Raspberry Pi vs NAS Servers: Everything You Need to Know

Raspberry Pi vs NAS servers

If you're thinking about use NAS servers, then you should know that you have several options at your fingertips. From using a Raspberry Pi with some storage medium, be it the SD card itself or an external USB memory, configured to serve as a network storage service, to using a cloud storage service from a provider, such as elastic hosting from Webempresa, through hardware NAS solutions.

Like a Web server, NAS servers they can be most useful nowadays. Either to store data that you can access from anywhere at any time, to use these for backups or backup copies, such as your own multimedia storage, and much more. The versatility is maximum, but you should learn more about the existing solutions so that you can choose the best one for your needs ...

What is a server?

what is a server

It is important to know what is a server So you know that not all of them are in large data centers, but you can also implement it on your PC, on your Raspberry Pi, and even on a mobile device.

In computing, a server is nothing more than a computerregardless of its size and power. This computer will consist of the essential parts of any equipment, as well as an operating system and software that serves to provide a service (hence its name). For example, you can have dedicated NAS servers for network storage, web servers to host pages, authentication servers, etc.

Whatever the service provided by the server, there will be other devices that will connect to it to benefit from the service they provide (server-client model). These other devices are known as clients and can also be from a smartphone, a Smart TV, a PC, etc.

How to deploy servers

client server model

The client-server model is a simple concept, in which a server will always be waiting for a client or clients to make a request. But said server can be implemented in various ways:

  • Shared: usually refers to a hosting, or web hosting, that is shared. That is, where several websites are hosted and that are usually owned by different owners. That is, the server hardware (RAM, CPU, storage, and bandwidth) is shared.
    • Advantages: they are usually cheaper when shared with others. You do not need high technical knowledge, it is easy to get started.
    • Disadvantages: it is not as versatile and for certain applications a lack of control can be missed. Being shared, the benefits may not be the best.
    • For what? They can be great for start-up blogs or websites with less than 30.000 visits per month. Even for small small business portals.
  • VPS (Virtual Private Server): they are becoming more and more popular. Basically it is a "fragmented" computer in various virtual servers. That is, a physical machine whose resources are distributed among several virtual machines. That leaves them between the shared and the dedicated. That is, each user can have an operating system for themselves, and resources (vCPU, vRAM, storage, network) that they will not have to share with anyone, being able to manage the VPS as if it were a dedicated one.
    • Advantages: provide stability and scalability. You will have root access to the server (to your plot). You can install or uninstall any software you want. In terms of cost, they are cheaper than dedicated ones.
    • Disadvantages: the management, patching and security will be your responsibility. If problems arise, you will also have to solve them, so you need technical knowledge greater than that shared. Despite being more versatile than the shared one, it continues to have certain limitations compared to the dedicated one.
    • For what? Great for small and medium-sized companies that want to host their website or services.
  • Dedicated: in them you will have control of the environment, without "annoying neighbors". That means that you will have the machine for you, being able to manage it however you want and build the infrastructure you need.
    • Advantages: highly customizable, full access and control over the server, guarantees the availability of all resources for you, improves privacy and security, stable and predictable performance.
    • Disadvantages: they are more expensive and will require technical resources to manage them. They need regular maintenance.
    • For what? Ideal for web apps, eCommerce sites, and services that will have high traffic.
  • Own: the previous ones were all servers provided by a cloud company. However, you can also have your own server. This can have great benefits, since you will be the owner of the hardware, maximizing the privacy and security of your data. To have your own server, it could be done, as I mentioned before, using any PC, mobile device, and even a Raspberry Pi. Of course, if you need something more powerful than that, you should purchase servers such as those provided by firms such as HPE, Dell, Cisco, Lenovo, etc., to create your own "data center", whatever the size ...
    • Advantages: you will be the owner of the server, so you will have full control. Even when scaling or replacing hardware components.
    • Disadvantages: you will have to take care of all the inconveniences that may arise, repairs, maintenance, etc. In addition, this has an increase in cost, both buying the necessary hardware and licenses, as well as the electricity consumption that the machine may have, and paying the IPS if you need faster broadband.
    • For what? It can be useful for organizations, companies, and governments that need total control of the data, or for users who want to set up something very specific and not leave their data in the hands of others.

There may be variants within these, especially for the services and facilities provided by some current providers, such as managed services so you don't have to worry about anything, security solutions, simple installers to install operating systems or software without knowledge, etc.

Types of servers

NAS server types

In the previous section you have been able to know the ways to implement a server, however, they can also be cataloged depending on the type of service borrowed:

  • Web servers: This type of server is very popular. Its function is to host and organize web pages so that clients, with web browsers or crawlers, can access them through protocols such as HTTP / HTTPS.
  • File servers: those that are used to store customer data so that they can be uploaded or downloaded through the network. Within these servers there are many types, such as NAS servers, FTP / SFTP servers, SMB, NFS, etc.
  • Email Servers: the services that these provide is to implement email protocols so that customers can communicate, receive or send emails. This is achieved through software to implement protocols such as SMTP, IMAP, or POP.
  • Database serversAlthough they could be cataloged within files, this type stores information in a hierarchical and orderly way in a database. Some software to implement a database are PostgreSQL, MySQL, MariaDB, etc.
  • Game server: is a service specifically dedicated to providing what is necessary for customers (gamers) to be able to play in online multiplayer mode.
  • Proxy server: serves as a communication interface in networks. They act as an intermediary and can be used to filter traffic, control bandwidth, load sharing, caching, anonymization, etc.
  • DNS server: its objective is to provide a domain name resolution service. That is, so that you do not have to remember the IP of the server you want to access, something tedious and not very intuitive, you will only have to use the host name (domain and TLD), such as www.example, es, and the server DNS will search its database for the IP corresponding to that domain name to allow access.
  • Authentication servers: they serve to provide services for access to certain systems. They usually consist of a database with the credentials of the clients and. An example of this is LDAP.
  • OthersThere are others, in addition, many hosting services offer a combination of several of these. For example, there are accommodations that provide you with databases, email, etc.

