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Wired vs. Wireless NAS

The majority of NAS (network attached storage) devices that are available use a wired connection, typically using Gigabit Ethernet. However, there are some available on the market, like Apple’s Time Capsule, that offer wireless connectivity. The question is whether you should purchase a wired or wireless NAS: what are the pros and cons and is there a superior choice?
A good NAS for business use will have two Gigabit ports to allow for Port Trunking. This means that you can use both of these to function as a single link, allowing for increased bandwidth and higher speeds. It also means that if one of them fails then you’ll have fault tolerance and the connection won’t be lost. Using these ports you can connect the NAS device via Ethernet to your wireless router or to the network directly. A good NAS will enable DHCP and grab the network IP address automatically, allowing for a simple and quick set up. If you want to control the NAS remotely then it is a good idea to assign a static IP address to allow for local network management.
It can be harder to find a wireless NAS, since the majority of them out there are wired. You will probably find that to have the option of wireless will come with a higher price tag to match. A wireless NAS device functions in exactly the same way that a wired one does – just simply without the wires. Some manufacturers are now offering wireless-N adapters to allow you to connect wirelessly to a network. You can get a USB Wi-Fi dongle for QNAP devices, for example. However, what this means is that you may find you suffer latency and connection issues when using wireless because you don’t have that direct link that an Ethernet cable offers. You are also not making use of the Gigabit speeds that a wired NAS gives you. If you have a lot of data made up of large file sizes, then the reliability and speed that a wired NAS offers you is probably the better bet. If you do want to go wireless, though, then you may find it more cost effective to use a desktop computer (with either a wireless network card or router) to act as the NAS device. Free software exists online, like FreeNAS, which will turn it in to a fully functioning NAS.
Overall, the best choice for your NAS would probably be wired. The benefits outweigh the positives over wireless, like increased security (due to the direct cable link), speeds and reliability. You’ll also find that a wireless NAS is more expensive and this money could be saved and put to better use elsewhere, like having greater storage space. There is by no means nothing wrong with picking a wireless NAS – Apple’s Time Capsule, for example, is a great piece of kit if your systems are running on the Mac operating system – but most of the time a wired NAS will do the job you need it to do.


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