So when it comes to backing up your data, whether your personal photos, videos, and music files or professional work, most people use an external hard drive. However, another option is a network attached storage or a NAS. In this post, I’m gonna be talking about the pros and cons of each solution coming out.

Originally I just kept buying more internal hard drives for my desktop computers. Lots of external hard drives. In fact, I’ve got a pile of them in the other office and you can imagine that seeing even this image is it’s kinda crazy like that’s not a great solution and so I’ve realized that my workflow had to evolve.

And that’s what really got me interested in network attached storage. You have better reliability, scalability, your data is more protected. There is a lot of pros of getting a particular NAS.

Let’s talk about what the differences between an external hard drive and a NAS solution is and the pros and cons of each. External hard drives are something I’m sure you’re familiar with. They come in many different shapes and sizes. They’re typically fast, they’re affordable and they’re very convenient for storing your data and backing up your data on the go. Additionally, they connect directly to your computer.

There is no sharing for external hard drive.

However, let’s talk about some of the cons. the downside of an external hard drive is there is no sharing. So if your workflow gets more complex or even if you just work on your laptop and maybe a home computer of some kind, you have to unplug it from one computer plug it into the other computer to get access to the data versus being able to access it from multiple different computers with something like a NAS.

External hard drives tend to be vulnerable.

Furthermore, the downside of external hard drives is that they could be lost, dropped or stolen. Ultimately your data is vulnerable. In fact, we’ve dropped hard drives before and had them stop working and lost all the data and it wasn’t able to be recovered. They’re also vulnerable because inside of this case here is just one drive and so this external hard drive is basically just like a case around an actual hard drive inside. And if the drive fails, you would lose your data as we start talking about the NAS. There are ultimately multiple drives that help you create redundancy. So your data is much safer in case one of the hard drives fails.

So that brings us to the benefits of getting a NAS. Now they come in all different shapes and sizes. This one from sinology is the DS1618+. It’s super cool. they have ones that have multiple different bays in them. This one happens to have six drive bays. Some have more. Some have less. If you enter a NAS, you’re always gonna have probably at least two drive bays in the different solutions that are out there.

NAS is compatible to all your devices and can be connected from anywhere.

And one way to think about this is from a personal standpoint, so let’s say you’ve got multiple computers in your house a desktop, a couple of laptops. Maybe you also have a gaming system. You also have a security camera, keeping your home safe and you’ve got maybe a lot of large video files your iTunes library, music files and you want all of that data stored in one central place that’s accessible from anywhere that is connected to that network.

A big difference between an external hard drive is that’s plugged directly into a computer whereas your NAS is gonna be plugged into a router and so any computer that is plugged in or even over WIFI you can get access to all of the data on that NAS. So let’s talk about some of the pros of investing in a NAS solution. the first one is thinking about it as like your own personal cloud. So if you ever have used Dropbox or google drive that’s kind of like you’re uploading your files online you can access them from anywhere with an internet connection. Well, this is like creating your own personal dropbox. But in this case, you’ve got all of the data stored yourself and so no other mega-corporation has it.

The NAS acts as like your own personal cloud. You’ve got all of the data stored yourself and so no other mega-corporation has it .

Another way to think about a NAS like a bunch of hard drives that are all connected together that have a brain. Ultimately this is like a computer where this is just a hard drive for storage because this is essentially a computer. The cool thing is that when it’s up and running and connected to your network, even if this computer was turned off you could still access this.

One of the cool things about accessing it is again, you could hop on WIFI I like here at my home office and be able to transfer files to it or download files off of it and even watch like video files on it, real-time streaming. So that’s super cool. But then you can also access it remotely and so one of the huge benefits of this is again, you’re not gonna be able to access your hard drive if you left it somewhere at home or are getting really the files to somebody else could be a big hassle. Whereas if you maybe forgot about something you need and you’re on the road you can just log in through a web client and get access to all of the files anywhere with an internet connection.

Cross-platform access is an other benefits of NAS.

Another benefits is cross-platform access. Now I think media this has been major for us.What you can do with an external hard drive is typical if it formats it for mac you have trouble accessing that data on pc without special software or vice versa. What’s great about this is no matter what devices accessing the data everybody can collaborate on it no matter what their workflow is. And even when I’ve worked on other projects, that’s been a problem in the past. So this becomes kind of the ultimate solution for making everything work for everybody.

Back up your data and provide redundacy for yuor data are huge benefits from a NAS.

But probably one of the biggest benefits of investing in and as a solution like this is the fact that you can back up and have redundancy of your data. One of the biggest vulnerabilities, as we mention of this hard drive, is there’s just one hard drive inside of this enclosure. If you lose it, if you drop it if you break it, your data is gone. In this case, there are multiple hard drive bays inside of this mass solution. And what you can do is you can set up different raid configurations. Ultimately with raid, what you can do is basically link hard drives together and they could either work together to go faster. So you’re writing on both of the drives at the same time or you can also mirror the data. Ultimately you have two copies of the data at any given time. Raid can get into a lot of different configurations. But what’s great about this is is if one of these hard drives even begins to fail the software will start telling you there’s gonna be a problem. And if it completely fails because we have it set up to be backed up. All you have to do is pop the driver out pop another one in and you’re back in a situation where your data is protected.

