A network storage system helps organize and save critical information created on a computer in an efficient and accessible manner. The most basic form of network storage is saving a computer's content to a disk or CD-Rom and storing it somewhere safe. This method works well if the information does not need to be changed frequently, but that is rarely the case. Generally, a user needs to change and update files often. Therefore, backing up a person's computer files on disk can be time consuming and inconvenient.
Direct Attached Storage (DAS) refers to a network storage system on which data is saved to a computer's internal hard drive. These files are saved directly onto the computer's disk space and can be readily pulled up at any time. This is the most commonly used means of network storage, though it can also become the most bothersome, as disk space on the computer gets used up, slowing the computer down.
Network Attached Storage (NAS) is a type of network storage system that saves data onto another computer system attached to a group of computers through a network, or onto a special server attached to the network. In this case, a mainframe computer is usually linked to a number of other workstations. The mainframe computer is used to save all the files, and the workstations can access the mainframe through special links.
An alternative to this form of network storage is having a host computer in a remote location on which members can store their important files. Web hosting is an example of this method. A person pays to rent space on the Internet. Here, the person's website files can be saved using another company's computer space. These network storage systems tend to cost an extra 1000 US dollars (USD) to install, so they are one of the more costly options for network storage.
Special tape machines can also be purchased and added to an existing computer system as a means of network storage. These machines back up all of the computer's information on a special data cassette tape. These cassette tapes can become damaged, so proper storage of a backed up system's information is essential. At over 600 USD a system, tape storage may not be the best option for personal use.
External hard drives are another excellent network storage option. External hard drives are easily attached to an existing computer. The extra disk space provides a spot in which system information can be stored. External hard drives are affordable, usually under 250 USD, but they may not be the best option for companies that need to store large amounts of information.