I needed a larger hard drive to store my movie collection. My server was maxed out, and I didn't feel like buying a new computer, so I bought a computer in a box, aka Network Attached Storage.
But what makes NAS so attractive is also a limitation. Since NAS is, by design, accessible to all operating systems, you'll find that it's not predictable, like NTFS, and Windows Networking.
- An NAS server might not show up in My Network Places / Network Neighbourhood / Network (Vista) as easily.
- A server that does show up, in My Network Places / Network Neighbourhood / Network (Vista), might not be as configurable as a regular server. If it's visible, it may be running the browser service, but its' browser service may not be configurable. Its' browser service may cause a master browser conflict, with the other computers.
- You might not experience the same transparent caching of account name / password, as you're accustomed to under Windows Networking.
- An NAS server, using FTP or SMBs, uses a simple, clear text exchange of account name / password. This isn't as secure as Kerberos. Computers running Windows 2000 and XP will probably support this, though insecurely. A computer running Windows Vista, however, will require additional work.
- NAS devices which don't use NTFS may not support anything better than Simple File Sharing.
So NAS is a great solution, if you need a quick, inexpensive storage boost. But know the limitations, and choose your NAS solution carefully.