NAS for dummies.
September 12, 2006 8:35 PM   Subscribe

Can you recommend an easy NAS solution?

This discussion (and this one) made my head hurt. This discussion I could understand but the idea of buying two pieces of hardware (the NAS adapter, the USB external drive) is really unappealing (and frankly seems clunky). Various other discussion were ultimately off-topic.

I would like something that sits on my network, so that my laptop and wired PC can both access it. (FTP or http access would be awesome but not required.)

I would like it to do incremental back-ups off both machines. However, I only plan to backup a fairly limited amount of data (ODF and PDF files) so an appliance that only does whole folder back-ups isn't a deal breaker. (File-synching would be awesome, but is not a requirement.)

I would like it to serve media files in the sense that iTunes or WinAmp on either machine could access the drive and play the files.

I would like it to be a single box and no harder to set up than a Lynksis router.

I am, generally speaking, technically inclined but I've got a lot going on and I want this to be relatively hassle free. (So, while builting my own appliance with an old computer and some Linux voodoo is appealing, it's just too damn time consuming.)

Also, I have no problem with answers that offer corrections to any misconceptions that I might have, but telling me that a linux box isn't that hard to set-up isn't really the kind of help I'm looking for. I really want a nice, out-of-the-box solution.

I've seen things like the Maxtor One-Touch at my local big-box retailer, but I have no frame of reference for evaluating how well that kind of set-up will serve my needs.

Thanks a lot for reading through all of my demands, I appreciate it. I hope you can help, but I thank you even if you can't.
posted by oddman to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
ReadyNAS, by Infrant.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:39 PM on September 12, 2006

Go to and search for "NAS" then. That's really about it for out-of-the-box solutions.

"easy" and "NAS" rarely go in the same sentence. They're going to speak FTP and usually SMB.
posted by drstein at 8:42 PM on September 12, 2006

I had very similar requirements, especially the "out of the box, low techy overhead" part. I bought an Infrant ReadyNAS NV, which is totally awesome. The only thing on your list it may or may not do is the incremental backup. I don't know because I haven't looked to see if it does that. It is of course, rather expensive, in comparison to an external USB drive and an adapter. However, it came with everything installed already, it has http, FTP access and more, it serves all sorts of media (I have 2 squeezeboxes that stream music from it) and all sorts of other nice hardware features like hotswapping drives, its expandable etc. I'm very happy with it, mostly because of the "it works out of the box" aspect. Infrant also has a very friendly and responsive tech support forum, which counts for a lot if you have questions.
posted by Joh at 8:47 PM on September 12, 2006

I have the Readynas 600 which has been great. Also has incremental backup.
posted by null terminated at 9:02 PM on September 12, 2006

I bought mine about 4 months ago, and at the time I ended up with the SimpleTech SimpleShare. It was the cheapest at the 400GB capacity, and from reading reviews it looked like it had a pretty good interface (which I have not even glanced at now that my shares are setup)

It now ships with Retrospect Express, but I have been using SyncBack SE (which has a free version), ocassionally SecondCopy, and now I have a series of batch files that run backups via rsync.
posted by misterbrandt at 9:09 PM on September 12, 2006

You could see if FreeNAS fits your needs I haven't used it yet but I plan on getting it setup soon.
posted by PowerCat at 9:15 PM on September 12, 2006

I bought a ReadyNAS. Took 20 minutes to get everything set up. Best money I ever spent.
posted by arimathea at 9:21 PM on September 12, 2006

Sounds like you're I was about 6 months ago. I have a ReadyNAS NV and would definitely recommend it. It can perform backups with rsync or a variety of other methods. I keep all my music on it and listen via iTunes, back up with simple file copy to a second machine, it has an FTP and HTTP server with configurable permissions, etc.

Simply put, it's the best thing on my network. And there's a lot on my network
posted by 0xFCAF at 9:22 PM on September 12, 2006

I just got an out of the box solution from HP. 1.35 effective TB, Raid 5. ~$6000. Highly redundant, highly recommended.
posted by geoff. at 9:45 PM on September 12, 2006

To followup powercat, I built a FreeNAS box recently, and could not believe how simple the installation was. Popped a couple of large drives into an old machine, fired up the bootCD -- installation to harddrive took literally seconds.

