A couple of weeks ago I talked about why you should consider website backups. Today I want to talk about 3 reasons why you need a NAS. Even though they may not sound related, they are! Read on…

Around 15 years ago one of my hard drives crashed. It happened to be the hard drive that stored all of my families digital photos. My wife was not happy. I think I slept in the doghouse for about a week after this happened. I finally ended up spending hundreds of dollars sending my drive to a hard drive recovery company to see if they could recover the images off of the hard drive. To do this, they required me to buy a new hard drive and pay a hefty recovery fee.

At the time, money was tight, so spending all of this money was difficult, but it was worth it to get out of the dog house. This story eventually had a happy ending and we were able to recover all of our pictures, but it was an expensive lesson. Since then I guess I’ve been ultra-paranoid about losing any data but especially our digital pictures.

Consequently, I found about an amazing tool for our home network. It has become one of my favorite appliances on the network. It is my NAS. NAS stands for Network Attached Storage. A NAS is essentially a back up hard drive that that can be used on the network to back up data or perform a number of other things. Some of those other things are pretty cool; however, I will not cover those in this post. (If you’re interested in what else they can do, check out this data sheet on a newer NAS.)

My NAS is a little older. It is a Synology DS 416j. I’ve had it for several years and it’s not the fastest for sure, but it does the job. Why do I need it? Here are my top 3 reasons why you need a NAS:

1. Computer and Phone Backup

My NAS has the ability to backup all of my files (or whatever files I choose to backup). It works similar to Google Drive or Dropbox, or Microsoft OneDrive. You can drag and drop files to be backed up or you can set up automatic backups for your files. You can pick folders to be backed up rather than everything, or you can just back up everything you’ve got.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve got tons of data. Google Drive only gives you 15 GB in the basic free account. That’s not much, especially if you’re backing up all of your pictures and videos (more on that in my next point). OneDrive gives you 1TB of storage, but you have to spend $100 bucks or so per year to back up your data there. Google has similar pricing if you want more storage. Granted a NAS isn’t necessarily cheap. A basic one costs $200-$300 and then you have to add hard drives which adds $200-$300 depending on size.

I purchased a NAS that had 4 bays (a bay is a spot where a hard drive can be installed). Most NAS require 2 hard drives, however, so I started with 2 drives and added 2 more drives when I ran out of space. I currently have 4 drives and have 12 TB of storage. My NAS runs a special software that keeps my data if one of my hard drives crashes. I just replace the broken hard drive and I’m back up and running again. Having the peace of mind that I won’t lose my data is worth every penny.

2. Google Photos Isn’t Free

It used to be.

Did you use Google photos to backup your phones pictures and videos? I did. For a while I really missed it. Then I realized that my NAS would backup photos and videos from phones. Now Julie and I have our phones set to automatically backup directly to our NAS.

One of the great thing about the NAS is it keeps the videos and photos at the original size. Google would always downsize each photo and video.

Setting this up is relatively simple. Just install an app. Tell it what to back up (photos and videos) and bam! Phones backed up!

3. Website Work Backups

We create a lot of high res graphics and layered images for our business. We don’t keep the original files on our webserver, but we do keep them on our computer if we ever want to reuse them or change them. Having a layered graphic is so much easier to change and reuse than a flat jpeg. We use our NAS to make backups of these important files. That way if we ever need them we’ve got them even if a hard drive crashes on our computer.

Another nice feature about the NAS is it will keep different versions of these files too. That way if we need a file that we already overwrote, we’ve got the older version saved on the NAS too. We don’t use it that often, but if we ever need it, it’s nice to know it’s there. Again, it’s a peace of mind thing.

And that’s pretty much what having a NAS boils down to–peace of mind. Is a NAS perfect? No. It can be destroyed too (say, in a house fire). It would be nice if I could keep an offsite copy on Google drive or OneDrive or Dropbox, but it’s expensive. Sure a NAS is expensive too, but it’s a one time purchase. Google and others make you pay out every year. If I purchased 12TB of storage a year with Google, it would cost $245.66. It won’t take very long to make a NAS purchase worth it.

Interested in a NAS? This is a good starter. (affiliate link)