Can you please advise me on how to best set up a Network-Attached Storage (NAS)?

Jeff January 11, 2011
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I want to set up a NAS in my home so that my WiFi connected laptops can access documents, music and movie files etc. I also want the NAS to hook up to my LCD via HDMI, so that I can playback avi, MP4, and MKV movies.

What is the best and most cost effective way to accomplish this?

Thanks for all your ideas.

  1. Zia
    May 26, 2011 at 10:34 am

    Jeff

    Let me share with you my current set-up which may give you some ideas on an alternative to a conventional NAS set-up. The addional cost which I incurred on top my existing hardware (various external hard drives, netbook, TV) was only $50!

    With this set-up, I am able to access over 2TB of media files and documents anyhere in my home via TV, iPad, laptop, PC and even my android phone!

    First and foremost, the reasons I did not got the conventional NAS route were : too expensive, too techy (Linux and co) and frankly not optimum to use all existing hardware which I spent my hard-earned cash on.

    The centre piece to this wonder geek heaven is Iomega's Iconnect (which I bought for $50).

    The Iconnect  allows me to connect up to 4 external hard drives (1.5 TB, 500 Mb, 320 Mb and 60 Mb) which I bought over the years (and some of which had been gathering dust until now!).  Here comes the neat part: the Iconnect acts like a NAS either wirelessly or through a direct connection to my wireless router.

    When I open my network devices on my Windows 7, all my 4 hard drives appear and I can move, edit, play and delete files to my heart's content.

    The icing on the cake is that iConnect is DLNA enabled, i.e. my Samsung TV (connected to my router)  is able to view and play media files stored on all 4 hard drives.

  2. Jeffrhind
    January 17, 2011 at 1:42 am

    Seems pretty complicated and expensive. And WMP is not an option. Whatever I can do to stay away from that player - I play all my videos using VLC. Seems complicated to set up. Any ideas for out of the box solutions?

  3. Mike
    January 12, 2011 at 10:26 am

    The costs pretty much depend on your existing devices, their features/support and what you are willing to setup.

    For example a lot of Set Top Boxes come with UPnP/DLNA support which enables you to playback files from a computer on your network ~ if that is the case it would be good to know which codecs are supported by the STB. Chances are (although small) all you have to do is setup an UPnP share using Windows Media Player.

    Other than that the possibilites are kinda' infinite...

    For example you could go for a Small Form Factor system (or Media Center PC) with space for 2-3 large hard disks and use it for both playback on the LCD and File Sharing.

    If you want more security for your files (RAID, Backup) or need more space than 2-3 Hard Drives can serve you'll need something bigger. Or as an alternative go for a combination of Media Center PC (for the HDMI connection and Codec Support) + some dedicated NAS (e.g. Synology, QNAP)

    If you have some old hardware around you could turn it into a storage system (using Windows, FreeNAS or whatever you like) and go for something like Popcorn Hour (http://www.popcornhour.com/onlinestore/index.php?pluginoption=catalog&mainItemId=11) which is able to connect to network shares and plays pretty much everything you throw at it.