What is the point of a NAS?

KazeoHin

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No, seriously, what is the point of a NAS, and how did they get so popular? I've been racking my brain trying to understand why someone would choose a NAS solution over a local server. In every instance where I tried to compare the two, the local server was cheaper, more powerful, more expandable, sucked negligible power at idle, was able to do much more than just store files...

I just don't get it.

I need to sell these things to cash in on the craze but I simply can't bullshit the customer into buying a more expensive and on all accounts inferior solution well enough without popping a vein...

Someoneplease help me see what I'm missing
 

mnewxcv

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I got a cheap 2 bay Nas for like 70 bucks. It does raid 1 and is accessible on my network. Does what I need and nothing more. Also it is small.
 

Megalith

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Can the typical NAS even cool drives properly? I was too scared to buy one based on my experience with enclosures.
 

KazeoHin

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size and power.
but is that really worth it? For the price of the cheapest 2-bay Qnap or Synology, you can build a celeron or pentium server with 4GB RAM and expandability to up to 4 HDDs. That does not include the server's PCI-E and USB expansion. It still doesn't make sense to me....

If it was, say, a CLEAR win for storage, like, for the price of a 4-drive capable server you can get a 6-drive capable NAS, it would make sense, and this conversation would not need to take place.

Power draw doesn't make much sense, as a BGA pentium or Celeron draws a negligible amount more power under load, and the ARM based NAS units don't save anywhere near enough to earn back the price difference in the lifetime of the hardware.

Size is not a big deal either, as you can build an ITX server for about the same price, some ITX cases are absolutely tiny and a server based around them support the same sort of drive expandability of a similar priced NAS.

There is something I'm not getting...
 
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rtangwai

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It's not a matter of technology, it is a question of ease of use.

Not everyone knows how to build a computer, what is easy for you and me may be magic to someone else.

My late father barely mastered email. I put in a NAS with automated backups to cloud storage for his files.

Did that mean my father was stupid? Hardly - once when I got frustrated with him not getting how to use email I told him "Dad, it isn't brain surgery - you can figure this out".

He shot back at me "If it *WAS* brain surgery then I *COULD* figure it out!" - my father was a neurologist :)

I put in the NAS on the theory that rather than spend a couple of years teaching him how to build a NAS and save $500, just let him do what he knew best - he could make that kind of money in a couple of hours reading EEGs and CAT scans so it was far more efficient from his point of view to go NAS rather than build and maintain a server.

I considered building him a server, but because I live 1200 miles away from his practice I didn't want to do a lot of remote support. The NAS was reliable (it outlived him) and reasonably priced considering what it had to accomplish. Certainly it was cheaper than hiring a local tech to maintain a full server for one doctor and his medical secretary. The medical secretary is nearly as bad as him with computers, the only reason he put up with her is that she is my mother :)

The standalone NAS is not meant for [H]ard members - I build for my own use a FreeNAS VM hosted on ESXi 6.0 in a Lian-Li E-ATX case w/SAS expander and dual PSUs so I can install 22 hard drives. My degree is in Computer Science, I flunked pre-med so I am going with my strengths. My NAS would have been useless to my father as he would have no idea how to interpret alerts.

Think of it this way - would you go to law school just so you would know how to file a patent? Would you go to medical school just so you could avoid monthly checkups with the doctor? Would you learn to be an airline pilot just so you didn't have to pay to fly?

The standalone NAS definitely has a place and meaning - it just seems overpriced to you because you can replace automation with skill and knowledge. Try doing something outside your fields of expertise and see if you'd prefer the cheap way or the easy way.
 

CaptNumbNutz

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Simplicity and power draw.
Ding. We have a winner.

They don't make sense to OP or most power users because of cost. I'm not going to go buy a NAS because I've got leftover parts from my previous gaming rig I can sling together. Sure, the damn thing sucks down ten times as much power, but my electricity is extremely cheap anyways and I can put it to use doing something else like being a seedbox or distributive computing.

Your average joe customer doesn't want to setup things. They want Seagate or Western Digital to give them some software to make it happen. They want to plug it in, click a few buttons and forget about it. They want automated backups, they don't want to worry about parts compatibility.
 

KazeoHin

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I can almost get the simplicity angle, but the costs seem to GREATLY outwiegh the simplicity in my mind... and thats what Im wondering: why pay $1200 for a four-bay Qnap *without drives* when that same money would buy you a decent low-power server with 10+TB of redundant storage AND expandability to boot? There is NO WAY 4 drives worth of power-draw can be reduced low enough to make up that price difference in the lifespan of the hardware, simplicity be damned.

