Q&A: What’s the best way to allow every computer in our office to share the same files?

nas-hard-driveQuestion from Carl J.:  I own a small business that employs 3 people, which means there are 4 of us working in our office on a daily basis. Due to the nature of our business, the 4 of us find ourselves updating a common set of files on daily basis.

Right now these files are stored in a shared folder on my Desktop PC, which mean I have to have my computer up and running 24/7. I don’t really like doing that, for several reasons.

I’d love to go with a different setup, but I’d like to avoid having to buy and maintain a file server just to host a handful of Office documents. Can you tell me what my options are, and perhaps make a recommendation?

Rick’s answer:  Carl, in my opinion a single NAS hard drive would be ideal for your situation. NAS stands for “Network Attached Storage”, and it allows everyone on a network to access the files stored on the drive(s) contained within the NAS enclosure.

These devices are basically mini file servers that resemble common external hard drive enclosures (actually, that’s what they are). You simply connect the NAS device to your network, configure a few settings, and then get down to work!

NAS devices have several advantages over traditional file servers:

1 – They are small and unobtrusive.

2 – They don’t require a keyboard, mouse or monitor since they can be administered from a remote PC, Mac or mobile device.

3 – They typically come with pre-installed software for backing up all the computers on the network.

4 – Many quality NAS devices are quite inexpensive when compared to the cost of a traditional file server.

You can buy NAS devices that contain multiple hard drives, but given the size of your office staff and the small number of shared files, a model with a single hard drive with at least a couple of terabytes of storage should easily suffice.

Click here to check out the excellent selection of inexpensive NAS hard drives at Amazon. I think you might be pleasantly surprised at the low cost you’ll have to pay for one!

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