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NAS Network Attached Storage – Better than External Hard Disk

By DominicD
Gigabytes of documents, music, movies, games, and not enough hard drive space? Then you may want to look at a “NAS” instead of the usual usb external hard drives. NAS is an abbreviation for network attached storage. Think of a NAS as the usual external hard disk - but instead of a usb port, it connects via network cable (or wireless). This basically means that a NAS can do your backups while connected to the network (no more usb cables!), a NAS can also allow for file sharing with other users in the network.

A NAS is definitely better and smarter than your external hard disk. You no longer need to leave a dedicated computer online to store and share your files. A NAS is a computer on its own. It can even perform file, Torrent and P2P downloads!

We’ll take a quick look at the common NAS features and devices. In this article, we use the Edimax NS-250 series NAS devices.

Features - ::: EDIMAX Technology :::
  • high speed data transfer 1Gbps and/or Wireless N for wireless transfer
  • Independend download station for Torrents, FTP, HTTP and P2P
  • Multimedia station for streaming music and movies to your devices
  • Easy SATA hard disk installation
  • Convenient Copy-Paste to and from usb flash drives
  • Share usb flash drives to the network
  • Built-in security for file and folder permissions
  • Powered by free and open source Linux operating system

NAS Setup and Installation

A NAS device typically has status indicators at the front panel.

In this particular Edimax NAS device, notice the additional “Release” and “Copy” buttons. These are custom buttons that enable you to plugin a usb flash drive and click “Copy”. This will copy the contents of the USB flash drive and make it available through sharing.

Install your preferred size of SATA hard drive. The NAS device will format the drive to make it usable

Installation of the SATA hard disk is fairly easy and requires no screw drivers. Some NAS devices can accommodate two or more hard drives. Check with the documentation of the NAS device for hard drive requirements.

At the back of the NAS device, you will locate the power supply port, Ethernet port, and additional USB ports.

NAS Configuration
The NAS device is configured through its web based control panel. The configuration settings are very easy to understand.

Automated Torrent / P2P / and HTTP Downloads
Below is a screenshot of the Torrent download capabilities of the Edimax NS-250 series. You no longer need to leave your computer online to download torrent files! The NAS device consumes very littler power, also it runs torrent, ftp, and p2p downloads on its own. This is a very useful feature for heavy file downloaders.

While you are away from your computer, you can monitor the progress of the file downloads through the “download manager” feature. This way you can manage and queue the files you would like to have downloaded even while you are at work or at a different location.

Secure FTP - share/access your files through the web
Another clever feature added into modern NAS devices is the capability of serving your files through FTP. The screenshot below shows the configuration settings of the Edimax NS-250 running a live FTP server. This is a huge benefit to sharing your files online to anyone with an internet connection!

FTP user accounts and permissions can be set from the control panel. The FTP feature definitely sets your backup files to be truly portable on any internet connection.

iTunes - share and stream your music/videos online
NAS devices can also share your music and video files through its built-in iTunes feature! Now you can share and stream your music to family and friends. They can have access to your media playlist and listen to your music online. No more borrowing of usb flash drives or burning to dvd to share new music and movies!

A NAS device gives you additional accessibility and the same reliability as an external hard drive. An external hard drive may be portable, but its convenience ends when you have forgotten to bring it or lost the device. A NAS device with FTP access enabled ensures that your files can be downloaded from any location that you are in with the correct username and password. Instead of a dedicated computer for file downloads, a NAS device uses less electricity and requires no maintenance. Most NAS devices run and include their source of Linux firmware. This ensures that security and features are best double-checked by the active community of NAS device developers. This also gives way for additional features in the future. Instead of a seldomly used external hard drive for backup, consider using a NAS instead. This gives you the same reliable backup with the additional online access and sharing features.

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