It seems like I hear from a user nearly every day that has lost data because whatever method of backup they’ve chosen has failed. Sometimes the method they’ve chosen is basically to cross their fingers and hope that their hard drive doesn’t fail. For those who have more of a backup plan, they just don’t do backups as often as they should.
Today we’re going to talk about Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices and how they can help you do a better job of securing your data. These devices typically require an Ethernet connection. If you have a wireless router, you’d just plug the drive into one of the ports on the router. Those of you with more robust networks just need to plug into an Ethernet port.
What exactly is a NAS box? It is a computer that has limited functionality geared strictly towards storing data. Most often these boxes use a flavor of LINUX though you won’t need to become a LINUX guru to work with them. Heck, if I hadn’t told you it used LINUX, you’d probably never know. Inside of the computer are slots for hard drives in a RAID configuration. In the unit pictured, four drives are supported. If any one of those drives fail, you simply replace it with a new drive and no data will be lost. Read that again, a drive can fail completely and no data will be lost!
I have been using a NAS box in our office for nearly seven years and find it easy to use and love the added security it provides to our data. Yes, it will take you some time to get it set up the first time. Once it is set up, it can behave just like a drive contained in your own computer. If you don’t have a good secure storage and backup solution now, it is something you need to seriously consider.
For those who want one of the best available solutions, look to the QNAP TurboNAS TS-470 shown above. Of the units I’m listing, it is the most expensive at around $1000. The unit comes without hard drives so you’ll also need to purchase four drives. The suggested drives are WD Red Drives which are available in sizes from 1-4 TB. The 3 TB drives are currently selling for around $130 each. In total, you’re looking at a little over $1500 for the unit and four drives.
There are less expensive options that don’t include as many features, but are still likely a great solution for most of you. One such unit is the NETGEAR ReadyNAS 100 Series 104. I’ve linked to a diskless version so you can compare prices directly. It is currently selling for approximately $270 without drives. You can purchase it pre-populated with 4 2TB drives for around $760. Keep in mind the first solution I listed has 4 3TB drives so this option would have less storage.
Once you have a secure place to store data, I highly recommend you install GoodSync on each of your computers so that it automatically copies data to the NAS box each night. It takes a few minutes to setup and then the magic will happen each night without you having to do anything. Read Keep Folders of Data Synced With GoodSync for more details.