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Newbies - Your first NAS, part 2 ... Network preparation

6. Is my WAN or LAN ready for my NAS project? Next possible bottlenecks of your project.

WAN - Wide area network
aka internet. Main component of the WAN infrastructure:

- Data connection from your ISP (Internet Service Provider) aka “data product” or line, purchased by you from ISP. The speed is divided to Download (in WAN: sped of throughput to you from internet) and Upload (in WAN: from you to Internet) There are two main misunderstanding in real life:
  • Nominal data speed is just name of the product or “just number” in your contract from ISP. Example: if you have product “Data 50”, then it is not the real or guaranteed transfer speed of your internet (except symmetric guaranteed lines). Many newbie expectations come from this misunderstanding.
  • Real data speed is based on an aggregation of the line. Simplified – your line speed is really depends from how many users are connected (at the time) to ISP infrastructure, then such line speed will remains for you. It depends from ISP infrastructure from ratio 1:5 to 1:50 (Nominal:Real speed). Then peaks of the slow speed is during afternoon and accelerate to evening time. But in many cases the peak time is whole day except night. If you have cellular 3G/4G WAN (I've seen this kind of connection) for the NAS, your data speed will be dynamical whole day (up to BTS utilization).
1. If your primary target is data availability for private/personal NAS cloud you need speed of Download and upload >20Mbps for small kind of files (doc, ppt, …). Example: 5MB file you can download from WAN in best cases for 2 seconds (5MB x 8=40Mb/20Mbps=2sec). But do not forget for the aggregation, in real life it can be 20x more (5MB x 8=40Mb/1Mbps=40sec). You have to count with:​

  • how frequently and how many users in same time will work on the NAS cloud
  • how many files will be transferred between cloud and users
  • when is expected peak time for your cloud, from your users point of view
2. If you have really slow connection of your line (less than D:10/U:1Mbps) and no way to change the ISP to faster one, my advice is forget for the NAS cloud - driven by data availability for more as single user.​
3. Same for the remote users (or you), who will use their slow WAN to your NAS connection.​

- Data modem or router could it be another bottleneck of your WAN. Reason: many of ISPs would like to save their investments to network and their will provide for you basic models of modem/router. Many of sellers will provide for you “best ever model”, that is just basic in real world. If you are not experienced pls. ask someone near you for a trusted advice. Little example: when data line is a highway, then modem or router is the crossroad (with many of traffic lights) for your WAN and LAN. When fast highway can bring your data effectively, then slow crossroad can causes a big traffic jam. This is the major principle between routers in range from 10USD to 500USD. What you have to check before (just more important):
  • What is the WAN speed support from my current modem/router(e.g. 100Mbps), is it enough for my NAS project?
  • If you have xDSL or cable modem with slow speed support, purchasing of new super-fast router connected to this kind of slow modem (via bridge mode) is way to hell, because it will never utilizes the router potential for the WAN (for LAN yes). Ask from ISP or friends an advice how to change this speed bottleneck.
LAN – local area network aka my home/office network. Main component of the LAN infrastructure:

- LAN Data router (second part of the WAN router) provides many functions from Firewall point of view through NAT (Network address translate) to basic switch for your LAN. For your NAS project is more important, how many services (features) you will run on the NAS (your targets list), it is base how many ports in your router you will use for data transfer from WAN to your NAS. Each service will use different port. Then you will need operate for all internal or external users so many “port forwarding operations”, that you can kill your cheap router traffic speed. One from many reasons of slow WAN speed. Here is simple how to guide + port forwarding here.

- Next bottleneck is your old cable LAN infrastructure, that can support just 100Mbps speed. You have to take it to consideration, that each new NAS has min. single 1Gbps port for LAN (some more than single port). If you have LAN cable with Cat-5 specification, you have to forget for your new NAS network speed utilization (max. for 10%). Same, if you have in usage a LAN switch, that has 100Mbps ports only. You can find more here: Ethernet cable guide.

- Next bottleneck is WiFi LAN infrastructure (mainly with single point of operation from the router), Example: your laptop has support for WiFi 802.11b/g, then max. nominal speed of your laptop to/from WiFi LAN is just 54Mbps (in real just 6-24Mbps, up to your distance from the WiFi router or kind of walls between laptop and router). Then if you will synchronize a data to your NAS it can take a lot of time, even when someone from WAN is waiting for the synchronization or up side down. You don't need to purchase new laptops, but just be informed about your bottlenecks. Many of the smart phones from 2010 use 802.11n WiFi, then there is potential up to 600Mbps for nominal WiFi LAN speed (in real aprox. 150Mbps). Please ask someone to help you with final tune of your WiFi LAN to provide best conditions for your speed. One of the frequent problem is WiFi bandwidth (20/40/80Mhz) in usage and interference consequences cause slow speed. This is not a tutorial for the WiFi LAN setup – it is another heavy topic. Here is tool for identification, what kind of WiFi adapters do you have in your smart devices. For Mac OS here. For Win OS here.

As you can see, there is still preparation phase for your NAS project. No advice about specific model of NAS, no purchase list of a discs to NAS.
For LAN - don't use a WiFi adapter to your NAS, cable is always better, faster and reliable way. Use the WiFi to your NAS as last option.
Your LAN transfer speed to NAS is limited by your LAN infrastructure (devices like laptop/smart phones,..) and always by your router/switch model.
Fast LAN is not foundation of fast WAN. There are two different world and WAN you can manage just by modem or router chose. All the rest is in ISP hands.
If you have slow WAN- specially slow Upload (frequent case) and there is no way to change it or there is a budget problem, take in to consideration for WAN usage of NAS features. Otherwise you will be not satisfied with NAS features for WAN usage.
Then the purchase price of the NAS will be small part of your network infrastructure cost. I would like recommend an economy efficiency approach in this way = how much I can pay for what and how I will be satisfied from the scenario.
End of part two

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Very good information for me as someone who knows enough to be dangerous! Using a NAS for personal use and after my initial research I chose a DS720+ but maybe will change my mind. Thank you!