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January 14th 2014 4:57 pm

What are some cool things you do with your NAS (network attached storage) device?

Last year, I picked up a Synology DS213+ for some centralized data storage in our house. As a huge data junkie (gigs of photos, videos, music files, etc), I had no idea what I was missing. Synology in particular seems to be doing a pretty great job of adding all sorts of software based features (web servers, email servers, photo, video, and music streaming apps, etc).

I've been having all sorts of fun with it and I feel like I haven't even tapped into an ounce of potential that this NAS has. What sorts of cool things are you doing with yours besides just storing / backing up data?
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dave's pick

I've setup/configured maybe 60+ NAS devices over the last couple of years and wouldn't recommend anything other than a Synology. Simply far superior to anything else out there. Done loads of 212j's for home users as media hubs and backup storage but for business (and some home users) I always suggest 412/3+ or 213+ versions. Link aggregation is useful in larger offices and the Intel processors far better than the j or vanilla versions.

I have a client that has a DS412+ as main file server backing up to a 213+ on site and also backing up to Takes about 5 minutes to setup.

The App store is growing too, apart from further cloud based backup solutions like Amazon S3 there are CRM and Ticketing systems for businesses, even LDAP/DNS/DHCP solutions - it's pretty much a SOHO office in a box for cheap if you need it.

At home - iTunes server, Plex, photo management and DLNA compatibility are all you need - although for some clients the Surveillance station is great. If you want more and are comfortable with CLI then you can install IKPG and get a whole load more Linux for your buck.

The way that it plays so nice across SMB, AFP, NFS, WebDav for multiple OS clients right out the box is just brilliant.
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dave's pick

I know that Synology has a lot of built-in cloud tools but have you checked out OwnCloud? I'm not sure if there is a package for it but it's pretty cool.

Other stuff I've seen people doing with their unraid servers:
Webserver (essentially a LAMP server)
Email server
Plex server
VMWare ESX host
iTunes server
Subsonic host
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Seagate business 2 bay with 4 TB here.
people this is crap..
i think this is the nas server of fred flintstone.
don't buy seagate..
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After a few experiences with pre-built NAS', I had enough. I've built myself a sexy looking box and installed Nas4Free. I appreciate a system like this because if a drive, motherboard, power supply, really anything dies in this system, just swap it out with a like part and Nas4Free will do the rest. Synology and the like, you'll have to send the unit to them, or do what I did with my Promise device in the past and SERIOUSLY do something makeshift if you have a part failure in the device.

Here's what I do with mine:

--Setup a 3 x 4TB using Raid-z w/ de-dup
--FTP dump for my surveillance systems
--Primary backup for all PC's using Beyond Compare with scripts
--DLNA\UPnP Server enabled for use with my TV and other certified devices
--Attempted bittorrent feature, didn't care for it
--Tested iSCSI target feature to test ESX5.5, worked but no need for it.
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Unraid Server 5.x. Allows me to store media (movies, music, pictures) as well as software and PC backups. 14 drive array +parity & cache drives. 36TB of storage and counting. All available via PLEX and windows shares throughout my house.
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Synology 213j here.
The NAS became the home hub for all of my devices media needs:
Android phones and tablet all have the music, file, and download app ready.
> I will log in from work or the street when I know a new episode of somethign is ready for D/L. When I arrive home it's ready to play
My Smart TV and PS3 are both connected
> It plays the movies and tv shows either directly or through the ps3
My desktop and laptops not only have access but also network drives mapped
> Each house hold member has access to some of the shared folders but also their own private folders
> accounting, finance and legal stuff is stored in a private folder only accessible by my wife and I.
>each chrome has the download station add-on for youtube videos or to manage download without leaving the browser
>Once a month, I take my offline backup that I keep at work and do a full copy
>download station can also be setup (5clicks) to automatically download the latest podcasts and rss from my favorite stations which isn't much used but cool to have!
> because I have so much media (all legal of course), I have a guest accounts for friends who come over to download some stuff :)
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I have two DS, which I configure for different purposes.. Primary DS is mainly managing torrent downloads, and streaming video contents across my home network.

1) I'll configure the download manager to sift through a particular rss to look for files that matches certain keywords, and pre determine their download location. As such, I'll be able to view the files when I reach home after work.
2) DLNA over the network helps me to keep my NAS out of sight (they are in the storeroom all these while) and powerline technology helps to keep things tidy in the living room. Watching video streams from the comfort of my living room, while my wife watches her videos in the bedroom, that's pretty awesome.
3) Cloud station's pretty neat, as it helps to manage key files that can be accessed through any device (laptop, tablet, smart phones)
4) I am in the middle of converting my second NAS to be an iTunes server, so that I do not need to keep audio files on my laptop.. There are oldies that I simply love, and you can't find them on iTunes Store anymore...
5) the second NAS is also a backup storage for my first. I'll usually backup specific contents that are on my first NAS, into the second NAS with rsync, which has much more storage space...

Current config: Synology 211+ NAS 1 - 2TB JBOD, Synology 412+ NAS 2 - 3TB RAID 1, 2TB JBOD.. All these config will change once DSM 5.0 becomes official.. New UI and functions looks very promising and I may even add a third NAS to further streamline my home NAS. Synology definitely...
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I'm using it
  1. For a movie server running YAMJ and I connect to it via a Popcorn Hour set top box hooked up to the TV
  2. For backup of documents
  3. as an iTunes server (its very slow at this but works for music I've archived)
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I'm using an older laptop and a few external USB drives as my NAS. I'm running FreeNAS with ZFS, which gives me NFS and Windows share for my network and a way for Storegrid to manage my versioned backups. I added Mediatomb and a bittorrent client to the system, which gives me a way to stream media to any DLNA player in the house, including my TV.

I am also running an Owncloud server, but on a different machine. The security around a NAS is different than what you would normally apply to drop-box like application, so I ended up putting them on different machines.
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I have an old Netgear ReadyNAS Ultra 4 Plus that is very slow by todays standards. To get around that, I have a XenServer host, with a couple of virtual machines that have NFS filesystems mounted from the ReadyNAS. One of them is running Plex Media Server, accessing the media files from one of the NFS shares, another is handling CrashPlan backups for friends and family to another NFS share. XenServer also uses an NFS share for ISO storage. I also run a couple of backups from Carbon Copy Cloner on my Mac over AFP. I really have to watch the performance though, since it's easily maxed out.

I personally don't like to put too many services on a NAS, for performance and security reasons, but I would like to have either a Synology DS1513+ or build a FreeNAS box with ZFS for high performance NFS shares, Time Machine backups, data storage and other stuff.
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I am actually considering putting a NAS in my home but have no idea what to pick. I want to use it to store large amountf of data so I can digitize my movies so it also needs to support media streaming to my home tv and devices. I want it to be fault tolerant and fast and I want it to ideally have some cloud service support so I can access the data from my mobile devices while out of the house. I am not sure if a NAS or a windows home server would be better. Maybe we can have a Engadget article about this. I don't want to hijack your thread asking for peoples opinions.
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