Need network storage for home, but need to keep it simple... NAS?
March 27, 2011 2:22 PM   Subscribe

Looking for a best bang for buck NAS or home media drive for home use, 1-2 Tb's. I am overwhelmed from doing online research & am looking for advice to limit my choices. Will mainly use for media files & docs. Ease of use is important.

Background info & further detail:

OK, I used to be in IT but it has been a long while since I switched careers... a media server was a completely different animal when I was keeping up to date. I am going back to days of NT server & winamp here. While I am not opposed of futzing with hardware, the administration stuff saps all the happy out of me so ease of use once plugged in & ready to go is important to me. I really don't want to fuss with RAIDS & such.

I am looking for a 1-2 TB NAS or networked media drive that I will mainly use to store music & photos & some movies on. The movie files will likely be deleted once watched so 1-2 TB should be more than enough. I would also like to store my documents on it as well but won't be using it for program files or scratch disk so strictly storage. Streaming ability & remote access is nice but not major concern. I would like to keep my costs at around $150-200 but don't want cheap crap (is this doable?)... looking for sweet-spot of best bang for buck. Do I even need a NAS or will a media HD serve me just as well?

Also, I am a little OCD about stuff like this & obsess over every review, price vs quality, etc... which is why I am here. I am also OCD if something is highly configurable & complex. I won't simply find the easiest way to get what I need out of it, but will obsess to the point of relearning everything I have happily forgotten & fallen behind in. I don't want this so outside of HW expandability, I don't want something that is scalable outside of home use. I need to keep it simple for my own sanity because yes, I will run out & get the new MCSE books just so I can manage my media & docs better... and it will not make me happy but stress me out & be a source of displeasure, so KISS is a wonderful thing for me.

Just as an aside, I still derive pleasure from tinkering with HW... running cable & such... I'm an electrician now.
posted by Empyrean_72 to Computers & Internet (19 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
What kind of computers will you be using to connect to the NAS? What OS will they be running?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 2:28 PM on March 27, 2011

Meh, no reason not to take the simplest approach. Get an enclosure that you can connect to your computer with firewire or usb2 (whichever you have) and put a drive in it. Job done. If you need network access to it, share it using whatever OS you're running. To make things simpler you can get an enclosure that already has a drive in it. I did this (2TB) about a year ago, it was barely more expensive than just a bare drive, and there's literally nothing to setting it up.

There is only one downside, which is that it sort of goes to sleep, and the first access after that takes like 2-3 seconds to wake it up. But really, it's not a big deal.

I am a huge computer nerd and usually I like to obsess over this stuff but for some reason I just couldn't be bothered when I saw how cheap and easy it was.
posted by RustyBrooks at 2:51 PM on March 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's a small bit out of your price range, but the 2TB iomega StorCenters sound about perfect for what you need. Used em in the past and they work well. You can probably find them for a little cheaper on line elsewhere (Amazon and offer it cheaper)
posted by deezil at 2:53 PM on March 27, 2011

The Netgear Ready NAS Duo 1TB has been pretty good to me over the last year, it also is a bit over your target range ($250 from Newegg) but I'm a bit like you I spent countless days researching the alternatives. It is extremely easy to setup and while you can tweak around with it you definitely are not required to. It would serve pretty well in Rusty's model (comment above), but honestly, I just set it up in my basement next to the wireless router and essentially forget about it.
posted by jeremias at 3:13 PM on March 27, 2011

Response by poster: Needs to be directly on network because I am on a laptop (Win 7 home premium) & already have an external HD which is fine when I am sitting next to the nightstand where the HD is, but lots of times I am not & I am trying to cut down on having my laptop look like an octopus... portable HD not ideal.

The easiest would be just to get a desktop & hook everything up to that, but I am not at home, but am temporarily with parents. Due to previous experience with my father (used to be in IT, built & maintained servers at major US banks but was unqualified according to my dad to work on his PC... and of course if something went wrong & I had touched it within the past month, it was my fault) I already know that I cannot connect anything to his PC in any way.

Because I am not in this house alone, I need to be mobile within the house (like right now my father has turned the stereo on quite loudly in the room next to me so I will have to relocate upstairs in order to keep my sanity, my skull is vibrating). So external HDs are not ideal. I want to access my files from anywhere within the house & desktop isn't in the cards due to money & space issues. A NAS next to the networked printer & plugged into the router is something I can afford & has a small footprint.
posted by Empyrean_72 at 3:17 PM on March 27, 2011

I don't trust Iomega or Netgear brands, but that might be personal small-sample-size bias.

I'm a fan of the LaCie Network Space products (or the WiFi versions, Wireless Space). They cost a bit more than some other brands, but they support Mac PC and Linux mixed-networks seamlessly, including Time Machine support, and also include a nice streaming DLNA server. This means no matter what I use to watch movies (from Mac to PC to PS3 to iPad to iPhone), I can browse and watch things very simply.

