Cloud storage – The Difference Between NAS vs. SAN

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The convergence of mobile devices and government and industry regulations have left companies reeling with data that needs to be securely stored – to ensure integrity, compliance and protection against costly outages. Many of them are turning to managed cloud storage providers to craft custom solutions for their businesses. However, while storage is an essential component to any cloud-based solution, understanding options such as NAS (Network Attached Storage) and SAN (Storage Area Network) can be confusing. HOSTING is here to help. Read on to learn the difference between NAS versus SAN and how to choose the right solution for your needs.

Why cloud storage is important

The increased usage of mobile devices and acceptance of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies resulted in large amounts of data being stored on local hard drives and USBs. But when these devices fail, data can be lost. Sharing local data with other computers can often be time consuming or restricted by insufficient local storage capabilities.

A cloud storage system maintains copies of digital data across a unified architecture of servers and data centers. It is designed to back up files, databases and applications to a central location that can easily be accessed via standard network protocols and tools. Besides freeing up local storage space, cloud storage systems can copy data from a primary source to a secure data center or on-premises environment.


NAS allows files to be retrieved across a computer network. It includes a dedicated hardware device (often called the head) that connects to a local area network (usually via Ethernet). This NAS “server” authenticates clients and manages file operations in much the same manner as traditional file servers, through well-established network protocols like NFS (Network File Service) and CIFS/SMB (Common Internet File System/System Message Block).

Rather than utilize general-purpose computer hardware and a full-featured network operating system, NAS devices generally run an embedded operating system on simplified hardware. Designed specifically for network storage, a NAS tends to be easier to manage than a file server. A NAS can be set up to run automatic or manual backups and file copies between the NAS and all other connected devices. While a NAS can hold up to a few terabytes of data, administrators of larger enterprises may require additional centralized file storage or high-speed file transfer operations that exceed the capabilities of a NAS. In this case, a SAN would be a better option.

A SAN is a high-speed network of storage devices that also connect those storage devices with servers. It provides block-level storage that can be accessed by applications running on any networked servers. While SAN storage devices can include tape libraries, disk-based devices are more common.

SANs are particularly useful for data back up and disaster recovery. Within a SAN, data can be transferred from one storage device from another without interacting with a server. This speeds up the backup process and eliminates the need to use CPU cycles for backup. Many SANs utilize Fibre Channel technology or other networking protocols that allow networks to span longer distances geographically. This enables organizations to keep their backup data in remote, geographically-dispersed locations.

Since a SAN can simplify some management tasks, companies may realize resource efficiencies from utilizing one. IT teams can also boot servers from a SAN, which can streamline the process of replacing servers.

HOSTING Managed Cloud Storage

HOSTING managed storage solutions provide the availability and redundancy capabilities organizations need to safeguard their business-critical data assets. We offer Storage Area Network (SAN) and Network Attached Storage (NAS) to deliver 100% availability and a fully redundant architecture. Whether it’s dedicated servers, on-demand cloud services, or disaster recovery solutions, we customize a managed storage configuration to ensure business continuity in the event of a system failure.

The HOSTING Cloud Backup™ solution uses advanced, disk-based technology to copy data from a HOSTING data center (or an organization’s on-premises environment) to a second HOSTING data center. Our highly redundant storage architectures deliver rapid recovery — often four times faster than tape backup. Critical information is readily accessible in the event of a system-impacting event or disaster.

Confused about cloud storage? HOSTING stands ready to help. Contact our cloud experts anytime to discuss your storage needs. And read our blog 5 Criteria for Choosing a Managed Cloud Storage Provider for more information.

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