Home Network Attached Storage Device
Home Network Attached Storage Device - Introduction
Adding a Home Network Attached Storage device or NAS is one of the best ways to share and backup files on your home network.
You can add one easily to any home network but for the fastest access times you will want to have a wired Gigabit (1000M bits/s) Ethernet network running.
That doesn’t mean you can’t use this beauty with a Wireless network though! – wireless is fast catching up with the latest wireless 802.11n standard giving up to 300 M bits/s connection speeds.
Home Network Attached Storage Device – The Benefits
Why should you consider adding one to your home network?
Well, firstly, with everyone on your network storing their files and data individually on their own PCs and laptops, even though you have a network connecting you all together, if one of you wants access to some music files or photo’s for instance and the PC or laptop that they are stored on is off it’s pretty inconvenient to have to go turn that device on before you can gain access to them!
Kind of defeats the object of your network somewhat don’t you think?
Ideally you need a single point of access for all your files and data.
Secondly, what about some kind of backup plan?
You do have one now don’t you!
If you don't you'd best visit our Data backup page for more information on the options available to you.
Ok, well with a NAS you can set all of your PCs and laptops important files, photos, music and videos etc to be stored in one common ‘accessible by all’ place that is easy to back up and won’t require you to leave all your PCs and laptops powered on to give you access to each others files whenever you want.
A NAS provides a small, convenient, compact storage device that is much cheaper to run than a single PC let alone a whole bunch of them!
Many NAS devices also have an integral print server facility allowing easy ‘on demand’ access for all to a common printer.
Home Network Attached Storage Device - Choosing
Yes a NAS is a little more expensive than a hard disk drive but the prices are coming down all the time and now can be quite affordable.
Of course we are talking here about the simplest NAS device with a single hard disk drive but you will also find versions with multiple hard disk drives configurable as RAID arrays which will give you data backup protection should one disk fail – a pretty common scenario.
To do this a RAID array is set up whereby all data and files are copied across your network to your NAS RAID configured disk drives which are running in parallel thereby protecting your data if one of the disk drives should fail.
Can’t afford the extra cost? Not to worry – a simple backup option can be achieved by plugging in a USB external drive or USB pen drive into one of the USB ports that most NAS devices have as standard.
The USB port can also be used to connect a USB printer and share it across your network if your NAS drive has a print server.
Are you getting the idea now of just how useful this baby is!
Home Network Attached Storage Device – Wired or Wireless?
A NAS can also be purchased in a wired only format or wired with wireless interfaces.
As we said earlier, the wireless interface is a little slower than the wired type of connection but it does bring with it a neat and tidy solution.
The wired only Ethernet version will be far cheaper of course but it’s not a problem as your wireless router has an Ethernet port (usually four of them) at the back to which you will be attaching your wired NAS and ‘hey presto’ your NAS is now wirelessly accessible on your network via your wireless router too!
Home Network Attached Storage Device - Location
The NAS device is designed to be left running all the time but you may find that the NAS cooling fans are a little noisy so you will need to choose a site for it carefully – somewhere like a cupboard maybe?
You will need to make sure that there is plenty of space around the NAS and plenty of airflow for ventilation – they do run quite warm and the hotter any PC component part gets usually the shorter its lifetime.
Home Network Attached Storage Device – Easy Setup
Network Attached Storage devices generally support Microsoft’s ‘Universal Plug and Play’ (UPnP) which gives it the ability to connect to your home network with very little setting up to do.
If not, your NAS should come with its own drivers and setup software to allow you to connect to your network easily. These drivers may need to be installed first before attaching the NAS to your network – read the manufacturers documentation carefully.
To configure your NAS you will use a setup utility supplied by the manufacturer or via a web browser interface.
Check the information carefully before purchasing to ensure the NAS is compatible with your version of Windows etc.
If the NAS supports ‘UPnP’ then Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 are all compliant and adding a NAS will be a very simple process.
Remember, a wired NAS will need to be connected up to a free Ethernet port on your home wireless router using CAT5e or CAT6 Ethernet cable between the NAS and router ports.
Some devices may require you to install software on all of your PCs and laptops but if it is UPnP compliant this is unlikely.
For Windows XP users you will need to go to ‘Add / Remove Windows components’ and select ‘Network Services’ then click the ‘Details’ button. Now check the tick box in the window that appears for ‘UPnP User Interface’.
Windows Vista and Windows 7 should have UPnP enabled by default.
With this completed you can attach your NAS and it should now be seen as an icon in ‘Network Places’ which you can access from your ‘Start’ menu.
You should now be able to copy files onto your NAS device.
Go around each of your PCs and laptops and check that you can access your NAS – go to ‘Network Places’ and check that you can copy some test files onto your NAS.
Home Network Attached Storage Device - Troubleshooting
If you have problems accessing your NAS then you should first check your manufacturer’s instructions to confirm that you have set it up correctly.
Is the network cable connected correctly?
Have you configured your wireless router to run as a DHCP server?
Is your NAS configured to obtain an IP address automatically?
If all else fails you should try reinstalling the NAS drivers and also reboot your router and PCs etc.
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