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NAS or Network Attached Storage is a system consisting of 1 or more hard drives, an Ethernet connection and an operating system. This system connects to your network, allowing those on the network to access and share files from a central location, along with a bunch of other helpful stuff (keep reading).

When you hear the word network, you might think about social networks (for the most part these days), but before the Facebook and MySpace pages, it referred to an infrastructure that interconnected computers and other electronic devices. Networks have come a long way in terms of functionality and simplicity. In fact, there is good chance that you already have a network in your home. No, there is no need to be scared, an IT guy didn’t sneak in the middle of the night and install it… If you have an Internet connection and more than one PC/Mac in the home, you most likely have a router and there is a good chance that it is wireless.  A router is the heart of your home network, it does two main things for you: shares your internet connection with all the computers in your house and it links all those computers (plus other cool devices) together. We all know the benefit of being able to share an Internet connection (especially those of us who had dial-up at one point in our lives), but why would I want all my computers and electronic gizmos connected to each other? To share of course!

When it comes to NAS, sharing can mean multiple things. You can share files, share storage capacity and even share a printer.

Sharing Files

If you have multiple computers in your home, there has probably been many times when you wanted to have one or files on more than one computer (these files can be documents, music, videos, photos, etc). This is the basic problem that NAS solves. In its simplest form, you can think of NAS as an external hard drive that lives next to your router and is accessible by all the computers in your home. And just like an external hard drive, NAS is easy to store and access files – just drag and drop.

Media Streaming

Now that you are in the habit of sharing files, you can take it a step further and allow other devices such as an HD media player to access your media collection. An HD media player is a device that connects to your TV like a DVD player, but can play photos, movies and music from a hard drive connected to it or grab files from your NAS. The beauty of NAS is that you can store all of your media in one place and access it from anywhere in the home. You can have a media player in every room of the house and have them all simultaneously access files from just one NAS device. That means you don’t need to constantly move drives around the house or keep numerous copies of the same content.

Remote Access

Why would you want Remote Access? Most NAS devices, including Seagate’s new GoFlex Home network storage system have the ability to not only store your files, but make them accessible to you anywhere in the world! With just a few clicks, you can listen to your favorite song right from within your web browser or download that presentation you forgot to bring to work. Plus, you can share vacation photos or that huge 14GB HD video file with friends.

Printer Sharing

Most of us have a USB printer at home. We bought it because it was so cheap (until we bought ink for it). It does its job well, but can be a pain when someone else in the house needs to use it, and that person’s computer isn’t the primary computer connected to the printer. If this is a pain point for you, then meet NAS, your new best friend. NAS devices like the GoFlex Home network storage system allow you to connect a USB printer to the back of it and then share that printer with every PC and Mac in the home. It offers the same convenience you have at work where you and your colleges share a printer.

Backup

We all know how important our files are to us and we all know we should back them up, but frankly it’s like flossing. The dentist tells us we need to do it more often, yet we never listen. Thankfully, NAS makes it so easy that you really no longer have an excuse not to do it. With the GoFlex Home network storage system, it truly is a set it and forget it deal. During the initial setup, it installs the included backup software, takes care of the configuration for you and from then on continuously backs up the files and folders on your computer. Plus, just one GoFlex Home network storage system can protect all the PCs and Macs in your home. And better yet, it cost just a tiny bit more than a single external hard drive.

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