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What is the main differences between NAS and SAN?

Posted on 2013-01-19
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What is the main differences between NAS and SAN?

When one should be used more than another?

Thanks.
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Question by:SAM2009
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by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)
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The main difference is the access mode in which they are used

NAS - Network Attached Storage it's connected to your network, and access is at the file level, a NAS uses it's own file system. Traditional NAS perform NFS and CIFs (Windows Share/SMB) functions.

SAN - Storage Area Network. Functions are performed at the block level. SAN's can provide iSCSI and Fibre Channel attachment. Traditional SANs provide iSCSI and Fibre Channel.

This is where the area starts to get a little grey, because some devices are sold as NAS, which also offer SAN functions e.g. iSCSI

and some SANs (e.g. NetApp), can offer NFS, iSCSI, Fibre Channel, CIFs (Windows Shares) from the same device.

As for which one should you use, SANs are generally more expensive and performance is superior, that's not to say that you do not get fast performing SANs.

here are the Wiki References

SAN
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Storage_area_network

NAS
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nas
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172pilotSteve earned 1000 total points
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Everything said above is true, but to try to make it more in simpler terms, a SAN provides your computer with what it thinks is a real local hard disk - The SAN "adapter" whether it's a Fiber Channel card, or an iSCSI adapter, simulates a disk controller, and appears to your system as a raw disk.  On that raw disk, you can create partitions, format the drive, etc, just like a physical hard drive connected to your machine.

A NAS (Network Attached Storage) is a drive that belongs to a different computer (sometimes a dedicated NAS appliance, but that's still a computer), and from your perspective on your computer is a pre-formatted  drive that typically already has a drive letter (or mountpoint in the case of Linux) and is "mapped" to your machine as a formatted drive.  "NAS" is basically the same as a traditional network share, and when you're mapping drives with UNC  (\\server\share) you are connecting to that device as a "NAS"

Are you trying to decide which one you need for a particular purpose?
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by:SAM2009
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Thanks!
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