A reboot, assign an IP address, and the rest of the config is done in a web interface much like the commercial NAS's have. Creating the RAID, formatting it, creating a share (all of which you'd likely have to do no matter what you get) were all very easy and straight-forward. The only slight gotcha (which I would've known had I have read the doco!) is that you can't use the boot HDD as part of a RAID. So, either have a small boot drive (as I did) or use one of the other standard installation options and install to a USB flash disk.

Simply put, I was utterly astounded at how easy FreeNAS was to configure. Definitely worth fiddling with for 10 minutes.
posted by coriolisdave at 11:17 PM on September 12, 2006

From the FreeNAS website: FreeNAS is Alpha or Beta, its not a production release and it will have bugs in it. It is YOUR risk if you load valuable data onto FreeNAS. Review the FreeNAS licence before working with FreeNAS.

One of the reasons I bought the ReadyNAS is for the peace of mind. I love experimenting as much as anyone, but when it comes down to data I prefer not to mess around.

Get one of the ReadyNas devices. It may be the best purchase I've ever made. It has http/ftp/drive mounting support. You can do anything with it. For example, I currently have my itunes library on it and can load the exact same music, settings and playlists on both my desktop and laptop. This lets me sync my iPod from either computer.
posted by null terminated at 11:49 PM on September 12, 2006

The two userfriendly and decently priced NAS that I know of are ReadyNAS (European/US market) and TeraStation (Japan).

I picked up a TS, the new model has hotswap sleds which helps, and it just works. FTP/Samba, UPnP if you have a networked dvdplayer and all that.

What really got me interested in TS, is that I COULD root the box, setup ssh, login then compile and add my own programs that I liked. Most people might not want to do that, but that was attractive. Had my own NFS server, FTP with SSL and UPnP client running in no time. Tried out apache for some page hosting too, just for fun.
posted by lundman at 11:59 PM on September 12, 2006

ReadyNAS, by Infrant.
posted by todbot at 1:42 AM on September 14, 2006


I know how you feel. Here is a list of helpful hints.

I have set up a OpenBSD server as my NAS but it was a pain and i wouldn't recommend it unless you have odd needs.

What i would recommend is Allways Sync.

It works and does bidirectional syncing and most importantly it just works! I tried rsync and other fancy things but they didn't.

posted by Vroom_Vroom_Vroom at 6:11 AM on September 14, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for all of the answers. The Infrant systems do indeed seem to do everything I want, but they are really expensive. (It's my fault for not predicting that; good and easy things are rarely cheap. I'm a grad student.) The SimpleTech also seems to do what I want, and the 160GB models is available for under $200.

Does anyone else have experience with SimpleShare, or with similar products?

(That link is awesome. I'll definitely be using that no matter what NAS set-up I go with.)
posted by oddman at 6:53 AM on September 14, 2006

Sorry to hijack a question (and no one is probably reading by now anyway), but has anyone had speed issues with using a NAS and 802.11g for file streaming? I have a Ubuntu box serving files to a wired/wireless network, and the boxen that connect wirelessly can only pull files at around 2 MB/s. This, obviously, is unacceptable, so I'm looking for a different solution. Anyone have any real-world numbers of, say, a ReadyNAS talking to a Macbook via a Linksys WRT54G? TIA.
posted by cebailey at 11:33 AM on September 14, 2006

I'm in the same spot right now. I'm trying to figure out what to get myself. While I like everything the Infrant has to offer, I'm not sure I want to shell out that kind of money for home use. I've had my eye on one of the Buffalo Linkstations. Has anyone had any luck with them? They seem to be more in the price range I had in mind.
posted by maffachu at 2:43 PM on September 14, 2006

« Older Cannot install QuickTime or iTunes   |   Halloween decorating filter... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.