Which NAS is right for you?

OWC Jellyfish
(Image credit: OWC)

Maybe you have a massive library of movies, or if you have an office with multiple video editors, you might want to look at a NAS or Network Attached Storage. If you need a centralized place to store all your data, where multiple devices or users can access it anytime, a NAS provides both speed and redundancy for all your users.

Redundancy is a vital element in any organization’s data protection strategy and helps protect data from loss or corruption due to hardware failure, software error, or natural disaster by storing multiple copies of data in two or more places. A NAS device combines a server and multiple drives in an enclosure that connects directly to your network instead of attaching directly to a business computer. This allows it to serve all the devices in your household or office on that same network. Many of the best NAS devices also allow you to connect to them while away from home or the office.

But how do you go about deciding which NAS is best for you? We’ll look at some of the basics and show how there are good solutions for everybody with shared storage needs. 


Depending on the model, a NAS can connect to your network with Ethernet or Wi-Fi or even directly to your computers with Thunderbolt. The most common approach is to connect your NAS to your router or switch with an ethernet cable. Then your router makes it available to the rest of the devices on your network via Wi-Fi and/or Ethernet. If you are using a NAS to playback movies on a home network, Wi-Fi should work fine. 

You’ll find plenty of NAS solutions that work well at this scale. However, if you plan to have a few people connect their video editing laptops to the network and edit video that lives on the NAS, you’ll want to look into hard-wired options. So pay attention to the speed of the ethernet connections on your NAS. You will find that 1Gig ethernet is insufficient for multiple people editing videos of the same unit. So if that’s your situation, you’ll want to think about how you can build a system to support 5 or even 10Gig ethernet. Your docking station, ethernet adapters, cables, and network switches must reach that faster 10Gig ethernet speed.

Minimizing latency

It’s important to recognize that video editing from a NAS differs from accessing pictures or other documents. Video editing requires high read speeds to playback multiple video streams without skipping. But it also requires high-performance RAM because when you place the project file or a Final Cut Pro library on the shared storage, the system needs to deliver very responsive write speeds. Without a ton of RAM and a well-designed cache system, you’ll constantly see spinning beachballs on your Mac or blue circles of death on your PC as your disks try to keep up. This separates a NAS designed for video, like Jellyfish, from a media server NAS: responsiveness over the network.

Larry O'Connor
Larry O'Connor

Larry O'Connor is the founder and chief executive officer of Other World Computing (OWC). OWC offers an end-to-end hardware, software, and accessories ecosystem that provides reliable computing solutions to consumers and professionals. 


You might be familiar with a “Storage Area Network,” or SAN. These systems use fiber channel connections between the storage and the workstation. A NAS will use ethernet. Ethernet speeds have increased to get excellent performance for shared video editing environments. This means that the expense and complexity of fiber channel is no longer necessary. 


A NAS will feature several hard drives. These drives can work together in various configurations to attain more speed or security for your data. These levels are known as RAID levels. A common example is RAID 5. A NAS with 5 bays can be configured as RAID 5. If one of those drives failed, you would not lose any data. There is redundancy built into the system to protect you against a single mechanical failure of a drive. It is important to recognize that RAID is not the same as having a backup copy of your data. If someone deletes some of your files, it won’t protect you with a backup copy. So even if you have a NAS, it is still important to have a backup copy of your data. RAID can protect you against mechanical failure but not human error. More advanced RAID setups can incorporate RAID levels that protect you against multiple simultaneous drive failures. These systems increase redundancy and decrease your downtime, but it does come at the expense of reduced usable capacity. 

Know the number of users

Another important factor is the number of users. You’ll quickly find that a NAS can get bogged down if too many client machines request large files. This is especially true if those are video files. The video needs to play back without stuttering. So the more clients you have, the higher the performance you will need from your NAS. This could mean more drives. You may need more memory. Or it could mean using all SSD storage instead of spinning disks for maximum performance. 

If your users connect through ethernet, you’ll need to ensure the switch can handle the throughput. Or some NAS units allow you to connect directly to them via Thunderbolt or ethernet to Thunderbolt adapter.

A NAS built for video editing will have advanced “air-traffic-control”. In other words, it can identify the kinds of requests that the client machines are making and intelligently balance the load so that no one experiences slowdowns.

Be your own IT Team

In the past, it took a well-trained IT team to deploy and maintain shared storage. This can become a burden on an IT team. Unless new team members were trained on video-oriented shared storage, they would have to start from scratch. This can lead to the storage becoming neglected and your video editors losing serious productivity.

Ideally, your shared storage allows the video editors to support it themselves. Adding volumes, adjusting security levels, adding in machines and users, and adjusting remote access are all common needs for video teams. These tasks become cumbersome if you call the helpdesk whenever you need to adjust. 

Your own private cloud

Most people are familiar with cloud file services like Dropbox or Google Drive. Many NAS units come with software or services that can use the cloud to provide a secure way of accessing your data on your NAS. You may prefer this method for privacy or security over storing your data on a third-party’s servers. 

When you own a NAS that can be remotely accessed, you essentially have your own private cloud storage. You can access it via mobile devices, a VPN, or a web interface. 

Flexible form factors

Some productions are done post-on-site, while others return to the studio. A NAS that works as well in the field as in the studio is becoming key. And if you need collaboration in both environments, you want a system that works well on location and in the building. That way, your team works off of the same protocols wherever they go. So it is helpful to have a system that is just as home in a pelican case as in a server room.

Good software makes everything easier

It’s easy to think about a NAS as primarily a hardware purchase. However, the software matters. You want to ensure that it is easy to use and up-to-date with your primary operating system. It should be simple to add and remove users and devices. Adding additional volumes to your storage and expanding your systems capabilities should be easy as your needs grow. And if you are editing video from your NAS, it must play well with your editing application of choice. 

Larry O'Connor
Founder & CEO, OWC

Larry O'Connor is the founder and chief executive officer of Other World Computing (OWC). OWC offers an end-to-end hardware, software, and accessories ecosystem that provides reliable computing solutions to consumers and professionals. 

Under his leadership, OWC has grown dynamically over the past 35 years – beginning with re-inking printer ribbons and selling memory as an online e-commerce pioneer to providing the first scale Processor Upgrades for G3 Apple Macs. It is now a worldwide technology brand that provides a comprehensive lineup of award-winning hardware and software solutions. 

Extending the useful life of technology is core to Larry’s beliefs and the driving force behind many of OWC’s products. He has taken a similar approach to philanthropy by combining his passion for regenerative agriculture and innovative technology. He was directly involved in the production of the 2020 Netflix documentary Kiss the Ground, which has catalyzed a global movement toward regenerative farming practices and is transforming soil around the world.  Whether it’s through technology or regenerative Agriculture or solar and wind power, Larry loves connecting with people, and finding ways to empower them to help make a better world for all of us.