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

John Sears

John Sears


May 05, 2022


6 min read

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How would you like to control where your data resides? We’re not talking about cloud storage. We’re talking about NAS, your own storage accessible to everyone in the network. It can be equally useful as a home network device and network storage for a small business. It has many benefits over mainstream cloud storage services, but is it the right tool for you? First, let’s explain what NAS is.

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. Therefore, 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 the sensitive files of a small- or medium-sized business

  • backing up your family photos

  • storing videos and streaming them on various devices

We’ll discuss the costs a bit later, but let’s just look at different types of NAS devices you can get.

  • Basic NAS devices

  • Home users don’t need thousands of terabytes of data storage. It’s mostly about storing your media collection and family photos as well as backing up sensitive data. These devices usually range between $200 and $500 for up to 12 TB of storage. Remember, you can also buy a diskless NAS device and the hard drives for it separately.

  • Advanced NAS devices

  • Freelancers and small to medium-sized businesses will have different needs compared to home users. They may be looking for 4- or 6-bay devices instead of single-bay devices as well as for better performance and support options. These devices will usually cost upwards of $1,000 for at least 24 TB of storage.

  • Enterprise-level NAS devices

  • Companies that want to control their data can choose high-end NAS devices. They start at $4,000 but can even go above $10,000 for 500 TB of storage. They also come with a slew of security features and the latest hardware to ensure the best performance possible.

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.







Significant costs at first, but offers potential to save long term.

Secure and private. You choose the security measures you trust.

Local back ups on your NAS device.

Need to set up the hardware and connect the device to the network.

The device is always accessible for upgrades or repairs.


Pay small monthly fees for the storage you use

Relatively secure, but you have no say in where your data is stored or who has access to it.

Automatic backups on a remote server.

Virtually no setup beyond installing apps on your devices.

The cloud service maintains its servers, so your only job is to remember to pay the bill.


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 is 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.

A third option is to use a NAS device with NordLocker. NordLocker provides free end-to-end encryption for local files. Store them on your NAS server and, in a way, you’d have your own secure cloud. As you’ll see next, security is a big issue when using NAS.


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, they work in different ways. First, cloud storage providers have enough resources to maintain a team of engineers and cybersecurity experts. With NAS, you have to take care of the security yourself. However, you’re free to use any tools you like, while with mainstream cloud services you’re stuck with the methods they use.

NordLocker could be the best choice since you get the best of both worlds. You have NordLocker Cloud to sync and share your files, but everything’s end-to-end encrypted and you can store files locally without limits.

Data backups

No business wants to lose its data, and 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.


Cloud providers here hold all the cards because there is barely any setup. You may need to install an app, but that’s pretty much it. NAS, on the other hand, needs both its hardware and its software to be set up. While following a wizard should get you through the hardware part without much of an issue, connecting it to your network may require advanced IT skills.


Every device needs maintenance. Of course, cloud services take care of that without their users ever noticing. NAS’ advantage is its size. It’s like a toaster. You can keep it neatly tucked under a desk or in a storage room, always having access to the device. And if you ever can’t repair it in-house, you can unplug the device and bring it to a technician without problems.

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. Essentially, both are computers with a specific purpose and lots of storage space that you can connect to remotely. But NAS devices are mainly used by small companies, while larger organizations prefer servers. This is because servers 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?

NAS, servers and cloud storage each has its pros and cons. Which one to choose will depend on the scale of your business, your technical requirements, the staff, and the resources you can allocate for security and maintenance. NAS is a good option for personal use as well as small and medium-sized businesses because you can always add more storage.

However, don’t put all your eggs in one basket — it’s smart to combine NAS with data encryption services like NordLocker that can help you secure, sync, and back up your data. 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.