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Politcally Incorrect Musings
Personal Network Attached Storage - A Guide For New Users 
15th-Jul-2005 09:05 pm
There is a new trend in network computing these days: external harddrives. There are some external hardrives that attach to networks called Network Attached Storage, or NAS. Some of these external storage devices can be inserted into your personal network giving you a P-NAS.

It is possible to find P-NASes in multiple sizes and configurations. Some P-NAS are small, while others are quite big. Size is important, but, in general, the larger the P-NAS, the more likely there is to be a performance problem. Some end users don't want a big P-NAS. Most importantly, a P-NAS was meant for sharing, so consider who will be using your unit.

A network is like a pipe, the larger the pipe, the more bits that can flow through it. If your P-NAS has a small pipe your users will experience performance problems if you serve many of them. It is possible to get excellent performance from a small P-NAS with a large pipe. However, you still don't have much of a harddrive. Users will find your P-NAS most enjoyable if you achieve a balance between the size of your harddrive and your pipe size.

If your P-NAS has multiple users, it is probably SCSI. If you have a SCSI P-NAS, then you should use RAID. The use of RAID will allow you to safely spread your bits over multiple units. Your P-NAS units are then served out to users in byte-sized portions.

Over time, or if your P-NAS is used often, and especially if if it has multiple users, your P-NAS bits can become corrupted. You should clean your P-NAS regularly to keep your bits properly aligned. This can be done by removing any stale bits left by the hardware users. If your P-NAS has too many stale bits, it will suffer performance problems. It is okay to ask your P-NAS users to clean their sectors after usage. Explain to them that a clean P-NAS will improve harddrive performance. One way of doing this is through software zippers. Be sure to keep enough space available for when a P-NAS user wants to unzip the files. Otherwise it is fine keep the contents of your files zipped up.

Other things that can cause P-NAS performance problems are spyware and virus. Spyware is bad since it allows unwanted users access to your P-NAS. A virus is bad since it can destroy bits on your P-NAS. A P-NAS with missing bits will make your users unhappy and cause them to seek another P-NAS. Antivirus software checkers are important and should be used regularly. Old software may work well with your P-NAS but the risk of catching a virus is greater. Newer software is usually better and will prevent your P-NAS from catching a virus.

Do not keep your P-NAS in a tightly enclosed space. Heavy P-NAS usage generates a lot of heat. Your P-NAS will experience performance problems and eventual failure if it is really hot and gets lots of use. A good rule to follow is to have enough space to be able to put your hands around your unit. Inspect your hardware regularly and clean the exterior of your P-NAS with a soft cloth. Never use harsh detergents, abrasives, or solvents to clean the exterior of your P-NAS.

Following these tips will allow your P-NAS to service multiple users while keeping them satisfied. I hope you have found this guide helpful.

Copyright (c) July 2005, by Mark Hinkle
May be distributed free of charge so long as content is unaltered, no fee is charged for access to this work, and this copyright notice remains intact.
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