A NAS (network attached storage) unit is a device which holds one or more hard disks and connects in to your network, giving other devices access to the stored content. They run their own operating system, typically configured through a web browser. Features vary from unit to unit, but many offer things such as RAID support, automated back-ups and P2P downloads, media streaming and remote login, which allows you to access your content from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. Units with more bays can store more content, and they are sold both empty and with hard disks included.
These small-scale NAS units hold one or two HDDs. While this does limit their storage capacity a little, it also keeps their size and cost down. There are options for personal and family home use with user-friendly set-ups as well as for business users in a small or home office environment with more advanced features and greater processing power. These units are not sold with hard disks so you'll need to add your own – it's best to get matching models and capacities, especially if you plan on using RAID.
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These medium-size NAS units hold three or four HDDs. Entry-level units are great for home users and prosumers with lots of HD media and other data that needs centralising, while more advanced units come with faster processors and more advanced security and RAID features for business and surveillance users. These units are not sold with hard disks so you'll need to add your own – it's best to get matching models and capacities, especially if you plan on using RAID.
These NAS units are the largest around, offering five HDD bays at a minimum and ten or more in many cases. They are typically geared towards advanced users who need plenty of storage space, and many are supplied in rackmount cases for use in industry and large-scale businesses. These units are not sold with hard disks so you'll need to add your own – it's best to get matching models and capacities, especially if you plan on using RAID.
These NAS units are sold with hard disks bundled, saving you the trouble of buying them yourself. They come in a range of sizes and capacities, from single bay 2TB units suitable for modest personal users all the way to large, multi-bay units with 16TB, 24TB or even 32TB of storage on tap. These units do not come pre-configured, giving you the chance to set them up as you see fit, including what RAID level you want to use, if any.
NAS (network attached storage) device accessories, including drive bay adaptors, rack and rail mounting kits, power supplies and warranty extension programs. They tend to be suitable only for specific NAS units, so check yours is compatible.
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