We've taken a look at the top reasons why you'd want to buy and set up a NAS, and we've even gone all out with an in-depth build guide. Here, we're taking a quick look at some of our favorite features of network-connected storage.
Backup your backups
You can never have too many backups of important files. Whether it's schoolwork, actual work, personal media or banking and tax documentation, you should be backing up every time you're on a PC. The easiest way is to simply plug in a USB stick and make a copy of the files onto removable storage.
This creates an important physical copy, which can be stored in a different location, but there are other methods that can be adopted or used alongside one another. Here are a few options:
- OneDrive or similar cloud storage solutions.
- Automated software backups.
- Professional backup service.
- External hard drives.
Another option is NAS, which can be used to set in motion automated backups that can be copied across from various devices and secured in a central location. The added benefit of terabytes of capacity allows for more than mere documents to be duplicated, and many NAS units or software solutions come with security measures in place, including encryption.
Stream your life
As the name implies, a NAS solution can be deployed to take care of storing media which can be later extracted. Plex, Kobi, and other media server services can be processed on the unit, sending out data to connected devices such as laptops and tablets.
It's also a sure way to turn your not-so-very-smart living room TV into an interactive viewing experience, and it is an extra step in securing access to content for little ones in the household.
Store literally anything
Not everything needs to be streamed, however. Should you merely require a place to house files for a rainy day, or to clear up space on local devices, a NAS with multiple drives makes for a superb connected hard drive. Whether you're backing stuff up or freeing up space, NAS has you covered.
Another strong point for NAS compared to external sources like cloud solutions is speed. Your home network is going to be faster than the external connection to outside platforms and you'll only really be limited by internal bandwidth or hard drive read and write speeds.
Many ISPs also severely restrict upload speeds, which makes copying a lot of data across the net a real pain. This doesn't affect NAS.
Collaborate with others
Since everything is saved to a single source, NAS opens up the potential for collaborative projects and even some gaming. Whether you're using spreadsheets or Minecraft, it's possible to do a little research, some further reading and hook up support for some connected entertainment.
Up your dev game
Should you happen to come across that PHP and HTML book for dummies and wish to give coding another go in 2017, a local network unit like a NAS can act as a server with the right tools and features installed. Depending on which solution you go for and what software powers it, you'll be able to get started immediately with notepadd++ or fire up a creative suite like Dreamweaver.
NAS delivers much more
There are many applications a NAS can run or be configured to handle with a few tweaks and some spare time. They really are simply a foundation that can be used as is or customized to provide a unique experience. Let us know how you use a NAS (or personal home server) in the comments.
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Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.