Data is the new currency in 2024. Data exists everywhere.
Everything requires data to build, whether it’s a simple word document containing 1000 words or complex software that involves a thousand strings of codes.
We certainly cannot carry too much or too little data with us all the time.
We hope that our data is being taken good care of, and that is why different types of storage solutions with different features have been invented.
In the current digital era, everything is digitizing fast. The same goes for the storage solution.
The old and traditional way of storing data in documents or paper files has been eliminated or replaced.
Storage backup nowadays occurs in physical devices such as external hard drives and NAS, or fully remote Cloud Services.
Each of them works fantastic in different sectors of business.
Two of the most commonly used storage solutions today are NAS (Network Attached Storage) and Cloud Storage.
Both have fantastic features. Depending on the user, both can have very different pros and cons.
In this article, we will take a look at the difference between NAS and Cloud Storage.
We will be explaining what they are.
We will also evaluate the pros and cons of NAS and cloud storage services from different aspects to let you make the right decision.
Network Attached Storage (NAS)
NAS is a storage device connected to a network that allows users to store and retrieve data from a central location for authorized users.
NAS devices are easily customizable, as you can add additional storage if you demand more.
They are perfect for personal backup to large-scale business and production companies that require centralized storage for their massive data.
See how I set up my very own Home NAS for the first time and why I think the DS220J is the best NAS for a home user.
Cloud storage is a storage method that stores your data on the Internet via a cloud computing provider.
It does not require any physical devices from the user end, other than their PC or laptop.
It lives on to its motto, which is to store your data anytime, anywhere.
Users can easily add more storage capacity by paying the service provider.
They are perfect for small business enterprises to backup documents, image graphics, and even light video files. Some are a perfect companion for music cloud storage as well if you love music on the go.
GoodCloudStorage constantly monitoring the performance of our selected cloud storage services here without fail.
NAS vs Cloud Storage in Details
Let’s take a look at NAS and Cloud Storage services from these 4 different perspectives:
- Data Sharing
- Backup and Reliability
- Storage Limitation
NAS: The price of a NAS system depends solely on the amount of storage needed.
If you wish to add more storage, you can purchase additional hard drives to be attached to your existing NAS device. The price for NAS ranges from 500 USD to 1000 USD. Additional hard drive prices may vary depending on the service provider.
The pricing of NAS is quite on the hefty side. Therefore, careful considerations should be made before investing in a NAS system such as the RAID level.
Cloud Storage: Cloud service is relatively cheap compared to NAS devices.
The majority of service providers offer new users FREE storage space, without any upfront payment required.
If users wish to add more storage space, they will purchase more from the provider, with just a few clicks from the website.
The price for Cloud Storage ranges from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars monthly, depending on the amount of storage needed. Some cloud providers even provide free upfront storage for new users.
2. Data Sharing
NAS: NAS has more sharing access and ability compared to Cloud Storage. Users can connect their NAS to devices, such as smart TVs, laptops, customized apps, smartphones, etc.
It is extremely convenient, as it is just a plug-and-play process away from accessing all the stored data.
NAS data sharing is perfect for a team of people that works daily with large-size files.
The requirements of constant storing and retrieving large-size data make NAS one of their best choices.
You own your NAS therefore you are responsible for your data security.
Cloud Storage: On the other hand, Cloud Storage is adopted by the majority of IT Companies, Startups, and even F&B outlets.
Cloud Storage can be accessed anytime, anywhere.
With just a few clicks on laptops or a few taps on smartphones, data can be accessed easily.
This makes data sharing convenient as business operations can be performed anytime, anywhere. Of course, the seamless experience would pretty much depend on your internet speed.
Find out who is the fastest cloud storage in the market now with our real-world upload experiment.
Without the additional hardware requirements, Cloud Storage has always been the main choice for small business owners.
Data security might be a concern for some as they are worried that the cloud storage provider can peek into their data for unethical usage.
Some claimed the rights reserved to scan and read what you stored on these third-party servers. With the most prominent Google Drive scan and ‘reads’ your cloud data.
3. Backup and Reliability
NAS: If you have only one drive for your NAS Device, an alternative data backup solution is needed.
The level of backup and reliability of NAS is low compared to Cloud Storage.
There are a few scenarios where it is often fatal to NAS owners:
Hardware malfunction – When the NAS device itself is broken, the maintenance process is going to be troublesome. Failure of one of the NAS Hard Drive can be easily replaced with a new one, but the damage to the NAS Device itself cannot be retracted.