NAS servers: everything you need to know

NAS servers

Each filtering bag NAS (Network Attached Storage) servers they are network attached storage devices. With this you can have a means to host data and have it at your disposal at any time. This type of server can be implemented using software on a multitude of devices, such as a PC, a mobile device, a Raspberry Pi, paying for a cloud storage service, and even buying your own NAS (which I will focus on in this section ).

These NAS servers will also have their CPU, RAM, storage (SSD or HDD), I / O system, and your own operating system. In addition, in the market you can find some focused on home users, and others for business environments with greater capacity and performance.

El operation of these servers is simple to understand:

  • System: NAS servers have hardware and an operating system that will perform all functions transparently to the client. That is, when the client decides to upload, delete, or download data, it will take care of all the necessary steps for this, offering a simple interface to the client.
  • Storage: you can find them with different slots. In each of the slots you can insert a storage medium to expand its capacity, be it an HDD or an SSD. The compatible hard drives are exactly identical to the ones you use on your conventional PC. However, there are specific series for NAS, such as the Western Digital Red Series, or the Seagate IronWolf. If you want a business range, you also have the WD Ultrastar and the Seagate EXOS.
  • Red: Of course, to be accessible from clients, it must be connected to the network. Either by Ethernet cabling or by wireless technology.

What can I do with a NAS?

 

NAS servers

Having NAS servers allows you to have your own private storage 'cloud', which can have great benefits. Between the featured applications are:

  • As a network storage medium: you can use it to store everything you need, for example, save your photos from your mobile device, use it as an online gallery of multimedia files, your own Netflix-like streaming service hosting your favorite movies and series (Plex can manage this, Kodi,…), etc.
  • Bakup: you will be able to make backup copies of your systems on your NAS in a simple way. This way you will always have a backup at your fingertips and you will guarantee that your data is on a known server.
  • Share: you could use it to share all kinds of files with your friends and family, or with whoever you want. Only upload what you want to share and you can give access to other clients so they can access or download it.
  • Hosting: You can also use it as a web host to save your site there. However, keep in mind that NAS servers will be limited to your network bandwidth. That is, if you do not have a fast line, and others are accessing the NAS, you will see notable performance drops. With fiber optics this is vastly improved.
  • Others: There are also NAS servers that can serve as an FTP server, to host a database, and some even include functions for VPN.

How to choose the best NAS servers?

NAS servers

When buying your own NAS servers, you should attend to certain technical characteristics To ensure that you have made a good purchase:

  • Hardware- It is important that you have a CPU with good performance and a decent amount of RAM for greater agility. It will depend on how smooth this service is, although everything will depend a little on your specific needs.
  • Bays / Storage: pay attention to the number and type of bays (2.5 ″, 3.5 ″,…) that the interface already has (SATA, M.2,…). Some NAS servers support installing more number of hard drives to scale capacity (1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 8TB, 16TB, 32TB,…). There are also those with the possibility of configuring RAID systems for data redundancy. And remember that it is important to opt for NAS-specific hard drives, which are optimized to support higher loads and uptime:
  • Network Connection: another factor to take into account to link your server with clients in the best possible way.
  • Operating system and apps: each manufacturer usually provides its own system, and a series of proprietary apps and functions. Generally, the way you move through the menus and the options you have at your fingertips will depend on it. Varies depending on the provider.
  • Best brands- Some highly recommended brands of NAS servers are Synology, QNAP, Western Digital, and Netgear. Some purchase recommendations are:

Raspberry Pi: the Swiss Army Knife for makers

Raspberry Pi 4

A cheap solution for NAS servers if you don't have great needs is to use your SBC to implement one of them. The Raspberry Pi allows you to have your own cheap NAS at home. You will only need:

  • A Raspberry Pi.
  • Internet connection.
  • Storage medium (you could use the memory card itself or a USB storage medium connected to your Pi. It could be an external USB hard drive or a pendrive ...
  • Software to implement the service. You can choose from several projects, even open source, as ownCloud, NextCloud, etc.

Advantages and disadvantages of the Raspberry Pi versus dedicated NAS servers

advantages and disadvantages

If you decide to enjoy the advantages of NAS servers, you should evaluate the advantages and disadvantages that can have its implementation through a Raspberry Pi:

  • Advantages:
    • Cheap
    • Low power consumption
    • Learning during the deployment procedure
    • Compact size
  • Disadvantages:
    • Performance limitations
    • Storage limitations
    • Difficulty in setup and maintenance
    • Need to always have it connected to the network and to the power supply (consumption)
    • As it is not a dedicated NAS device, there may be problems if you want to use the SBC for other projects

En conclusionIf you need a very basic and cheap temporary NAS service, the Raspberry Pi will be your best ally so you don't have to invest too much money. On the other hand, for services with greater storage capacity, stability, scalability, and performance, then it is best to purchase your own NAS server or hire a cloud storage service ...


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