Comparing iSCSI and Windows Network Shares

You can’t tell by looking at the physical connection whether a machine is using iSCSI or a Windows share. Both iSCSI connections and shared Windows hard drives use an Ethernet connection to attach storage. Since they use the same physical connection and network cable, it can be confusing to understand the difference. It used to be that an appliance that “shared” it’s drive was called a NAS (Network Attached Storage), and one that used iSCSI was called a SAN (Storage Area Network). This was because iSCSI was setup by installing a second network card in the server, and a dedicated link or Ethernet network was used for just storage traffic (hence the term storage area network versus local area network). Nowadays it’s not uncommon for even low end NAS devices to support the iSCSI software protocol, so the line can be somewhat blurry.

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