SAN vs. NAS: Know The Difference

Storage Area Network (SAN) is a local network over multiple devices whereas Network Attached Storage (NAS) is a single device that operates on data files.

SAN vs. NAS: Know The Difference
Published By - Kelsey Taylor

Selecting a storage solution depends pretty much on your requirements. Let’s discuss the two primary methods namely Network Attached Storage and Storage Area Network. These methods are in use by companies since a very long time now. Both NAS and SAN, provide storage solutions over the network.

Storage Area Network is a local network over multiple devices whereas Network Attached Storage is a single device that operates on data files. Before going directly to the SAN vs NAS comparison, let’s see the technologies actually are.

What is SAN?

SAN is the most common network storage architecture used by organizations for business-critical applications that need to deliver high throughput with low latency. The SAN architecture allows organizations to apply consistent methodologies and tools for data protection, security and disaster recovery.

SAN is block-based storage that leverages high-speed architecture which connects servers to the Logical Disk Units. A logical disk unit is a group of blocks provisioned from a pool of shared storage which is presented to the server as one logical disk.

SAN fabrics connect to the servers with the help of host bus adapters (HBAs). They are independent of LAN and thus relieve the load on the local network by offloading data directly from the servers.

What is NAS?

It is a device that is attached to the network dedicated to nothing more than file sharing. The NAS architecture does not provide the facilities such as email authenticating or file management that a server in a server-centric system typically provides.

NAS adds more storage space to the network that already utilizes server without having to shut down the existing servers for maintenance purpose or any other reason. With NAS, storage is generally not an integral part of the server. However, in the storage-centric design, the server does the processing while the NAS device handles the file transfers.

It is not necessary that the NAS device has to be in close proximity to the server. It can be located anywhere in the LAN or can be made up of multiple interconnected NAS devices.


The following table notes down the major differences between the two technologies.


SAN vs. NAS: Know The Difference



SAN vs NAS is not a conclusive comparison as both were designed for different needs and purposes and hence are not competing technologies. Your choice of technology to opt for depends entirely on your requirement.

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Kelsey manages Marketing and Operations at HiTechNectar since 2010. She holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration and Management. A tech fanatic and an author at HiTechNectar, Kelsey covers a wide array of topics including the latest IT trends, events and more. Cloud computing, marketing, data analytics and IoT are some of the subjects that she likes to write about.

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