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Network Attached Storage Drive?

post #1 of 51
Thread Starter 
Has anyone ever heard of or used one of these? Link

I was looking for an external solution that would in essence act as a a server, allowing me to share media (songs, movies, files, etc...) between the two computers in my room. One of the main purposes in me getting it would be to host my song collection, ripped in Apple Lossless. The hard drive on my primary rig is far too small (74GB 10KRPM, build for performance) for media, and the other computer is wired to speakers rather than headphones. My logic was that essentially if I could host the files on this NAC drive, I could play songs/movies from either computer.

My question is, has anyone ever used a Network Attached Storage (NAC) drive? Would I experience a degrading of sound quality, playing it from an external medium such as this?
post #2 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xiode View Post
Has anyone ever heard of or used one of these? Link

I was looking for an external solution that would in essence act as a a server, allowing me to share media (songs, movies, files, etc...) between the two computers in my room. One of the main purposes in me getting it would be to host my song collection, ripped in Apple Lossless. The hard drive on my primary rig is far too small (74GB 10KRPM, build for performance) for media, and the other computer is wired to speakers rather than headphones. My logic was that essentially if I could host the files on this NAC drive, I could play songs/movies from either computer.

My question is, has anyone ever used a Network Attached Storage (NAC) drive? Would I experience a degrading of sound quality, playing it from an external medium such as this?
I store all my apple loseless files on a http://www.infrant.com/products/prod...dyNAS%20NVPlusInfrant technology's ReadyNV+. I have about 300G of files, and having lost it twice over the last few years, I decided to move to a raid configuration that offer lot of expandability.

The Infrant also has built in servers for both itunes and other popular streaming devices. So you don't need a PC/Mac attached to access it. I was using that but now I have a dedicated home iMac that is on all the time, so I just stream off that.

Since it has four bays, I add drives to it when they are on sale. I ended up with four 500G drives in it running their x-raid configuration, which gives me about 1.5T of storage.

For me, it is working out great, both for the size and the safety aspect.
If you need more info, let me know.
post #3 of 51
Thread Starter 
That's exactly the type of thing I was looking for! Thanks for the info/link! Definately bookmarked and added to my Christmas list. Is there anything that I could do with a smaller budget though?
post #4 of 51
I was looking into NAS recently. I have all my tunes on a computer downstairs that feeds my main system. But I listen more in my office; so I was running two computers and a router to listen to music. The quality is fine; no degradation. I considered the NAS so I could turn off the downstairs computer and use less juice. But in the end i went for a $20 external case that is USB2.0 and picked up a 250GB HD for practically nothing. Then I simply cloned my hard drive with all the FLAC files. It is now hooked up to my office computer and is a dream. The benefits over NAS are that you have two copies in case one drive goes bad. You don't have to mess with all the networking hassle. Just turn on your external usb drive and in two seconds it's available. Plus I was able to format it NTFS which allows large video files if you have them. The NAS external drives are almost all FAT32 only. And lastly, transferring files via usb2.0 is much faster than ethernet. Hope this helps a little.
post #5 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xiode View Post
That's exactly the type of thing I was looking for! Thanks for the info/link! Definately bookmarked and added to my Christmas list. Is there anything that I could do with a smaller budget though?
The good news is that the price range for NAS is pretty large. The bad news is that they are not all the same.

There are a few reasons for going with an NAS:

1) size -- There is a sweet spot for harddrive size. These days it tops out at around 500G. If your music (and video?) file collection is smaller, you can just use USB drives. They are pretty cheap these days. But if you want to go beyond that size, you will need some kind of raid setup to "group" physical drives together. Of course you can just do that within a PC/MAC as well.

2) backup/safety -- this is slightly related to (1). If your collection is small, you can backup to DVD's. That's what I used to do until my files grew close to 100G. It is just too painful to sit and burn 20 DVDs at a time. So you will need a RAID setup.

3) Standalone server -- if you don't have a machine that is always on, you will want the NAS box to be able to serve files to thinks like roku or slimdevices, or even AppleTV.

Some NAS are just a external HD with a ethernet interface. Most NAS will do raid, hence 1 and 2. Some will do 3 -- with varying degree of support. Another thing to look for is gigabit ethernet support, which is useful for better performance. Ideally you want it to also support jumbo frames. However, you need to upgrade your entire network to use jumbo frames. For me, I have a gigabit network but not jumbo frames because I have sold old machines that cannot do it.

Tom's hardware is a pretty good site for reviews:

http://www.tomshardware.com/storage/external/index.html

P.K.
post #6 of 51
I'm building a Thecus N5200 NAS. Check it out at www.thecus.com. The parts have already been ordered so I'll have it soon. I intend to use 5x500 GB drives in a RAID 5 config. I've also checked out the Infrant ReadyNas NV+, however, people mentioned that it was really slow (10-30 MB/s read/writes), whereas the Thecus gets around 20-50. For you guys considering an NV+ though, there's a new model out with 1 GB memory by default, and it's about $100 more expensive, so you can also look into that.
post #7 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by bonjonno View Post
...Then I simply cloned my hard drive with all the FLAC files. It is now hooked up to my office computer and is a dream. The benefits over NAS are that you have two copies in case one drive goes bad. You don't have to mess with all the networking hassle. Just turn on your external usb drive and in two seconds it's available. Plus I was able to format it NTFS which allows large video files if you have them. The NAS external drives are almost all FAT32 only. And lastly, transferring files via usb2.0 is much faster than ethernet. Hope this helps a little.
I have two NAS units and neither of them max out at the 4GB limit of FAT32.

