Savvy studio network storage

Most people now realise how important it is to have an external hard drive that you can use to make back-up copies of your important files. However, buying separate hard drives for everyone in your studio can quickly become expensive – and prevents creatives from sharing project files. A more cost-effective solution is to buy a NAS (network attached storage) drive that can be connected to your studio’s network.

Hard disk manufacturers now make a range of suitable NAS drives, but while they all perform the same basic function they also have many different features that set them apart from each other. Here we’ve looked at smaller, inexpensive devices that are perfect for users looking for simplicity, or just keeping an eye on their budget. Most have interfaces simple enough for the non-techie creative to set up and maintain, and are quiet enough not to disturb in even the smallest of studio spaces.

One important feature is the ability to create ‘shares’ – special folders that individual users can set up on their NAS drive to share files with other people, or which can be password protected to keep things private.

If you want to set up personal folders for several different people then easy-to-use products such as the Western Digital My Book World Edition II or LaCie’s Network Space 2 are a good choice for less technically inclined users. Other products, such as the Iomega StorCenter, provide an even wider range of features that will particularly appeal to business users, but they may require a little more technical know-how.

Apple’s Time Capsule is the simplest to use – it will automatically make back-ups for you – but this is a piece of kit for Mac users only and it’s usefulness as a project-sharing drive is limited too.

The other option – which splits this group straight down the middle – is RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks). Three of the drives in this group provide RAID features that allow you to make mirror copies of your files on two separate hard disks housed inside the drive. Making back-ups of your back-ups might seem a bit extreme – but if you’re using your NAS as a central sharing hub for projects, it’s an essential duty. Even if you’re using it solely for back-up, you should consider it worth paying a little extra for the peace of mind provided by a RAID drive.

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