One indication of the popularity of wireless networks is the emergence of wireless network-attached storage (NAS) filers. Wireless NAS are wireless access points with built-in storage and the necessary software to function as a NAS. Such products are currently available from four or five manufacturers, including
Wireless NAS shares the drawbacks of wireless LANs of any sort, notably the lack of speed compared to some of the other network technologies. In an office or a workgroup the speed may be adequate, however.
From a storage perspective a wireless NAS is a pretty specialized product, almost a solution looking for a problem. However there are a couple of situations where a wireless NAS would be useful. One such use is as a storage server for an office where conventional network cabling is either impossible or prohibitively expensive. If you have a workgroup that is in temporary quarters, for example, which doesn't need high-speed storage, a wireless NAS is an inexpensive way to provide network storage. The other obvious use involves an office where a lot of laptops or hand held computers need to connect to the network over wireless links. A wireless NAS' combination of storage and a wireless access point can be a cost effective solution.
Rick Cook has been writing about mass storage since the days when the term meant an 80K floppy disk. The computers he learned on used ferrite cores and magnetic drums. For the last twenty years he has been a freelance writer specializing in storage and other computer issues.
This was first published in August 2003