What is the Difference Between SAN and NAS Storage?

Updated: 1/22/2019

If you’re looking to protect your data, you may have already encountered both SAN and NAS storage options. SAN and NAS are very similar on the surface, but they fulfill slightly different roles. A SAN system is a Storage Area Network; a NAS system is a Network Attached Storage. Both of these may be good options if you need to store and protect data long-term.

The Similarities Between SAN and NAS Storage

Both SAN and NAS systems are redundant storage systems that utilize RAID. Redundant storage systems are able to recover after the failure of one or more of their components, making them more stable than other types of storage. SAN and NAS solutions are most useful to those who need to store large volumes of data and need to be able to have stable and reliable access to this data.

What are the differences between NAS and SAN?

SAN storage devices connect through fibre, while NAS storage devices connect trough TCP/IP

For this reason, SAN is often used for higher-grade solutions, whereas a NAS solution is more accessible for a home user or for a small business. In order to connect via SAN, a device must be able to use a SCSI Fibre Channel. Comparatively, anything can connect to a NAS solution via ethernet.

SAN storage devices access blocks of data, while NAS storage devices access individual files

Depending on performance needs, either of these options could be preferable; it all depends on the architecture of the data and the system . For advanced applications that are data and resource intensive, block data may be preferable. But for general stored data NAS may be more straightforward and lead to better performance.

SAN storage devices connect multiple storage devices, while NAS storage devices operate as a single dedicated devices

A SAN solution is essentially creating an array of storage devices that all operate on the same network. A NAS array, on the other hand, is located as storage within a single device. Functionally, this means that SAN and NAS operate very differently: one relies chiefly upon its network, while the other relies chiefly upon its hardware.

Choosing Between SAN and NAS Storage Solutions

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NAS storage solutions are generally faster, cheaper, and easier–and they are usually used for smaller, more specific applications. They can be as advanced, sophisticated, and fast as a SAN cloud, but that requires some additional work and configuration. NAS solutions are more frequently used for individual users, small business owners, and more direct data applications.

SAN solutions are generally faster, especially when it comes to transferring large volumes of data. SAN clouds are frequently used for higher level, resource intensive applications, and they are both more complex to setup and more complex to administer. Due to their requirements, a SAN solution may also be more expensive. SANS are extensible and scalable and can maintain their performance even given very large workloads.

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Closing the Bridge Between SAN and NAS Solutions

Though SAN and NAS solutions currently have different applications and different builds, the gap has closed considerably in recent years — and is likely to continue closing. SAN solutions have been moving towards a more TCP/IP approach and have focused more on device management, whereas NAS solutions have improved upon their own performance and explored network-based features. SAN and NAS solutions approach the same problem from two different sides; together, they may eventually create a singular and holistic approach to data access and storage.

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For most individuals and organizations, a NAS solution is suitable; for advanced performance, however, a cloud SAN usually offers exceptional performance without the need for unnecessary maintenance and monitoring. Cloud SANs are overkill for many applications, but NAS solutions can be tailored to advanced applications as well. It all comes down to the type of approach that a company wants to take when storing its data.

Regardless of whether a SAN or NAS is used, data loss can happen due to user error or hardware failure. For SAN and NAS recovery, you can turn to Gillware Data Recovery for quality, affordable SAN and NAS data recovery services. If you have a storage device that needs to be recovered, you can submit a case to Gillware for a free evaluation and a firm price quote.

Will Ascenzo
Will Ascenzo

Will is the lead blogger, copywriter, and copy editor for Gillware Data Recovery and Digital Forensics, and a staunch advocate against the abuse of innocent semicolons.

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