By: Peter Trinh
In the article, Introduction to NAS: Part 1, I introduced the NAS, discussed what they are, and explained their features. If you missed reading that article, you can easily find it here. In Part 2 of this article, I will discuss the physical features of NAS devices along with the market segments they are meant for.
There are many types of NAS devices, which are each defined by a matrix of features and target market segments.

The markets are defined by the top row. These are explained below:
Consumer / Prosumer – These are the customers who are looking to get a NAS solution in their household. Their focus is on being able to share their documents and media (pictures, music, and videos) throughout the household, and also be able to play/view their media on the appropriate audio/video devices (sound systems, HDTVs).
SOHO (Small Office / Home Office) – These are the customers who are looking to get a NAS devices for their place of business. They are usually the proprietor of the business and have at most one or two employees working for them. Their focus is on being able to centrally store their business data and have an inexpensive and relatively low maintenance backup plan. The consumption of media is a secondary area of concern for them.
Small / Medium Business – These are the customers who have the same requirements as the SOHO customer, but who also have an additional requirement of the NAS device being able to integrate into their existing network / IT infrastructure. The customer may not be the proprietor of their business, but will likely be a personnel of their organization’s IT group. Their primary concern is the centralized storage medium which can leverage their existing access restrictions on their network server. Their secondary concern is being able to maintain the NAS device with as little downtime as possible.
The physical features are defined by the leftmost column in the table above. They are explained below:
USB Expansion – The NAS devices on the market usually have one or two USB ports to allow for either a printer (share the printer on the network that do not already have this feature), USB flash drive (also known as a thumb drive or jump drive), and/or a USB external hard drive (such as the Western Digital Passport Drive). This feature is fast becoming commonplace on all market segments.
Diskful / BYOD (Bring-Your-Own-Disk) – Diskful NAS devices are NAS devices that come with internal hard drive(s). Usually if the drive inside the NAS device requires repair or replacement, it will require a purchase or repair through the manufacturer. BYOD NAS devices are NAS devices that may or may not come with hard drives, but will allow you to perform repairs and replacements on the hard drives using industry standard off-the-shelf internal hard drives. Diskful NAS devices are commonly found in the consumer / prosumer market segment. BYOD NAS devices can be found in the Small / Medium Business market segment. The SOHO sector straddles both market segments.
Form Factor – There are two form factors in existence that primarily appear on Diskful NAS devices. They are defined as 3.5 inch and 2.5 inch. They refer do the physical size of the hard drives. The 3.5 inch hard drives are off-the-shelf internal drives that are primarily used in desktop computers. They are the most common. The 2.5 inch hard drives are off-the-shelf internal drives that are primarily used in laptop computers. They are not as common as their larger counterparts but are becoming more popular in NAS devices because of their small size which allows for smaller and more compact NAS devices, as well as their more power efficient design. The 2.5 inch form factor NAS device is usually not found on the consumer / prosumer market segment.
RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks) – NAS devices that do not have RAID are usually single drive NAS devices. NAS devices that have RAID capability will have two to eight drives, or two to eight drive-bays. The RAID component provides some level of redundancy in response to the limited lifespan of disk drives and how they can be subject to defects. Having RAID ensures that one or two disks can fail without compromising the integrity of the NAS device itself and the contents stored within it. RAID is a maintenance feature that allows for less downtime. This is mainly found in the SOHO and Small / Medium business market segments.
NAS Backup – NAS devices that have this feature will use the USB port expansion to allow the NAS device to make a backup of its contents to an external hard drive. This external hard drive can be stored onsite or offsite, depending on the customer’s backup strategy. This feature is mainly found in the SOHO and Small / Medium business market segments.
In this article, I have discussed the available features of NAS devices in existence as well as the market segment they are designed for. In the next article in this series, I will outline the companies that offer NAS devices, with descriptions on their company focus and market emphasis. If you have any questions, comments, or feedback on this article, please feel free to contact the author, Peter Trinh at