back to article The Nano-NAS market is now a femto-flop being eaten by the cloud

The very small network attached storage (NAS) market is scarcely alive, according to IDC's 2015 Worldwide Personal and Entry-Level Storage Tracker. The analyst firm defines personal storage has having one or two disks and entry-level storage as packing three to twelve disk bays. The former category now accounts for 99 per …

  1. a_yank_lurker


    As inexpensive, reliable disks get cheaper one disk can do what several did a few years ago. So I am not so sure the 'analysis' is using artificial definitions of the devices to conclude what they want. Also, most of these 'analyses' present data storage solutions as an 'either/or' false dichotomy when it is in reality all for most, a varying mix of local, attached, and cloud used.

    1. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: ???

      I took away the message "Seagate's a solid number two" which left a slightly unpleasant image in my mind, to be honest.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: ???

        And completely spot-on.

        Have an upvote in any case.

  2. Mark 65

    Surely this sales split between <3 drives and 3+ drives is simply down to being able to stick 2x6TB drives in RAID 1 and have as much storage space as you'd previously have needed 4x2TB drives in RAID 5 not too long ago? Thus a two bay will do rather than a 4 bay.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Raid 5

      Also the rebuild time for a cheap NAS with Raid 5 is huge. With three disks this is more likely too, than with two disks by x 3/2 factor

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why faced with a continuous stream of evidence that "the cloud" is total shit, do people "see as a fine alternative to desktop storage"?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >do people "see [cloud] as a fine alternative to desktop storage"?

      No. The mini nas market has been killed by atom and arm based devices offering fewer bays at greater expense than a desktop.

      Smallbiz will just upgrade disks in a server and the home market won't pay whole-server system prices for 1g Ethernet-attached disk, now they are used to flash.

      I'm guessing the problem is that home storage requirements exceed business requirements which makes vendors' market segmentation difficult, but as Bieber says, "you can go and love yourself."

    2. Martin an gof Silver badge

      faced with a continuous stream of evidence that "the cloud" is total shit

      I'm not sure that Joe Bloggs is faced with such a stream, even if people like us are. Until Joe loses all the photos he's taken of his kids or his cats over the last five years, Joe will believe all the hype and marvel at the ease of use and the (lack of) upfront cost.


      1. 2460 Something

        Recently had this conversation with the mother-in-law. Replace 'cloud' with someone else's hardware and it makes the 'cloud' much easier for them to see as physically hosting elsewhere. It's only taken 13years to get her to this point!

        She has 1TB of old pictures she scanned in along with a further 1.5 TB taken since the era of digital cameras. She was saving it all to a single external usb HD which developed a fault and wouldn't read any more. Shucked it out of the enclosure and managed to recover everything. She was then going to put it all up in 'the cloud' so she would never have this problem again. One face-palm later and a long discussion and she now has a new regime. 2 local copies (1 on local pc and 1 on back-up device) and 1 remote copy (and she switches the local/remote copies every couple months). All for significantly less than it would have cost for even 1 year 'cloud' storage.

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          saving it all to a single external usb HD

          Almost as good as the bloke I know who had about a year's worth of digital photos and video of his family stored only on the SD card in the camera. His excuse was that his main computer was broken and he couldn't transfer the things to his only other working computing device, an iPad.

          He - somehow - managed to "accidentally" format said SD card (I suspect he was looking to delete a couple of files to make some space), and carried on taking photographs afterwards. Eventually he realised what he was doing and came crawling to me.

          Thank goodness for PhotoRec.

          I could not get it past his thick skull however, that in buying the cheapest possible SD card he was gambling with the data anyway, even after I showed him my rogue's gallery of "these cheap knock-offs have all failed, while these only slightly more expensive genuine cards are still going strong".

          I suspect that in film days he would have been buying Tudor 400 and wondering why his prints back from Asda weren't as good as his mate's, who was using Fuji Superia and sending them off to a proper lab, but this sort of - erm - pennypinching cluelessness is an endemic problem with humans generally I think, certainly since people have been able to record stories of snake oil etc.


