While having a network attached storage (NAS) makes a lot of sense for small offices, few home users see the need for one, or even know what one is, for that matter. But with that said, a NAS can be just as useful to home users as well. This is especially true if you have a lot of media sharing going on and even if you don’t, having a NAS can be a very underappreciated safety net for every computer user.
But what is a NAS? To put it very simply, it’s a file server that connects to a network instead of a single computer. This then allows multiple devices connected to the network to store and retrieve files stored within it. Being a server instead of just a hard drive, you can set parameters to it so that not all files are accessible by everyone, and there’s an extra security layer if you’re worried about hackers breaking in.
With all that in mind, here are five benefits of using a NAS.
More Storage Space & Centralised Management
Even with the really high capacity nature of today’s hard drives and solid state drives, there’s only so much you can stuff into your drives before they run out of space. Not only that, having a stuffed storage drive will generally slow down your machine, regardless of the type of drive you use.
Stashing away files that you don’t see yourself using is the best way to do it, and this is where a NAS comes in. Rather than funnelling them into multiple external hard drives and later forgetting which file is in which drive, it’s simpler to just consolidate them all in a NAS. You can then search for your files over the network instead of having to plug and unplug different external hard drives over and over if you don’t get the one with the file you want the very first time.
Security For Your Files
Most NAS often have an extra layer of security in the form on encryption for disk volumes. If they are files that you’re sure you won’t be using anytime soon, then you can take it a step further by keeping them entirely off the internet.
For small offices, it’s easier for business owners to keep track of files on a network drive than that of individual workstations. Any attempt to steal information will have to go through the encryption of the NAS, rather than potentially unsecured connections of each employee’s work machine.
And if you’re using a Synology NAS, you also get a few extra security features thrown in. For example, Synology NAS also comes with a built-in Security Advisor to remind users any potential risk of your system. Other features include a firewall that you can set up and configure, and an IP Auto Block feature. The latter lets you deny access to your NAS from specific IPs, or to automatically block them when clients using said IPs fail to log in too many times.
The Backup That You Need, Even When You Think You Don’t
Whether for individual use or for work, one of the greatest nightmares a computer user can have is facing storage drive failure. Without backups, you could have your entire lifetime’s portfolio at risk. While there are services out there that can help retrieved those lost data, the procedures are likely to be very expensive, and even then there’s no guarantee that everything can be retrieved.
Let’s not forget the risk of your data being leaked by the ones you paid to restore your data. or if you lost your device. Having another copy of your files in your NAS, or accessing them directly from the NAS, would prevent this scenario.
Similarly, if you find yourself a victim of ransomware, then having a backup would likely be the best solution to the issue. To protect the NAS itself from ransomware, then Synology’s Snapshot Replication feature is what you need. Its block-level cross-version incremental backup mechanism only backup the increased file blocks when the file is modified, which saves up your storage space. With the multi-version backup copies, you could go back to any version of your file and restore it as you like. You can even have the copies moved to different locations – for example, from your office NAS to your home NAS – and as frequently as every five minutes.
These backup features are not only available to PCs, but also Macs, mobile phones, and tablets. You can even have backups for public cloud storage services. The entire backup process can also customised to your liking, whether you want them to run in real-time or on a scheduled basis.
File Sharing And Collaboration Made Easy
If you like actually owning your movies and music instead of just streaming them off a service, then having a NAS would make them easily accessible by any device you have at home. This allows you to bypass the once-common step of copying the files you want out onto another device, like movies from your desktop or songs from your phone to your home entertainment system in the living room.
If you have family members who wants a file that you have, they can just get it from the NAS rather than through your devices, which saves you the trouble of getting it for them. And if they get ahold of something that they think you want, then they can just stash it in the NAS and leave you to check them out at your own convenience.
You can also set up user accounts so that everyone has their own allocated storage space, set permissions or passwords to limit access so that no one goes snooping into spaces that they’re not allowed into. All this can be done through Synology’s DiskStation Manager.
If you’re working with multiple individuals on documents, spreadsheets or slides within a Synology NAS, then you’ll also find that the company has its own set of productivity tools to use with the NAS. Think Synology’s version of Microsoft’s Word, Excel and Powerpoint. They are all compatible with Microsoft’s counterparts, and they come with a chat plugin so that you can talk to your collaborators in real-time regarding the work you’re doing together. Changes by everyone are also synced into a single document, so there’s no worry about different versions with different content.
Access Your Files From Anywhere With An Internet Connection
While streaming is fine and all, sometimes you just want to listen to your songs, or watch the movies that you bought digitally, instead of being at the mercy of whatever is currently on streaming services. As long as your NAS and the files you want are connected to the internet, you can access, share – and even stream – them wherever you are, as long as you are also connected. With Synology Video Station, you can watch your enitre video collection on virtually any device, anytime and anywhere. They could be your computer, your iPhone/Android phone, your Apple TV, Android TV, Samsung TV, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, and DLNA devices.
And with a Synology NAS, any file can be shared via a simple share link created within File Station. Adding on to that is the QuickConnect tool that allows access to the Synology NAS without having to go through port forwarding.
Essentially, File Station will allow you access to not only your files within the NAS, but also other cloud storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive as long as you set up permission to your cloud storage account and create syncing task. This can be done with virtually any device, be they Windows, macOS or Linux systems. On the mobile front, it works with both iOS and Android devices as well.
You could use cloud storage services instead, but if the service you’re on is under heavy traffic load, then your streaming experience will not be a smooth one. Streaming from your own NAS, on the other hand, will only be limited by the internet connection your NAS is connected to, as well as your mobile internet connection.
Disclosure: this article is sponsored by Synology.