What Is NAS (Network Attached Storage)?

Alibaba Cloud
3 min readMar 25, 2022

NAS is Network Attached Storage. As the name suggest NAS is usually attached to your computer through ethernet port via router or a network switch and allow multiple computers to connect to your NAS device at the same time.

Network Attached Storage is a dedicated file storage system which can be connected to many different devices at the same time and allows access to the same disk. NAS devices has its own file server capabilities to store and managed access to files but does not have any keyboard or display interface and are managed from the connected machine/computers.

Why and when use NAS?

NAS is an easy-to-use storage system with high capacity and low-cost storage. It can also connect to the offsite machines through the cloud interfaces. To understand it better, it can be compared with simple USB-connected hard drives for storing different files but with no limitations related to single-machine access at one time and have benefit that it is available over the network. NAS allows different machines to connect, access and share data/files and doesn’t have the limitations of a block storage attached to a VM which can’t be shared and can turn off in case the host machine is turned off.

NAS provides a standard and simple file system. It can be used by business/enterprises to create a distributed work environment for sharing files and folders and create a private shared storage environment. In a cloud environment, NAS can be used as a highly scalable, elastic and persistence storage for building enterprise applications which share files and data.

NAS has a single hardware device (called as box or head) which acts as an interface between the NAS and the computer clients. This single device, NAS head, can be used as the single interface for computers and its capacity can be increased by attaching more than one drives to the system. Client machines always connects to the NAS head. This way NAS always appears as a single storage node identified by the IP address of the NAS head.

NAS can be used to replace the traditional file servers and stores data in the form of files. NAS uses the TCP/IP for communication over the network and two most common protocol used in NAS systems are NFS (Network File System) and CIFS (Common Internet File System), formerly known as SMB (Server Message Block).

Alibaba Cloud NAS

Alibaba Cloud NAS is a highly scalable, highly available, elastic and persistent file storage and sharing system with multiple client servers support. Alibaba Cloud NAS can scale to theoretically unlimited capacity without any intervention and can provide shared access to hundreds of compute machine including, Alibaba Cloud ECS, E-HPC or Container Service.

Alibaba Cloud NAS can be used with Linux as well as Windows compute machines and provide data consistency, high throughput and file operations with low latency. Alibaba Cloud NAS supports standard file access protocols (NFSv3, NFSv4, and SMB). This makes it highly suitable for big data analysis, media workflow and enterprise applications.

Designed for different scenarios, Alibaba Cloud NAS provides three types of storage product types: Capacity type, SSD performance type and CPFS Cloud File System (Cloud Parallel File System).

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