Traditional Server Vs NAS Based Solutions – Which One is Right for You?

15th October 2019
Man looking out of window with laptop next to him

More businesses are switching to NAS but how do you know which is right for your business?

It’s important for any small business to have a way to store data and share it with their teams as well as backup the vital information any business needs to keep functioning. As a business grows, it needs more refined storage facilities, particularly when your employees need to access large amounts of information both on and off-site.

NAS (Network Attached Storage) and traditional servers are the two main options for data access, storage and sharing, but which is right for you?

Several of our customers have recently moved from a traditional server to a NAS device, we asked our Technical Director, Scott Harrington, why their making the move. He told us that, with emails moving to Office 365 servers are really only storing data. Many designers and creative professionals are moving to NAS to access the increased functionality they offer, increase their storage capacity without having to compromise on losing physical space and putting up with noise from a server. Plus the number of applications available on the QNAP app store is increasing, offering more options and choice.

What is a NAS (Network Attached Storage)?

QNAP TS 473 NAS Network Attached Storage

The clue is in the name – a NAS is attached to a network and stores data! It is designed to make stored data easily accessible from a central location, allowing for synced folders that can be accessed and changed by those in the network, as well as backing up data. NAS devices, such as the QNAP range, offer many of the same services that a traditional server can.


  • Smaller and quieter than a server, saving space and improving office environment
  • Can host applications with easy access
  • Can be used to create a locally stored automatic backup
  • Makes file sharing among multiple users simple
  • Cheaper than a traditional server


  • Limited to applications available to download on the NAS operating system
  • LAN dependent, should the LAN go down, so will the NAS
  • Consume large amounts of bandwidth causing possible speed issues with the network
  • Possible lack of security over the cloud

What is a Traditional Server?

HP ProLiant ML110 Gen10 Tower Server
HP ProLiant ML110 Gen10 Tower Server

A server is a piece of high-performance hardware, which is designed to process requests and deliver data to other computers across a network or internet. Internet servers are usually built with supplementary storage capacity and processing memory to handle huge numbers of users and requests.


  • Allows the storage of large amounts of data clearing space on your computer, giving more processing power to your network
  • Considered more reliable (although modern NAS are extremely dependable)
  • Higher security infrastructure, including a built-in firewall
  • Ability to install third-party software


  • Requires regular maintenance
  • More power and space needed, can be noisy
  • Require time and expertise to implement, install, and administer
  • Operating systems generally require purchase of a server licence

Which is Best for You?

Both servers and NAS devices offer file sharing across a network but the main points to consider when choosing the one for your business are:

Ultimately budget will be the biggest factor in your decision because a server is likely to cost more than a NAS device. Add to that the increased cost in higher power consumption, space cooling costs, loss of office space to accommodate it, and a possible server licence.

Servers are bigger than a NAS device by some margin, so won’t be suitable for a small business with limited space. NAS devices are portable and easy to move around, so you can connect to a router.

Servers have higher security infrastructures with built-in firewalls, NAS devices are portable and, as such, can be stolen relatively easily.

Whichever you decide is right for you and your business, HardSoft offers a range of NAS and servers and to match your needs. If you need some more help deciding, give our knowledgeable team a call on 020 7111 1643, email, or use the webchat facility on our homepage and they’ll be happy to talk you through the options available.