USB2 is great if you want to stream from a computer and I use that method, as well. But to back up your files you do not get the added hard drive space savings of RAID.

The main reason I used NAS (with a couple external hard drives attached to the USB2 ports of the NAS) was to be able to access the files from my Network IO Data Linkplayer DVD player without having my computer on all the time. However, I do keep a computer on all the time now, so it is not as important to me.

BTW I have high def video on my NAS and it has no problems transmitting across the ethernet connection. It is plenty quick for audio and video.
post #8 of 51
I have my own home-built NAS. I used an old EPIA 800 motherboard (it's small, 17cmx17cm, has integrated 800mhz processor and ethernet. Doesn't consume much power) as a base for it. I just build a case for it, slapped a couple of drives in it, installed FreeNAS, configured it through the webGUI and it was done.

I have two iTunes libraries on it (one for ALAC and one for AAC 192kbps VBR + some older rips) and it works quite well. FreeNAS doesn't have a iTunes server, though, so you have to use the libraries like they were on your own HDD.

It looks like this. It's sitting in a closet, serving files. In case anybody wonders, the case shouldn't burst on fire, even though it's made from wood. The components don't get very warm and there's pretty good air circulation going on in there.
post #9 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyrilix View Post
I'm building a Thecus N5200 NAS. Check it out at www.thecus.com. The parts have already been ordered so I'll have it soon. I intend to use 5x500 GB drives in a RAID 5 config. I've also checked out the Infrant ReadyNas NV+, however, people mentioned that it was really slow (10-30 MB/s read/writes), whereas the Thecus gets around 20-50. For you guys considering an NV+ though, there's a new model out with 1 GB memory by default, and it's about $100 more expensive, so you can also look into that.
That's the one that I have, the NV+ with the extra memory. I bought it bayless and added drives over time, since drive price always falls. I would just wait on drive sales to pick them up.

I noticed in your sig that you have a zhaolu D2. I assume you are feeding it via optical and use it as a DAC? How do you like it?
post #10 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pkshiu View Post
Some NAS are just a external HD with a ethernet interface. Most NAS will do raid, hence 1 and 2. Some will do 3 -- with varying degree of support. Another thing to look for is gigabit ethernet support, which is useful for better performance. Ideally you want it to also support large frames. However, you need to upgrade your entire network to use large frames. For me, I have a gigabit network but not largeframes because I have sold old machines that cannot do it.
Thanks for all the information/help! What's my best option when working with a ~$200-400 budget? I might upgrade over time, so I'd need something that would leave room for improvement/future upgrades. Streaming straight to my amp -> headphones would be nice, but isn't completely essential. I would however like to be able to access the media on it from both computers. They both have integrated dual gigabit ethernet ports on them. Also, I'm assuming that I'm going to need some sort of switch/router?
post #11 of 51
Best option I find is to build a PC with the slowest CPU you can get in there (for passive cooling and reduced power consumption) and then just add drives to it over time.

For data integrity it's best to look at a RAID 5 configuration. 300G SATA2 hard drives are dirt cheap these days and I could fit 20 of them in my Lian Li V2000 case provided I had the means to connect them (i.e. dedicated RAID cards).

As MacAnkka has done an Epia board is good for this but does limit the possibility to add a large number of drives in the future.
post #12 of 51
With a $200-400 budget you could probably build a pc for the purposes of a file server. If you don't have the time or don't want to expend the effort to build one you can buy a premade NAS setup, though you will lose out on expandability/upgradability by going that route. Just remember though, that RAID is not a substitute for backups.
post #13 of 51
I agree with the suggestion to build a small, low end server, rather than buy a NAS device. The cost is about the same, roughly, and with a server you have a lot more flexibility. I run a variety of apps on my server that I want running all the time (NetNewsWire, Peel, a few others). Some people like running Bittorrent downloads on their server, particularly if their main machine is a laptop. I know some NAS devices now support Bittorrent, but you get much more flexibility with a real machine. You never really know what apps you might like to run on your server until you actually have one.

Also, another advantage of a home server is that you can run VPN software on it, so you can access your files and server applications when you're away from home. I run OpenVPN, so I can get at my files when I'm in a coffee shop, etc. Most low-end NAS devices don't support VPNs, or only support VPNs through IPSec, which most residential broadband providers block (to try to get you to upgrade to a commercial service plan).
post #14 of 51
http://www.freenas.org/ is nice if you decide to build your own hardware.
post #15 of 51
Thread Starter 
Does a server have to have good specs? Building a file server sounds like the best option like you guys suggested, but could I do it for ~$200-400? I'm pretty experienced when it comes to building computers, as I put together the two I have now... but what are the most critical components in terms of speed (ie: hard drive, processor, etc...) for a server? Also, I'd have to get a router/switch to network the file server with my two computers. Which one though?
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