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Both network-attached storage (NAS) and storage area network (SAN) were developed to solve the problem of making stored data available to a lot of users at once. Each of them provides dedicated storage for a group of users, but they couldn’t be more different in their approach to achieving their mission.

A NAS is a single storage device that serves files over Ethernet and is relatively inexpensive and easy to set up, while a SAN is a tightly coupled network of multiple devices that work with block-based data and is more expensive and complex to set up and manage. From a user perspective, the biggest difference between NAS and SAN is that NAS devices look like volumes on a file server and use protocols like NFS and SMB/CIFS, while SAN-connected disks appear to the user as local drives.

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