Cloud Storage or NAS?

Paul Niemeyer

By Paul Niemeyer
December 9, 2013


Cloud Storage or NAS?

Cloud storage has now become a part of our daily lives and the other storage system which is widely used for business purpose as well as by casual users is the NAS (Network Attached Storage). Usually this question becomes more acute when you’re dealing with photos or such documents requiring a large volume of space. Today we don’t want to just store these files in a safe place by burning a CD or DVD or putting them in an external hardware. We have come to a stage where sharing plays an important role. That brings up the necessity of storing your files by keeping them connected! That’s where the new heroes Cloud & NAS enter the scene. Let’s check out which one you should choosebetween the two!

Choosing between Cloud Storage & NAS

To be frank, a comparison between Cloud & NAS is not very fair. This comparison is more like apples vs oranges. The NAS is super redundant, whereas the cloud offers increasing the storage capacity and speed in a single network. If safety is what you’re looking for, you should go for a cloud storage or a local backup drive. Setting up a RAID on NAS (i.e. keeping two copies for your files) can be an option, but still does not offer absolute security. Your redundancy strategy might be altered by incidents like: fire, floods, theft, power outage, EMP, bugs etc.

To be specific, cloud storage refers to renting some digital space from a cloud provider. You can also consider this to be renting some digital space within a number of NAS devices in some part of the world.

On the contrary, the Network Attached Storage features a space which can be accessed using the whole local network and takes its position in your room. NAS devices are able to run servers (for FTP/website) along with storing and sharing the data.

If you’re an economical person, you’d probably argue with the necessity of getting NAS. Some people also suggest getting an old computer with an external hard drive which won’t cost more than 50 bucks and install OwnCloud on it. However, you should also know that the cheapest way is not always the best one to go for. If you’re looking for a cloud-service like experience, my suggestion is to try a specialized NAS device. The setup process is a lot less painful & trust me, the daily usage is smoother than ever.

Will NAS pay off very soon?

When you invest on a server or hard drives, you must have in mind that at some point the money will pay off. When will your NAS pay off compared to the cloud storage services like Dropbox or JustCloud? To keep it simple, let’s avoid including the setup cost & the internet fee (as both of these will vary depending on the model of the NAS you’re using and your internet usage level along with the speed factor).

✔ Cheap NAS vs. Google Drive

Let’s consider a cheap $175 NAS device paired with two 1 TB HDDs (each priced at $67) and a RAID 1 setup is prepared. The electricity consumption will cost around $1.5/month as the average power consumption of a NAS drive is 10 watts/hour. When you buy cloud, you can actually buy some as small as 100 GB. The pay-off time actually depends on the volume of storage you need. The higher is the volume of storage you buy, the faster will be the pay-off period.

Considering that Google offers 15GB for free, undoubtedly NAS will never pay off if this 15GB storage serves your purpose! As your need increases, the pay off period will start to fall. The cloud is the best option if your data requirement is less than 200GB. When this value increases, the NAS starts to get prettier. Once you reach the 400GB mark, the NAS becomes extremely feasible paying off in less than 7 months.

✔ High-end NAS vs. Google Drive

Most of the people eyeing the NAS, are not much satisfied with a cheap NAS. If you’re in need of a robust NAS device offering extended functions and performance matching enterprise levels, you can choose one from the Synology models. When you purchase a good NAS device costing around $800, your pay off time will also reduce with the increase in your storage needs. However, it will still be 3 to 4 times more than that for a cheap NAS. The best part is, despite the longer time required for paying off, NAS offers an additional advantage when you reach the 400GB mark. A 600GB space will be available extra on your 1TB NAS Device!


Since is not the only competitor in the cloud service zone, let’s compare it with some big number such as MEGA. Offering 50GB for free, the price of MEGA increases quite subtly with the increase in storage. This reasonable pricing of MEGA comes as a revenge for its cloud partners.

Final Verdict

The cloud storage providers offer great deals and still are no match for NAS devices when it comes to large data storage. Besides, NAS also features a great number of benefits which can be valuable to many people. The cloud is available at a cheap rate for a start, but the higher cost of NAS is completely compensated by the redundancy and ease of use. Check out this chart below for your final decision! You can also read PC Mag’s article on the Top 10 NAS Devices.