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An external hard drive works as long as you only need to attach it to one computer. Portable hard drives and flash drives are great for moving information around from person-to-person. But what about if you want to share your data with a group of people, like in your business or even your family?
The answer is NAS (network-attached storage), otherwise known as a file server. Using standard client-server protocols, it's not too difficult to designate one PC on your office or home network as a file server. This way, you can dedicate all of the computer's hard drive capacity -- and peripherals, too -- to serving the storage needs of the entire group.
You need to know something about networking to get this done right, especially if there are going to be different levels of access for different users. But it's not too technical for even advanced home users to try out. And if you've got a group of power users collaborating on shared information and files, this is the way to go. You can use any PC or Mac as a server. Both usually have the software built into their operating systems.