SAN vs. NAS: A Comparison of Enterprise Storage Options

SAN and NAS were introduced in the market with the aim of bringing the availability of stored data seamlessly for all users simultaneously. Although both SAN and NAS are types of enterprise data storage, they differ in terms of their functionalities. SAN is an expensive yet multi-faceted, dedicated equipment that can form a tightly coupled network of several devices to offer block-level access and restrict entry through LAN. On the other hand, NAS is a file-level storage device that serves documents over ethernet, as it remains connected to the computer network providing complete data access to the heterogeneous group of users.

SAN and NAS also differ in terms of the following:
To understand these characteristics in detail, it is essential to know the core concepts of enterprise storage, types, and functions.

What is Enterprise Storage?

Enterprise storage refers to the centralized repository for storing business data and offers common data sharing, management, along with data protection while being connected to computer devices. Big organizations dealing with a lot of traffic and data need to handle heavy workloads without mingling with their performance or productivity. In such scenarios, these enterprise storage devices are the ideal scalable solutions for handling heavy workloads of business-critical information without involving any unnecessary creation of subsystems.

Enterprise data storage helps these businesses store and access large volumes of data and company information. The data size can be the determining factor for the storage type chosen by the company. In most cases, large companies often prefer highly reliable data storage platform brands like NetApp, HPE, QNAP, Hitachi, Dell, IBM, TerraMaster, Asustor Drivestor, etc.

What are the Types of Enterprise Storage?

To understand the key differences that distinguish SAN from NAS, let’s get a quick look at the top types of enterprise storage devices available in the market for businesses:

  • Direct-Attached Storage (DAS): It refers to a data storage device accessed through the external drive’s direct connection to the computer, like external HDDs, SSDs, etc.
  • Network-Attached Storage (NAS): The storage system which is responsible for storing files within a device and is available to users operating from different locations, provided they have steady internet access.
  • Storage Area Networks (SAN): These are high-speed data storage networks that use Fibre Channel technology for transmitting signals across the fiber or copper cables. 
  • Software-Defined Storage (SDS): It refers to the procedure of managing the data storage services through the software systems and not the hardware ones, offering flexible storage options for businesses with data centers.
  • Cloud Storage: It helps store the data and offers seamless access to the users from any distance, even if the hardware fails to function appropriately.

What is SAN?

A storage area network or SAN refers to a high-speed computer network that can offer access to block-level data storage devices and remain inaccessible through the local area network or LAN. SAN comprises switches, hosts, storage elements, and other specialized storage devices that remain connected using multiple technologies, protocols, and topologies.

In addition, it offers storage devices to the host, which is accomplished through utilizing various types of virtualization. The newer SAN configurations can now enable hybrid SAN, allowing traditional block storage, which might appear as the local storage but also acts as the object storage for web services through the APIs.

Some of the key benefits of SAN are:

  • Improve application and storage availability
  • Enhance the overall application performance
  • Quick data access with low latency
  • Only solution to concurrent shared access
  • Increases the storage effectiveness and utilization
  • Interconnects everything with anything, making communication across the fabric highly available for the users
  • Availability of advanced management features like data duplication, data encryption, data protection, storage replication, self-healing technologies, maximizing storage capacity, etc.

What is NAS?

Network-attached storage or NAS device refers to the storage equipment that remains connected to the network for allowing storage as well as data retrieval from a centralized location for authorized network users. These devices are appropriately optimized for serving the files either by their configuration, software, or hardware. These networked appliances consist of one or multiple storage devices, which remain arranged in RAID. 

Using the standard network file-sharing protocols like SMB, NFS, or AFP, NAS can provide access to the files to authorized users. Since the mid-1990s, these devices have gained a lot of popularity among users for offering the most convenient method of sharing files across different computer devices. These devices hence provide faster data access with simpler configuration and easier administration, making them one of the most used storage devices worldwide. Some of the benefits of using NAS are:

  • Increased storage space
  • Flawless report collaboration
  • Simple to operate and low cost
  • Ideal for SMBs
  • Automated data backups are available
  • Availability of private cloud storage
  • Enhanced data security
  • Remote access and an all-in-one backup package

What is SAN vs NAS?

Parameters SAN NAS
Network Type SAN runs on high-speed Fiber channel NAS remains connected to the devices using LAN
Price SAN requires higher management and complicated storage architecture, making it an expensive option. The entry-level NAS solutions are affordable and can help companies appropriately meet storage requirements
Speed & Performance Offers low-latency solutions due to their shared pool of storage NAS offers slower throughput while conducting shared file retrieval
Protocols SAN utilizes the SCSI protocol NAS uses multiple protocols for server connections like SMB/CIFS, NFS, HTTP, etc.
Scalability SANs offer high scalability option as one can seamlessly add block-level storage devices without affecting network integrity Simplified NAS configurations are capable enough to scale up by adding additional NAS boxes, which can be complicated and expensive
Management Advanced hands-on administration and expertise are required to manage and configure the SAN storage solutions NAS storage solutions are easy to manage and setup, making them ideal for small-scale companies and enterprises
Application Ideal for enterprises and professional environments Ideal for small to medium-sized companies


The entire blog focuses on highlighting the critical aspects of SAN vs. NAS to help businesses select the proper enterprise storage for their organization. However, choosing the right brand and services might seem like an overwhelming task. In this regard, DC Gears can be your ultimate solution as it partners with top-rated brands globally, with a presence in more than 40 countries. The top brands here offer you lucrative deals on storage solutions and DC Gears' finest on-site expertise. So, give us a call today to learn more about the ongoing offers on enterprise storage devices.