NAS in the Home
NAS are steadily encroaching on the server market from the higher end, but the more interesting story is the largely untapped market that is home NAS. In the past, there was never a need for a networked device because there were too many barriers to making it practical: slow networks, expensive hard drives, difficult setup. As time goes by, the standard infrastructure is getting more and more suited to running high-speed local and remote networked storage. Simultaneously, large high-speed hard drives are dropping in price, making it more affordable to stock a NAS enclosure. The last barrier, setup, is being breached by two factors: NAS user-friendliness is slowly but surely catching up to that of computers and users are becoming more tech savvy.
NAS software is improving so quickly, quite frankly, because they had a long way to go. NAS only appeared on the market in the last 10 years, giving computers a decades-long head start. While IT department nerds are relieved to use a NAS over the insane complexity of a traditional server, NAS setup has historically been a barrier for new users. What is fascinating about this is that users are meeting the NAS halfway. Just as the computer generation brought PC’s home and showed their parents how to use them, as NAS are becoming easier and easier to use, the Internet generation is beginning to come into their own.
Keeping Up with the Future of Computing
It is becoming more apparent that access to the same central set of data from anywhere is critical. This requires massive data storage capacity to accommodate the increasing size of files, 24 hour mobile and Internet access to that data, and data security.
The average person now has countless documents, thousands of songs, and dozens of movies, many of which are high-def, junking up their computer and making it a constant shuffle of in-with-the-new-and-out-with-the-old. Just as anyone with a unusually large attic knows, a NAS offering only a larger storage database than the average computer would simply delay the inevitable download-and-dump cycle by a few years. A NAS’s ability to exchange old hard drives for newer, larger hard drives keeps that limit just out of reach. For example, just this year, hard drives limits expanded from 2TB to 3TB, increasing the capacity of every NAS on the market by 50%.
As Cloud technology becomes more advanced, the end goal is to have a few light, cheap devices that let you access a number of clouds such as Amazon Cloud Drive, Gmail, and your NAS’s own private cloud. Without universal access not limited by distance or location, the main (and most fun) purpose of this device would be moot. On the road, a user should be able to pull up and manipulate every file they have ever owned through a smartphone on the train, a laptop in the airport, or a computer at the public library; literally, any digital device, anywhere.
The final piece of this puzzle is security. It may sound boring, but it’s the kind of thing you only appreciate in an emergency, like health insurance. Data security means that hard drive failures don’t destroy your digital treasure trove, viruses can’t seep into your NAS and make a mess of things, and hackers can’t creep around in your private files. RAID protection, in the simplest of terms, is a system that provides more than one copy of your data to prevent data loss from hardware failure. Hot-swapping allows you to simply pull out a damaged disk and replace it to keep your RAID protection going strong. Firewall protection can keep unwanted viruses and data mining programs out of your NAS. High-level AES 256 bit encryption, the last piece of this comprehensive defense system, ensures both that hackers cannot access any of your data and that your NAS is impenetrable, even if stolen.
The Private Cloud
The only thing sillier sounding than comparing geeks to angels is bringing your computer experience to an ethereal plane, so let’s break it down into less abstract terms. To keep things flexible, a central hub containing all of your data allows you to move around and switch devices without needing to synchronize anything. Large data capacity and data protection are also necessary to keep this functionality useful and stable. NAS provide these functions.
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