  4. inmypjs Silver badge

    "see as a fine alternative to desktop storage"?

    Average UK broadband upload speed was 2.9Mb/s this time last year - 24/7 for more than a month to upload your 1TB Microsoft allowance. Think I'll stick with my cheap NAS box where 1TB takes a couple of hours.

    Cloud is OK for sharing, might be ok for backup redundancy, too slow for almost everyone if you have a lot of data and if you don't what's wrong with a couple of USB sticks?

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Agreed on all counts

      I have a Synology 4-bay NAS where I put 4 3TB disks (three WDs and 1 Seagate). Why 4 ? Because I wanted to use RAID-5.

      I have ripped all my DVDs to it, so that my TV can access it for film viewing without hassle. I do not consider that replacing that with my Internet connection as an improvement. First, I'd be using up my bandwidth for something I already have locally. Second, I'd be limited to 10Mbps instead of 100Mbps on my LAN. Third, TCP is a lousy streaming support under 30Mbps. And I hate screen tearing when I watch a film.

      Finally, I can watch a film whether or not I have Internet connectivity. I'll be damned if I have to depend on Internet to do stuff with MY data.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Agreed on all counts

        " 4-bay NAS where I put 4 3TB disks (three WDs and 1 Seagate). Why 4 ? Because I wanted to use RAID-5."

        Don't forget to tell us how long the rebuild takes and if it is successful when you get a 3TB drive failure. I would have 2 RAID1 or a RAID10.

      2. John H Woods Silver badge

        Re: Agreed on all counts

        Pascal, I agree with all this but I think RAID5 is a very, very bad idea at these disk sizes. If one of your drives failes, a single Unrecoverable Read Error on one of the other three drives is going to kill your array. If you are using WD 3TB Reds, with a URE probability of 1e-14, and one drive fails, the chance you can rebuild your array is less than evens [1].

        Add to that your rebuild time (days, I should think), you have a significant possibility of a second disk failure (especially if you haven't sourced your disks from different batches).

        In my opinion you'd be much better off using RAID10 [2] and getting 6TB. You've lost 33% of your capacity but really increased your data safety. Although of course, RAID <> Backup :-)

        [1] Chance of success, simplifying somewhat, is no better than the chance of reading each bit successfully (1-prob(URE)) raised to the power of the number of bits 8 x number of disks x capacity of disks; i.e. (1-1e14)^(8*3*3e12)= 48.7%

        [2] Although I'd be tempted to use RAIDZ2 rather than a HW RAID10

    2. Salts

      Also agree, I have not got the slowest broadband, but having just closed down a 400gb cloud account it took a few weeks to get it downloaded, not doing that again in a hurry.

      As most of these NAS boxes are linux based a couple of SATA to USB connectors with PSU is a much needed tool, pull the disk clone to spare hard drive backup done for single disk NAS, not a normal user operation agreed but not many here are normal users.

      Most of the data I keep on NAS is not that important, the important stuff gets well backed up, but the rest as and when.

      1. JEDIDIAH

        Power users versus everyone else.

        Most people don't need a 6 or 8 bay monster NAS. So of course such devices are going to represent a small fraction of the market. This has likely always been the case and likely always will be.

        All your typical rube really needs is a couple of USB attached hard drives. They can hang off of any part of the home network. Spinning rust is big enough and cheap enough that your average consumer or even small office will find 2TB more than sufficient.

        USB2 will outperform the vast majority of ISPs on the planet.

  5. HereIAmJH

    odd way to break down devices

    I would have thought USB were storage expansions, and network attached (the NA in NAS) would be NAS. I've never seen a 1 disk NAS, but 1 to 4 drives would be nano or entry level NAS systems. Over the last couple years I have personally purchased a 2 drive NAS and a 4 drive NAS. I have also purchased about 7 USB storage expansions. Several of which I simply stripped of drives to expand my NAS.