They're also quiet, stay cool and look pretty, if those things matter to you.
posted by rokusan at 3:26 PM on March 27, 2011

Response by poster: The 2TB iomega StorCenters does look nice but that price...

I am not too concerned with the speed of file access & such... I won't be using it as a scratch disk or anything like that.
posted by Empyrean_72 at 3:35 PM on March 27, 2011

Response by poster: The LaCie seems nice. It also looks nice which isn't a concern but draws me like a candy red button.
posted by Empyrean_72 at 3:36 PM on March 27, 2011

Response by poster: Most of the NAS in my price range look to have unaccessible HD's Are there any under $200 where I can swap out the HD if need be?
posted by Empyrean_72 at 3:43 PM on March 27, 2011

QNAP TS-112 is about $190 without drive.

Synology DS110j is about $150 without drive.

Add a 2TB drive for about $120 (no WD Green drives as they are often quirky in NAS devices).
posted by fief at 4:52 PM on March 27, 2011

Just as an FYI, in the past I had a cheaper Synology NAS freak out on me for no apparent reason; the HDs themselves were fine and I still use them today in different machines, but the NAS decided one day to partially overwrite and ruin about 1TB of data.

Since then I have just built my own NAS machines with mini-itx boards. It's generally slightly more expensive, but it's nice having exactly the features and level of control I want. FreeNAS is a free OS option for your NAS box, if you decide to DIY.
posted by Menthol at 5:14 PM on March 27, 2011

Another vote for the ReadyNAS Duo, though I haven't yet put in a 2nd drive. Surprisingly versatile. Runs DLNA (stream to Xbox/PS3/Roku(?)), iTunes server, and bittorrent client out of the box.
posted by mkultra at 6:04 PM on March 27, 2011

You don't have some old pc laying around?
I just slapped some Samsung Spinpoint drives in an old pc, and when the mobo died on me, I bought a cheap atom board to replace it. I have topped it up with drives as needed (yeah, I'm a hoarder) and it's currently around 5T, I believe.
It runs my Squeezecenter, torrents and stores my files.
Opsys is Ubuntu and I VNC into it from my other machines for admin purposes.
posted by Thug at 6:21 PM on March 27, 2011

My router supports a shared drive through a USB port (just plug in an external box), which is dead easy. Otherwise, I've got a DLink DNS-323 working just fine, if you don't need the extra features, they've now got a DNS-321 for $114 Diskless.
posted by defcom1 at 7:13 PM on March 27, 2011

Response by poster: ok, thanks... will research the above mentioned options.
DIYing my own sounds like crack for my ocd :-)
posted by Empyrean_72 at 9:03 PM on March 27, 2011

FWIW, I'm really looking hard at getting one of the newly released Buffalo Cloudstor appliances. Basically, it's a Pogoplug Pro with an internal hard drive (1 or 2 TB models) plus some additional software functionality, remote printing, etc... For the price (1 TB $160/2 TB $220), I won't kick myself foreverfor throwing away a lot of cash if it doesn't work out 100%. My plan is to get 2 of them, put one at the office and one at home, so I can do off-site backups of each location (in addition to on-site backups at each location) and to also keep a more central repository of business files rather than worrying about what file is kept on which machine. (DropBox's limits are way too small and I OCD over relying on anything "free" in the cloud).
posted by webhund at 10:05 PM on March 27, 2011

I've got a QNAP T-219 which I've been very happy with. It's running two 1GB drives in RAID0. It's a do everything box as well as just a NAS: it streams content, it is a printer sharer, it manages the UPS for the cluster of network boxed (router, modem, etc...). It can work as a private file repository via dyndns, and on and on. It's a linux box with a dozen or more apps all wrapped in a nice web interface. If you need a little box that can do a lot, QNAP makes some good ones. The T-212 is probably the closest to what I have.
posted by bonehead at 10:35 PM on March 27, 2011

I had an iomega NAS die on me - after much research, i went with the Synology. Great product and OS, fantastic support and user community. Has been rock-solid stable and does all the neato things you want a NAS to do (mail server, streaming music and photo, serve webpages, act as timemachine back-up).
posted by polyhistoric at 1:49 PM on March 28, 2011

The D-Link DNS-323 is about $170 w/o disks (takes 2 standard SATA drives up to 1 TB each, can configure for RAID 1, 0, or JBOD). Amazon's got a rebate bringing it down to $130.

Works out of the box, is relatively bulletproof, has some good builtin features that you can fiddle with or ignore. It's smaller than a toaster and is quiet enough to go unnoticed on the shelf with the router, TV, DVR, etc.

If you really want to get techy OCD, there's a hacking community for the DNS-323. The onboard linux-based OS can be augmented to make it do more tricks.
posted by bartleby at 1:30 PM on March 29, 2011

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