With the falling price of hard disks and inexpensive Network-Attached Storage (NAS) devices, it can be tempting to expand your storage for a relatively small cost. These devices are now readily available from internet and high street retailers, and can provide large amounts of storage, often up to several terabytes, for a considerably lower price than that charges by Warwick ITS for its managed storage services.
There are however a few things to bear in mind before buying one of these.
Build and components
Consumer NAS devices are essentially small computers (often built on the Linux operating system) with several inexpensive hard disks, all in a small enclosure. As such, they are vulnerable to all the usual issues associated with consumer-level technology. The hard disks are usually exactly the same as would be installed on a desktop PC, and the server board is similar to that used in a relatively simple laptop. Both these items are known to be more prone to failure than the enterprise-grade components which comprise the ITS Filestore services.
When you get your NAS device, where will you put it? The chances are it will be on or under the desk. This isn't necessarily the best place in terms of knocking, airflow, dust, tea and coffee and other hazards. ITS Filestore storage is housed in temperature and humidity controlled locations across campus, and is protected from power outages by our generator and battery-backed uninterruptible power supplies.
What happens if or when it fails? High street and internet retailers are notoriously difficult to deal with in the event of a hardware failure - that is, if you can get them to admit the failure was due to the hardware at all. Even once they have agreed to service the device, it can take a long time to identify the fault, and there is a good chance that the response will simply be to replace the unit.
So you now have a nice 4TB storage box on your desk, but if something should go wrong with it, the data is unlikely to be backed up. The ITS Filestore services include an automated backup option, where the data in your storage area is regularly copied off to tape and made available for restore for up to two years. More details on the Backup and Recovery Service here.
We believe the higher costs of the Staff Filestore and Storage Area Network services in comparison to consumer NAS devices can readily be justified, bearing in mind the enterprise level hardware, support and backup facilities which are included. If you really need that much storage, a failure comes down to a simple calculation of the cost to you in terms of time to recreate the data set and possible revenue lost while the data is unavailable.