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SAN and NAS the Difference from a User Perspective

hp-san-applianceSo I was asked the other day by our SEO content writer what is the difference between SAN and NAS. Now, usually I pride myself in the ability to spout off random techno babble, in order to explain what would normally be a difficult concept easily to an end user.  Yet in this instance I was stumped. They are about “network” storage so what is the difference? After a little time roaming the internet and reading some technical documents it comes to 2 simple concepts.

The wires and the protocols. Lets start with the wires.

NAS appliances use Ethernet (your standard CATV cable), FDDI (Fiber Distributed Data Interface, or in easy terms fiber optics in a LAN situation), and ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode, or in a very over simplified explanation is a network type that allows for transfer of Voice,Data, and Video across LAN and WAN.

SAN appliances use Fibre Channel ( I know that looks like a typo right?) this is basically a direct connection to network storage though a very fast connection.


Now lets move on to the Protocols (how the network talks to the appliance).

NAS uses TCP/IP (for the most part) in some situations it will use NFS/CIFS/HTTP. TCP/IP is what we are all used to, it is just your standard network with the NAS being assigned an ip address like everything else connected to the network. NAS devices are what we are talking about when lets say we mention the WD My Book World Edition II.

SAN devices use encapsulated SCSI. Which is fancy talk for very fast proprietary data transfer. I spend near 4 hours reading everything about this and have come to the conclusion you need to be Cisco certified and really understand network layers in order to be able to explain this to someone with the same qualifications.

So in closing what is the major difference? NAS is a portable option and also works well for the home user. SAN is more of a large storage option for businesses. Learn more about San Data Recovery and NAS Repair. If you require immediate support, please call 727-345-9665 to speak with a qualified RAID engineer.


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