Not really funny? Perhaps it’s too soon? I suppose, given that we have moved from the first wave of infections to a “second” tidal wave of infections, it might be a bit soon. Actually, my earnest best wishes go out to all of those whose lives have been severely disrupted by this devastating disease.
From loss of income to loss of friends and family, there is ongoing hardship for many, many people. I can think of no words that can help. I am doing what I can to contribute to relief efforts, and I’m sure everyone else is as well. Together, we will persevere.
As for what I’ve been doing during this time, well, clearly not taking the RV out on traveling adventures. Still, I’ve been keeping busy; just not posting about it. That is about to change! Starting now, I’m going to try playing catch up, and sharing a few of my projects of the past few months.
Choosing a NAS for the Home Computer Network
No, wait, don’t run away! I’m not going to get all techie on you, really! Okay, I’m going to get a little techie, but not very. I just thought that one or two of my (very few) readers might be interested in what a NAS is, why one would want a NAS, and how to go about choosing one. Not to mention that writing about this is a great way to make my own thinking clear to myself, at least. Moreover, I’m going to post this information in installments, because no one can read this sort of post for more than 5 minutes without glazing over.
What is a NAS?
This is easy: NAS stands for “Network Attached Storage” – we are talking about a hard drive that is attached directly to your router, not to one of your computers. I’m thinking you all know this, but as a reminder, the router is the appliance that provides your wireless connection, and sometimes even a wired connection, to the internet. Attaching an appropriate disk drive to the router means every device has access to that disk all of the time, not just when the disk is attached to a particular computer or device.
Why is an appropriate disk drive in italics? Because a NAS is a special sort of disk drive – one that has enough computing power to include processing router signals all on its own. Your standard external disk drive is dumb as a box of rocks, and relies on the computer to which it is connected for its “smarts” – the computer manages the network signals, and the reading and writing commands and so forth. A NAS doesn’t need a computer for this, because, frankly, it is a computer in its own right. Just a very specialized computer.
Why bother with a NAS?
First, there is the accessibility to data that a NAS offers. Every device can access the data, all of the time, and all at once, if desired. Compare this to a locally attached hard drive. If you have more than one device that wants to use the data on that drive, you have to disconnect it from the device it is currently on, then connect it to the second device that wants to use the file. If you are using mobile devices, whether a laptop computer or a tablet of some kind, the hard drive is then dangling from your device as you move about: awkward at best, and at worst it is dangerous to the long term health of the external drive. Even the toughest of them can’t take swinging about and whacking the coffee table indefinitely.
Second, there is the extra data security it can provide. A NAS is the ideal location for local for “on site” backups of all of your devices. If you are using Apple products, a NAS is the perfect place for your Time Machine backups – those incremental backups that are captured as frequently as every hour, and that allow you to walk a document back to almost any version you had in the past, whether it was last hour, yesterday or two and a half weeks ago. If you are in the Windows world, there are incremental backup apps for your life too, I just don’t know what they are. PCWorld has some suggestions, though. And while we are on this topic:
What is Your Best Backup Routine?
A reminder, if you need one, that the mantra for an appropriate backup routine is: “3, 2, 1”. That is, you want to maintain 3 copies of your data, 2 of those copies should be backup copies and 1 of those copies should be off-site, or not at your home or business.
You can subscribe to a cloud service as your off-site backup, or you can make a copy of your on-site backup and walk it to your neighbor’s house or store it in a safe deposit box or whatever. The disadvantage to the “sneaker net” off-site backup is that you have the potential to loose any data that changed since the last time you took your backup off-site. If you do that weekly, then you could loose 7 days. If you are less diligent about creating off-site backup, you will loose a lot more than 7 days of data.
If you are using the “sneaker net” approach to off-site backups, a NAS as the potential to make that process easier. If you are using a cloud service as your off-site backup, the local backup on the NAS makes getting at your backup files easier and faster than a cloud service is capable of doing. This is particularly useful when you want to find the draft of your Christmas letter you had yesterday morning, instead of the one you just messed up with too many family photos or weird fonts.
So that’s the motivation for purchasing a NAS. If you made it this far, take a breath and let the information settle in. If anything was confusing or a bit to techie, just leave me a comment, and I’ll try to clear it up. Next up: What to look for when choosing your own NAS.