Do you want easy access to your audio and video files anywhere in the house and with all your relevant devices to stream your favorite music and movies? Then a NAS might be something for you. What is such a NAS or Network Attached Storage, what can you do with it and what should you pay attention to when purchasing?
The NAS in 2018
In the modern sharing economy, our need for products and their possibilities is also changing. We move from an owner-driven economy to ‘user-oriented’, where use becomes more important than ownership. Never before have there been so many lease cars in the Netherlands and the customer base of Greenwheels, the possibility to rent a car per day or even per hour, grows monthly with about 1500 new members.
The trend in audio and video land moves just as well from own files: music streaming we via Spotify and Deezer and movies we watch on Netflix – who has a closet with CDs and DVDs? Yet there are still more than enough people who prefer a golden medium: their own files, which can not be found physically in the bookcase or in a rack next to the equipment, but stored in a digital library. For them, a NAS is ideal, because the space on your computer, laptop or smartphone is limited and a sturdy folder with music or movies is also at the expense of the working speed of your computer.
Hard disk with network connection
A NAS is in fact multiple devices in one. Of course a hard drive for all your storage needs, but also a network device to be able to access it wirelessly and easily. Freely translated, Network Attached Storage means storage space that you hang on your network.
NAS – Network Attached Storage: a device with an external hard disk with network functionality for storing data such as audio and video that you can access anywhere in the house and from want to reach any device.
If you want to play albums from your own collection next to a music service or internet radio stations, give them a place on a NAS. You download and stream them to your speakers in one go, and the same goes for video content for all those personal favorites that can not be found on Netflix and Videoland On Demand. You immediately have a location for the photo material of all those parties, weekends and holidays that now digitally dust on your laptop and take more than enough space.
Connecting a NAS
A NAS becomes a network cable connected directly to the router to connect to your home network. This means that you can place the device quite often out of sight because it does not require you to be able to access it. After all, adding or sharing files is done from the computer or via your smartphone or tablet.
A digital safe for files connected to your own home network, that is the simplest application of a NAS. But there are possibilities to expand the functionality, especially with regard to access. For example, depending on the brand and the type of options, you can create an online network and facilitate remote access, so that you can access it outdoors, or even have friends and family access. Physical extensions are also possible if the device is equipped with USB ports for example to connect a printer, scanner or additional hard disk.
Advantages of a NAS
A Network Attached Storage is not much more than an option a stripped-down PC, mainly intended to store and share information. For that trick, however, the device can boast serious storage space, which makes it a kind of hard drive on steroids: more than enough space for all your stuff, including the necessary software to get you started with the easy connection, storage, transfer and share. This software also provides important firmware updates to keep the security up-to-date.
A NAS is not only a dedicated server for music and film, but also the ideal solution for storing photos, administration, working documents and all those other files and files that stand in your way on your laptop or desktop. Moreover, it can be very nice that all your media files are in one place, especially if you have multiple players and viewers through your house.
A second advantage is the fact that a PC is usually switched off when you do not use the device while you can simply run a NAS to always be able to access your files. In addition, there are plenty of backup options to keep this data safe, including automatic synchronization and a safe back door for anything you really do not want to lose. For example, a manufacturer such as LaCie also offers compatibility with a TimeMachine, in addition to the hard disk space, to easily and automatically back up at a TimeMachine location, with a guaranteed 5-year Data Recovery Service.
What to look for when the purchase?
Of course, the most important question you have to ask yourself is: to what extent do I need a device in addition to a PC or laptop where I can give my digital files a place to always be able to access, even if that computer not on, and where I can also rely on a back-up of my most important data. Next comes the question of what specific requirements you want to set for such a storage unit, and how much space you need for digital storage.
A NAS comes in different versions. In addition to the foregoing with regard to connection and expansion possibilities, there are variants with only one disc, but also or a multiple thereof. Naturally, the price level increases with storage capacity and additional possibilities. Do not think of GBs, but of TBs or terabytes for better storage.
Advantage of a NAS with multiple disks is that you can use the RAID principle to protect your data against the failure of one of those disks. RAID stands for ‘redundant array of independent disk’ and is the name for the method of physical data storage spread over one or more disks, where you make a trade-off between more speed (processing power) or more security (against data loss). More specifically you can manage the storage, where the software lets you switch between a RAID 0 and RAID 1 setup. The first ensures faster performance, the second for safer storage.
Brands specializing in storage solutions include Synology, Seagate, QNAP, Asustor and LaCie. In addition, there are more than a number of hi-fi devices that combine storage in their streamers and network players, such as the NAD M50.2 and the Bluesound Vault, but that is a subject in itself.