Putting a NAS at home has been one of the best technological decisions I have made in my entire life

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There are gadgets that change one’s life (a little). The potato peeler or the rear proximity sensor of cars, without going any further. Of all those who have been coming into my life, there is one that sweeps them all off the map.

This is the NAS I bought in 2012 and that has become a fundamental part of all work and leisure in our home. If you don’t know them, pay attention, because these network hard drives are an absolute wonder that will make you wonder about “how could I live without it?”. Or almost.

your private cloud

I told it then on my other blog: I had been experimenting with a Raspberry Pi as a download server but that did not go well.

By now I had read and written quite a bit about those network hard drives known as NAS (Network Attached Storage), but I had never had the opportunity to try one, so I went on an adventure and bought one.

What is a NAS and how to configure it

The truth is that the product seemed almost made with me in mind. I don’t like to rely on third party cloud services and I wanted to have a product that was always available and always connected so that I could copy data to and from it with any of my PCs and laptops.

A NAS is just that: a device that is always there for youwhether you are at home or away from it —although that, as I will comment on later, has its that—.

a NAS is your private cloudand in fact the name of this type of product is unfortunate: they are much more than network drives, because in addition to storing all kinds of content they can act as download, development, mail, multimedia, VPN, web server, etc. chat etc.

This is not just about saving files

I chose at that time for a two-bay Synology DS212j —today the option would be at least the DS220j—, in each of which I connected a 3.5-inch 2TB SATA hard drive. Having 4 TB of network storage was wonderful then, and today those disks continue to withstand the pull, although yes, I usually have more than 90% of the NAS capacity occupied.

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Synology offers quite a lot of official packages to take advantage of the NAS in various ways. There is also other alternatives to install software that is not directly offered via Synology.

you can ride your own alternative to Gmail, Dropbox, Google Photos, Netflixor create and host websites there that you can then make public and that can be based on platforms such as Magento, WordPress or Drupal.

Plex vs Kodi: which is better and which system to choose

Most NAS manufacturers offer their own app stores for these devices so that you can install those packages and use them to provide the services that best suit your needs.

In my case, the use has been relatively discreet: I use my NAS as a storage center for the whole house, not only for data backups that we already have on other computers, but as a destination for a lot of data that I work with on a daily basis. I use services like Dropbox or Google Drive for specific issues and to work with Google Docs, for example, but the NAS is the absolute protagonist in that workflow.

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Of course the other great section in which the NAS is the protagonist it’s in entertainment: the movies that I had on DVD and the music that I had on CD and that I have been acquiring in digital format have ended up on that network hard drive.

It is a somewhat heavy task at first, but of course the comfort it brings afterwards is spectacular: the NAS, I insist, is always available so that we can access that content, for example from the small miniPC connected to the TV with Kodi that we have in the living room or from the Chromecast with Google TV on the TV in the bedroom.

Google Photos and iCloud? Nahhh

The same goes for photos: although I recognize that services like Google Photos for Android mobiles or iCloud for iPhones have many advantages and that has made them the norm for users, I prefer not to use these services.

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I use multiple backups on local and external hard drives (that I have at a relative’s house, for example), and of course I have everything centralized on the NASwhere the mobile photos are synchronized with an official application called DS PhotoStationwhich includes a backup system that I can control in detail and that frees up space on my mobile if I need it.

Google Photos is so good that I ended up giving away all my photos to Google

Obviously Google or Apple services (there are other alternatives, of course) they do extra work of organizing photos In a simple way, they create automatic videos from the photos of a trip or an event and allow access to advanced searches.

We do not have that by default on the NAS, but it is possible to access some of those features if the user is willing to spend some time on the topic. Various photo managers allow, for example, applying facial recognition to search for photos of a person, although the organization of places or events is usually the responsibility of the user.

I, for example, create folders that group the photos of those trips or events, mark as favorites or label those that I want to have more localized. It is a subject that takes time, but let me revisit those photos — something I wouldn’t do as much otherwise — and enjoy those memories again, then have them even more within reach.

Photos

Synology Photos offers an interface and functions that try to emulate those proposed by Google Photos, and although there are some differences, the result is more than decent.

Various NAS manufacturers have made strides in that regard.and for example both QNAP (with QuMagie) and Synology (with Synology Photos) offer their alternatives to Google Photos. The recent change in the Google service has made that option of creating your own alternative with a NAS more than interesting. It’s not exactly the sameBut it’s certainly an interesting idea.

Accessing the NAS from outside the home (with caution)

In my case the NAS is limited to our home network: we can access it from any device as long as that device is connected by cable or Wi-Fi to the home network. If not, the access does not exist.

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That was the idea from the beginning: I prefer not to expose the NAS to the outside although it is perfectly possible and in fact in this case it is especially simple with another of the device’s native options called “QuickConnect”. there are some moreof course, but that is especially accessible for users who do not want to complicate life.

How to set up eMule on your Synology NAS

That makes you can create an ID for the device and access the NAS from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. Just use the browser and a URL like “http://quickconnect.to/yourID” to access the NAS interface as if you were at home.

The recommendation of some users is to not expose a NAS to the outside: This is just a small PC with its own operating system—usually some variant of a Linux distribution—but vendors don’t update their platforms as quickly as developers of the Linux distributions they are based on .

That makes except a clear need perhaps it is better not to take advantage of that function that would force us to be very attentive to the tasks of administration and update of the NAS to avoid that external attackers can gain access to the NAS and, with it, to the rest of the home network to which this device is connected. There are ways to minimize risks, of course, but they require extra dedication.

You can buy it or assemble it yourself

There are many good reasons to get a NAS: they are very easy to usethey make us very calm with the security of our backups (and if we use RAID configurations, more) and allow us to have access to local services that are very convenient to use.

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This user 3D printed a case in which he connected a Raspberry Pi to two hard drives. The exterior appearance is certainly convincing: this is a handcrafted NAS but with a special charm.

Normally, when looking for one of these solutions, one goes to products already prepared for this function. There are many and very good options of manufacturers like Synology, QNAP, Seagate, Western Digital or Buffalo, for example, and each one offers certain features that try to differentiate it from the rest.

Multimedia NAS buying guide: what to look for and which are the best models

The other option, of course, is to assemble your own NAS yourself. The best known option without a doubt is FreeNASalthough there are especially noteworthy alternatives such as Unraid.

Basically what is done here is build a regular PC in which, yes, the processor or memory are entry-level because not much else is needed and special attention is paid to connectivity (Gigabit Ethernet is recommended) and of course to storage, in which we can use storage units. traditional disk or SSD drives. There are those who experiment and mount a NAS with a Raspberry Pi, but it does not seem to be a great idea.

Precisely because of these low hardware requirements, mounting a NAS is a great idea for reuse that old pc that one can have abandoned in the storage room. It’s also a great way to take advantage of a Raspberry Pi which simply we would connect an external drive to it via the USB port.

Whichever option you choose—if you choose any— I am convinced that this NAS will surprise you as it did and continues to do in my case. I have tried and bought many technological products in recent years, but my NAS has become, by far, one of my favorites, isn’t it the same for you?

There are gadgets that change one’s life (a little). The potato peeler or the rear proximity sensor of cars, without…

There are gadgets that change one’s life (a little). The potato peeler or the rear proximity sensor of cars, without…

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