If you are looking for a NAS Backup device we will soon be adding our recommendations for your situation firstly lets clarify difference between NAS (Network Attached Storage), External Hard Drive and NAS Backup.
What is a NAS Device?
NAS means Network Attached Storage. In simple terms it looks like and can carry out the same function as an External Hard Disk – but much more and more efficiently.
An External Drive / desktop hard drive / DAS (Direct Attached Storage) is attached to one computer or host on the network, and if it’s content is to be shared with other computers on the network that computer must remain switched on and it’s resources will be used to serve files to other computers.
A NAS Device is effectively a standalone computer connected to the network in the same way as other computers on the network. NAS Devices have their own processor and ram which efficiently deliver files to other computers on the network with minimum impact on their resources. Depending on configuration the NAS Appliance can be considered as a dedicated file server allowing all users to share resources.
NAS Storage vs NAS Backup
As described above the primary function of a NAS Device is to store files ie the everyday files used by computers and users on the network. A Backup NAS is a bit of a contradiction. It’s function is not for storage of files but it is the backup of files. Along with suitable software it’s function is to keep backups of files from multiple computers on the network. The NAS backup device could be configured to automatically keep backups of important data on your file server, database server or other individual user files on various machines and other network accessible storage devices. Apples Time Capsule is an example of a device which only does backup, as is possible with other NAS configurations Time Capsule keeps copies of multiple versions of individual files, so it is possible to retrieve an older version of one file rather than having to restore a whole drive.
The remainder of this page focuses on NAS Backup. To read more about devices which are primarily used as Network Storage see out Network Attached Storage Page.
Types of NAS Backup configurations
Dedicated NAS Backup
As described above this device is dedicated to backup. It will contain one hard disk (probably magnetic) and will be configured to automatically, usually in real time, back up specified files from other computers or devices on the network. This device will normally be situated is a secure location and, if possible, in a fireproof enclosure.
RAID devices can have one or both of the following functions:
Increased performance – This is attained by having multiple hard disks within the one enclosure with data spread across several disks. When data is retrieved it is read from several disks in parallel – thus delivering the data much more quickly than a single drive. RAID 0 is the type of setup that focuses on performance.
Data Redundancy (Backup) – Data is copied to multiple drives within the RAID device, therefore if one drive fails the lost data will already have been copied to other drives. RAID 1 is the type of setup that focuses on redundancy / backup.
You can read more about RAID Levels including hybrid RAID 0 + 1 and other configurations on our RAID Recovery Page
The benefits of having a combined RAID NAS device with at least 2 drives within the enclosure (with RAID 1 as a minimum configuration), over a standalone NAS backup device is the redundancy offered by having an additional backup – usually with at least 2 disks set up to mirror each other.
NAS + FTP Cloud Backup
In this modern age were a business can fail if data is lost it is foolish to house your data and backups al within the same building. In the past many organisations physically removed backup tapes or removable backup drives on a daily basis. This process relied on an individual member of staff removing the media and is obviously open to human error. It also does not offer resilience in the case of a disaster during the business day.
The solution is a NAS device with an inbuilt FTP client. This configuration allows for a local backup (which can be restored quickly if necessary) and an automated offsite backup to another location. This offsite location could be another computer, server or NAS backup unit owned by the same organization but in a different physical location or could be a commercial Cloud backup service provider. To avail of this offsite backup you need to ensure you purchase a device that has a built in FTP client. Ideally the device would include multiple drives configured as RAID 1 as a minimum.
Why would you need local backup as well as cloud. It is unlikely that your cloud backup provider is going to loose your data – but it could happen, so that is reason 1 for having your own backup, however the primary reason is the time it would take to download all your data from the cloud.
Even with a fast broadband connection 1TB of data could take many hours or days to download from the cloud, which could be very disruptive for a business. Therefore local onsite backup is an important part of any data recovery plan. Offsite backup should be the ‘backup backup’
If you are looking for NAS Storage as opposed to NAS Backup we will be adding a page soon, for now you can read more on the NAS Wikipedia page.
Recommended NAS Backup Devices