How to set up your own NAS for more reliable data backups
Celebrated on March 31st, World Backup Day is “a day when people learn about the increasing role of data in our lives and the importance of regular backups”. Because backups are so important, we decided to celebrate this event by showing you how easy it is to set up your own backup NAS (which stands for Network Attached Storage).
Also: The best external hard drives you can buy
A NAS is a dedicated small computer that can house hard drives or SSDs and protect your data. Typically, it supports more than one drive and has the ability to recover even if one drive fails. We’ll show you how easy it is to set up your own NAS with the Six-bay Synology 1621+ NAS.
How to set up a NAS
What you need: NAS devices come in a variety of configurations. As a bare minimum, make sure you get one that supports two drives so your data is protected even if one drive fails. Most NAS devices come with their own file sharing software, so all you have to do is set up and configure the device and then use any backup program to save your data. The setup process should take about 15 minutes or less.
Almost all NAS devices have a carrier or mounting frame for each hard drive. Some require you to use screws to secure the drives, but the device we’re demonstrating has small plastic tabs that secure the drives to the tray. Once each drive is inserted into the tray (with the connectors on the drive facing away from the front of the tray), all that’s left to do is slide the tray into the NAS until it snaps securely into place.
Then move the NAS to its workspace, connect a network cable and power cord, and turn it on.
frequently asked Questions
What is the best practice for backups?
In my comprehensive backup guide, I talk about the industry-recommended three-two-one backup practice. The idea is to have at least three copies of each file, two of which are on different physical devices and one of which is off-site. The NAS we set up will take you part way there. You get copies of files on two different devices. But it doesn’t help you in off-site backup. That’s next.
How can I backup offsite?
I recommend three approaches: backing up to the cloud, backing up to a NAS elsewhere, or just storing your files on a backup drive and then moving that drive to another location. Depending on your setup, you can use a combination of these approaches. I’m leaning towards the cloud lately, but if you have an office and home in different areas, sharing data between the two locations is also a viable strategy.
Can’t I just save files to an external drive?
Well, something like that. Here’s the thing. You don’t need a NAS. But a single external drive won’t protect you if that drive fails. NAS devices use a RAID architecture for their file system, which means that even if one drive fails, the other (or others) will fill the gap. Also, if you only use an external drive, you need to make sure you also have a way to save copies of your files off-site somewhere else. That might just be swapping out external drives, but you have to stay diligent. You don’t have to spend on a NAS, but if you don’t, you need to follow best practices and be extra diligent about your data management.
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