Our data is super important, especially if you’re doing freelance work or client work, having the NAS that really protects your data. I think it’s very important because your content is really your income. your content is your cache. And so ultimately having raid solutions a different backup solution is a whole other level of protection. But the thing with redundancy is again if there’s a crash, you just know that you can always have that data recovered because you’ve got it backed up through your NAS.

Setting up a fully functional NAS will cost you quit a bit.

However, of course, there are cons that come along with investing in a NAS solution. Let’s talk about those .The first being price ultimately to get into an external hard drive that even potentially has quite a bit of space for your data can be relatively inexpensive. Whereas if you invest in a solution like this NAS right here there’s a couple of things to consider. Number one, the first thing you pay for is just the housing itself. Typically they don’t come with any drives installed and so this particular sinology has a starting price of around $750 here in the US. And that’s before you start with storage.

NAS does like a million things more than an external hard drive. But then on top of that, you need to invest in the actual hard drives themselves. The cool thing is you only really need to get started with one hard drive, but you could get started with two drives and you could expand more drives later, which is great. Instead of just buying more drives and having multiple different USB connections like I’ve been doing in my other office, you could you know invest in your solution and it’ll grow with you over time.

Raid set up will cost you more hard drives so as to gurantee data redundancy and safe.

Speaking of hard drives, the other thing to wrap your head around is the fact that if you’re gonna create data redundancy, you would wanna buy two different hard drives. So let’s say you wanna have four terabytes of storage. So you buy two four terabyte drives. The reason you’re doing that is when you set that up as a raid. One of those drives is basically just mirroring the other one backing it up. So if one fails, your data is gonna be absolutely okay,.but in a way you have to be thinking, I’m gonna pay twice as much because there are two hard drives that are installed to make that happen.

One way to think about it is kind of like the insurance you know you pay for your car insurance and it could be kind of expensive and you never have anything go wrong. So it’s no big deal. when you invest in and as you might actually be investing more money, but what you’re paying for is the insurance. If something goes wrong, you get in a car crash you’re gonna be really thankful that you have insurance. You invest in a NAS and you have your data redundant. You’re gonna be really thankful that you had a solution set up like this. And the truth is inevitably someday you’re probably gonna have a hard drive crash. So it’s very important to be thinking about backing up your data.

The speed of the network connection might be the bottleneck,especially while you are doing the 4K video editing.

Another con to consider is the speed .Typically you would be using this for kind of your own cloud storage. You’d be using it for accessing photos and videos and even playing video content, but maybe not actual video editing. You’re ultimately limited by the cable itself and on the back here it’s a one-gigabyte connection that connects to your router. And so we tried editing  4k footage are kind of just over the network and it was you could do it but it was like super clunky and slow versus when you plug an external hard drive in you can actually access that video at a faster speed. However this particular Synology the DS1618+  allows for expandability. You can actually add more RAM You can add SSD disk cachet. So it’ll go faster and you can install a card to get a ten gigabit connection kind of blowing the roof off on your speeds whether you’re on the road or even on a local network. And those are all upgrades that we plan on doing.

Another con to mention is the complexity of setting up a NAS solution. Again, an external hard drive is pretty dead simple. Plug it into your computer and you’re good to go. In this case, you are thinking about which hard drives you want to get to install in the NAS. You’re gonna set it up. you gotta do connect to your router your network and get it all going and that is gonna take a little bit of a learning curve. However, I think it’s something that you definitely should consider I think Synology has tried to decomplexify if that’s a word the challenge of getting this all put together ultimately you just open these bays slide the drives right in there.

The Synology’s software is super user frieindly.

One of the coolest things about Synology products is that everybody absolutely loves is the software. I think that’s actually kind of a game changer because they make it very friendly to access your file station to access all the settings. So ultimately even if you’re new to NAS you can still figure it out. Set up the solution and know that everything’s gonna work great because they’ve made it so user-friendly.

In summary in a few final things to consider if you are kind of a newer content creator or you just want a simple solution for backing up your footage, you’re probably good with an external hard drive. However, you might want to start thinking about multiple hard drives like if you’re gonna buy one thinking about at least buying two. So you have actual redundancy in case there is a  failure .

If you’re a little bit more advanced or if you’re already a professional when it comes to video or photo and you really have precious and important data. I would really consider thinking about a NAS solution. Even if that’s something that comes down the road for you or something that you maybe jump into right now understanding that it is scalable .investing in the unit getting a few drives and then adding on overtime so you don’t just have to keep getting more external hard drives.