Server Vs. NAS (Network Attached Storage)

Last week I was asked by a client of mine about upgrading their current IT infrastructure and which direction should we proceed. Should they purchase a Network Server or a NAS? A little bit of background information. My client (a law firm) has a total of 6 computers in the office including 3 laptops and 3 desktops. One desktop does all the administrative work within the office and stores most of the office information therefore it gets backed up regularly. The rest maintain their own information and does not get backed up.

The discussion was whether to purchase a Windows Based Network Server or a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device. I informed my client that given their situation currently and the need to watch the budget, their best available option would be to purchase a NAS. The NAS can always be configured to attach to a Server later on if the office grows. I outlined a quick comparison below for my client. Now this is NOT a comprehensive list.

Server

  • Severs come in a lot of different flavors and prices
  • Cost anywhere from $1000 – $7000 for this small office
  • Servers are more complex to configure therefore additional labour charges will occur
  • HDD & Server Software are not usually included in the price

NAS

  • NAS comes in a lot of different flavors and prices ie. Home & Small offices to Work-groups & Medium to Small Businesses
  • Cost anywhere from $500 – $3000
  • NAS is a lot easier to configure and can be fully configured in less than 3 hrs.
  • HDD are less expensive
  • Not computer dependent and can create user shares and network policies

In the end we ended up purchasing a QNAP TS-469 Pro  4 bay NAS and saving my client a few thousand dollars. They were very pleased with the results. All data is now being stored on the NAS including the laptops and other PCs. The NAS gets backed up daily and the lawyer has peace of mind.