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Forage for Storage

It's cheap, convenient and keeps your files secure. No wonder entrepreneurs are getting attached to NAS.
September 1, 2002
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/54490

Your data needs room to roam--wide-open spaces of megabytes and gigabytes to fill. Everything is digital these days, and your growing business can't get enough storage. So we can be thankful for the proliferation of Network Attached Storage (NAS) hardware aimed at the size of your company. It's cost-effective and easy to install. No IT department required.

NAS appliances are servers that handle just the warehousing and sharing of files with other servers and clients on a LAN. This is ideal for centralizing your office's data for convenience, security and backup purposes. If you're still using tape drives, consider replacing them with an NAS unit. They can also help take some of the strain off an overtaxed network. Expandability is key--you can easily add individual drives to your NAS cabinet or another appliance to your network as your business grows.

Take a glance at the Shopping List (page 52). We have several sub-$2,000 products to represent entry-level appliances. Look upward in those companies' product lines if you know you need more memory or more advanced features. There's a price leap from the sub-$2,000 low end to the $8,000 mid-level. Really big-budget NAS servers easily get into the tens of thousands of dollars. When selecting an NAS appliance, you should think about security, compatibility, cost and how much storage you need.

On the security front, Iomega's $1,999 (all prices street) 160GB P400u has a couple of facets. First, it features RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) technology that shares your data among multiple disks. If one disk happens to go down, you're protected from data loss. Secondly, it includes software that lets you designate file access and utilize password protection. Usually, your current network security system will also work with your NAS server. For another approach to data protection, the $8,120 IBM TotalStorage NAS 200 Model 201 takes "snapshots" of your data for ongoing backup.

When it comes to compatibility, you should be concerned whether the NAS server supports the operating system you use on your network. On the other hand, the $8,500 Globalstor Data RackServer-R can work without an onboard server. It's RAID-ready, and its auto-sensing network connection lets it appear as one huge hard drive to any networked computer. Web-based configuration software is accessible from Novell, Unix or Windows systems, and 960GB of space will hold a heap of data for less than $9 per gigabyte.

If you're comfortable with Windows, take a look at the $3,500 Windows 2000-based Maxtor MaxAttach NAS 4100, but stay vigilant with Microsoft security updates. One nice perk of the 4100 is that it offers Macintosh interoperability. Entrepreneurs who use PCs and Macs in the office will find this handy.

The Quantum Snap Server 1100 appeals to a certain audience. Just heft the portable 3.5-pound, briefcase-sized Quantum Snap Server 1100, and you'll know who: Telecommuters, on-the-go entrepreneurs and space-strapped offices will like this machine. Lighter than most laptops, it delivers 80MB of storage for $850 or 40MB for $550. The sales literature boasts a five-minute installation time and automatic network platform recognition. The trade-off, though, comes in with a lack of expandability.

What's nice about the Sony FSV-E1 StorStation? The cost. At $860 for 80GB of space, that works out to about $10 per gigabyte. Not a bad investment to get you started. This is an attractive option for a very small office or home office that has less stringent storage needs. Keep your data safe and convenient. Check into NAS.

Shopping List
Suffering from information overload? A good NAS may be just the cure for what ails you. Here's what's in store:

COMPANY/MODELCONTACTCAPACITY/
DRIVE BAYS
FEATURESSTREET PRICE
GLOBALSTOR DATA
Rackserver-R
(818) 701-7771
www.globalstor.com
960GB/1280GB max
8
Rack-mount, Raid,
Hot-swappable drives
$8,500
IBM
Totalstorage
NAS 200 Model 201
(888) ibm-5800
www.storage.ibm.com
109.2GB/440.4GB max
6
Tower configuration$8,120
IOMEGA
NAS P400U
(888) 4-iomega
www.iomega.com
160GB/480GB max
4
Raid,
Hot-swappable drives
$1,999
MAXTOR
Maxsttach NAS 4100
(800) 2-maxtor
www.maxtor.com
320GB
4
Rack-mount,
Macintosh-compatible
$3,500
QUANTUM
Snap server 1100 80 MB
(888) 343-7627
www.quantum.com
80GB
1
Portable,
Macintosh-compatible
$850
SONY
FSV-E1 Storstation
(800) 352-7669
www.storagebysony.com
80GB
1
Desktop or rack-mount,
Macintosh-compatible
$860