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Is a NAS Device What I Need For Home Network Storage and File Sharing?

written by: Matt Conlon•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 7/22/2011

As technology takes over more and more of our lives, the need to share files between home computers is increasing. If you find yourself using thumb drives to share files, perhaps you could benefit from a NAS device.

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    The Sneakernet

    20 Home Network It's easy to forget that not so long ago, people used to share files by writing them to a disk, and physically walking them to their destination. This sort of infrastructure is commonly refered to as a "sneakernet" as a somewhat sarcastic reference to the use of one's sneakers to transfer data.

    Today, we enjoy a nearly ubiquitous interconnectivity between all our necessary business devices, social devices and the rest of the world. It's more common to find an Internet connection in any given area than it is to find a penny on the ground. Left something on your computer at home that you need for a presentation in a little while? Chances are, these days, you can get to it with little trouble.

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    The Office Network

    Those who work in a typical corporate office are probably familiar with the idea of network-based file sharing, as with a server hosting files that can be accessed by multiple computers. It's very common for companies to create a place to share marketing files, accounting information, project data, human resources data, and so on. This allows for one centralized location for data that can be backed up, and drastically decreases the potential for loss of data when a workstation crashes, or the duplication of work by two people working on the same thing without realizing it.

    This used to be a fairly costly model, attainable only by those with deep pockets, or the resources of a corporation. In recent years, it has become far more viable for the home user. The Internet is flooding with home networking tips, and the average person can now do it without being a home network expert.

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    The Home Network

    Most of us have a home network already, whether we know it or not. If you have multiple computers connected to the same Internet connection at home via wired or wireless router, then you have a home network already. The problem is, it's all too common that home users believe that all they can share is the Internet connection, and they rely on the archaic sneakernet to share data, using thumb drives and CDs!

    With the addition of a "network attached storage" device, or NAS, your home network suddenly has almost the same interconnectivity functionality as your corporate network has.

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    Do I Really Need a NAS Device at Home?

    As time goes on, and more and more of us have our lives organized on our phones and laptops, the need for things like file cabinets is decreasing, though the need for disk space is increasing rapidly. I've said several times over the last decade "I'll never fill that hard drive" only to prove myself wrong within months. Consider for a moment the things you use everyday that require disk space.

    Companies are becoming more ecologically aware and friendly by encouraging us to get our bills, invoices and account statements electronically instead of printed and mailed.

    Almost all of us have a cell phone with a camera built-in these days and pictures taken on digital cameras are stored on hard drives.

    Perhaps you like to be able to queue up movies on your devices without having to pop a disk into the ROM drive. Movies are easily ripped and saved in digital format, just like a document. Music is another form of entertainment that we commonly keep a large cache of digitally.

    Installation files for programs are not uncommon to find on our computers. Most of the time when we purchase a program, particularly if the purchasing was done online, we download a large file that sits somewhere on our hard drive. We then run that file, and it extracts the main data that becomes the program files used to run the application, but the original installation file remains. Sure, it can be deleted, but what if you want to keep it in case you need to reinstall? What about the licensing documentation that goes along with the installation file?

    Keeping these things on your primary computer may be convenient while you're at your primary computer, but what if you wanted to access them from another machine in the house? What if your primary computer is in the shop? These are all things you could store on your centralized home network storage.

    Here are some tips on how to organize your home office files.

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    References

    • All content in this article is from the author's own experience.
    • The web comic "Stick I.T.!" is written and drawn by Matt Conlon.