    1. Number6

      Re: odd way to break down devices

      The NSLU2 a few years back was usable as a single disk expansion although it did have two USB sockets so it would support two drives. That's how I used a couple of them back then, although one got repurposed as an Asterisk PBX for a bit.

      I have a 2-bay NAS, although that's only got one 2TB drive at the moment, my main storage is a bigger machine running RAID1.

      1. frank ly

        Re: odd way to break down devices

        I still use a couple of NSLU2 devices as NAS drives. Small, low power, no moving parts, fast enough to stream audio/video and my 2TB 'media' drive is plugged into the back of one of them. They also have a flexible backup utility and my 'data' folder on a usb stick plugged into one of them gets copied over to another usb stick plugged into the other one, at 3am every day. They also have an ftp server if you want a home based place to pull/push files when you're out and about.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: odd way to break down devices

      > I've never seen a 1 disk NAS,

      I have. Lacie made a couple.

      However, these days many people have upgraded to routers (for better WiFi speeds and range) that provide a USB socket... this means that a standard external HDD can play the part of a 'single bay NAS'.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: odd way to break down devices

        > I've never seen a 1 disk NAS,

        Western Digital have (had?) a network-attached drive - Mybook Live?


      Re: odd way to break down devices

      One disk NAS devices are commonplace. They're just a drive in a box with an ethernet port. Functionally, they're like a Revo or a PI with a large hard drive attached.

      I had a single drive Seagate NAS running in a friends small office for awhile. After that died, I quite literally set them up with a Revo + USB hard drive. When the Revo dies, they can just plug the USB drive directly into their own workstation.

  6. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Also: streamed video

    It is possible that services like Netflix reduce some people's desire to store movies locally. Many of the devices people use to watch movies in their lounge are actually happier streaming content over the internet than they are playing media stored on the local network (Chromecast, NowTV dongle, some games consoles).

    1. Charles 9

      Re: Also: streamed video

      Isn't that hampered by low data caps, though?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Also: streamed video

      I believe, for most, it just depends which way they obtain the media to play....

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Also: streamed video

        Even pirated material is easy streamed these days. If you can be confident of downloading a movie in five minutes legitimately or otherwise, or stream it, then you will be less fussed about storing it locally indefinitely.

        1. Charles 9

          Re: Also: streamed video

          Except, like I said, when data caps come into play. Besides, why waste bandwidth more than once. Download the silly thing and watch it as you download, then when you're done hold onto it, offload it so you can watch it again later on, and never have to worry about connections or removal of the piece from the service ever again. If there's one reason to be a multimedia packrat, it's because you never know when your source is going to disappear, and nothing beats local storage (with suitable redundancy) for assuring you have it no matter what.


      Re: Also: streamed video

      QNAP has it's own mobile apps and support for Plex/XBMC. Both of those are themselves well supported across mobile devices and dedicated streaming devices and even some smart TVs. One of the first apps to get created for the iPad when it was first released was a local video streaming server. XBMC support was quickly added to the ARM variant of the AppleTV when it was first released.

  7. chivo243 Silver badge

    Cloud storage, no thanks

    I'll keep my data at home. My connection isn't fast, and due to local politics and business conditions, doubt I will get anything better in the foreseeable future.

    So, I might be in the market for a NAS at home sometime soon.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No surprise when a market reaches the saturation point it slow down a bit

    I'm not surprises sales are slowing down. Not everybody needs (or perceive the need of) this kind of external storage - for many, a simple external USB disk is enough, and these are also the ones for which free cloud space (and upload time) is enough.

    The actual users of small NAS are heavy content producers (i.e. photo, video, etc.), people with heavier central storage needs (i..e. media players, some small business), needing faster upload and access than cloud can deliver now (and some more privacy as well) for everyday access - maybe also using a cloud service for off-site (and encrypted) backups.