The lower-end consumer stuff makes more sense, as the poster above said $70 for a dual bay isnt necessarily a bargain (in my mind) but it is at least cheaper than a PC with that expandability.
 

rtangwai

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Cost is a relative thing - what is pricey to you is a rounding error to Warren Buffet.

If my father spent 4 hours a month on a server instead of seeing patients, he would be $500 out of pocket every month. That's $6000 a year, enough for a couple of servers. A $2000 NAS pays for itself in half a hockey season - my old man was a die-hard Canadiens fan :)
 

Trimlock

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You have to set up and maintain a server, not with a NAS. A NAS can also travel a heck of a lot easier too.
 

ND40oz

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I can almost get the simplicity angle, but the costs seem to GREATLY outwiegh the simplicity in my mind... and thats what Im wondering: why pay $1200 for a four-bay Qnap *without drives* when that same money would buy you a decent low-power server with 10+TB of redundant storage AND expandability to boot? There is NO WAY 4 drives worth of power-draw can be reduced low enough to make up that price difference in the lifespan of the hardware, simplicity be damned.

The lower-end consumer stuff makes more sense, as the poster above said $70 for a dual bay isnt necessarily a bargain (in my mind) but it is at least cheaper than a PC with that expandability.
For $1200 you can get a 16 bay QNAP: https://www.qnap.com/en-us/product/model.php?II=247&event=2

Go spec a 16 bay hotswap system with integrated 10GbE that draws less power for less.
 

rive22

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Some people want something small that is no frills, plug n play and access all around the house and that's it. The answer is pretty much that simple. I'm in the server boat myself since I have a lot of large drives and also like having a separate machine with a ton of xeon cores for when I need to do any big dedicated jobs like encoding & rendering and take them off my main machine. That being said, I actually refer to it as a NAS, but it's also a super baddass server/workhorse.
 
D

Deleted member 184142

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I can almost get the simplicity angle, but the costs seem to GREATLY outwiegh the simplicity in my mind... and thats what Im wondering: why pay $1200 for a four-bay Qnap *without drives* when that same money would buy you a decent low-power server with 10+TB of redundant storage AND expandability to boot? There is NO WAY 4 drives worth of power-draw can be reduced low enough to make up that price difference in the lifespan of the hardware, simplicity be damned.

The lower-end consumer stuff makes more sense, as the poster above said $70 for a dual bay isnt necessarily a bargain (in my mind) but it is at least cheaper than a PC with that expandability.
That is because you know how it works, and how easy it can be and have no way to understand that they just don't get it. Many don't even want to try, it is not worth it to them, they have simple needs and don't need the extra features of a server. They want to plug it in and have it work with a warranty. The price for this is often extreme and covers lots of areas. Now, take that 16 bay NAS linked above with 10GbE and find a server in the same price range. It is easy to build one for cheaper, but custom builds without a warranty that require lots of setup and maintenance are not the same thing. You pay for ignorance or ease just about anywhere, what matters is if those are worth it to the person.
 

EvilWays

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Can the typical NAS even cool drives properly? I was too scared to buy one based on my experience with enclosures.
My Synology DS1815+ is set to run the fans in performance mode, yet I have yet to hear either of the two 80mm fans spin up to any significant speed. I have yet to see any of the four drives exceed 41°C. There is definitely space for air to enter the front between the drive caddies and exit the back through the fans.
 

Dullard

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I build fairly badass computers and I still bought a Synology NAS. It's barely bigger than the drives in it and you hardly even notice it on a shelf near the router, and the GUI is really nice. I could probably mimic most of the stuff with some work, but it's nice to just log on from any machine and manage it and all my network interacts with it without issue. I didn't want another computer, just a central place for my stuff. It does have a fan and it works - I have to clean the dust off the intake now and then and the drives stay cool. No RAID controllers to mess with, if a drive goes down (I've had the thing for a few years now and haven't had to replace a drive yet) just pop in another and it deals with it.

So for me, just reliable simplicity I guess. I don't want to have to construct a GUI that can compete with what comes with the Synology NAS, just plug the thing in and start using it. To be fair, I've never tried FreeNAS or any of the other programs like that, their GUI might be awesome as well.
 

jordan12

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I went with a NAS because it was very small and I didnt have to build a machine. Plus I wanted a 10 bay NAS and bought one. It does my torrenting, plex, etc and has a nice easy to use interface.
 

chx

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No, seriously, what is the point of a NAS, and how did they get so popular?
Because it was cheaper to buy a NAS with two disks than just the two disks? I use it for backup, faster than attaching the disks via USB to the router.

