Blog/Infosec 101/

NAS vs. cloud storage: what’s best for your business?

Nov 20, 2020

NAS vs Cloud

The earliest record of information storage dates back to the Upper Palaeolithic, when people used animal bones carved with notches to document quantities and messages. A lot has changed since then, and most data nowadays is kept in the cloud. However, there are other, albeit less-known data storage alternatives. NAS, for example, is one such alternative that might benefit certain users.

What is NAS, and how does it work?

NAS (network-attached storage) is a data storage device connected to your home or office network. It typically consists of multiple hard drives that can be easily replaced or added for extra capacity. You can keep any type of files on your NAS: videos, pictures, games, programs, or your company’s legal documents.

NAS devices have their native software, thus you can access your files using a web browser or an app and share them with other users.

Here are some use cases of network-attached storage:

  • backing up the files on your computer;
  • storing sensitive files of a small- or medium-sized business;
  • backing up your family photos;
  • storing videos and streaming them on various devices.

Is NAS better than cloud storage?

Cloud and network-attached storage are two different technologies, each suitable for different users depending on their needs. Let’s take a closer look at their benefits and drawbacks.

Cost

Cloud services like Google Drive charge you on a monthly or yearly basis. The price varies depending on the storage space you need, starting at around $2/month for 100GB to $300/month for 30TB. However, when you sign up for a cloud service, you become dependent on it. If you cancel your subscription one day, you will lose all your files unless you store them elsewhere.

NAS requires a bigger investment, but, after you’ve purchased the device, it belongs exclusively to you. No further investment needed unless it malfunctions and needs repairing or you want to add extra capacity.

If you want a high-end NAS device, you can expect to pay around $10,000–$12,000 for more than 500TB. That’s a significant investment, but it pays off quickly if you use the full storage capacity. NAS is cheaper than a cloud service in the long run, especially when you need a lot of space.

Security

When it comes to security, NAS and cloud storage are two sides of the same coin. With NAS, all the security is in your hands, and it’s up to you to take the necessary measures to protect your data. If you keep files in the cloud, you depend on the security level supplied by the cloud service provider. However, you can never be sure if they handle your data properly.

While both NAS and cloud storage offer data encryption, we recommend taking security seriously and encrypt your files before uploading them to either. When we’re talking about a top-notch encryption app, look no further than NordLocker. It’s an easy-to-use app that allows you to encrypt your data and securely store it on your computer, in the cloud, or a NAS device.

NordLocker has its own cloud, which is a convenient option for small- and medium-sized businesses. You can easily share your files with other users and access them from anywhere.

Data backups

No business wants to lose its data, thus backups are an essential part of data loss prevention. Cloud service providers back up your data on a remote server, while data stored on a NAS device is backed up on your premises. However, if your NAS device breaks down, gets stolen, or is destroyed in a fire, your files might be gone forever.

Cloud technology consists of thousands of servers, so, if something happens to one, there are plenty of other servers to do the job (our article “How does cloud storage work?” explains this in detail).

What is the difference between NAS and a server?

A server (also known as SAN or storage area network) and NAS are both used to store files, but servers are more technically advanced. While NAS devices are mainly used by small companies, larger organizations prefer servers. This is because the former can provide higher data transfer speeds and support more users.

Servers are more expensive than NAS devices and require more maintenance, but in exchange you get an unlimited storage capacity. Servers also support higher data backup speeds than NAS devices.

Do you really need NAS?

Both NAS and cloud storage have their pros and cons. Your choice should depend on the scale of your business, technical requirements, and how many staff resources you are going to invest. NAS is a good option for small- and medium-sized businesses looking for data storage.

However, don’t put all your eggs in one basket — it’s smart to combine either NAS or cloud storage with data encryption services like NordLocker. There’s no such thing as too much security in business.

Get 3GB of cloud storage for free and secure your files!

John Sears

John Sears

Verified author

John believes that the best things in life are simple. He uses the same approach when he’s writing about online security. John says that his #1 pet peeve is phishing scams. Ironically, his favorite non-work related activity is fishing.