disk arrays for storing your data on, be it a hugh ERP system DB or local office files and folders...
  5. Oct 25, 2005 #4


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    Sounds like a pretty expensive media player accessory....
  6. Oct 25, 2005 #5
    not necessarily. There are some useful devices to attatch cheap IDE drives via USB 2 to your network. the problem is that few use SMB or NFS. Most use FTP which is a pain if you want to mount a drive as a file system.
  7. Oct 25, 2005 #6


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    I thought NAS's were mainly internet applications? For servers and such. Which again begs the question as to what exactly needs so much space outside of file servers?
  8. Oct 25, 2005 #7
    nothing. it is simply a set of hard disks on the network than anyone can access from the network. It is easier to manage and is lower power than a file server.
  9. Oct 26, 2005 #8
    you've obviously never had to deal with GB sized data sets before.

    NAS is just another type of a file server. There's nothing inherently special about a file server. All it is is a computer that provides additional disk storage to other computers.

    if you need the storage, you can either grab a computer (big tower box) and create a file server out of it, or get a NAS or SAN device (small drive enclosure) and attach it to the network. What you choose depends on your needs. The idea behind a NAS is that it can be attached anywhere and make that storage available to anything. you don't need to set up and configure a new file server every time you need extra storage. you don't need to find extra room for that server box in your office/computer room or on the rack.
  10. Oct 26, 2005 #9


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    Sure haven't!
  11. Oct 29, 2005 #10


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    NAS's will also allow you to create logical volumes using the disks that are in it. So, you may have a NAS with 20 or more drives, and you wish to stripe (combine) 5 of those drives into a logical volume. When a computer mounts the logical volume, they won't see 5 separate drives -- they'll see one drive that's the size of those 5 drives, combined.

    Some of the more expensive NAS's will also allow you to tune the "chunk" size of the logical volume. So, if you're dealing with large files -- let's say multimedia/video files, you're going to want a larger "chunk" size, so more data can be written and read in a single read.

    Edit: One of the reasons you may want a NAS with multiple drives is each drive (typically) has a separate path, whether that be fibre, SCSI, IDE, or SATA. So, each drive is entitled to the path's full bandwidth that is offered. For instance, if you have a NAS that uses 2Gb/s FC-AL drives, with a decent NAS, each of those drives will receieve the *full* 2Gb/s that is offered -- it won't be divided amongst the drives.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2005
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