 
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Blue Fox

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So, NAS = network attached storage. Just about anything can be a NAS. My phone can be, as can my desktop, and naturally there are prebuilt solutions that do the same. Your custom built file server is also a NAS.

The question you should really be asking is of the merits of a prebuilt NAS vs custom built. Purpose built ones do generally cost a little more, but that doesn't mean they are overpriced. You are paying for the convenience, features, and size. No custom built servers are going to be as compact as say a 2 bay NAS. On the other end of the spectrum, good luck finding a non-rackmount chassis that offers 12 hot-swap drive bays. Sure, you can add them to some full towers, but then it winds up costing just as much and will be considerably larger.

Same goes for power consumption. No unnecessary extras that would be useless to a file server. You also can't beat ease of use and the integration they offer. Performance is really no better on custom built ones as once you get past the base prebuilt models, it's all Intel CPUs and expandable RAM like you'd find in any other server.

So, both have a purpose and place. I myself have 200TB in a rack in a datacenter, but at home I have a 12 bay Synology NAS.
 

Burticus

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As others have said, you're paying for ease of use and reliability. Yeah you could build a box and stuff it with hard drives for the price of a 4 drive NAS, but then you have to support it. Whereas on a NAS (assuming you got one that supported hotswap etc) you could set up alerting to send you an email if a hardware failure had occurred or was pending. You could then ship a drive to the site and someone with half a brain could swap it out. Plus the things last a long time, and hard drives can be upgraded, etc.
 

antok86

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i use 2 qnaps...even for just a simple file server/time machine use can you build something this small with a server and be hot swappable?
 

daglesj

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I rollout a lot of NAS to small business owners. Again simplicity is key. I can buy a QNAP off the shelf, have it unboxed and setup in around 20 minutes and be on my way. They are pretty much set and forget. Put em in RAID1 and all they are used for is data sharing and backups.

Most businesses don't need anything more complex than that. Plus no ongoing support contract to maintain it. I have two NAS units at home. They are simple and I don't have to worry about them. They don't require anything else to be plugged into them either.

Too many IT guys love to push the complex and expensive. I have a customer that was paying a small fortune a year for a 20 core Dell Server with 24GB of ram. Thats what the old IT firm pushed him. All they wanted was file sharing for 10 staff. I told them to cancel it and I swapped it out for a midrange 2bay QNAP with 2x2TB. Saved them a fortune and works great.
 

Ranulfo

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No, seriously, what is the point of a NAS, and how did they get so popular? I've been racking my brain trying to understand why someone would choose a NAS solution over a local server. In every instance where I tried to compare the two, the local server was cheaper, more powerful, more expandable, sucked negligible power at idle, was able to do much more than just store files...

I just don't get it.

I need to sell these things to cash in on the craze but I simply can't bullshit the customer into buying a more expensive and on all accounts inferior solution well enough without popping a vein...

Someoneplease help me see what I'm missing
You have a $1000 budget. Build me 4 bay itx based celeron/atom/quad core+ arm type system with hot swap bays. Thats being generous. Try it with 8 bays. Oh, and you dont have to count your time to build said machine. Good luck. Price it out on pcpartpicker. Find sales. Find a good itx server mobo or a cheap one and add a sata card for more than 4 sata ports. Have fun setting up FreeNAS or something similar. Now go price out a 4 or 8 bay Qnap/Synology etc. machine. Yeah, the cpu will probably be worse. Deal with it.

You can toss out the hot swap bays and make it work with a few itx cases out there. The fractal node 304 comes to mind. It can hold 6 3.5'' I think. The big benefit there is you would have a more powerful cpu.

This is a path I've been down myself the last couple of years. Unless you want something specific and need a real server or atx type case to house a serious cpu and its parts, its easier and cheaper (mostly) in the long run to buy an off the shelf NAS. I have a QNAP system and a cheap celeron soc itx sized setup. The QNAP was more expensive but far easier to deal with. My two other itx systems probably pushed 800-1k each without OS. 8-12 bay setups, both in small itx cases but the same or bigger than 8 bay off the shelf systems.

If you are set on a custom server/NAS route, save cash, time and headache and go with matx or bigger.
 
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Luke M

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I don't understand this thread at all. Isn't a NAS a server by definition? What distinction are you making? Dedicated server versus multi-purpose?
 

KazeoHin

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I don't understand this thread at all. Isn't a NAS a server by definition? What distinction are you making? Dedicated server versus multi-purpose?
Yes, you are correct, a NAS by definition is a simple file server. My question is more along the lines of "why are these small, expensive, and limmited prebuilt file servers so much more popular than cheaper, more powerful, more expandable, more capable X86/ATX based ones that can be purchased outright or custom built?"

