Enter your Email Address to get subscribed to our Blog.

Data plays a vital role in today’s business world. From collection to analysis, data has become a cornerstone for businesses. Every organization, irrespective of its size, generates huge data on a daily basis, and it relies on this data to run the business. The reliance on data makes it crucial for the company to store and secure data using the best possible solutions. While in theory, that may be the case, in the real world, companies face budget constraints and are forced to choose the most-suited solutions within the budgets.

Both SAN and NAS are solutions that help organizations in storing the data and allowing multiple users to access this data. The primary usage of each of them is to provide dedicated storage for a group of users. However, both these solutions use a completely different approach which makes them suitable for organizations with different needs and budgets. Before we dive into the difference between SAN and NAS, let us first try and understand SAN and NAS. 

What Is SAN?

Storage Area Network is a secure dedicated network that provides access to a number of shared storage devices. A SAN usually contains hosts, switches, and storage elements that are interconnected. This is made possible by a number of technologies, protocols, and topologies. 

What Is NAS?

Network Attached Storage or NAS can simply be defined as a single storage device that provides file-based data storage services to other devices on the network. It is a server that shares its own storage with other devices on the network and works as a file server in the simplest form. NAS is easy to set up and is the perfect solution for SMEs or home-based heavy users. NAS is dependent on a network and would use an Ethernet connection for sharing files over the network.

The NAS device itself is a node network and has its own IP address which is used by other devices in the network to access the data. It is crucial to evaluate the number of bays you can insert hard drives into. The files that will be served are stored in one or more of the storage drives. Using its redundant data structures, NAS offers fundamental security too. NAS can be used even by non-IT experts to store, back up, administer, and access data.


SAN and NAS are different from how they are connected with other devices to their cabling. These differences make them an ideal candidate for different types of requirements both in terms of functionality and the cost of installing as well as maintaining. Let us look at some of the top differences between SAN and NAS.

  1. Data Processing: Well, isn’t it all about the data! As we have already seen, SAN processes data as blocks, whereas NAS processes file-based data. NAS operates with a global namespace and aggregating multiple NAS file systems; it presents the data in a consolidated view. SAN, on the other hand, enables the server to share files with each server maintaining a non-shared Logical Unit Number (LUN). Due to its centralized nature, NAS makes it easy for multiple users to access the same data.
  2. Fabric: SAN functions by using fibre channel interconnects that use fibre channel protocols. It is assembled using switches, host bus adapters, and cabling. These fibre channels are capable of transferring data at high speeds but are expensive to set up. NAS uses well-established network protocols to authenticate clients and manage file operations similar to an ordinary file server. NAS generally connects to the local area network using an Ethernet connection.
  3. Performance: SANs are suitable for large organizations that need to transfer the data at high-speed. Due to the high-performance infrastructure, SAN is ideal for data-heavy websites such as e-commerce sites, which may see multiple users accessing different data at any given point in time. Comparatively, NAS has slower data transfer speeds due to its low throughput and higher latency. However, NAS is still a faster means of sending data over email or with physical flash drives.
  4. Scalability: If you are a new company, you might anticipate rapid growth in the near future. In such a case, NAS could become a hindrance as scaling NAS is not easy. Entry-level NAS may not be scalable while the high-end ones might require using clusters or scale-out nodes. Even if these were practically possible in your organization, the price involved might not make it the best option. SAN offers the biggest advantage with its scalability, which can be achieved by slicing up the central pool of storage at the network level. This is extremely favourable for your web assets like applications and business websites. As your business keeps growing, there is a need to increase the resources as well. If your web hosting provider has deployed SAN, then it becomes easier to scale up the server resources. Many VPS Web Hosting providers often use SAN as their preferred choice. 
  5. Price: While there could be multiple options available that may offer far superior features, it boils down to the price. High-end NAS are more expensive than the entry-level SAN, but in general, NAS is considered less expensive to purchase as well as maintain. NAS has fewer hardware and software components making it easier to manage, resulting in lower administration costs. SANs are more complex to manage due to the involvement of complex protocols as well as physical components involved.   

Which One Should You Select?

If you are a business owner managing your own data centre or even an IT expert taking the final decision on the network storage for your organization, it is crucial to take a look at several factors. It is essential to consider the type of data that you will store, scaling requirements that may arise in the future, usage patterns, and finally, the budget allocated for the process. 

If you need a storage option for data back-up or sharing across a small team, NAS will be more suitable for your organization. On the other hand, if you need high input/output speeds along with servers and applications, each communicating with the other, SAN may be suitable for your organization.  

With advancing technology, it is crucial to understand that SAN and NAS no longer work in isolation, and there could be convergence between them. The two streams are merging, and perhaps, the future is one where both work together, in tandem.

There is no ads to display, Please add some
Charlotte WrightCharlotte WrightCharlotte Wright is a writer and an avid reader who loves to drink tea! Her other interests include astronomy and understanding human nature.View all posts by Charlotte Wright