    Yet NAS devices can have a decent lifetime, you may need to upgrade disks for reliablitly and capacity, but not the enclosure itself, after all their main tasks are quite simple, and doesn't need early replacement. There weren't big improvements in long-term SOHO storage technology in the past years, as long as most of these devices employs some form of plain RAID, a standard file system and share protocol, there is very lilttle need of upgrading these units, since not spinning hardware is pretty reliable today for most uses.

    Thereby once their target market becomes saturated it's no surprise sales will slow down. Maybe IDC wishes to push some customer cloud agenda, but the market for these devices will never be larger, but it's not going to collapse either.

  9. crediblywitless

    It's poor firmware that's letting these beasts down. I've seen and tried a fair few, and they're all typically a firmware update away from being useful. It's almost as if the producers just assumed that packaged Samba would be a fire-and-forget solution, and no-one would ever want to use NFS provided as a Cinderella service.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes, even Apple preferred SMB over NFS for its AppleTalk replacement, despite being built over parts of BSD. While NFS may show some performance advantage (depending on setup, abd especially because Samba implementation of SMB is not so performant), it has other limitations that could make SMB preferred, especially since only more expensive version of Windows have a NFS3 client, and Windows and OSX still dominate the desktop market.

      1. Jeremy Allison


        > especially because Samba implementation of SMB is not so performant

        Utter bollocks. Prove it you anonymous troll. Samba can saturate 10GigE for both read and write, plus we're currently testing multi-channel SMB3 TCP for multiple NIC concurrent performance goodness. I hate 'nony-coward drive-by slagging off like this.

  10. happy but not clappy

    They are too expensive

    There now, that wasn't hard was it?

  11. RachelG

    and it always ends up making more sense to just make, or even repurpose, a linux server and choose a case that has the number of bays you need.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      You say that as a Linux expert. In your case, I obviously agree.

      Most people are not proficient with Linux. For those who still need NAS functionality, a dedicated vendor box is not all that expensive and has all the functionality required in a simple setup screen - no Linux knowledge needed.

      Given that 99.9% of the population does not have the skills to tackle Linux on their own, NAS boxes are a good alternative.

      Better than setting up yet another bug-ridden Windows box anyways.

      1. JEDIDIAH

        Resistance is futile.

        It doesn't matter. You're going to be running a Linux box one way or another.

        Although the whole "client vs server" thing is an entirely arbitrary line anyways. We Unix users just appreciate that principle more fully. Ars had a recent rather silly article where some Mac user decided to build a game rig with some space inside for drives and declare that a NAS.

        ANY machine with an extra drive bay can be a file server. With USB, you don't even need the internal drive bay. Just hang it off the octopus somewhere and share it. Acquire and setup an automated copy mechanism (or not).

        You don't even need extra storage. Just share a folder on the internal drive you're not fully exploiting. This has been an accessible feature with a shiny happy interface for 20 years in Windows. Any machine on the network can host stuff. If you have "small important stuff", you can copy it onto any device connected to your network. All of my HTPCs have spare space because spinning rust has been big for a long time and the OS overhead of an HTPC is tiny. So they all have a "local backup" folder where partial backups of the home cloud reside.

        It's a very mundane idea in Unix to have your own private cloud with "drives" hosted wherever. The distinction between local and network storage is functionally non-existent. My Linux boxes have hosted shared storage for all the other machines in the home network since the 3.1 days. New "folders" like Videos and E-books get added as technology changes.

  12. Infernoz Bronze badge

    FreeNAS is better

    FreeNAS installs and Pro-OS boxes are probably killing off crippled, over priced, of-the-shelf mini-NAS, because they are plain better and much better value.

    USB drives can't be properly shared by a set of desktops, laptops, tablets and phones, and lack fail-over redundancy, so are a dead-end except for bulk physical data transport and limited local storage extension and backup.

