How to Setup NAS Storageby Ashley Poland
For the home with more media than storage, network-attached storage offers a simple solution for every device. Many NAS systems contain several hard drives, both to maximize available storage and to allow for regular system backups. A full-fledged NAS system can behave like a home server, with features like FTP access, media sharing, and remote Internet access to files.
Choosing the Storage Type
Consumer NAS solutions come in two flavors: large hubs that contain multiple drives, or smaller USB systems that connect to your router. A USB NAS device has the advantage of being more affordable and smaller. However, it has less capacity than a larger NAS and fewer advanced features, such as personal cloud capability and FTP access. USB NAS read/write speeds are also slower than what you would get from a hard drive NAS. But if you only want to access files on your home network without the fuss of a larger system, then a USB device is probably the right solution.
Pre-Built Vs. DIY NAS
Building your own network-attached storage isn't for everyone, but if you have a spare PC, and the inclination to tinker, then it may prove more cost-effective. An older PC with a gig or two of RAM will work just fine as a basic NAS unit, but you need at least two drives for backup purposes. It also requires a USB drive for managing the operating system, as NAS cannot use a drive for storage if it contains the OS. For the software component, look into free solutions, such as OpenMediaVault, NAS4Free, and FreeNAS (links in Resources).
Software and System Compatibility
Before purchasing a NAS system for your home, check that the software it uses is compatible with all of the systems you use on the network. As with most software, NAS systems work with Windows; however, many are OS X compatible as well; Linux support is not as common. Some NAS apps, such as those from QNAP, also offer mobile access and compatibility with certain media systems, like Apple's AirPlay.
Troubleshooting NAS Storage
When you experience problems with your NAS, assess whether the problem is hardware or performance related. Hardware failures can include problems with the CPU, memory, and hard drives. Running built-in diagnostics can help you find and repair issues. Performance issues may have to do with how many processes are running at once. This is especially true of multiple input/output functions running at the same time, such as scheduled backup on top of other processes. Discontinuing unnecessary tasks and rescheduling automatic maintenance for non-peak times usually solves this problem.
- link APC Magazine: How to Build Your Own NAS Box
- link PCWorld: How to Build Your Own Network-Attached Storage System
- link PC Magazine: The Best USB NAS Adapters
- link QNAP: Qfile
- link Dell Support: Knowledge Article 123049
- link SearchStorage: Checklist: Ten Steps to Troubleshooting SAN/NAS Performance Problems
- photo_camera View Stock/View Stock/Getty Images