A Cable Installer’s Guide to NAS Devices

• • Smart Home, Structured Wiring

woman-hand-smartphone-laptop-webBy now most of your customers have a horror story about that time they lost all their data. If it hasn’t happened to them personally, they probably know someone who has.

With more of our lives moving into the digital realm, secure file management is becoming a household issue and customers are looking for help. One option that has the potential to become a household standard is the network attached storage (NAS) device.

What does a NAS device do?

NAS devices store files securely where others on a network can access them. The NAS device is like a hybrid between a standard disk backup and a cloud service. Unlike a removable hard drive which functions only as backup storage, NAS devices come with their own operating systems and are designed to share files with multiple users.

Unlike a cloud service, a NAS device doesn’t depend on the Internet for access to files stored by a third party. Instead files are accessed through the local network. However, with free cloud storage often included as a standard feature, NAS devices can offer the best of both worlds.

Most NAS devices are compatible with common media-playing software, which makes them a great option for home theatre file storage. Your customers can play movies directly from a smart TV interface without moving or downloading the file.

What you need to know

For the installer, the increasing popularity of NAS devices means you need to ensure your customers have the fastest, most efficient network possible. NAS devices are typically wired into the router, and they need a gigabit network to stream video locally.

That means your customer would benefit from a smart home setup with a gigabit router and minimum Cat5e cabling throughout. High-speed wireless devices would also be needed so a Wi-Fi router installed in a Wi-Fi transparent, media distribution enclosure would make a great central hub.

If the customer will be handling their own local network, make sure they are aware of the cable requirements. You don’t want to be blamed for network latency because the customer is using insufficient cable.

Shopping for NAS devices

There are many NAS devices on the market, with different features and price tags. Storage size is a major factor in device selection (and a major influence on price), but there are other features to take into account.

One important consideration is drive configuration. At the less expensive end of the scale are devices with one or two hard drives in a fixed configuration. But the majority of NAS devices are set up for multiple drives in a RAID configuration. RAID stands for Redundant Array of Independent (or Inexpensive) Disks.

RAID configuration is data that is mirrored on more than one hard drive. Mirrored data means the exact same data is always written to two or more drives each time there is a change to a file.  If one drive dies, the data still survives. All you have to do is replace the dead drive. If the budget allows, a RAID configuration is recommended.

Another feature your customer needs to consider is whether they want a NAS device with drives already included or one that allows the user to install their own drives. The media enthusiast who already has high-quality backup drives may be better off installing their own drives.

Another benefit to the device that allows for drive installation is that users have the opportunity to upgrade. Your customer might think two terabytes is enough storage now, but that could easily change.

The household with a home business will need a NAS device that is configured for setting different levels of access permission.  Devices with this option allow kids access to all of the family movies and music, but not the home business files.

Only time will tell if the NAS device will become the standard in household file security. But there is no question that more and more families are going to be investing in NAS devices.