    Less technical users and users with limited finances who need shared data probably use the /much much/ slower, inherently less secure (and much more expensive for several TBs and high use) cloud and streaming services.

    I just love what I can do with many FreeNAS boxes with ZFS which make off-the-shelf mini-NAS look so dated too.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: FreeNAS is better

      FreeNAS is a good storage solution, but despite its web interface, it's still aimed at technically-savvy users, and its stated mimimum requirements (8GB ECC RAM, etc.) may scare off many potential users, albeit for small setups you can run it in less specced systems. System setup, especially the ZFS part, but not only, needs good knowledge, and they removed most ways of attaching and using any external drive(s) because their obsession with "pure safety" makes them believe anything non-ZFS and non directly attached to the disk controller (or synced through replication) is inherently unsafe (making, for example, a back up a FreeNAS machine more complex than it should be).

      While its "plug-ins" offer some services many users expect from a SOHO NAS, they are some free software cobbled together without a coherent, easy to use interface.

      If you know what you want, and especially if you want ZFS, FreeNAS, and you have the skills to build and manage your own, it's a viable solution. Purchasing one may be more expensive than other NAS solutions, and still the learning curve remains.

      1. JEDIDIAH

        Re: FreeNAS is better

        ANY NAS is going to be aimed at geeks.

        Even with the shiny happiness, a NAS appliance still requires the user to be aware of what they are using. Short of the device having a speaker where it can tell the average rube what to do, it's not going to be usable by the average prole. No amount of pointy-clicky and pretty pictures can get you past the conceptual gap of what you are working with or the awareness and bother that you actually have to manage and maintain the thing.

        "Hey you! Yeah you, over there in the living room. Come over here and put a new disk drive in me."

        H*ll, even that's probably going to be too much for the family to handle.

        The best I can do is put better drives in the thing and hope they hold out a good long time before needing to be replaced. Actually expecting anyone else in the family to actually manage the QNAP is probably like asking them to manage the mdadm array on my Linux workstation. It's just not happening.

  13. Juan Inamillion

    For what it's worth...

    Admittedly I'm out of the mainstream of business IT these days. I have a selection of individuals and small business clients. But over the past 5 or so years I've seen the need for a small server solution disappear with the rise of adaptable and cheap NAS boxes. The mantra 'RAID is not a back up solution' may well be true to a professional, but for most people they see it as a cheap and easy form of data storage - fit and forget. Back up for the RAID often consists of a large capacity USB drive that someone takes home.

    Whenever I can get them to discuss back up or cloud storage they quickly realise that having it all in the cloud is not a truly viable solution. In parts of the central and west end of London it's still not possible to get broadband speeds greater than 5 or 6 Mbps - the disgraceful legacy of underinvestment by the our useless government(s) and the lies put out by BT talking about 'superfast'. Telling clients that it'll take a two hours to download a single file is clearly not an option, let alone a complete back up.

    For myself five years ago I bought a 2 bay NAS (Synology) to trial out at home. Starting out testing it as small file server and backup for my own computer, it's now central as media server and backup for all the computers in use in the house. And I'm not even using half of it's capability. It's getting a bit full now but upgrading the disks is simple and cheap.

  14. Kev99 Silver badge

    Just keep in mind that a cloud is just a bunch of holes held together with water vapor. So solid and secure you can fly a Piper Cub thru one.

  15. John Robson Silver badge

    I'm still looking...

    for a multi bay, jbod, hotswap usb enclosure.

    Any PC can share disk as needed, I just need a way to attach several in a sane configuration, and be able to swap in and out the rotating backup set...

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: I'm still looking...

      for a multi bay, jbod, hotswap usb enclosure.

      What, you mean like


      or this

      or this

      or even this?

      Startech is always worth a look but you will find their kit much cheaper elsewhere. It's always good to have the exact model number to hand to help with the searching.


      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: I'm still looking...

        Yes - but £200-£300 for them?


        The orinoco ones are at least ~£100, which still seems expensive to me..

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