If you’re shopping around for on-premises storage, you may find yourself with two possible options: network-attached storage (NAS) or cloud, in-house servers. Each has its pros and cons regarding cost, deployment, ease of use, network support, customization, and expandability. The one you choose will depend on all those factors as well as the size and nature of your business.  

If you’re on the hunt for accessible data storage in your home or business network, it’s important to do your homework and make the most educated choice possible. We’re here to help work through the two options and decide which one is better for you.

Both file servers and NAS devices can enable sharing of files across devices on a particular network; it’s how they go about it that’s different. 

First, let’s define what each type is and then go over the pros and cons. 


A NAS system is a storage device, connected via a network, designed to allow for retrieval and storage of data from one central location for authorized users. NAS systems are a flexible and scalable choice, giving you the option of adding more storage as you need it. Think of it like your own private cloud in the office setting, yet it’s got more speed, is less costly and puts complete control in your hands.

Particularly desirable for small businesses, NAS systems:

  • Are simple to operate
  • Don’t always need a dedicated IT professional
  • Cost less than servers
  • Provide easy data backup
  • Are accessible whenever you need them
  • Centralize data storage safely and reliably
  • Have a single-purpose design: to store and access data

Because data is continually accessible and all in one place, your employees can easily collaborate, be responsive to clients, and follow up quickly on sales or other issues. Data can be accessed remotely with a network connection, so you and your employees can work from home or anywhere else at any time.

There are a few cons, though. NAS systems:

  • Come as a pre-built piece of equipment that’s meant for plug and play use, which means they aren’t as easily customizable.
  • Are harder to repair because they are self-contained units and not file servers.
  • Don’t have as many features and configurations as servers.


File servers are basically computers with software installed that provides resources such as shared files for multiple computers and users at one time. The file server is what controls access to those shared resources and can also share responsibility for file storage.

Servers – computers that can maintain 100 percent uptime – come in a variety of configurations ranging from small desktop towers to complex racks of devices. Because they are purpose-built to be custom configured to suit the needs of each user in regards to storage and processing power, they can be modified and assembled as needed. 

However, that customization ability comes at a cost. Custom-built hardware is inherently more expensive, requiring the need for administrative intervention and IT specialist attention to not only configure but maintain as well. 

For that added cost of a server, you’ll get a faster processor, more RAM, higher processing power perfect for high-demand use, and increased access to client-server applications and host network admin tools.

With file servers, you can: 

  • Use custom hardware.
  • Configure a variety of settings.
  • Store backup copies on a file server in an easier and more inexpensive way as opposed to planning additional storage requirements for each individual client.
  • Enjoy centrality that makes shared working possible.
  • Relieve strain on client resources.
  • Get a better overview of the entire file inventory.
  • Collaborate without version conflicts.
  • Control data protection and privacy.

While there are many pros to using a server, there are a few disadvantages as well, such as:

  • Single point of failure
  • Troublesome transition from non-server networks to server-based ones
  • Difficulty isolating the cause of any given issue

To that last point, this is why you need a qualified IT tech on standby to be able to troubleshoot and quickly rectify the issue to avoid further confusion and delays.

Choosing the best option, as we said above, will depend on how large or small your business is, what your data storage needs are, and what your budget is. 

Get a Free Quote From Cardinal Technology Solutions

If you’re interested in on-premises storage for your business in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland or the District of Columbia, get a free quote from us today. Here at Cardinal Technology Solutions, we provide safe, secure IT services to more than 160 clients throughout the area. You will appreciate that we have onsite technical support and 24/7 on-call services available for your peace of mind. We can help you decide which system is best for you.