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You can never have enough storage, whether a bigger house to store your belongings or more hard disk space to store your data on a network. Traditionally, installing server-based storage is complicated, expensive, and requires you to take down the server. Shutting down the server, installing disks, reconfiguring software, setting share privileges, and restarting the system aren't problems with Network Attached Storage. NAS connects directly to a network's wire and is as easy to install as plugging a telephone line into a wall jack. You generally don't need to add software to make NAS run, and configuration is minimal. Theoretically, if you plug the device into your network, the NAS will work.

Some NAS devices provide workgroup storage, which places file sharing closer to users and offloads file service from the server. Other NAS devices provide storage to your heterogeneous environment. Regardless of the size of your business or your storage needs, NAS devices offer a compelling solution because they are easy to install and administer.

When sorting through NAS options, keep in mind the kind of data you plan to store, the importance of fast access to your data, the amount of scalability you need, and how much you want to spend. This Buyer's Guide focuses on NAS solutions using CD-ROM, RAID, or hard disks as the storage medium. Products listed range in price from $995 to $100,000.

Buyer's Guide

—Jonathan Cragle