Plug & play

Tags: Knowledge

Store data on NAS device and use apps to access data even on the go

We live in an incredibly digital world, a world where our digital life is expanding each day. The amount of time our eyeballs spend gazing at digital screens is heading north with each passing day. Irrespective of where we are — at work, at home, commuting or standing in a queue — we spend countless hours on our desktops, laptops, smartphones and even on our tablets.

There are a myriad of reasons for this surge in usage but mostly it has been accelerated due to the increased penetration of the internet and widespread popularity of social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. These platforms have virtually transformed computing devices into easy-to-use, highly engaging communication platforms that can be used by the young and old alike. Spurred on by their use of social media, people who once looked at a computing device purely as a ‘work’ machine, have taken up social/casual gaming, VoIP calls, online shopping and other digital activities.

Unlike a few years ago when just a few younger family members boasted of personal devices, these days entire families indulge themselves in the luxury of portable devices. As a result it’s now common to find entire families online, embracing the latest and greatest computing devices. What this means is that today households actually need multiple computing devices, so that every member of the family has his or her own personal device and therefore a connection to the digital world. Each of these devices is used to both produce and consume content. The problem is with so many devices and so many users, how do you manage all the data?

With several different computing platforms, including Microsoft’s Windows, Apple’s Mac and iOS and Google’s Android, there are multiple ways in which data is handled and surprisingly there’s no cross-platform compatibility. There’s no seamless integration within the different platforms. If the data to be shared is several megabytes, you could just e-mail them or use a cloud storage service. However, what happens when you’ve got several dozen photographs on your iOS device and you want to share it with another family member who might have an Android device? In this case your options are to hand over the physical device (not ideal if you have content on your device that you don’t want anyone else to see), upload them to a social site where you lose control of your data, download them to a PC and show them off or upload them to the Android device. These are far from ideal or elegant options but thankfully there is a way to get around these challenges.

A network attached storage (NAS) device can be connected to your home’s wi-fi access point or router and can then be accessed by any device on the network. In the past these devices were complicated and expensive and so were mainly used by SMBs and enterprises. Today’s NAS enclosures are almost plug and play, are relatively inexpensive and thanks to their features and apps allow you to store and share content across multiple devices and platforms. The idea is to store all of your data on the NAS device and use the apps or other features to access or share your content. The best part is if you have a broadband internet connection and your mobile computing devices have a mobile data package or have wi-fi access, you can access the content stored on the NAS even when you’re on the move.

Today, there are plenty of home and small office (also known as SOHO — small office home office) aimed NAS devices on the market and if you are a power user or just have hefty storage needs, you can choose from one of the growing number of drive-less NAS enclosures. These SOHO aimed devices are generally designed with up to five drive bays, so after purchasing one of these units you’ll need to look at drives which are designed and pre-qualified specifically for use in SOHO NAS systems that offer between 1-to-5 drive bays. There are drives with advanced technology such as NASware, which makes the integration process between NAS and drives a plug and play experience.

With a four or five-bay NAS that is fully populated with drives, you have the ability to choose from one of several RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) options to give you a balance of storage capacity, data protection and performance. RAID 6 is a good choice that balances these three aspects — in fact this particular form of RAID can recover data even if the NAS experiences a failure from two drives.

Owing to the storage capacity, breadth of features, which includes sharing data across multiple platforms and remote accessibility, as well as data security that these NAS systems offer, the adoption of these devices in the home and small office space is expected to grow significantly in the coming months and years. In fact market intelligence firm IDC has forecasted that by 2017 there could be nearly 13 million NAS systems in use, a chunk of which will be 1-to-5 bay SOHO systems. zz

(The writer is director, India & South Asia, WD)

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