I understand paying more for convenience, or sacrificing capability for convenience ; what I don't get is both, and in such grandiose quantities.
 

chx

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why are these small, expensive, and limmited prebuilt file servers so much more popular than cheaper, more powerful, more expandable, more capable X86/ATX based ones that can be purchased outright or custom built?
You are not getting this thread. A PC of hodgepodge parts is not what these things are. It doesn't need to be powerful, it doesn't need to be expandable, it doesn't need to be capable. It needs to stand quietly in a corner providing a SAMBA mount point and that's it. Less is more. Plug it in the wall, plug in an Ethernet cable and that's all your installation work and trouble. Zero maintenance or perhaps a single "upgrade my firmware" button is extremely valuable.

Keeping a PC up to date with a "regular" OS is a tamagotchi. Shit breaks on every other upgrade. No one needs that.

In other words, you are arguing that storage servers are better than a NAS. No. They serve different purposes. Of course, definitions are blurry but you should get what I mean. See the specs below.

You have a $1000 budget. Build me 4 bay itx based celeron/atom/quad core+ arm type system with hot swap bays. Thats being generos.
Here's an eight bay with 32GB of RAM because why not:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: Integrated with Motherboard
Motherboard: ASRock - C2550D4I Mini ITX Atom C2550 Motherboard ($287.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Memory: Crucial - 8GB (1 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($73.43 @ Amazon)
Memory: Crucial - 8GB (1 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($73.43 @ Amazon)
Memory: Crucial - 8GB (1 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($73.43 @ Amazon)
Memory: Crucial - 8GB (1 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($73.43 @ Amazon)
Case: Silverstone - DS380B Mini ITX Tower Case ($147.99 @ Directron)
Power Supply: Silverstone - Strider Gold 450W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular SFX Power Supply ($87.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Total: $817.69
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2017-06-02 20:42 EDT-0400

But also note http://www.u-nas.com/product/nsc800.html
 
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daglesj

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Here's an eight bay with 32GB of RAM because why not:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: Integrated with Motherboard
Motherboard: ASRock - C2550D4I Mini ITX Atom C2550 Motherboard ($287.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Memory: Crucial - 8GB (1 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($73.43 @ Amazon)
Memory: Crucial - 8GB (1 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($73.43 @ Amazon)
Memory: Crucial - 8GB (1 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($73.43 @ Amazon)
Memory: Crucial - 8GB (1 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($73.43 @ Amazon)
Case: Silverstone - DS380B Mini ITX Tower Case ($147.99 @ Directron)
Power Supply: Silverstone - Strider Gold 450W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular SFX Power Supply ($87.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Total: $817.69
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2017-06-02 20:42 EDT-0400
Then just add storage...whoops!:D

Yeah I'll take the QNAP thanks. Time is money and I'll be long out the door and handed in my invoice for the QNAP before anyone gets all that up and running.
 

chx

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Well, of course :) however 4TB disks can be had at $70 and so four of those actually fits your $1000 budget if we go with 16GB RAM only (or 8GB, oh horror :) ) and we have four bays left for further expansion.

And note I was not arguing NAS. A storage server and a NAS serves different purposes. I just wanted to show it's possible.
 

brentsg

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The purpose is that I wanted an instant NAS and not another project. I don't need another project. I paid about $950 for a new Synology NAS with 16GB RAM. The GUI is great and it's plug and play, plus very flexible.

I didn't need to invest any time familiarizing myself with FreeNAS or similar. It is just done. With the custom build, it would be my project this weekend instead of hanging with family or relaxing.

Now I know what I'm doing and it wouldn't have been a huge deal, but most/many people don't. They aren't enthusiasts.
 
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Trimlock

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My next build will be something similar to what I have, but I'll treat it as a NAS.
 

chx

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Or the Supermicro CSE-721TQ-250B possibly. Supermicro is quality and it's only 160 bucks on Amazon. 4 slots only, alas. I have read more now and there are complaints on the Silverstone indeed. So perhaps the U-NAS NSC-800 is the only affordable somewhat small 8 disk case.
 

daglesj

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Because I run severs all day at work. Plug play and forget is appealing.
Yeah folks who don't deal with this crap everyday are always quick to choose the over the top 'enthusiast' route because it will be fun. It soon gets tiresome if day to day and any solution that takes minimal effort and does the same job is, as you say, appealing.

I might login into my NAS to update the firmware maybe twice a year (maybe after I switch it back on after a 3 week vacation) and that's it. Otherwise it just sits there hosting all my network drives.
 
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