The Journey To NAS

I’m not a NAS expert, so obviously I’m going to use my blog to tell you all about NASs.

More specifically, my journey from a NAS newbie to a…well, I haven’t got a NAS yet, but that’s what the journey part is about.

First, a little background as to why the journey. I love music, but I don’t listen to it anymore. I’ve got a lot of CDs up in the loft, and I’ve got no device for playing them. I did rip some to iTunes a few years back, but I never found a satisfactory system for playing those MP3s. Earlier this year I discovered SONOS, and then a few weeks ago they launched their new speaker the Play 1. Finally, I’d found an affordable, desirable, digital solution to my music problem.

And then I realised that if I was to rip all my CDs again, I’d need somewhere to store them and that meant I needed a NAS. Journey begun…

My first idea was actually to go for a Spotify subscription and just stream music to my SONOS gear. But not everything I own is on Spotify and anyway most modern music is rubbish, right? Exactly. After a quick poll of Twitter I decided that a NAS was the way forward. Not only would it serve up music, but it would serve up whatever media I wanted to store on it, such as photos and videos.

Thus began my obsessive scouring of the Internet for information about setting up a NAS. And some obsessive badgering of friends with knowledge I needed!

Setting up a NAS, it seems, can be as easy or as complicated as you want to make it. You could buy something like this from Western Digital, which is a 2TB NAS drive that will give you network storage. Or you could go the whole hog and buy a QNAP or Synology NAS enclosure, populate it with as many drives as the enclosure can handle, and set up RAID to give you protection from hard drive failures.

I think I’d be best served by purchasing a NAS enclosure as not only do they come with some groovy software, they are ultimately more easily expandable if you go for a multi-bay option. Their power will be ample for serving streaming music and video, and the versatility of having a RAID setup may come in useful further down the line.

I’ve done a lot of research and I’ve come up with a wish list of gear that I would like.

Synology 2-bay NAS Enclosure

Synology 1-bay NAS Enclosure

Western Digital Red 2TB NAS

Western Digital 2TB USB 3 HDD

The 2-bay NAS enclosure may be overkill, and I may actually plump for the 1-bay enclosure to begin with. Although this won’t be expandable with multiple drives and RAID won’t be an option, the Synology NAS has an excellent reputation for performance both with hardware and software. The USB drive will be a backup drive for the NAS. I’ll be able to use Time Machine on my Mac to backup up my computer to this drive too, so that’s a bonus.

Savings can be made by getting a lesser-specced Synology enclosure. I’m looking at the ‘+’ models, which offer better processors and more memory, but a few quid can be shaved by downgrading. Also, the WD Red drives aren’t a necessity, and going for the Green models could also save a few quid. I’ve gone with Synology because they have a reputation for quiet hardware and their management software is supposed to be excellent. There is a live demo on their web site and it seems to be fairly decent stuff.

I’m not an expert, clearly, as I’ve not even bought and implemented this stuff yet. But, feel free to leave a comment if you’ve got any questions or better yet any suggestions.

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