NAS or file server

maramures

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Mar 27, 2014
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Hey guys, I'm having problems choosing a data storage unit.
We're a small bussines which keeps multiple files on each pc,and searching through 4 different pc's can be a headache. So I want to have a unit where all pc's save and open files,and where we store all our data.
Most of files got max 5mb (.dwg and .doc),some more like tiffs.
We need to be able to access data over internet aswell,when we're away,and we need some speed over the lan also (we open up to 4-5 files on 4-5 pc's).
Got a static ip and 1gb network.
I was thinking going for NAS,others suggested file server.
Any ideas and suggestions?
 

noidea_77

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A NAS box does what you want. I recommend a four bay box with raid 5 (Thecus, Synology, Qnap,...) If you plan to grow your business in the future, a windows server my make sense. It can act as a domain controller for the user management, file-, mail- and print-server and much more.
 

EdgeT

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File servers are cheaper because they support a lot more drives for the price. There are a lot of AMD FM2/+ motherboards at the 50$ mark that support 8 drives, whereas an 8-drive NAS is way too expensive.
 

maramures

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NAS got same speed(read/write) as a file server?
I was thinking RAID 10.
 

choucove

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A lot of times the difference and idea of "NAS" and "File Server" really get misconstrued. A NAS is a file server. The difference is that NAS units are specifically focused at performing that one task while a real file server can be more flexible to perform other roles if needed within your network.

Here's how I often approach it with my customers when discussing NAS vs. Server. 1) What do you intend to do with your system not just now but perhaps a couple years down the road? If ALL you want to do is store files (shared storage for users to access or a location for backups, etc.) then you should be fine with a NAS. Depending upon the capacity, performance, and features that you need, you can often get a nice small business NAS with plenty of hard drive space for under $1,000. This means more cost savings over going with a full server system.

However, if you want to do more than just file storage, then you probably would be best off looking at a true server. For example, do you want to set up automatic image backups of all your systems to the central server? Are you wanting to set up a centralized shared application such as remote desktop features, or shared company files in Quickbooks or other database applications? Do you have a website, internal or external, that you want to host? All of these things can be done with a true server but aren't feasible on most NAS devices because their operating system and hardware is specifically designed just for file sharing and storage.

There are benefits and disadvantages either way you go. NAS devices, at the smaller end, can be less expensive than a server system to set up and can also be easier to set up and manage. However, you aren't going to be able to install any software you want on there, so setting up backup systems or additional shared applications is going to be next to impossible. NAS devices are also not as upgradable or easy to service as an actual server. With a server it is using standardized hardware so if a power supply goes out, you can just replace the power supply with another unit and keep going. Likewise if you need to upgrade the processor or add more RAM for performance you can do so still utilizing the same base system. This can't really be done with a NAS.

The down side to a server is that it will cost more to initially get into than a simple NAS depending upon the features and performance needs you are looking at. A server has more performance capabilities (quad core processors or more, several gigs of memory, hardware RAID controllers, etc.) but all of that comes at an additional cost over the simplistic hardware behind most small business NAS devices. There is also possibly licensing for the operating system, such as Server 2012 R2 Essentials.

So really, we would need to know a little more about your specific expectations and future needs to make a better recommendation what to look for. Could you get by with a NAS? Sure. If you have the budget would it hurt to buy a storage server instead? Of course it wouldn't hurt. But again, it's just hard for us to make those judgement calls or recommendations quite yet without knowing more about what you are wanting and expecting from this machine.
 

maramures

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One thing is for sure: we wont need a website :),maybe a mail.
Maybe you can imagine what I need and could use:
5 surveyors,5 pc's, a lot of information within dwg,doc,xls(etc,not very large files),that needs to be searchable and findable :) storing them on 5 pc's is a pain,and its a mess.
So we want to store all files on one single unit,capable to work fast enough when all of us open/save 4-5 files (up to 25). And we want to be able to access it over internet too.
The budget should be around 1200$ or so.
I've missed an offer for a Thecus N8800 pro v2 (600$),and now I keep other options in mind.
I even considered to install some freenas software to try things out,but I think it would be over my capabilities to set some thjngs out and I dont have the time to learn and do researches about certain things.
I'm not even sure what to mention more to figure out my needs :) most important should be performance/speed and integrity of the data in time (would be really...really expensive to lose our files).
 

TyrOd

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Besides the file server you will need a backup server, so you can triple that budget right now if you really care about the integrity of your data. the fact that you don't have a backup server right now and you think that a file server is your main priority is pretty appalling as it is.
 

house70

Splendid
Example: I use a Synology NAS with 2 drives in RAID 1. One drive failed, got replaced on the fly. It can be a file server, as well as other capabilities (can setup a VPN, for example, so you can access files remotely).

Example of a catastrophic failure with RAID 5: the enclosure board fails. Drives are OK, but data is spread and can not be reconstructed if the original RAID controlled is not available. Almost total file loss, maybe some partial recovery with specialized software. True story, happened to me.

RAID 10 could do, but it's slower and not really needed in your scenario.
 

TyrOd

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For any real data recovery professional, it's extremely easy to analyze the parity structures to recover from a RAID 5 if only the controller fails. In fact, you almost always need just the drives themselves to reconstruct the RAID. It's only the high end proprietary SANs like Equalogic, VNXe, etc... that are different.
If you have problems recovering from a set of drives in a RAID 5 it is almost always because of other problems with the drives.
Of course RAID is NOT a backup. You should always have a backup so the most you lose if you experience a catastrophic failure is the time to restore from backup.
It's kind of a moot point because RAID 5 is almost completely obsolete now, but it's an important one.
 

Ahmed Sadek

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Jun 3, 2015
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I have the same situation for a new office that holds 16 pcs and 4-5 printers and after I read what you said above now i know i have to go with a real server but can you please suggest what specifications needed for the server? cpu and ram and all kind of this stuff? I need it fast and reliable budget is around 1000~1400$ all the files that will be handled is .doc, .xls, .ppt and printing services.
 

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