Network-attached storage (NAS) is a type of dedicated file storage device that provides local-area network local area network (LAN) nodes with file-based shared storage through a standard Ethernet connection.
NAS devices, which typically do not have a keyboard or display, are configured and managed with a browser-based utility program. Each NAS resides on the LAN as an independent network node and has its own IP address.
An important benefit of NAS is its ability to provide multiple clients on the network with access to the same files. Prior to NAS, enterprises typically had hundreds or even thousands of discrete file servers that had to be separately configured and maintained. Today, when more storage capacity is required, NAS appliances can simply be outfitted with larger disks or clustered together to provide both vertical scalability and horizontal scalability. Many NAS vendors partner with cloud storage providers to provide customers with an extra layer of redundancy for backing up files.
In the home, NASes are often used for storing and serving multimedia files and for automated backups. Many smart homes rely on NAS to provide centralized storage for smart TVs, security systems and other Internet of Things (IoT) components in the home.
In the enterprise, a NAS array can be used as a backup target for archiving and disaster recovery. If a NAS device has a server mode, it can also function as an email, multimedia, database or print server for a small business. Some higher-end NAS products can hold enough disks to support RAID, a storage technology that turns multiple hard disks into one logical unit in order to provide better performance times, high availability and redundancy.