Furthermore, one cannot 100% guarantee the data will be fully protected while the maintenance process is ongoing.
Here’s one of an actual Synology RAID failure and why RAID is not the data backup you are going to rely on.
What is RAID you might be asking? RAID is simply a duplication of your primary data backup.
For instance, RAID 0 means there will be no additional backup, and RAID 1 is similar to data mirroring, where you have 2 sets of the same data from a different hard drive.
Power shortage – The network attached storage device depends on electricity to power, and when a power shortage occurs, it will halt or delay the operation of the company or team that depends heavily on the data stored in the NAS Device.
Cloud Storage: On the other hand, cloud services have a better backup and reliability than NAS.
Without connecting your laptop or PC to another device, you can upload or download data anytime, anywhere. A few Cloud Storage features that stand out:
User-friendly – It is extremely user-friendly, as it does not require any skill to install and set up any devices. Most providers will provide the option of automatic backup, enabling users to continuously back up their data without manually uploading their files all the time.
Backup – Mostly in cloud backup/storage, data is backed up in multiple servers or what we call geo-redundancy which is similar to the RAID feature. Failure of one does not affect your data, as it is stored in other cloud backup servers. With that, reliability can be guaranteed in the cloud backup compared to the hard drive RAID level.
4. Storage Limitation
NAS: NAS device storage size depends on the number of drives you have.
The more drives you have installed in your NAS, the more storage you will get.
There are two main types of network-attached storage device configurations in the market.
The first type provides a fixed amount of storage that can be between 500GB to 4TB.
The other type is when you demand more storage. You can add more hard drives to increase the storage capacity, which can be up to 10TB.
Cloud Storage: The storage capacity is lower compared to NAS, but it has other advantages that outshine NAS.
One of the major benefits of cloud storage is you don’t have to worry about upgrades all the time (maintenance-free).
The majority of service providers give free upfront cloud storage, ranging from 5GB to 15GB. I’m sure that you all are using services like Google Drive.
Once you run out of storage, you can just easily upgrade by paying the service provider. No additional devices are needed. It’s a ‘click and goes’ upgrade process.
NAS vs Cloud Storage, Who is Using Them?
NAS vs Cloud Storage user base can be very different.
People who use NAS are majority from Production companies, Media companies, and Hardware Manufacturing companies.
These sectors require their employees to process /work with a huge chunk of data daily, and NAS is their best storage choice.
With the flexibility of sharing data across connected devices, it is deeply favored in these sectors.
Cloud storage service, on the other hand, is more commonly used. SMEs, schools or students, law firms, and many business establishments are using it.
Due to its low maintenance costs, it is fairly popular among small-medium business owners. It is also more user-friendly compared to NAS.
Here’s a list of service providers from both NAS and Cloud Storage, commonly used by people globally.
NAS Devices: Western Digital, Seagate, Synology
Cloud Storage Providers: Google Drive, Microsoft One Drive, Dropbox
Cloud Backup Providers: Backblaze, Carbonite, SpiderOak One
Bonus: Find out who’s the winner from Google Drive vs Dropbox vs OneDrive here.
Conclusion – Is NAS Better Than Cloud Storage
The definition of the best cloud storage system varies with different users. All in all, having a backup solution is a must, as data can be fragile to accidents that can eventually cause them to vanish.
NAS costing is on the hefty side, but it is a valuable long-term investment.
It provides long-term storage, a myriad of features, and enterprise level ready specifications. Multi national company and large-scale businesses are using NAS systems for daily business operations and data storage.
On the other hand, cloud-based storage’s cost is much lower compared to NAS.
One of Cloud Storage’s advantages is that they have greater reliability, thanks to its storage method, which stores data in multiple servers.
Multiple servers not only protect your data from loss but also protects data from anonymous assault from hackers thus secure cloud storage was pretty much the standard.
All in all, please make such considerations when you’re comparing Nas vs cloud storage:
- Storage capacity requirements
- Backup and Reliability
From a price point and value perspective, I would prefer cloud storage as oppose to nas.
Costs are significantly lower if we take into consideration replacing all the failed hard drive after a few years of running them. Whereas lifetime cloud storage such as pCloud lifetime costs only $350 for a 2TB cloud data storage.
In short, Nas is no better than a reliable cloud service.