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NAS vs Cloud: 7 Differences Between These Storage Providers

So, you've got stuff to store. You want to be sure it's secure yet easily accessible. Whatever method you choose has to deliver - after all, your property is valuable. So valuable that you need to choose wisely. The question is, which storage provider do you turn to?

This article will look at NAS and cloud storage to see the crucial differences between these methods. You'll then be able to make an informed decision about which is most likely to give you what you want.


Network Attached Storage (NAS) is an array of connected hard drives. Although they are very much physical units located somewhere in your business, you can connect to them from wherever you happen to be, as long as you have an internet connection, as they're connected to the internet too.


Cloud Storage

In contrast to NAS facilities with storage devices in your business, cloud storage is a remote-access storage facility located... well... elsewhere.

Cloud systems, from Netflix to Dialpad's cloud phone service, are internet-based. The key identifier is that where the actual processors and other bits of nitty-gritty are actually located is neither here nor there. The important thing is that you can tap into them as if they were right there.

Differences Between NAS and Cloud Storage

1. Location

As we've outlined, NAS units are based in the business while cloud-based storage is delivered via remote servers accessed through the internet.

2. Ownership

With NAS, storage drives sit somewhere in the business and are part of a business's assets as you buy the equipment outright. In contrast, cloud providers offer a paid service. There are likely to be fewer upfront costs with cloud companies.

3. Security

Both storage providers offer good security. With NAS, only people with explicit permission from admin can access these drives, so security is built in. However, if there's a breakdown, security may be impaired while repairs are implemented.

With the cloud option, it might be tempting to think that if the system's based outside of the company, then the data must be more vulnerable to unauthorized access. Not so. Significant investments have taken place to ensure data security in cloud computing. After all, it's in the storage supplier's best interest to avoid expensive and reputation-damaging leaks. As a result, effective firewalls and end-to-end encryption are commonplace.

4. Scalability


NAS allows you to have immediate control over adding to your storage capacities. Got a data glut? No problem - just tack on another drive, and you're good to go. Cloud-based solutions also give you this facility, as you can ask your provider for a higher level of storage service.

Where the two systems diverge is what happens if your business hits a lean spell. With cloud storage services, you can scale down to a more suitable level of service relatively easily. With NAS, however, you're stuck with the extra drives that you purchased. While you can sell them, it may prove difficult to recoup what you paid.

5. Installation and Beyond

To set up a NAS system, you'll need a degree of tech know-how. You won't need to be Tim Berners-Lee, but you will need to know one end of an API definition from the other. Such expertise is not cheap, and you then need it for ongoing requirements such as training and maintenance, so may need to invest in a permanent IT person or department.

On the other hand, cloud-based storage 's designed to be used by anybody. That means that even if your experience of the internet is pretty much limited to reading your Facebook feed, you should face few challenges. Installation is remote and requires no specialist equipment or intrusive cable routing, plus training is done via the internet and maintenance is remote.

6. Backing-up


Backing up your data is a crucial part of storage. NAS allows you to create more than one backup. You can set automatic backups, which are then mirrored in another location.

Multiple backups = greater peace of mind

However, if one of the drives malfunctions, you'll be left with a dud piece of kit.

With cloud backups, however, these multiple copies are pretty much a given. What's more, if one of the drives malfunctions, the issue will be resolved by the remote cloud provider.

7. Access

When choosing NAS vs cloud storage, consider who needs access to the content and when. NAS gives great access to those who are in the building with it. It also allows a degree of access for remote workers.

In contrast, cloud storage providers are all about making remote access happen.

NAS vs Cloud-Based

So, which system should you choose? A lot will depend on the type of business you have. For instance, if you already have an array of drives waiting to be used and have the expertise to configure them, then NAS might be your best bet.

If, however, you're keeping an eye on your budget and want your outlay to flex with your business performance, then speak to a cloud service provider.

One final thought: in a business environment that's shifting ever more surely to incorporate some form of remote working, you need a system that's built around this. Among the various benefits of cloud storage, this might be the clincher.


Published Monday, March 06, 2023 7:30 AM by David Marshall
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